Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good Day with Friends

So Milford Hills Hunt Club has been running a special on Chukar (partridge). This inspired Michael to put together a group to go out hunting today. So Michael, myself, Jeff, Becki, Tom and Karen headed out to Milford today for a 3-hour hunt: 20 Chukar, 7 dogs, 4 guns. The weather was gorgeous: around 67 degrees and sunny all day.

What a day! We were assigned "Iowa" field, and there was a very nice pond at the end of the field. Michael decreed that the "old guys" should get to start. Wooster went on one side, Major on the other, and they each flushed and retrieved several birds. Not bad for the 2 senior citizens! (Not bad for the gunners either, who hit all but perhaps 1 of the birds.)

Both dogs enjoyed a water retrieve to cool off at the end of the run. Naturally, after a little break in the cool water, they both seemed re-energized on the walk back to the trucks!

Taxi and Bogey made the next pair. How nice for Michael and me to see both of Baby Gibson's parents in the field at the same time! They each got a couple of flushes and retrieves. Both showed impressive steadiness to wing and shot and enjoyed an opportunity to cool off in the pond at the end of the field.

Ritz and Gibson came out next. Karen and I watched from the top of the field while the others worked the dogs down the pond. Gibson did a great job on his first ever master-hunter style water retrieve, going into the pond, swimming across and exiting on the far bank! (While not a true "blind" retrieve, since he had seen the bird dropped, it showed that Gibson is willing to swim all the way across the pond to get the bird, which is important and will ultimately lead to blind retrieves where he does not know the location of the bird until he scents it during the exercise.) Gibson carried his birdie all the way back to the car, where I was able to get a nice photo of him holding the bird.

Watson was up last today, and Ritz ran out with him again. Unfortunately, the fields were pretty well cleaned out by that time, and they did not flush anything. However, Watson also got the opportunity to show his willingness to swim all the way across the pond, get out to find/pick-up the bird, then get back in the water and swim back to Dad. Again, this is an important step in training to the "master hunter" level. Go boys! Still no bird contacts on the way back to the car, but both dogs worked the field well and showed impressive drive.

After hunting, we headed over to Becki's place so she could groom Gibson for the upcoming specialty show - and so that we could see "wubbies." Gibson's second litter arrived 2 weeks ago today! A nice mix of colors and genders: 4 girls, 2 boys - and 3 black, 3 liver. Their little eyes are starting to open, and are they ever cute!

Once the grooming was finished, we finished the day with some cold beverages at a favorite local brewpub.

While I did not personally find, flush, shoot or retrieve any birds, I did get a good dose of fresh air, sunshine and exercise. Oh, and a good "puppy fix." All in all, a GREAT day with some good friends and fantastic dogs!