You know what it’s like: We were killing time between bird planting chores at a recent hunt test when Silke (a transplanted German) wondered aloud what else she could hunt with her versatile dog when birds were unavailable or seasons closed.
There began a long discussion on the European hunting ethic, furred game, blood tracking, etc., etc., etc., which I heartily contributed to, as did my fellow volunteers.
After a long and enjoyable romp through history, politics and dog breeding philosophies, we came full circle: most of the “other things” we would do with our dogs also take place during bird season … and why would anyone want to subtract a single day from that glorious time?
Maybe I’d gotten more sleep than my fellow gloved crusaders, or inhaled less chukar scent while sitting on the tailgate. Whatever the impetus, “we do this,” I blurted. Referring of course, to the hunt tests, field trials, bird dog challenges and related events we train for, help at, and participate in during the off season. And if you play these dog “games,” you know what I mean, right?
Like preserve hunting, it may not be “real” to some, but it’s more real than anything else we can do seven, eight months of the year, isn’t it? And if it gets us more field time, creates better hunters, and gives a dog a closer-to-full-time “job,” who can argue its merits?
Yes, there is the competitive aura surrounding every dog game, and it brings out the worst in some people. But you’ll get over it. Shop around, and you’ll find a group whose spirit matches your own.
Then pungle up a few bucks, amp up your training regimen, and get involved with others of similar ilk. Who knows? You might actually like it. Your dog sure will.