So who else is having amazing weather this weekend? Well we had two nearly perfect days which were breezy, sunny, and reached into the 70′s… can’t get much more perfect than that. I spent all day saturday out in it, and this morning Luna and I went for a hike too and now I am officially wiped out.
This past thursday I got a text message from a friend asking if we wanted to go dove hunting , needless to say we were all about it. Chris of course went with and we invited our friend Ed out with us too. The plan was to have the boys shooting and I would handle the dogs. I knew Wyatt was a dead ringer to bring, and on a whim I thought I would bring Luna too. I knew we could let her run around a bit beforehand and then see how she was going to act. Most of you have never met Luna, but if you know anything about the breed you know that they don’t typically like to sit still while outdoors. Luna is no exception, she likes to be on the move and hunt around and will often whine while waiting on me (this was the case while posing for pictures today on our hike)… so I didn’t know how she would do sitting still while Wyatt retrieved, especially with guns going off. If worse came to worse I would take her back to the friend’s house to be kenneled. But she shocked me with how calm she was.
This is where Wyatt and Luna hung out for the first quarter. I managed to find a pretty good spot in the shade to accommodate the pups and I. I thought they would be pretty well hidden from oncoming doves and maybe some that would come from behind due to the tree cover. I tried to leave as much brush up as I could but since it was riddled with prickers I did have to tamp some of them down so I wouldn’t end up cutting my hand every 10 seconds (which I basically did anyway, but at least I did not come home with any of the poison ivy).
I used a bit of the burlap to cover the dogs up and any contrast heavy items we brought, like the cooler, as usually contrast changes are a big deal to animals. The dogs also got a bit of covering but that didn’t last long. After some doves were in the cooler I figured we were doing a good enough job being hidden so I didn’t worry as much about the burlap.
Of course Luna being a Vizsla, she got some lap time too. Again I was amazed at how quiet she was being and how content she was to watch things after we settled in. I would give them breaks nearly every hour but that was more for Wyatt’s sake than Luna’s.
Wyatt amped himself allll kinds of up. I thought he would settle down a bit after he got a bird or two but that only made him stare out at Chris even more intently. If he saw the boys walking around with their guns he wouldn’t go to the bathroom like I wanted him to, and upon returning with birds it was a task to get him to drink. I had to laugh at the pup though because sometimes all it took was me putting some water on his tongue and you could see the lightbulb go off and he would drink for me. One track mind this one.
Chris stationed himself out by the telephone pole and apparently picked an amazing location. It was really hard for Wyatt to see Chris walk off with a gun in his hands and be required to stay with me calmly. Sure he loves me and normally would be worried about where I was at, but when a gun is involved he kinda loses his common sense a bit. He LOVES to hunt and retrieve and the shaking, panting, whining just made that all the more apparent. It also will push us to find more ways to get him out hunting so he has a better chance at calming down. But hey at least we know he loves it and the set up we had worked out really well for keeping things safe and non chaotic. It worked out really well that we sort of had first pick on locations for the day. Everyone seemed to want our spot too as they asked as we were leaving if anyone else was down there.
Our friend Ed stationed himself off to the left of me under a bit of a tree branch. It provided him with a bit of shade and a good view of the field.
He did come out a time or two to see about the doves that decided to land on the power line BEHIND us… but we decided to leave them be since they always seemed to catch a whiff of his sneaking and flew off.
There were a few quiet lulls, which tempted me with thoughts of a nap but I didn’t want to be woken by shotgun fire. I decided to play around with taking pictures of the dogs and keeping an eye on the sky.
Luna kept an eye on the sky too… when you are watching for small birds like doves zipping across the sky over time your eyes start to play tricks on you. You start thinking dragon flies, butterflies and other small birds like swallows are actually doves. It does keep you on your toes though.
It didn’t take a whole lot of time before Wyatt was sent to bring back Chris’ first dove. Chris marked where the bird fell and called Wyatt over to find it. Wyatt took off in typical fashion, like a rocket, and was more than happy to help. He was sent back to me with the dove so i could place it in the cooler. He is used to doing this sort of item relay with us at home so applying it to birds worked really well.
He delivered them quite gently and did a great job all around. Luna got her first whiff of our game (notice the nose photo bomb), and I continued to get whiffs as I opened the cooler as Chris got closer and closer to reaching his limit.
