Oh boy! We've had a couple of days up at TMT in the past week or so. And holy heck, I can skip hot humid weather. Way back when, Joe Spoo wrote a post about protecting your dogs in the heat -- especially when the temperature and humidity combined add up to more than 150.
Today, even though it's late September, even though the air temp was right around 70degsF, the humidity was 90+%. We had gone up there today with my friends Scott and Bob -- and Bob's lovely Llewellin Belle. I think we sweated off a few dozen pounds between us. But the heat meant that the dogs got a little addled and tired easily, the birds didn't want to fly, and we got very warm. Did I mention that there was little to no air moving?
The fact that each of the dogs made some good finds in dense cover and heavy air was pretty satisfying. We had a mixture of chukar and pheasant put out for us -- and Momo did well on the first batch of chukar despite the fact that they all wanted to run and so had to be worked two or three times each. We then put Bob's Belle down -- who after running around for 15mins decided that she was going to douse herself in the nearest deepest mud puddle to cool off. She then made two stylish finds on a couple of pheasants before going back to the trucks for a rest. The picture is of her first find in some pretty dense sorghum. That rooster was in there and eager to stay hidden.
We then put Jozsi down -- and running chukar and heat and a crazy-ass 16mos-old demon makes a volatile combination. I will say this for my Evil Boy Genius: he ranges far but is always aware of where you are; and he will stop-to-flush, but will also take out a chukar on the ground if it runs away from him more than twice. I want him to be great -- I just need to remember that he doesn't need to be and shouldn't be expected to be a Master Hunter caliber dog (yet). I'll be able to hunt him in more open ground and not-on-chukar once the bird season officially opens -- and he will be fabuloso, I'm sure.
Then Momo went down on the ground again -- and made a couple of great finds on two roosters. Sadly, the gunning team were unable to drop one of them -- and the other made like Haile Gebrselassie. Throughout the afternoon, though, I had been practicing my eco-friendly approach to bird-hunting and feel as though I have now crossed a major threshhold . To date, when hunting I prefer to shoot with paper hulled shotgun shells using fiber wads to minimize the amount of plastic I send into the countryside. I have now refined my Svengali technique to the extent that when birds don't fly, I just catch them by hand. It saves on ammunition costs and has little or no environmental impact. After taking three chukars using My New Fighting Technique, I stepped it up a notch and successfully hand-grabbed this monster. Sadly for him, he was put into one of my launchers and used as a training bird to keep working on getting Momo steady-to-fall.
We're almost there getting Momo steady-to-fall, but the thing that has impressed me so far is his drive to retrieve -- and especially on ditch-chickens. I realise that the average weight of an adult rooster is a little over 2.5lbs -- but this monster was at least 4lbs. (Watch out, Brizstow, these birds are mongo huge!) The point that impresses me is that I am asking a 45lb dog to retrieve a bird that may weigh 10% of his body weight through dense cover in hot, humid conditions. Can we ask or expect much more? I don't know -- but my big beautiful boy continues to impress me.
We're off to CT next weekend for the CVVC Hunt Test at Flaherty. Wish us luck!
In other news -- and I quote Dan's e-mail to me directly -- "So is that RichRod's gameplan.... lull the other team for a half by pretending to suck, then catch them off guard by not sucking? Inspired!" All I know is that the secret operative, and UW graduate, known only as Coffee Boy is rolling in agony.