Why do you hunt?
“Being able to watch your young dog come into his own.”
“My Springer Bonnie. It’s not a day in the field without her.”
In my viewer surveys virtually all of you said something similar. Dogs rule, and we hunt so we can watch them perform magic in the field.
So why condemn pen-raised birds?
One reason might be our own biases. I’m not judging your leanings, mine are probably similar. But if we’re honest about the pre-eminence of dog work to our experience, why aren’t well-raised planted birds just as valuable?
Do dogs ignore the scent of a liberated bird, while pointing a wild bird? Show me the evidence. For that matter, can you distinguish a well-raised planted bird from a wild bird without looking at the peeper hole in the beak?
Does your dog’s tail droop when pointing planted birds? At a preserve, does he trot instead of gallop, boot-lick rather than range? When you command “fetch,” does he spit out planters?
“Watching a setter work in a beautiful field on a gorgeous day is always the best day.”
Maybe it’s all in our heads, and I get that. We love wild places, untrammeled ground, off-the-grid coverts. But that’s not what we’re talking about (or is it?). Unless a covert resembles something from a Mad Max movie, I wonder if your dog cares whether it is aesthetically pleasing or simply a bird-holding environment.
But how wild is wild? Beyond the quails and grouses, virtually every upland bird we shoot at was planted at some point. Do you shun chukar hunters because their birds were planted in Nevada in the thirties? Wild pheasants are simply descendants birds Judge Owen Denny “released” on his Oregon farm in the 1880’s, or similar, later efforts in Redfield, South Dakota, etc. Gotta problem with that?
“Wild hatched” might be a better description of the birds some cherish more than their domestically-reared cousins. But why can’t we value a released bird that acts just like its wild counterpart, much as our dogs do.
“Seeing the dogs do what they were born to do.”
We’ve all encountered bad planted birds, bad apples that spoiled entire barrels of good introduced birds. They flounder instead of flushing, our dogs catch them on the ground, and nobody’s happy, especially the birds. But many of us have also encountered released birds that thunder, tower and jink just like wild birds.
My dogs don’t seem to know the difference and truth be told, I’ll bet yours don’t either.