With a little more training, experience, and confidence, Mia is on course to become a heckuva retriever. I took her duck hunting Saturday morning and threw a lot of things at her in terms of retrieving.
We arrived to find four Whistlers (Goldeneye) sitting in the stream and Mia went on a nice point. They flushed and I dropped one on the opposite bank. Mia eagerly swam across and found it, but she has never retrieved from shore to shore and was a little indecisive, plus she was afraid to step off the ice. I finally had to walk downstream to some riffles and cross to her side, then lead her back through the riffles.
There were a fair number of ducks flying so I set my decoys and waited. They come in fast and I missed my next two shots before dropping a Bufflehead. It summersaulted across the water and Mia was on it. Learning from her first retrieve, she continued to the other bank and then went downstream to cross back over in the riffles – not retrieving protocol, but it worked for her.
I missed a couple more shots before hitting my third bird. It dropped but recovered before hitting the water and continued upstream. A few seconds later I heard four shots and assume the other hunters got it.
By noon the ducks had pretty much stopped flying so I pulled my decoys and started for home, then saw another hunter fishing a duck out of the water. He had gotten two ducks and had no dog, so his strategy was to wait until the ducks drifted close enough to fish them in with sticks or tree limbs. He had one more duck floating down so I offered to send Mia after it.
This was another new thing that I threw at her; it was essentially a blind retrieve as she had not seen the duck fall, and the duck was also floating along with several pieces of driftwood that Mia didn’t know how to negotiate. She made several attempts but couldn’t make the retrieve so I called her back and the other hunter ended up fishing the it out with a tree limb.
I was really happy with the way Mia conducted herself, the enthusiasm she showed, and the big leap forward she took as a retriever. She reminds me of Sophie in a number of ways and shows all the potential that Sophie had at that age.