So we checked out a new location in Sterling Forest this morning and, I'm guessing, must have found a pocket of relatively freshly released pheasant. As you can see, it was a nice frosty morning and while I will use a different exposure setting in my camera next time, you can get a nice idea of the contrast between frosty grasses and the oranges, greens, and reds of the fall trees in the background. We were initially working around a swampy area with tall cat-tails and Momo managed to flush a rooster... which then sat in a tree. I'd like to think I'm more sporting and so, while this particular bird was not protected by law, it was flaunting the limits of my ethical hunting code. Ditch-chickens 4 Team Vizsla 2.
Momo then got into a bunch of brambles and out pops a pheasant which seemed underpowered and/or caught. It barely got a head of steam up and had its flight plan amended. (When I was cleaning the bird later, I found maybe two-dozen small (#8?) shot across its back that had obviously limited its flight power. So, don't presume because it's a pen-raised bird that you can use woodcock-sized shot and expect to cleanly kill it.) Ditch-chickens 4 Team Vizsla 3.
As I was getting this one out of the brambles, another flushed about three feet away and headed off towards what turned out to be a nice pond. We couldn't really mark it down because of the undergrowth, but headed in the general direction.
About three-quarters of the way round the pond, Jozsi locks up like the Evil Boy Genius he can be and I see a rooster trying to make like a pancake in the leaves. I flush him and he flies directly into the sun. I shoot and hit him, but know I've hit him low down on his body. He manages to flap a few more times, clears the trees and glides off. I apologize to the Monster and we head off again to find a bird I know is probably not going very far. (And to be fair, as it turned out when I cleaned him, I had hit him more squarely than I thought, but the goal as ever should be a clean and instant kill.)
Jozsi locks up again about 400yds further up. And then Momo comes in. I have no idea what will happen because we've never really worked on backing or honoring drills. And I don't know if Momo saw that Jozsi had a real point going or if he smelled the bird, too, but he locked up behind the Boy Genius. Seeing poetry in static motion, I had to call 'whoa' on them to try and get this picture. You can't see the bird, but seeing those two locked up, intent on game, was worth every second for me. Pictorially speaking, though, this is one of those times that having russet-gold dogs doesn't work so well.
The bird was nested down behind a downed tree bole and, once I've worked around, is now pinned on all four sides. So I called Momo to go in and flush it. And perhaps, just perhaps, because he really is honoring his brother's point, he stays still. The Little One, however, takes matters into his own hands (or mouth), flies the roughly 10ft and pins the bird by the neck, leaving me to go in and dispatch it by hand. Ditch-chickens 4 Team Vizsla 4.
His Junior Majesty is looking like a heck of a bird-dog. While he has pointed pheasant before, this was his first complete performance. And so, in his honor and that of the beautiful rooster that christened him (and inspired by the folks at HHD), here's a haiku for them both:
hunkered down in leaves
then a flash of emerald
-- Jozsi's first pheasant.