Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘duck hunting’

Cooper was accomplished in a number of venues, but the one that provided the most satisfaction for both dog and human, was bird hunting. Take one part pedigree, add another part training, provide the opportunity, and the results are a happy bird dog.

Hunting in the west is typically spending the day in photogenic territory. But this photographer likes to carry the shotgun and not a camera, so photography always was a second tier priority. Not all hunts with Cooper were documented photographically, but all are etched into our memories.

Here is a selection of photos of Cooper in his element.

Cooper sees his first waterfowl

Cooper sees his first waterfowl

110309_0071

Cooper’s first bird hunt, November, 2009.

Patrice and Cooper heading out to hunt upland game birds

Patrice and Cooper heading out to hunt upland game birds

Mt. Hood and the Irish Water Spaniel

Mt. Hood and the Irish Water Spaniel

Retrieving a chukar

Retrieving a chukar

Cooper, handing off a successful flush and retrieve

Cooper, handing off a successful flush and retrieve

111410_0223

Cooper and Russ admiring their hunting partner

111410_0302

Checking out a Washington state pond for some ducks

Stealth Spaniel waiting for ducks

Stealth Spaniel waiting for ducks

Cooper and Matt on Sauvie Island

Cooper and Matt on Sauvie Island

Ready for a pheasant flush

Ready for a pheasant flush

Cooper bringing back the bird

Cooper bringing back the bird

A day of pheasant hunting in Washington

A day of pheasant hunting in Washington

string of lakes

Cooper and his young protegé, Tooey

Southern Oregon pheasants in the rain

Southern Oregon pheasants in the rain

Cooper, taking a break with Mt. Hood in the background

Cooper, taking a break with Mt. Hood in the background

Cooper and Patrice in central Oregon

Cooper and Patrice in central Oregon

With Russ in the duck blind

With Russ in the duck blind

Cooper and a novice hunter scour an oar field for the elusive pheasant

Cooper and a novice hunter scour an oat field for the elusive pheasant

A November hunt in Oregon (2013)

A November hunt in Oregon (2013)

A cold December day, 2013

A cold December day, 2013

Cooper and his mature protegé, Tooey

Cooper and his mature protegé, Tooey

Cooper and his class of new pheasant hunters

Cooper and his class of new pheasant hunters

Cooper on the cover of Rat Tails

Cooper on the cover of Rat Tails

Near Monmouth, Oregon, 2014

Near Monmouth, Oregon, 2014

Cooper with a spring time rooster (his final bird, March, 2015)

Cooper with a spring time rooster (his final bird, March, 2015)

Read Full Post »

Russ: Hey, Cooper! Do you want to go duck hunting today?

Cooper: Do I get to wear camo just like you?

Russ: Sure, but keep in mind it is going to be cold and wet.

Cooper: I’m an Irish Water Spaniel. I can do cold and wet.

Russ: Point taken. OK then.

Cooper: Can I put my wet muddy feet on the furniture in the duck blind?

Russ: Sure. So does this mean you want to go?

Cooper: Is the bear Catholic? Yeah, I wanna go!

Irish Water Spaniels

Two boys in their duck blind, Aumsville, Oregon
photo by Norm Koshkarian

Read Full Post »

One of the things that a hunt test doesn’t really test, is the patience of a dog to sit in a cold damp duck blind for hours, while nothing happens. Cooper was spending this cold December day indoors at an obedience match, but Tooey was willing to do a long “sit-stay” – outdoors. And sit with lots of distractions such as duck calls, distant gun shots, low flying Sandhill Cranes, thousands of Canadian Geese, Swans, Bald Eagles, Marsh Hawks, duck decoys, freezing weather, mud, and all the things that make up a Pacific Northwest duck hunt. Except ducks.

Tooey spent the night curled into a very tiny ball in the front seat of the truck with her nose buried. With the temperatures just below freezing, she looked half her size as she conserved body heat, but very much sound asleep. I woke her about an hour and half before dawn (5:30 am) as we got our first come – first serve assignment of a hunting spot on Sauvie Island.

After the decoys were set in ice over shallow water, we moved a few yards back into the adjacent corn field to wait for first light. No sooner had we sat down, when a duck zoomed by and failed to escape the first shot of the day. Matt, our hunting partner, scored the first duck. Rather than make this a shaggy dog story, I will say that this was also the only duck of the day. Very few were seen and very few shots were coming from adjacent ponds and corn fields. Oh well, only one shell was used between us and it worked just fine.

