What does a rattlesnake’s notable sizzle portend when it erupts from underfoot as you gather for the first video shot of the day?
Sonny couldn’t hear it, but I could, and warned off everyone else, dogs first. We poked and prodded from a distance, found the business end, got enough video for the show, then the critter suddenly died of lead poisoning.
[Here’s a preview of our Montana hunt … big sky, indeed.]…
To answer the question, the buzz didn’t stop with the first shot of the day. We were constantly among birds, Sam the pointer and Dudley the shorthair performed with aplomb. After breakfast we swapped the smooth coats for Buddy, my wirehair. Within seconds, he found the first ringneck, maintained a solid point and gave us plenty of time for us to vector to where we last heard his bell. It was the first of many sloppy retrieves as Buddy chose panting and survival over picture-perfect consummation of the sequence.
One find merits mention here, rather than waiting until next year on the show: We’d lost Buddy over a steep slope, our guide Josh finally locating him on point downwind of a blackberry bush alongside a farm road. The chukar sauntered out of the cover and up the road as if he was headed to the lodge kitchen for a cup of coffee, Buddy skulking along in a half-point while maintaining his cool and not flushing the bird. When I caught up, the crunch of bootstseps got the bird in the air and back onto the gravel in a few wingbeats. Then, we aimed for that kitchen and more caffeine, watching the temperature head for the high eighties.
You know it’s hot when hydrophobic Buddy made a beeline for the farm pond and spent the better part of five minutes swimming … something he usually won’t do unless there’s a dead bird floating within sight. Thanks, Buddy.