Wednesday, October 31, 2007

would have done better with a broom...

Today's aphorisms for successful bird-chasing are well known, but must be repeated often.

a) Trust the dog (even if he's 5mos old)

b) Don't think about your shot (especially if it's 'easy')

My work schedule got juggled at the last minute and so, instead of celebrating the Sterling Forest season opening-day tomorrow, we headed up to Newburgh and did our usual field-cruising routine. We got there early and while I was (rightly) skeptical that there would be any birds in such an oft-sought field, we were able to get a parking space at one of the bigger, more open fields. As a first stop, it's a great field just to get both boys out together and able to run and stretch their legs -- which makes the subsequent rotation of dogs a lot easier.

But as this nice pic of Jozsi's butt shows, there was frost on the ground. Wohoooo. It's so nice to feel as though fall might actually be coming, as opposed to leaves just changing colors to keep up with fashion.

We then got into one of our favorite fields and Momo put an awesome point on a quail -- which I never saw till it flushed and lit out over the trees. I fired a shot. I am no Doug Flutie -- and, while married in a Catholic ceremony, didn't deserve to issue that particular Hail Mary (or subsequent others). We never found the bird again.

At the next field, Momo seemed unduly distracted by his brother's indignant barking from being left in the truck -- and so I called him off and we headed out. Nothing. Except a father-son team hunting birds with a German Shorthair and a pair of semi-automatic howitzers. They were nice, but as they said, "It got a little like WW3 out there." We walk back to the truck, I unload my gun, and Momo still seems distracted by a bush close by. And out flushes a big cock pheasant. Ditch-chickens 3 Team Vizsla (sadly hampered by their father) 1.

And so I bring out His Junior Majesty. To this point, his method always seemed to, and I stress seemed to, verge on the demolition-derby style of fieldwork. But after he wouldn't come on call and I subsequently found him locked up hard on point on a hen pheasant in a dense thicket, I can no longer demean him in this way.

He is a boy-genius. And I am a sieve.

Our final field produced this picture. All of sudden Momo contorts into position, I wander up a bit to see if I can figure out where it is, look back, and realise there's a hen on the ground. Seeing the look in Momo's eyes and the fact that the bird hasn't flinched, I take the picture. It's the only decent shot I get at the bird. I will claim flesh-eating brambles as a legitimate excuse, but the fact is that I am not a sieve, I am a vacuum.

I was only redeemed (temporarily) by Momo getting all squirrely again on the way back to the truck -- and as I approached him, a nice rooster fought its way out of the brambles. Sadly, for him, it was a short flight. Ditch-chickens 3 Team Vizsla 2.

So we got back to the truck, gave Jozsi a good sniff on the rooster, and he and I set out for the final time. We found our way into a relatively clear field. And he freezes again. And there's another hen sitting on the edge of a patch of tall grass, quite visible once you knew where to look. Jozsi was not quite so in the mood to lock-up and after an initially fabulous point charges the bird. I missed the rapidly-rising, but still straightaway shot... twice. I am not a vacuum, I am a black hole. But sadly, I am not a black hole, today I just sucked.

Some birds were clearly destined to be found, but made wilder by botched shotgunning on my part. So, in short, trust your dogs... they were born with noses with 220million scent receptors... and go practice with your shotgun... it's not an appendage, just a prosthesis.

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