Tooey, an Irish Corn Dog

And that is how Tooey got to do her long “sit-stay” which morphed into a long “down-stay”, and then evolved into a long “sleep-stay.” But having a calm quiet dog in the blind is an attribute, and so for her first official duck hunt, I am happy. She was quite curious about the decoys and was especially intrigued with one of Matt’s that had fluttering wings. That is what she is staring at so intently in the photo above as she peeks out from her corn field duck blind.

Tooey, holding the one and only duck of the day

After a few quiet hours we called it quits and collected the decoys. Tooey and Goose (Matt’s Lab) then did high-speed zooming laps around the cornfields on the way back to the trucks. There was a lot of dog energy that had not been consumed retrieving bazillions of ducks that needed to be spent before the ride home.

But now that my work schedule has become reasonable again, both Cooper and Tooey will be able to join me for a few more long “sit-stays” in the blinds. There are about 45 days left of this duck season, and I now have quite a few weekdays off, which should make for a few more opportunities to go hunting with Irish Corn Dogs.

Read Full Post »

Rainy, cold, windy, dark — perfect duck weather, right?

Right. That’s what we thought, too, so we headed out to Sauvie Island this morning to do a little duck hunting. And we did indeed see lots of ducks. Also lots of geese, a pelican, some cormorants, several white swans, a marsh hawk, three sandhill cranes, a couple of seagulls, a lot of LBBs (little brown birds), and a few elegant egrets.

Also, we got a several hours’ look at our duck decoys.

And what about all those ducks we saw? All of them were either too far away, too high up in the sky, or sitting contentedly out in the middle of the pond. So no ducks within range. All of this meaning, of course, that there was nothing for Cooper to retrieve. (That’s the whole point of this exercise, isn’t it?)

But I will say this — I had a good time. It was sort of like I expected it to be, but better. It rained, but not constantly and I was dressed for it. We had buckets to sit on, so I wasn’t uncomfortable as I thought I might be. And I didn’t have to get up before dawn. We didn’t get any ducks, but we had a great day outdoors, the three of us together.

Read Full Post »

A mere 10 miles from where Cooper took Winner’s Dog on Saturday, he spent his Monday doing what a duck dog does — sitting in the rain and cold, waiting for his gunner to shoot something.

Cooper and Matt on Sauvie Island

Cooper and I joined Matt, who has been mentioned in previous posts as one of our hunt training partners, for a day of duck hunting not far from where Cooper passed the first two legs of his AKC Junior Hunter tests. This time it was bit cooler and wetter, but Cooper was quite stylish in his new neoprene camo dog vest.

The morning started with us sitting at the edge of a lake, hidden behind some camo and branches. He stayed put surveying his domain. Initially he was confused after Matt called for the ducks, and then there was no gun shots or ducks falling from the sky. I let him in on the secret that real hunts have different rules than hunt tests, and to be patient.

Stealth Spaniel waiting for ducks

While today was comfortable weather for hunters, it was paradise for ducks, and they were off on vacation. The weather was so calm and warm (for ducks) that they didn’t have to return to their ponds for cover and food. Since the ducks were somewhere else, we pulled up the decoys and moved on. Cooper could see that we were retrieving items from the water, so he jumped in and participated with vigor.

"If you are not going to shoot ducks then I will retrieve sticks"

The next location was a flooded cornfield (as seen in the first photo). The Oregon Department of Wildlife, which manages this area, plants corn alternating with millet to provide both food and cover. We set up the decoys in the flooded field and then retreated into the corn, a few rows back from the water’s edge.

Cooper sat tight, mostly. The only two ducks to pass our way went right overhead, but Matt and I both missed our shots. Looking down after shooting, I noticed that Cooper was missing. I looked up, and there he was — sitting in the middle of decoys, waiting for the ducks to fall into his lap. Note to self: Continue to work on that “steady to shot” aspect of dog training.

Irish Corn Dog?

Because we had limited opportunity to shoot (at) ducks, I was able to spend a fair amount of time removing dozens of cockleburs from Cooper’s coat. He had walked through a hidden patch a the edge of a flooded field, and in moments his coat was covered. Fortunately, his vest limited the Velcro-swarm to just his legs and ears. Or as my mother used to say, “those pernicious sons-of-bitches”.

just a few of the cockleburs retrieved from Cooper's coat

Now all we need is another cold snap and some really ugly weather to encourage the the ducks to come back. Today there were literally thousands of geese, hundreds of swans, numerous Sandhill cranes, a few bald eagles, but scant few ducks. That is why it is called hunting and not shooting.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: