I took my plunge into the upland world on a hot sunny day in May, down in Texas. At the time I was living in Abilene, having just graduated from college, and I decided I needed a birddog. My father always had GSP’s and EP’s. Even though I never had the chance to hunt with them, or him, I always wanted a birddog. On that fateful day in May, my now wife and I brought home Ace, an orange and white Brittany. I chose a Brittany because I was living in an apartment at the time and their size and temperament was exactly what I was looking for. Ace got a little pro training down in Abilene, and was pointing johnny house bobwhites like a pro at 8 months old. Then we moved to the American West, and the journey really took off with our acquisition of Molly, a liver and white Brittany hailing from Preston Idaho. What a fireball she is.
Here are their “first’s”….
It was December 2012 in, lets just say one of the most inhospitable states in the Union. A fresh blanket of four inches of powder fell the night before, the wind was a slight breeze….perfect conditions. Now this isn’t Ace’s first wild bird rodeo, he’s got two trips under his belt in the same area, and has showed some real style (even holding steady to wing/shot). Unfortunately I have been letting him down with what could only be described as horrific wing shooting (thanks double triggers…my kryptonite). Today was the day I told myself, and it started with a bang. Looking back I cant remember how many points or shots it took me, but I know Ace was beginning to wonder why the heck I was just scaring birds. But then a point in a tall sage flat near a sometimes dry creek, a steady point, he’s trembling (there has to be some birds close). Wham! An explosion of about ten Hungarian Partridge! I shouldered my CZ 20ga side by side, picked one out, swung and touched the first trigger. A Hun cartwheeled, shocked I tried to kill it even deader with the second barrel. My wife even exclaimed “oh my god you hit it”…
Ace’s first wild bird fell to the ground. Earlier that day he held a beautiful point on a pair that honestly should’ve been the easiest double of my life, and I whiffed on both shots. And then I couldn’t reload fast enough for the third late flusher that Ace was STLL locked on during my tomfoolery. But that day had a happy ending.
Molly has been a real turd. I chased her for I don’t know how long in the NE sandhills earlier in the year. Molly seems to only want to hunt for her, sometimes I almost hate that dog. But then out of the blue after asking a breeder/trainer nearby to take a look at Molly to see if she has any hunt in her, she made me look like a moron. We planted a few pigeons for her, and miraculously she not only worked the field, she found and pointed the birds. He looked at me like “what’s the problem”.
So came November (2015) the State Game and Fish Dept. place these pen raised chickens on walk in areas and habitat management areas. Now I know its not “real” hunting, but I needed bird exposure for Molly, and some entertainment for Ace.
Molly was up first, much to the dismay of Ace, who sounded like he was being electroshock tortured in the dog box. We worked a large management area that’s got a lot of irrigation canals, ponds, sand burrs, and cattails. Molly worked great, ranging wide, working cover, and really throwing her heart over the bar. My partner and I missed on a couple of wild flushing birds, and I’m glad since I really intended to shoot only pointed birds.
Then came “the point”. I was doubling back to head towards the truck, believing that all the birds must’ve ben mowed down in days prior. When I walked over a small hill and found Molly locked up on point near a large pond dam/embankment. I yelled to my friend, “I think she’s pointing”. And just as I said that I saw his head, that beautiful flamboyant green, red, and almost purple. Molly found her a rooster. Just as I realized what I was looking at, he flushed. I swung hard and touched off my Stevens 555, poof, an explosion of feathers. Molly’s first point, and first rooster.
To say I was pleased was an understatement. I’ve had such high hopes for her, and she showed some promise earlier in the year by finding some Columbian Sharptail that I couldn’t kill. She made a believer out of me, and continued to do so (I wrote about that trip in my first blog post).
I sure hope there are a ton of birds to come before they’ve found their last.