After Wyatt delivered the birds it was back to waiting, his least favorite part. I tried my best to keep him cool and calm, the latter of which never really happened till he reached the car.
On a whim I decided to send Luna to Chris for a retrieve… I had no idea how she would do as in the past retrieving is her least favorite part of hunting. I wanted to give Wyatt a bit of a break if possible as he was wearing himself out. Well Luna did a rather lovely retrieve and gently took the bird from Chris and brought it all the way back to me in good fashion. She dropped it when she got up to me but picked it back up for me. I was ecstatic. This is the first bird she has had in her mouth in nearly 2 years so I never dreamed it would go that well.
After that she joined in the waiting and intense watching game.
Luna kept a keen eye on Ed the whole hunt, and I kept hoping she would get to help retrieve a dove for him. Luna became a little more restless but still was very well behaved. We forgot a stake out post (and ear plugs, and a chair), but it turns out we didn’t need it. Both of our dogs were very steady with a simple verbal reminder of “stay”. Having them contained or tied up would have been more of a hassle than a need, since I would have to work around ropes and end up getting up a lot more. This shocked me about the dogs too, normally they are crazy and intense (in a good ” I want to hunt” kind of way) when guns are going off but overall they held their cool and remembered their training. It wasn’t until the second half of the hunt that I went with the dogs to find the birds. The field was VERY ruff, and was riddled with ditches and trenches covered in tall grass and weeds. It was not easy terrain for anyone to navigate and also made finding birds that more challenging. Thankfull we were blessed with a light breeze to help carry scent. Since I have been the trainer of Luna and the main if not sole handler, especially in the field, I felt the need to go with her to help with the search and keep her in a good working pattern.
The first time (and every time after that) we asked her to help find a bird she did amazing. By about halfway in Wyatt was panting too much to be able to smell like he needed to to locate these birds in the long grass. It was not for lack of effort on his part at all, he rocked the first 8 birds or so all on his own and happily retrieved them. So I decided to have Luna join the efforts, why not right? She surprised me on the retrieve part I figured maybe she would surprised me on searching for a dead bird. She has never done this sort of hunting before so i had no idea how she would take to it. All of the hunting she has done in the past is of typical upland hunting style. I walk on foot, she points, someone shoots it, she is sent for the retrieve. Well wouldn’t you know she went right to work hunting that bird out, when I noticed she was on point I told her to “take it” and she didn’t hesitate to pick it right up. I quickly took it from her and threw a party for her. I was so thrilled, even with the competition of her brother (who is a tank about fetching so she kinda shies away from him) she let her natural instincts kick in. After that I decided to bring her out to help find the remainder of the birds as the boys knocked them down. She didn’t point any others that I saw (good thing as dogs shouldn’t point dead birds, just live), instead she would pick them up and look for someone to bring them to.
There were birds that were long shots and sent us deep into the fields. With the men helping mark the birds, the dogs and I did the rest. Every time I began to lose hope about finding a bird Luna would come waltzing out of nowhere with it in her mouth. There were one or two that decided to make a short fly after being hit, and the dogs managed to find those too. I seriously loved seeing her pattern things out and use her nose to locate those downed birds. Add to that the fact that she didn’t get mouthy with these tiny delicate birds either, she would hold them really light and give them with no hesitation. It was only after you had it in your hand that she tried to get a little taste of it but that was fine with me as it was half hearted and never a big snatch. She has gotten mouthy with birds in the past and overall would drop and pick up and fiddle with them. Hardly any of that with these doves, despite how easily their feathers cluttered her mouth. It all just worked out perfectly.
Especially since Chris filled his limit, and thanks to the dogs we didn’t lose a single bird we set out for which I find amazing.
I really can’t see us finding many birds in such thick cover without the help of the dogs. I am so happy we decided to do this hunt, and that things went so smoothly. I wish i could have gotten more photos of Luna at work, but every time I went with her I forgot the camera or the find happened too fast.
Luna didn’t want to leave the birds or the field for that matter. She didn’t stop hoping for more till she was in the bed in the car. She was only just starting apparently. I wish i could find more hunts for her to go on, anyone need a dog for dove season? Seriously, we would be happy to help if you are local.
Somehow I managed to also bring home one of my new favorite pictures of my girl. If you want to hear more about this day and see more pictures from Ed’s point of view hop on over to his blog and have a look.