We had a wonderful day of bird work with our friends; Alan and Rene, Steve, and Nancy. The girls and I got out to the LBJ Grasslands around 9:30 am with our training equipment and coffee in hand. It was a bit windy at the start but the day soon warmed up to the perfect bird working temperature. First up was our oldest girl Ellie (aka Monster). I planted birds for Monster, two in cages, and two planted in cover. We have been doing a lot of work recently with Monster to get her excitement level up, and to get her energized each time she takes the field. Having the two birds in a more controlled situation gave me the opportunity to make sure she would get on two birds at least. At the starting line Monster took off like a rocket. She has really started to put it all together now and when in the field, is very actively looking for those fun birds. She has a great nose and quickly came up to the first bird (in a tipsy cage). She didn’t hold point very long and dove in on the bird, I released the bird and she was off…over the hills and threw the woods. I couldn’t believe how strong that bird was flying! I got her back into the bird field and we soon came onto bird two. This bird was planted and took off as soon as she pounced, it too was a strong, strong flying bird. She chased for a distance and then came running back to me. She gave me a look as if to say ‘wow, did you see that!’. A quick drink of water and we were back looking for more. She worked the third bird very nicely…following the scent cone until she found the bird. She held her point for just a few moments and, you guessed it, the chase was on. This time I think she actually ran to the next county. Nancy asked me how old Monster was, I told her she was 10…Nancy asked me if I was sure about that?! Monster was having a blast out there and was running from one side of the country to the other. We finally got her back into the bird field and she worked up to the last bird. She found the bird and I released it, she chased and finally came back. She worked the field all the way back to the trucks. She had a wonderful day. Our next training session we are going to cap over her, if she is ready (which I am pretty sure she is) we’ll keep moving forward.
After Ellie ran on her birds we switched to a brace format and ran two dogs at a time. We progressed from the younger/beginner dogs up to the more experienced dogs. Bonesy finally got her turn in the field. She was very excited of course and ran very well with her brace mate Spencer. The first bird we came on was pointed by Spencer, I whoa’d Bonsey into an honor when she finally saw Spencer on point. The bird was flushed and dropped. Both dogs did a great job on the bird. One of the areas that we are working with Bonesy on is steady through shot. In this scenario I had put a check cord on Bonesy and gave her a little reminder that she wasn’t allowed to move until I gave the command. So I gave the command and we went on hunting birds. Bonesy hit the second bird and Spencer did a great job honoring. It was a picture moment for the owners! The bird was flushed, shot, and Bonesy retrieved to about 10 feet from me…well I guess we have another thing to work on, retrieving to hand! So bird on bag, we set off, Bonesy off in the distance, Spencer working some cover on our right goes on point…I try to get Bonesy around so that I can set up the honor but she starts to develop temperature hearing. If you are not familiar with this issue, usually found in younger hunting dogs, it’s when their head drops below 45 degrees, they seem to go deaf (or at least they seem to stop listening!) So another thing for Bonesy and I to work on right…recall…So I see Bonesy working an area as I try to bring her in and of course, a bird wild flushes up wind of her. At first she looked wonderful…she stops, she holds, she’s standing there…then after about 5 seconds, she looks at me in the distance, moving as quickly toward as I am able, and she breaks. Okay, so now we have another thing to work on…stop to flush! So I get Bonsey to me and we start working back to the starting line. We go by an old wind mill/water tank and both dogs lock up hard and fast. There is a moment of confusion on our parts as we didn’t place any birds in this area. Turns out to be a convey of quail, about 8 to 10 of them. They are right on the edge of some gnarly stuff, briar’s, brambles, thorns, and THICK! So we decide to try to work the birds back into the dogs and try to pull something out of this point. We finally get give up, the birds win again, and decide to bushwack our way back to the field…of course we find a single on the way back…and it is walking right for the dogs. It is important to note that Rene and Nancy were managing the dogs while us boys were making our ways through the bushes. So we regroup, and finally get the quail to come out of the bushes, between the gunners, (nice work Steve), the bird flushes, I make the shot, the dogs are released, and Bonsey makes the retrieve…well to within 10 feet of me any way. Not bad considering the bird was dropped back into the nasty brambles. So what looked like a potential disaster, turned out to be a great set up. So we work our ways back and round and of course, yep, another covey of quail…Spencer did a wonderful stop to flush…Bonesy…not so much. So lets see, ad the one, carry the two, yep, another thing for us to work on…Stop to Flush. I get Bonsey on the check cord and we work our ways out of the situation to avoid completely ruining the dog and get ourselves out to open fields. I release Bonesy, pretty much to get the rest of a good run in and get her some fun/field time…and she goes on point. Spencer has an amazing honor. So Rene helps me with Bonesy, I flush and shoot the bird, Bonesy retrieves (to within 10 feet) and we walk back to the truck. What a day.
So in case you weren’t counting…Bonesy and I have on our plate and need to work on; steady through shot, retrieve to hand, recall, and stop to flush…not too bad. To be honest she is pretty close on all of them and I mark up most of her stuff to handler error! 😉
Can’t wait for this weekend…more bird work!