Monday, October 12, 2009

First Shot Bird!

Today was Huge.

My friend Douglas invited me down to his farm today to work our dogs on some birds (he has a Spinone). I've been working with Winnie little by little on exposing her to gunfire, and we've also been doing some limited bird work. But it felt like the right time to start putting the pieces together, and so I decided to bring her in hopes of introducing a shotgun and a bird at the same time.

But two things bothered me: 1) Although I've done a little gun exposure, the leap to a full shotgun blast at a relatively close distance would be a significant one, and 2) Having done all my training to this point on my own, and having little hunting experience and even less gundog training experience going in, I was not confident that what we've done so far would translate to a real world (albeit staged) hunting environment in the company of an experienced hunter.

And so, with four chukar stinking up the car, I made the trip south to the farm and we formulated a plan: On the first two birds, I would hold Winnie on a short leash and let her watch Enzo as he did the hunting. Then we would give Winnie a shot. But after the first shot, if Winnie reacted negatively to the sound, we would of course revisit everything and recalibrate our goals for the day.

Enzo found the first bird quickly and Winnie and I got into position about twenty yards away. Douglas flushed the bird and took two shots to bring the chukar down. Winnie didn't flinch! Winnie watched excitedly as Enzo retrieve the downed bird and we repeated the exercise for the second bird. Same results, Winnie was not bothered by the shotgun. (Douglas and I were both shooting 16 gauges.)

Winnie plowed through her first bird and flushed and chased it - no shot. But for the next bird she was much more methodical in her search, and when she found the bird she held the point nicely until I could get there to flush it. I took the shot and downed the bird and Winnie was right there to go after it. She found it in some thick brambles and kind of lost interest in fetching it for me, so I grabbed it and threw it for her into some short grass. She ran after it and brought it right to my hand.

We sat on the porch and had a cold beer as we removed 490 burrs from our dogs and talked about the morning. And when Douglas complimented me on how well Winnie had done in the field, and how well behaved she was generally, I realized just how big this day was for us. We have a long way to go, but we're really enjoying the journey. And after today I feel like we're heading in the right direction.


Anonymous said...

great fun with great dogs and friends-days to remember!

here's to many more


Anonymous said...

OH!! !!!!GOOD GIRL Winnie!!!!
I am so impressed by both of you (good shot ED!!). You will never know how much I enjoy your blog and pictures...thank you so much for the entertainment--it is the first thing I go to when I go on the computer. There is nothing like the adrenalin rush while watching a dog work a field and go into a point! Chris and Cassie

Ed. said...

Wow, Chris, what an incredibly kind comment! Thank you SO much.

Ruby & Sophie said...

Congrats to you and Winnie! Your hard work is paying.

My 2 have both had gundog training before they came to me, but they are purely pets but do like to flush pheasants when they're out, so much so that they got a row of the farmer the other day for disturbing the pheasants! Oops.

Ed. said...

Oops! I guess you can take the Vizsla out of the field, but you can't take the field out of the Vizsla! I wish we had pheasants around here for Winnie to kick up.

Pigeon huter said...

I also wanted to go hunting with dogs but I do not have a clever dog