Charlie on point – Quail dead ahead!
Mitch showing Orso what a Quail is and smells like
Orso spots a Quail in the grass
While Saturday was cold and raw, Sunday was just brutal. The high temperature for the day was at 4:30 in the morning when I took the dogs outside after they ate. It went downhill from there. By the time we got out of the car to start the morning hunt, the temperature had dropped to about twenty degrees with twenty-five mile an hour winds out of the northwest. I seriously doubted our sanity. I had on a turtleneck, button up shirt, insulated vest and an insulated field coat on top and pants and insulated over-pants on the bottom. I also was wearing silk glove liners and insulated shooting gloves. It wasn’t enough. That wind just cut right through me.
Shaking my head at our insanity, I grabbed my camera and headed out with Mitch and the dogs. Trying to catch a scent of any birds in this wind was going to be sheer luck on the dogs’ part. AJ flushed the first bird which Mitch shot and AJ retrieved it with Orso in hot pursuit. Maybe there would be birds in spite of the bitter conditions.
As we rounded an out cropping of trees that opened up to a small field of knee high prairie grass. I walked on the outer rim while Mitch walked along the tree line. As I got to the middle of the field I noticed that all of the dogs were with me (sans gun) and Mitch was nowhere to be seen. I thought to myself, what was the number one rule of hunting? Stay with the dogs. I hoped that the dogs wouldn’t find any birds, because I sure wasn’t going to kill a bird with my mind. I kept calling the dogs back to me hoping to stall and Mitch would miraculously show up just as the dogs flushed some birds. But no such luck. Charlie flushed one into the tree line at the edge of the field and I found myself running to where the quail flew despite the fact that I only carried a camera. Old habits. Mitch finally showed up just as AJ flushed a small covey of about five quail. Mitch shot two into the trees when a third one flew out over my head and as Mitch swung around for the shot I quickly dropped to the ground to avoid either being shot or slapped in the head with the gun barrel. He got the bird, by the way.
So far the day was shaping up to be a very fruitful harvest. The only drawback was the bitter cold. I headed down into the draw to try to escape the wind, but by then my hands were too cold. They hurt so bad even with the gloves on I was afraid that I could cause some permanent damage so I told Mitch that I was going to head back to the car and warm up. Walking back to the car I heard a noise behind me so I turned to look back and there was AJ, who lives to hunt, walking along with me. He had had enough too.
I think that AJ and I are the wiser of the bunch. But that’s not saying much since we all went out there to begin with.
We went hunting in Central Nebraska this past weekend. The original plan was to hunt pheasant but there were no pheasant, so it was decided that we would hunt quail instead. Pheasant are not an especially hardy bird at the best of circumstances and with the severe drought have not fared well at all. Now since it was determined that quail was the only option to hunt I decided to forgo carrying a shotgun and carry a camera instead. I am not fast enough to shoot quail. On the occasions we have flushed a covey of quail in past hunting trips, I was always startled at the delicate fluttering of birds and as soon as I realized that I could shoot at them, the birds were way out of gun range. So I figured I would stand a better chance of getting some shots of the dogs and Mitch with my camera than hitting a quail with my gun.
Saturday was cold and cloudy, with temperatures in the forties with a mild breeze, making day seem pretty raw. The dogs headed out with Charlie ranging a bit too far in front as always. We have to call him back often otherwise he’ll flush a bird three counties away. AJ wandered a lot slower and more methodically this year, his age showing. Orso as usual headed off lumbering along just happy to be out with everybody bumping into the closest body to wherever he ended up in the field. Charlie was the first to flush a bird and Mitch actually shot it. I was shocked. I didn’t really think that any birds would get shot the entire weekend. Charlie fetched the bird up with Orso sniffing away at this new creature. He has shown no interest in pheasants at all. But this new one smelled pretty good to him.
Orso started off and actually put head down and used his nose to search for a likely scent. This was a bird he liked and wanted to find. Who knew? Orso wandered farther into the field head down, stopped for a brief moment then lunged forward catching a bird in his mouth before it could fly. He came trotting up to Mitch with the bird in his mouth, its’ little white head poking out to the side. He did this not once but three times. Orso had great success at quail hunting. He only needed us to carry the birds after he caught them.
Maybe there is hope for him yet.
What is the attraction to dogs with dead disgusting thoroughly gross smelling animal carcasses? And it’s not only animal carcasses, it’s animal poop, urine or the likes that dogs love. Charlie especially. The more wretched the better. I’ve lost track of the number of times Charlie would be off exploring on our walks, then come racing back to me with a proud expression of excitement on him, as if he’d won the lottery. He would smell so bad I would barely be able to get close enough to put the lease on him and take him home for a bath in the basement garage. Because no dog will come into my house smelling like that.
This hunting trip was no different. Monday, last day of the trip, Mitch and I were working a small stand of tall prairie grass, about the width of a football field and the double the length. Perfect for four hunters, but also manageable for two. We’d made the trip from one end to the other without any success and decided to walk back through one more time, just to give it a complete sweep. I was in the middle of the field and Mitch was close to the south edge, when I heard Mitch hollering at Charlie, “No Charlie, get up. Quit!”
I asked him what was up and Mitch told me that Charlie had found a deer carcass and did the stop, drop and roll. He came up thoroughly pleased with himself. Charlie came running over to me for a whiff. Lucky me. Both Mitch and I said simultaneously, “You’re getting a bath today, Buster!”
Feeling sorry for the dead deer and sorrier for me, because I was the giver of bathes, I restarted working the field. We hadn’t made it twenty feet when Charlie came upon more remains of another dead deer. Thinking he’d hit the jackpot, Charlie dive bombed head first into the disgusting pile of bones, fur and flesh. I yelled at him to stop, but he was in stinky dog nirvana. I finally had to use his shock collar to get him to stop. Charlie was so proud of himself, he strutted up to Orso with his head high, as if to say I am the king of stink! Smell me I smell absolutely wonderful.
What a stinker, literally.