Ten seasons ago, I had a young German Wire Hair pup, wound tight as drum and ready for something. Something which was innate, a predetermined mind set with a nose for birds……and a few whitetails. Back then, sitting in my mid-twenties, I had no idea of how to train a bird dog and barely made enough time in my guide schedule to get him ready. Sure, we worked on retrieving, heel and come…basic shit. I shot a cap gun around him during breakfast and dinner; popped off a few 22 rounds and then finally drug out the shotgun and blasted a couple of shells within ear shot my young pup – on opening day, after my guide trip and just before we headed out for his first day afield. That first evening out, he pointed two ruffed grouse and one hit the ground. Without hesitation, he snapped up the bird and brought it back. His eyes were glowing, his body quivering. Right then and there I knew I would always hunt behind a pointer.
Every bird dog owner should experience the training process from start to finish. You never really finish training your dog, in fact, they keep training you. Hunting breeds show you more about hunting than any book could ever teach you. My love of hunting starts with the fact that our quarry is out there – somewhere, and now I had a dog. Not just any dog, but a pointer with the ability to sniff out birds and hint to us that an explosion from the grass just might happen. The moments which build up to a flush are like no other. Yes it compares to a two-foot brown rising up to grab a salmonfly, but it just ain’t the same. Huck was a different dog during bird season, much like I am different person throughout this short time frame each fall.
This year, I have a another young pup, with only one season afield. That single season however, was spent hunting behind Huckleberry – my first bird dog and arguably the best teacher Stella could’ve ever had. Back in March, after Huck left this world, I missed him dearly. Now, with the anticipation of the 2012 Upland Season, I miss him even more. While it was difficult taking care of two bird dogs, to say the least, having an old dog teach the young dog was the best thing I ever did. If I didn’t have a dog to hunt behind, I would hang up the boots and not hunt birds again for a while. Stella just might surpass Huck with her natural ability, but the memories I made with him will forever be ingrained in my thick skull.