First of all, we just learned that my wife has had her first piece of work in the field of education and educational reform published. Splendido!!! She wrote the essay with three women who she was in the doctoral program at NYU with (and who became good friends, as a result).
My one comment: Em, where's the ballet in Nell Nodding's Ethics of Care?
While Meg is in Portland, OR, making presentations and being a smarty-pants, the boys and I have also celebrated a first... three consecutive days of making our bag-limit hunting pheasant. This is much less about body-count than it is about being fortunate enough to get out for three mornings in a row, enjoy the beautiful fall colors (as in the top pic), and actually get both boys on birds.
We went to Stewart on Thursday and I figured I'd run Jozsi in one of the bigger, wider-open fields first -- a field we have never found a bird in before -- to encourage him to stretch his legs in preparation for tomorrow's field-trial. We must have missed the stocking truck by less than an hour. In his forty-five minutes on the ground, Jozsi had eight pheasant flushes, two of which he actually pointed and, miraculously, which his father managed to shoot. We bagged out in 25mins. He also found two quail... which flushed as a pair and in my mental gymnastics of 'Oh, quail! Oh, two quail! I could shoot a double...' I whiffed with both barrels and both birds. To Jozsi's credit, the air was thick, the wind was gusty, and the birds very skittish; he does have a nice stop-to-flush as a result. Here he is at the end of his run... I don't think you can make out all the scratches on his nose and eyes, and the bloody part of his tongue is hidden, but the big slobber across his own nose should tell you how jazzed he was. (In the interests of brevity I will spare you the details of Momo's run.)
The hunting season at Sterling Forest opened on November 1st -- and there are a couple of sections the State stocks with birds. I am lucky to work with folks who are forgiving enough to let me come in a little later when Meg is traveling so the boys aren't crated for too long -- and so I decided to head up to Sterling for a morning run on Thursday. I put Momo down first and of we went. I'm not sure if he was hyper or the wind was just light and intermittent and patchy at best in the trees, but he flushed two birds before he was able to get some kind of point on. The birds, again, seemed freshly stocked and fairly skittish -- and so when heard him stop and called to him, the rooster flushed up over an outcrop across my front. And his flight was canceled at that point. He then went on to bump, point (which I unexpectedly flushed and then missed), and then bump another three birds in succession in a heavily wooded section -- and I can only imagine that he was both really excited and not getting any wind-assistance. Feeling a little frustrated I then took him into one of the more open fields and got him set-up with what little wind there was directly in his face... and was rewarded with a nice point and, after several breaks on the flush, a solid steady-to-fall and an enthusiastic retrieve.
Having bagged-out, I then decided just to grab my blank-pistol and take Jozsi on a training run. My little lunatic got one point in early on, then maybe bumped two birds. (I say 'maybe' because I couldn't see him in a dense thicket for the first and he had just turned a corner into a new hedgerow on the second and I didn't hear a definite silence from his bell before each of the birds popped out.) In any case, I fired the pistol with each flush and he remained steady. I took him back into the open field and, in the deafening quiet, realised he had thrown a beautiful point. I kicked myself for having left the camera at home. He looked gorgeous all stretched out, head-high -- and had scented a wet hen-bird tucked into a tussock of knee-high grass from about 12ft.
This morning we figured we'd get out slightly earlier to beat the weekend rush -- and got to the Indian Hill parking lot at 7am. And found two trucks. Indian Hill is only about 500acres so as soon as anyone else is in there ahead of you, there's a good chance you'll find them. I got Momo out first again -- and we quickly saw a pair of hunters (with an audible dog-bell) in one of the more open fields. I had planned to leave those for Jozsi to spring through, so we headed off to the ruins of an old homestead. We had gone maybe 10' when Momo froze up -- and we saw the dumbest rooster in the world in the middle of the path ahead. Momo stayed put while I walked to within 4ft of the bird and one up, one down, and a nice retrieve to boot. Ten yards up the path to the homestead, Momo goes on point again... and this time, I let him down by missing the hen that jetted up through the vines and trees. We hunted up around the homestead and as we came back down met the two guys, a father and son, and their friend's chocolate Lab who'd been hunting the fields. They'd flushed one hen but missed despite unleashing a volley reminiscent of the Western Front. We then cut cross-country again and as we came up over a streambank Momo got his old-school stretchy-point on. I managed to flush the rooster and knock it down for this retrieve. Happy vizsla. Even if these were farm-raised birds, most had been on the ground for 48hrs and were not sticking around -- although if anything, the damp heavy air kept them on the ground till the last second. (In the interests of brevity again, at his turn Jozsi had another 45min sprint-fest, found a bird in the middle of a swamp thicket, stopped-to-flush, and then actually released and came to me on a verbal command -- because we couldn't see each other.)
In the strangers-in-the-woods category: this is a swift hello to Gerald. We met at Indian Hill on Thursday, but didn't know it at the time. (Gerald is a friend of Bob's -- and who actually met Momo the time Bob looked after him one weekend we decided to go away; Gerald's even visited The Regal Vizsla of his own free will.) It was a pleasure to meet you, Gerald! Hope we'll meet again.
In the friends + relatives section: while Jozsi's brother, Rocko, did not earn a placement at the Vizsla Club National Field Trial in Sonoita, AZ, on Thursday, we did just learn that Jozsi's breeder, Lisa DeForest, handled Upwind Kismet Rapid Fire, aka. Mason, to a third place in the Amateur Championship. Well done, Lisa + Mason!!!
Tomorrow, the travels begin! Don't know how much internet we'll have, probably not much, so it may be Thursday night before I can post again.