oh boy... where to start. We spent the afternoon up at TMT Preserve up in Staatsburg -- and it was the first time for Scott and Ed from work to meet the two boys. I intended for them to serve as gunning crew so that I could concentrate on Momo, especially, with his retrieve -- and because this would be the format that he would have to cope with in his pending Senior Hunter tests. And I decided to run the boys independently and then hopefully bring them together to sweep the fields at the end.
Momo pulled a bunch of great points right off the bat -- and here are some nice pics of the boy in action, resplendent in his new skid-plate. And while we had the usual Roy Orbison impersonations and reluctant chukars, things were going fairly well. His first three retrieves were a little reluctant, but he eventually brought them to hand.
With the exception of one bird he just came too close to on the upwind side, he did a grand job of finding birds and holding some nice points while the crew around him organized themselves. But as the afternoon wore on, he started doing something weird which was heading out to mark the bird down, stopping three-quarters of the way, and coming back -- and when told to 'take' the bird (the catch-all command for 'fetch'), he would have to be walked out increasingly closer to the bird before he would mouth it and then bring it to you. I don't know if it was just lack of confidence, the first hunt with his dad since his time with Bob, and/or a couple of new guys around him, but it became clear that he was beginning to struggle with his retrieve.
So I put him up and got Jozsi. All I can really say is that I hope what happened was because he was just so jacked to be out with his dad in bird-fields... because it was like the wheels came off. I was mortified watching him bust birds, or hold point and then charge and pin the bird, and generally act so wound up that it wasn't that much fun to have him out. We had a couple of serious conversations -- and my two colleagues were gracious enough to cut him some 10mos-old puppy slack. But I need to do some serious structured work with him if his JH tests are going to mean anything. Because the State regarded this winter as 'severe,' preserves were able to apply for a two-week extension (which Tom has), so I'll be taking both of them back up there on Thursday.
The unexpected highlight of the afternoon, though, came on the walk back in with Momo. Tom had advised us that there were some timberdoodles in the area (but that we should not shoot at them). And lo! the Mominator got a great point on this mudbat. It was a shame to have to pick him up and take him away from the bird because it didn't make sense to me to flush a bird we couldn't shoot at. I'm quite pleased with the picture -- you can get a pretty good sense of how odd these shorebirds-that-got-evolutionarily-lost-in-the-woods really are.
So anyways, lots of work to do.