Taking a drive across 70 miles of bad road, the nearest house 40 miles away in any direction, and cell phone service is intermittent at best, isn’t something you do lightly. But that’s exactly what I did yesterday and for the first time completed the trip from Kimama to Aberdeen. It was the last day of sage hen season and I really wanted to get Doc and Mia on some of these birds.
I began at Kimama and hunted the edge of the farms for a bit and was glad to see Doc showing some independence in how he runs the field. However being the pup he is, he has a tendency to run back to the truck when he loses sight of us for any length of time so I had to keep an eye on him. Although a moderate wind blew the entire day it was still hot.
From there we went deeper into the desert and I set my sights on sage hen. Doc went on a nice steady point that Mia didn’t honor: he was pointing fresh coyote droppings, maybe it had eaten a bird? We continued on towards Bear Trap Cave and stopping to hunt and again Doc went on point with some more fresh coyote droppings. But dang, he sure has nice form.
Our third stop was near a series of broken lava ridges that looked promising. We hunted them awhile and were circling back to the truck when, for some reason, I looked up to see three sage hens heading out of shotgun range and over a ridge with Doc in hot pursuit. I called him back and went after the birds. They didn’t seem too spooked and I figured that they would stay on either the ridges or in the high sagebrush bordering them, so we went out about half a mile and then worked our way back, crisscrossing the ridges and brush. Nothing. However Doc did go on a real nice point but nothing was there, so maybe it was where a bird had been.
We continued on for another 30 miles or so and both Mia and Doc were getting bounced around pretty good in their crates, not to mention we now had a tail wind and I couldn’t outrun the dust. So after our next stop, I loaded the guys in the back seat of the truck.
With the sun setting and the outlying farms visible some 10 miles away, we passed another bird hunter who was out with his dog. The way I saw it if someone else was hunting that late in the day, then so would I and half a mile or so down the road stopped at a spot that looked promising. The sun had dropped below the horizon and we were circling back to the truck, turning downwind when the partridge flushed.
Maybe it was the wind or maybe Doc and Mia’s noses weren’t working too well from the dust, but they weren’t aware of the birds until they flushed. I pulled a bead on one and dropped it, and Doc ran back to me with a “what the heck was that all about” look on his face. I sent Mia after the bird but neither she nor Doc could find it at first. When they did, Mia tried retrieving it but Doc stole it from her and brought it back himself. He was certainly proud of the bird and I praised him but had to pry it from his mouth, then I gave it to Mia as a reward and as with Doc, had to pry it from her mouth as well. I guess that after the afternoon’s hunt, they wanted to savor their success.