On some of my best hunts, I don’t even carry a shotgun.
Letting a friend shoot while I handled Buddy was a brilliant move today, if I do say so myself. Knowing flying birds would probably yield to Rob’s shot, I was free to focus completely on Buddy: steady to wing, shot and fall, then a more complete retrieve to hand.
Birds were no worry, we were at Ron’s preserve, where the cover is good and the pheasants would fly strongly. Our mission was to get Buddy into them, keep him solid on contact, and good work after the shot.
Each find was gratifying for this trainer, a little creeping until reminded on the first couple birds but then solid as the Tri-Tronics hawk scream signaled a point. I believe that beeper scream pins birds, ensuring staunch points, and the more I use it, the more strongly I believe it.
The first few points, I clipped a short lead to Buddy’s collar to ensure we started off on the right paw. As more birds fell to the gun, we extended the time between shot, fall, and retrieve. But Buddy’s still at the point where a dropping bird is the main incentive for a retrieve, so the thud of a bird was quickly followed by “get it.”
Ron reminded me that every time Buddy didn’t bring the bird back, it was due to operator error. I would praise him for picking up the bird, he’d think “game over,” drop the bird and come back for more praise. When I bit my tongue until the bird was delivered, the retrieving improved dramatically.
Rob’s shooting was accurate and Buddy was bringing birds back … to the shooter. I guess I can’t blame him; he’s the guy responsible for all the fun!
[Where would you lace up a new pair of Irish Setter boots? Tell me your story in the comments section below and you might win a pair.]