Having scouted the hunting grounds the day prior to the opener, our excitement lifted as we saw birds in every cover and high numbers. As the day broke we found ourselves overloaded with birds. Almost too many for the 3 springers and 6 guns. The adrenaline was running high and birds were flying everywhere. As we settled down, a few birds fell after many were missed. Hey, what are you going to do it's opening day!
Abby got the call for the first hunt of the day and she didn't disappoint. She was rock steady and her range was awesome considering the amount of scent that was on the ground.
|Lining up for the first hunt|
Mia got the call for the next hunt and she too was thrown into a gauntlet of cover that held 50 plus birds. She was great and hunted the overwhelming cover like a seasoned pro.
Now for the explanation of the title: the low.
This was the season that I was finally able to rotate dogs to keep them fresh. With Abby finally steadied, I thought this was the year that my two dogs would be able to give each other rest. Not only for the day but for the years ahead. Mia has been the go-to dog for the last four seasons. She's carried the weight of several guns and produced birds on a consistent basis. But she can't hunt all day, every day, and be expected to live a long, healthy life.
With best laid plans comes some bumps in the road. On Mia's second hunt, right after she flushed and retrieve two birds, she took a long turn only to come back limping. When I first noticed her limping she was favoring her back left leg. I originally thought it was a sand burr that was stuck in her pad so I checked her out her pads and they were clean. I let her run a few more casts but the limping continued so I took her back to the truck. After a few more brief tests, I knew that she was done for the weekend.
Man, talk about a buzz kill. From that point on I was bummed to have a her out of the rotation. Mia's a wild bird hunting machine that lives for the hunt. So many high hopes were dashed as she stayed in the truck.
I was able to take her in to the vet first thing on Monday morning. Our vet examined her and determined that the injury might be a sprain. But we have to give it two weeks of rest and hope for the best. If she is still limping after the next two weeks, it might just be an ACL injury, so let's hope for the best!
Back to the hunt and the highs. With Mia in the truck, it was time for Abby to shine and shine she did. Abby hunted hard for the rest of the weekend. Saturday afternoon she smoked out a group of roosters that helped me connect on a true double. Once she finished the retrieves, she quickly put up a few more birds and one more fell from the Adam's 16 bore.
It was hard to top that, but Abby saved her best work for the last hunt on Sunday. My BIL Pete, Brian and I scoured the roads and maps for the last hunt of the day and the trip. Right at 3pm we ended up at the State Walk In Access CRP plot. It looked semi-promising but we were tired and ready to hit the road. But after a few casts, Abby started to indicate some ground scent. Almost immediately, she started tracking the scent and from the looks of the cover, I knew we had some runners. After flushing a hen, Abby quickly got back on a scent and flushed a rooster that fell to my second barrel.
As we crossed the street and into some new cover, not much changed as Abby started tracking some hot scent. A hundred yards up the cover, Abby flushed another rooster that was missed by four barrels, including two of mine! As we continued on and switched directions, the favorable head wind became a crossing down wind. I knew I was going to have to keep a close eye on her range. She did take a few extra long casts but I corrected her and continued on. As the cover was coming close to the end, Abby again started tracking and an explosion of birds overwhelmed the guns as we missed a few roosters to ruin her hard work.
Having crossed back into the original field only brought more spectacular hunting by Abby. She tracked down two more roosters and Brian brought one down. After that, we took one more rooster from a wild flush. We ended the day and the trip on a great note.
The disappointing loss of Mia isn't too far from my mind and neither is Abby's first wild bird hunt.
|End of great day with myself and Brian.|
|Adam bear hugging Razor|
|Star of the Show!|