After spending the morning hunting with Mia, I returned home to exchange dogs and have lunch. Doc has been braced with Mia all hunting season and I wanted to see how he’d do on his own. He didn’t disappoint me and for his first hunt without Mia he’s much more cautious, but that’s as it should be. Once he gains some experience he’ll start running big, however now he’s taking it slow and steady.
Soon after starting out, Doc went on a solid point that he refused to leave. I kicked through the grass and couldn’t find anything, and eventually had to pull him off his point by the collar. I told him to “track” and he searched the grass until he was satisfied that there were no birds. He puts so much trust in his own nose that he still couldn’t accept the fact that there was no bird.
We came onto a rooster and I regret not being able to get a picture; it was a real Norman Rockwell scene. We crossed an earthen walkway that covered a culvert and a rooster was standing in the grass on the right side of the walkway. Doc began crossing on the left, upwind side of the bird. He must have sensed it because he turned with back to the bird and nose into the breeze, sniffing. No more than 3 feet separated them and had Doc turned around, he and the bird would have literally been nose-to-beak.
Since I couldn’t shoot until the bird flushed, I tried twice to pull out my camera and get a picture but each time I moved, the rooster tensed to flush. Doc walked back to me, wondering why I had stopped, then went back up the earthen walkway this time on the right side. He had still not scented or seen the rooster but would walk right into it so I got ready for the shot.
It flushed and I shot twice, apparently missing both times. The rooster landed near some Russian Olive trees and we went after it. After hunting the Russian Olive grove without any luck, we exited the grove near where it landed and flushed it. I’m assuming it was the same bird – I’d hate to think that I missed every shot that day – but although it was wounded and couldn’t fly it put up a valiant fight.
Doc was on it and after a short chase we seemed to have lost it in the grass. I went around some brush to head it off but Doc didn’t follow. When I returned a couple of minutes later he was on point; and for several moments I couldn’t see anything in the grass but then, inches from his nose, I saw the green top of the bird’s head. It had buried itself into the grass and was virtually invisible. I rousted it and the chase was on once again, and although the bird put up a fight, it was no match for Doc Savage hunter extraordinaire.
We hunted several more hours without seeing a bird. Walking back to the truck I saw a big rooster caught out in the open while crossing the ice. The ice was too thin to attempt getting close enough for a shot and I wasn’t about to allow Doc to go after it, so I skipped rocks across the ice in an attempt to to flush it hoping that it wouldn’t fly too far.
No way was he going to flush but gingerly crossed the ice and into the reeds bordering the pond. We went after him but he slipped away and with the sun setting, we were quickly running out of time. The day ended not only a success in bagging a bird but more importantly, Doc as with Mia earlier, confirmed all that I exected from them in becoming excellent bird dogs.