Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rock of Ages

Spy seems to have come down w/ anaplasmosis. Thought he was going to die last Mon./Tues -- shivers, couldn't stand, cried out in pain a couple times, could barely raise his head. But put him on doxicycline Thursday and he was ready to hunt again Friday -- 4 wc and 1 grouse point, 2 wc killed, 1 hr. He's his old self again.

I've gotten Brody out a few times since getting back from WI. It's always been maybe half an hour for exercise if nothing else. Tuesday afternoon (10/27) I had 15 minutes to run Brody before I had to pick up the kids. I put him down in a wet aldery area. Lots of white wash (day old?). Brody went on point.... but started flagging. He wouldn't take a step so I walked in and put up a low, weak-flying woodcock, which he chased out of sight. He came back around and continued hunting, and pretty soon went on point. Again tail flagging but wouldn't take a step . This time when I walked in a wc sprang up strongly. Easy shot. Bang. I missed. This time Brody just watched it fly away. I still haven't shot a bird over a long-held, statuesque point by Brody.

Wednesday afternoon. This time I had an hour. I brought Brody back to the same covert as yesterday. Ten minutes into it I bumped a woodcock that Brody didn't see. We continued hunting in the direction the bird flew. Brody was ahead, down slope among fir, cedar, and alders in a fairly soppy area, just about the right distance for land fall of the bumped bird. The bell went silent. I waited a bit for him to start moving again, and when he didn't, I moved ahead to find him. It took me a good minute, but there he was statue still in the thick wet stuff. A dark dog is hard to see in the dark woods. I moved ahead of the dog, approaching from the side. I was startled by a rustling of vegetation and a brown blur of hare hair hopped away. One jingle of the bell told me Brody saw or heard the bunny, but stayed put. I took two more steps and up twittered a timberdoodle flying right at me until it was about 5 yards away, at which time it turned away but quickly dipped low around a fir thicket and it was gone. Arghh! Brody had turned to rock, but my hands had turned to stone. Stoned by the woodcock. I really want to kill every bird pointed like that, to reward the good behavior.

So Thursday, a potential buyer of our house was visiting with a house inspector. I got them started, then got out of their hair for awhile. This gave me an hour and a half to try to get Brody into birds. Most of the first 60 minutes where uneventful. Then we worked along an old road lined by a stand of jack pine sloping down either side of the ridge into aspen and alder. I heard a grouse flush, so whistled Brody in to hunt the vicinity. He went on point about 30 yards into the pines. I walked in to flush, and a grouse busted out of the tree over my head, and my one shot did no harm. We followed, and again Brody pointed, this time looking up into the canopy to a spot from which a grouse burst forth. This time my load of steel 6s knocked it down -- Brody's first grouse on a solid point that lasted more than a few seconds.

Further down the ridge Brody's bell indicated he was moving slowly and pausing. In a little while the bell went silent. As I crept to his point from higher ground a bird flushed from about 30 feet up an aspen, and my shot broke a wing, at least. At the shot, the bird Brody had been pointing flushed.... toward me. I turned and took a going-away shot as it banked and flew down slope. The grouse went out of sight as I shot, but I did see a small cloud of feather dander hanging in the air in its wake. Shooting birds over Brody's solid points was just what I wanted. However a potential downside to this happy story is that both these last two birds were live on the ground so Brody then caught them (notice one bob-tailed bird in the photo). Time will tell whether he still wants to point, or if he thinks he can just run 'em down.

Last day for woodcock is Saturday, so I'll be out tomorrow trying to add a couple more birds to the larder for Thanksgiving appetizers.


Safari Jim said...

Glad to here Spider is doing better. Makes me wonder if Meg has picked up something similar. She's been dumpy lately and doesn't really want to eat. No painful joints though. Was wondering if it was her heart murmur issue, but after reading about at Anaplasmosis it might be that as well. Guess I should get her in a checked out.


Path Walker said...

Spy's symptoms were severe -- a mixed blessing. He had his Lyme disease preventative this summer. Glad I paid attention to the vet who briefed the crowd on tick-borne pathogens at the RGS hunt. I'll use tick & flea repellent regularly in the future.