We had visitors for the past two days: Ella, Khumbu, and Rich of the Team Vizsla -- Eastern MA chapter. Rich had wanted to come out and do a little hunting and get his two red-dogs out in the woods for the first time.
We decided to meet upstate yesterday and run the beasts up at TMT. The owner has been kind enough to offer me the opportunity to run my boys up there when he's closed to see if we can pick up any of the birds clients missed over the previous few days. And so we got the four red lunatics out in shifts.
Rich and I had an interesting conversation about the merits of hunting on preserves -- and at least here in southern New York, there are a number of significant merits. On the one hand, you can hunt or train for seven months of the year; unless you're terribly unlucky, you're guaranteed bird-contact; and you shouldn't have to worry about others walking up on you and causing an unsafe situation. On the other hand, the dogs may learn to follow the smell of the ATV that's used to put the birds out; and it's going to get expensive quick. But what we talked about was the fact that, as far as the birds are concerned, it's somewhat moot to say that preserve birds are less wild than those that the various States stock many of the public hunting areas in the northeast with. I will still maintain, however, that whether on a preserve or in a WMA, it's pretty easy to tell a bird that's been on the ground 10minutes, 2hrs, or has survived an overnight.
Somewhat surprisingly, Momo found and pinned a monster rooster pheasant -- and by pinned I mean that he got close enough to freeze the bird without causing him to run. I'll admit I wasn't expecting that big bird and thought I'd flubbed my first shot through the trees, but had connected well with the second barrel. In any case, the bird went down, Momo waited, and then brought that big beautiful bird back. I am so pleased with him. Sadly, while Ella looked fairly convinced in another spot, we had no other definite bird contacts.
This morning we made our first pilgrimage to Stewart Airport to see what we could find. As we pulled up to my favorite field, we saw three guys heading out with a Brittany. We were so close to the honeyspot, as we discovered shortly as shotguns started blazing! Nevertheless, we found a double parking spot nearby -- and took the dogs out in pairs, Momo with Khumbu, and Jozsi with Ella, in part to give Rich's dogs some competitive inspiration. Momo had an interesting point on something... I say 'something' because I couldn't tell you exactly what it was he found and we flushed twice. It was not a pheasant and it didn't fly like a timberdoodle -- but seemed more quail-sized or slightly bigger, but somehow the color grey seemed most prominent. In any case, as you can tell, I couldn't get a shot off in the thickets. Jozsi, too, stuck a great point but it turned out to be non-productive... which is weird for him because he tends to run over birds rather than false-point.
We then managed to get in to my favorite parking spot -- and the games began. Certainly it sounded as though the previous three guys had enjoyed plenty of opportunities and they mentioned that they'd taken a bunch of quail -- and so Rich and decided to split up and hunt the edges. The Mominator got a couple of nice points, including this one, on one bird before I finally managed to get a decent, even impressive, shot and bring it down. After weeks of dragging pheasants out of the woods, he was very psyched to go pick up a quail. We had three more points on three more birds: one ended up being hand-caught, and two more flushed in crazy thickets that we couldn't get a shot through. That's why they call it 'hunting' and not 'shooting.'
In the blogworld, Matt Mullenix has a nice two-parter about raising kids and raising food -- there's a nice exchange with NorCal Cazadora about why it seems fewer young folks are being drawn into hunting. Speaking of NorCal Cazadora, she has a great post and extensive comments about 'hunting with heart' (to rephrase David Petersen's great collection of essays of the similar name). And to the bozos at Stewart who left a rooster and a hen in the woods because they had either shot their bag-limit already or couldn't be bothered to retrieve them from the brambles, get it together!
To end, here's a nice pic of Rich walking back to his truck with Ella. Hope you get to do it a lot more this fall.