Ending score? 14 pheasants flushed, 3 pheasant shot at, 1 pheasant hit, and 3 apples retrieved to hand.
The dogs flushed up 14 pheasants. About half of those were roosters (you can’t shoot hens). The gunners shot at 3, and hit one. That one fell like a lead weight, right into the middle of some very dense, thorny bushes.
All four dogs and all four people searched, but none of us ever found anything resembling a bird. The dogs didn’t find the bird or its scent, and the people didn’t see any feathers or other evidence that a pheasant had ever been shot, much less fallen to earth.
Tooey, Rio, Cooper, and Kasen
But fortunately, the scenery and the weather at Lower Goose Lakes were absolutely beautiful. Mid-40′s, blue skies with wispy white clouds, just a bit of wind, fractured basalt cliffs, glittering blue lakes, the scent of mint and sagebrush. Perfect for hiking.
Rio, Tooey, Kasen, Cooper, Rod, Renae, and Russ
Oh, I guess we're going that way
Rio did get one scent that really excited him. He dived into some heavy cover to grab his favorite — apples. He loves apples. It was sort of funny that Rio retrieved apples on a bird hunting trip. But all of us were happy to take a break to enjoy their juicy sweetness. All you have to do is wipe off the bird doo-doo, get out the pocket knife, and cut slices for everyone. Even Cooper took a slice when he saw all the other dogs enjoying them.
Cooper and Tooey, surveying the terrain
Cooper has not yet had his hunting “lightbulb” moment this year. We really need to get him out somewhere, like a game preserve, where we can arrange for birds to be planted in identified locations. That way, we can direct Cooper to those birds so that when he flushes one, he can associate the excitement of the flush and retrieve with the birds’ scent and typical hiding places. Today, he mostly wanted to stay close to Russ, or to come find me. He’s birdy, though, so I know that with more experience, it’ll come.
I was very pleased with Tooey. We haven’t taken her out hunting before, so she doesn’t have a clue about what she’s supposed to be doing out there. But she clearly enjoyed herself. She checked in with us often, but she was also pretty adventurous, searching the rocks and bushes for whatever was out there.
And the water… Tooey loves to swim — she’ll swim just for the unadulterated joy of it. And the Lower Goose Lakes area is filled with, you guessed it, lakes. Little lakes, strung like beads along desert canyons.
string of lakes
Whenever we couldn’t see Tooey, all we had to do was listen for the sound of splashing and paddling. If we heard that, we knew Tooey was swimming again. And loving every minute of it, even in the cold water on a cold November day.
And then, after all the day’s fun, the not-so-fun. The plants in the field provide cover for birds and are wonderful to the nose. But they also festoon the dogs with seeds, twigs, seeds, thorns, and more seeds. And every single bit has to be picked or brushed out. Especially, I’m told, the cheatgrass seeds. For some reason, cheat grass seeds love to hide between dog toes, and in the ears, eyes, and mouth. They can even work their way through the skin into body cavities such as lungs and abdomen and cause serious infections as they move though and get lodged in body tissues. Nasty.
So before dinner, before changing clothes, before even a glass of Scotch, out come the combs and brushes.
Trice brushing out the seeds and debris after a day of hunting
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