The 2010 waterfowl season is open in the great white (and wet!) north. I've been out every day since last thursday and will be heading out again this afternoon. This time I will bring the camera. I really should have had it yesterday, the action was FANTASTIC.
I guess Murphy's law says today will be crap, but what the heck. I will try to get some shots to post.
Anyway, here's a dog-by-dog report of the season so far:
Souris Manon (10.5 year old little grey rocket ship, Grau Geist line, Weim.): Can anyone explain to me how a dog can spend every day since last Xmas basically sleeping 23 hours a day - under the covers - with no more exercise than an occasional walk around the park and then on opening day absolutely smoke through a field looking for birds?
Personally, I run all year round trying to stay in half decent shape and I am still pooped after the first day of the season...and I am not ten and a half dog-years old! Yet somehow Souris Manon still runs like she is in peak shape...and looks like she is three years old. Show people can go on and on about how their dogs are "built correctly to do the job" and how field bred dogs "fall apart" after a few years...yada yada yada...but if they could get past the fact that Souris Manon is not exactly Selma Heyek, they would see a dog that is from a line of dogs that mainly lived into their teens and that even after 10 years and running thousands of kilometers is still able to outwork dogs half her age.
Yesterday, I decided to run Souris with Maizey (1.5 year old German LH weim, v. Fenriwolf line) to see if it would get Maizey to range out more. It worked...and how! It turns out that Maizey has a sort of competitive streak in her and when she saw the "old woman" blazing across the field, she just had to get out there faster and further. Fortunately Maizey is also a natural backer (with a wee bit of cautioning from me) so when Souris pointed, Maizey backed on all 6 points ( six points on wild sharptails! holy shit!). Maizey had 2 points of her own, one she shared with Souris and the other Souris backed from a good distance.
Uma (7 year old Pont Audemer Spaniel, imported from cheese eating surrender monkey land) also ran with Maizey and Souris. I was half expecting a total free for all, but the girls worked very well together. Uma also backs so she was in on a few of the points and managed one point by herself on a snipe (which I missed). Uma is a really quick, busy worker, but she works much closer in (50 to 75 yards, ideal for pheasants). When after sharptails, I think I should run her alone. Otherwise, the bigger running dogs find all the birds first.
Henri (2 year old Weim, Silvershot-bred, grey lightning bolt) is really something to see. If Souris is the kind of dog that will make folks realize that Weims can really rock and roll in the field, Henri is the kind of dog that will make their jaw drop. As the judge in his UT test told me, "He's a lot of dog". On the first day that I ran him after getting him back from the trainer he worked fast but relatively close. He was used to working the fairly small patches of field out east where he spent the summer. But by day 2 Henri was stretching out more and more. By day three he was....waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out there..at times probably in the 400 to 500 yard range ie: barely visible.
Day 4 (yesterday) he had figured out the happy medium range he should be working at...well to the front from 75 to 200 yards. And he also figured out the wild bird thing. Since all of his training this summer had been on planted birds, he was at first trying to get too close to the wild sharptails and snipe. After getting too close on a few and seeing them flush, he figured it out. Yesterday he NAILED two points on sharptails (both were pairs), had two points on snipe and one stop to flush (also a snipe).
And that is when I realized that I was an idiot for not having my camera. Not only does Henri run like the wind, but holy intensity batman, his points were really something to behold. He's got that super-crouching-panther front end but with the head and nose tilted way up and the ass in the air back end that is sooo cool to see. He was also steady to flush and shot (in the air, sharptail season is not open yet).
Me (48 year old brilliantined stick-insect of Icelandic/Ukrainian heritage). As mentioned, no matter how much I run in the off season, the opening week always tuckers me out. But so far I have stuck to the plan for Henri. I am keeping him steady to wing and shot. I was proud of myself yesterday when he pointed the sharptails. I did not watch them fly away but watched the dog and whoed him when he took a step. I also managed to bag a snipe and a duck over Souris with my new Darne 12 gauge. We had them for diner last night and let me just say that there is NOTHING in this world that is better on the plate than snipe and/or duck. Pair either of them with the right wine (cab/sauvignon, zinfandel or pinot noir) and you basically have a party in your mouth.