Ducks, pheasants and good dogs

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rsquared
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2018/10/10 11:51:37 (permalink)

Ducks, pheasants and good dogs

Despite waaaayyyyy less than ideal conditions, my 14 year old son and I, along with our 11 month old lab Rocky, made it out on Saturday for some duck hunting and the youth pheasant hunt.  We took Rocky on a few dove hunts in September, and he showed some promise, but this would be his first real test.  
 
In 2006, I got my first lab Hank - a black dog - and he was just incredible.  He had so much natural ability, and made me look like I knew what I was doing.  We spent a lot of time hunting ducks on puddles in southern Butler County and he was a retrieving machine.  We spent a little time chasing pheasants on Game Lands, and he was not stellar on those birds but did just fine.  In 2013, Lyme disease destroyed his kidneys.  Hank was free in an emergency give away from an unplanned mating at an inopportune time for his mother's owner.  We got yellow dog, Gunner, in the summer of '13 from an acquaintance of my wife that breeds labs for family pets, and while he is a great family pet, despite training and patience, he is just not a hunting dog.
 
When my son was little, he would go on duck hunts with me a time or two a year.  So he saw Hank in action, and the only two banded birds I have ever shot came when he was with me.  Despite Gunner not being a hunting dog, we took him out for ducks on Thanksgiving morning last year, and that was my son's first time behind the gun on a duck hunt.  While we didn't get any shooting, the flame was lit for him.  A few days later, he went on a pheasant hunt with my brother and chocolate lab, and again despite no shooting, the flame was fanned.  
 
My son declared that his Christmas wish was for a chocolate lab that we could train to hunt.  So we searched for local breeders, and decided on a first time breeder in Butler County whose dogs were a little cheaper because it was his first breeding, but had some good pedigree behind them.  My son named him Rocky, because last summer we spend a week trout fishing in Colorado, and he absolutely fell in love with the Rocky Mountains.  
 
Our first destination was a beaver dam swamp in Mercer County which was our destination last Thanksgiving.  This would be our second hunt there.  An acquaintance who has become a friend has given us an open ended invitation to enjoy his little slice of Penn's Woods, and we couldn't be more grateful to have a little place like this away from the crowds and sky busters to hunt ducks.  
 
A pair of teal buzzed our decoys early, but he wasn't ready to shoot.  We had a flock of 6 mallards working the dekes, when Rocky got stupid and sent 'em to the next swamp over.  Several small flocks and pairs of high flying wood ducks that had no interest in landing where we were also put on a show during the first hour of the season.  The skeeters, which were 1/4 of the size of the wood ducks, and some threatening skies, sent us packing.  But my kind and exceedingly generous friend insisted that we stay and shoot some clays, and that was some great fun and really good practice for my son, who had a couple of 9 shot streaks going between misses.  
 
His final conclusion: "Duck hunting is hard and I have to be a lot more focused and ready."  
 
We headed to a nearby game lands that I had never hunted before, and I was really surprised to pull in at 11:15 and see only one other vehicle there.  We never saw anybody else, and didn't hear any other shooting, so I assume they were not there for pheasants.  
 
Only one other vehicle.  Temps nearing 80 degrees.  I didn't have my hopes up too high.  
 
In short order, Rocky picked up some scent and his tail went into hyper mode and looked like it was about to fall off.  He slowly worked some chest high golden rod near a little culvert, and the rooster cackled, took flight and my son promptly missed a left to right shot, which was custom made for him since he's a lefty.  0-1.  0-1 quickly went to 0-3 as we flushed 2 more in the first 20 minutes.  I was never a hard core pheasant hunter, but I certainly never put up 3 birds in that short amount of time, and rarely put up 3 total birds.  
 
Did I mention there wasn't another person around?  I couldn't believe it!  
 
We worked another field with no flushes, and were about to head to another birdy looking area, when a rooster cackled behind us from the cover we had just worked.  He ended up being closer than I thought he was, and Rocky went to work again and put him up for a 20 yard shot that my son nailed as the rooster lifted up and away from right to left.  Rocky marked him and I sent him for the retrieve in the jungle of vegetation, and in 30 seconds, he brought the rooster back to hand.  
 
We worked one more small patch and Rocky put up yet another rooster for my son, but he only got a few feathers from that bird.  By then, Rocky's tongue was dragging on the ground (we played a lot of fetch in the swamp) and we were covered in skeeter bites.  On the way back to the parking lot, we put up two more roosters inside of a safety zone, so they were safe.  
 
That's 7 birds we put up in an hour and fifteen minutes!  Never had a day like that on a game lands before.  
 
It's the first time I've had my son out for the youth pheasant hunt, and I've got to say, it made for a great day for us!  I don't know what participation is like on other game lands, but if it's anything like the one we hunted, there should still be some birds left at some of 'em if the yotes, foxes and raptors haven't eaten them.  So if you know a junior hunter who'd like to shoot some pheasants, the junior season runs through this Saturday, the 13th and the forecast looks great for a small game hunt.  
 
And man, it was so, so good to hunt over a good dog again.  
 
When my wife and I discussed getting another lab, I LOVED the idea, but actually told her that this time in our lives would not be good.  But she was insistent that we pick one from a hunting line and give our kids a Christmas gift they'd never forget.  
 
Rocky has been a handful to train.  He's got some separation anxiety that as a pup, made my wife hate her decision to allow us to get another lab.  When we would crate him and leave the house, he would immediately have a crap storm in his crate and mash it and fling it everywhere.  He's very driven and stubborn, which makes life in a house with 5 people a bit challenging since he really only is obedient for me.  He's the alpha dog in our house, so he went through a phase a few months ago where he would mark areas of the house by taking a dump.  Did I mention my wife has hated him more than she's liked him?  She's really not a dog person, like my son and I are.  Neither are my younger son or older daughter, so having a dog like Rocky has had it's share of challenges in our home.  
 
But wow, it was so good to see it all pay off on the pheasant hunt.  We've got some work to do in the duck blind for sure, but I like where we're headed with him.  
 
Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words, ain't it?
 
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#1

15 Replies Related Threads

    DarDys
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 13:36:29 (permalink)
    It certainly is.

    Great story and an even better jumping off point for that young man’s bird hunting career.

    Give the boy a pat on the back and Rocky some forbidden people food snack.

    The poster formally known as Duncsdad

    Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.
    #2
    rsquared
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 15:23:49 (permalink)
    Rocky already gets plenty of people food! Guess it should probably be a little more forbidden
    #3
    DarDys
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 15:49:59 (permalink)
    Not forbidden in our kennel.

    I actually carb mine up with pasta (they live rigatoni) before hunting.

    My vet doesn’t like it, but none of our dogs were ever sick until it was something fatal and all lived into the expected age range (except the one that died from the dog food poisoning scandal).

    The poster formally known as Duncsdad

    Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.
    #4
    rsquared
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 18:40:48 (permalink)
    DarDys

    I actually carb mine up with pasta (they live rigatoni) before hunting.




    That's a really good idea, thanks for sharing that.  
     
    The dogs got our T bone scraps/trimmings and leftover broccoli underneath their kibble tonight.  I usually don't give 'em junk food - mostly meats, veggies, rice or bread - and figure that's at least as good if not better for 'em than the kibble they eat.  
     
    #5
    Big Tuna
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 18:43:36 (permalink)
    Priceless,great picture of young hunters boy and dog. I've always hunted with some from of canine. Mostly beagles,but Brittney's and English setters where in the mix. Would never attempt to hunt without one. One of life's pure pleasure hunting over a well trained gun dog. Dardys,my beagles always enjoyed a bowl of Sunday's pasta and gravy(tomato sauce). I don't know if it was the pasta or hunting on Monday's but always did good.lol
    #6
    DarDys
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 19:19:58 (permalink)
    The owner of the pheasant club would always laugh at carbing up my dogs. At least until I pointed out that his dogs needed changed out every 30-40 minutes while mine did an entire 4-hour hunt. I’m sure his were in better physical condition just based on the sheer number of hunting days.

    The poster formally known as Duncsdad

    Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.
    #7
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 19:20:19 (permalink)
    .....

    .....


    .....


    I know yinz ain't gonna believes this...

    but....... I'm speechless!

    Awesome rsquared🍻

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #8
    rsquared
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 20:59:25 (permalink)
    Big Tuna
    One of life's pure pleasure hunting over a well trained gun dog. 




    You got that right BT!  I forgot just how much I missed it.  
     
    For a few years there, I hardly even hunted deer because the little puddles I hunted were usually loaded with mallards during deer season.  I like venison, but I loved hunting with my lab a lot more.  
    #9
    rsquared
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 21:05:04 (permalink)
    BeenThereDoneThat.


    I know yinz ain't gonna believes this...

    but....... I'm speechless!





    Well at least we know ya won't spot burn then!  
    #10
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/10 22:17:17 (permalink)
    😄 MOI....! Spot burn???

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #11
    dpms
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/11 10:00:59 (permalink)
    Awesome work by both man and beast!! When you see and hear stories such as this, it is hard to believe that we have hunters in this state that oppose youth hunting seasons and opportunities.

    My rifle is a black rifle
    #12
    DarDys
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/11 10:41:29 (permalink)
    A former coworker of mine bought a Pointer puppy a few years ago with the express purpose of taking his daughter youth pheasant hunting. They have been going ever since and have expanded to the regular season, deer season, and preserve hunting. For them, the youth season has been quite the successful springboard.

    Another former coworker of mine has an 11 year old son who has taken 3 deer with a crossbow, including a buck bigger than either his father or I have harvested. I am looking forward to taking him youth pheasant hunting next year, especially since we just acquired two more English Pointer puppies that will be primed to go by then.

    The poster formally known as Duncsdad

    Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.
    #13
    BeenThereDoneThat.
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/11 11:29:06 (permalink)
    Moved my opinion to another board, don't want to burn a great thread.
     
    Maybe see yinz there.
     
     
    Thank me very much
    post edited by BeenThereDoneThat. - 2018/10/11 11:54:04

    Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a life time. ~Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie (1837–1919)~
     
     
     
      Old fisherman never die; we just smell that way. 
     
    #14
    Dirty McCurdy
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/11 15:31:32 (permalink)
    Most excellent!
    #15
    CRAPPIE_SLAYER
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    Re: Ducks, pheasants and good dogs 2018/10/11 18:08:40 (permalink)
    Awsome story of your day out! I wish you guys continued success.
    #16
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