Posts Tagged ‘Buddy’

"Dogging it" after an especially long workout in Manny's younger days.

Funny, you think you’re doing pretty well in the fitness department, then with a jolt, you’re reminded that you’re not as buff as you thought.

Nope, not me. I know I’ve got a long way to go before my pants are loose and knees less stressed from that extra weight. Let’s just get that out of the way once and for all.

But it’s also Buddy and Manny. They are magnificent, mystical hunting machines, fine-tuned for their purpose. But my wife remarked today at how Buddy is looking slimmer – and (slow on the uptake) I noticed it too. You know how it is, when you’ve lost a belt-hole’s worth of weight … everyone compliments you. Left unsaid is that it was noticeable, i.e., they discerned a difference between your heavy persona and your (temporal, usually) less-heavy version. (My wife is jealous of how easily I can lose weight until I remind her that I usually find it again.)

It made me think: all these months of running one dog, then the other to avoid confrontation halved the length of each dog’s workout. Yesterday’s long romp among the rimrock and bunchgrass drove home that point. Manny’s tongue was dragging, and Buddy was walking alongside me for the last half mile or so. Me, well, if I could walk alongside myself I would … and my tongue was at least figuratively dragging along with my feet in the volcanic dust we call soil here in the high desert.

We could all use more of those kind of workouts. For next hunting season, but also for the simple, 30-minute bit of fieldwork Manny will have as part of his Utility Test this fall. Adrenaline, stimulus overload and his handler’s stress will amp up his average speed and a little bit extra in the tank will serve him well.

Thankfully, daylight saving time is here (have you re-set your clocks?). Longer days mean longer workouts … and we aim to take advantage of them.

How about you? What gets you – and your dog – in shape?

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Yep, plenty of Real Bird Bumpers are ready for Manny's UT training.

“Pottering” is an old-time word describing someone messing about with their plants, re-potting, and other garden-shed er, potting shed-related tasks. It was not all work; as Merry Olde England (where the hobby reached its apex) was chock-a-block with humdrum chores that morphed into hobbies (poor buggers – where else would pinning insects into picture frames be ‘fun?”)

My pottering was in the right place (our garden shed) but had nothing to do with plants – unless “planted birds” qualifies.  That humble structure has been transformed into my dog-training headquarters. And with Manny’s date with a NAVHDA Utility Test looming, it was time to get my gear together, ready for an intense spring and summer.

Don’t you have your own version? Varying with the season, it might be reloading, or gun cleaning. It could be poring over catalogs or helping in your club booth at a sportsmen’s show.  It might be exactly what I was doing – messing with gear that might –  or at least you think it might – help your dog excel next season in the field or at a test or trial.

The seemingly mundane task was full of bright spots, starting with Manny’s peaceably sharing the yard with his mentor Buddy without one whit of dominance behavior or aggressive posturing. (Many of you know that’s been an issue since the pup got huskier than his great-uncle.)

When not over my shoulder, my new Jaeger leads have their own hooks in the shed too.

The balky #2 bird launcher needed nothing but a new battery. A little gun oil on moving parts, and both were poised to help teach steady to wing-shot-fall. A few test launches on both dogs proved their functionality. New tie-outs installed along the fence near the training table. Bumpers and dummies arrayed on the shelf that formerly harbored terracotta and trowels. My go-to steadiness tool, the balsa-wood windup airplane, flew straight and true after a quick adjustment to the tail.

The Garmin Astro 320 is now handy instead of buried under hunting gear, my Tri-Tronics collar chargers are plugged in constantly and in a place where I’ll actually use them daily.

I found the training shotgun, sling and blank ammo, and they too performed to expectation with a couple pops for the doggies … who stood straight and true alongside each other … which might have been the best part of the whole day.

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The whole crowd ... Trent probably hit this one!

We came to honor Duke, a young shorthair we’d hunted with years ago in Montana. Duke impressed me with his metamorphosis over one day’s hunt: from new kid in the kennel, insecure and unsure of whom to work, for to a confident young dog.

Duke’s distant cousins hunted with us today, Gabby and Cricket coursing the deep grass and heavy cover that makes Pheasant Bonanza such an awesome hunting destination. Thanks to Frosty our guide, and Trent Leichleitner the manager at this beautiful spot. Yes, Nebraska is scenic, rolling hills and hardwood bottoms full of fall colors.

The shooting, thanks to Trent was spot-on. He was kind enough to give me partial credit on  pheasants that obviously fell to his shot string. Beyond that, highlights included Buddy’s points and a couple pretty good retrieves, and Manny, after two days of skunking finally found a ringneck and made a solid point. A track and a flush, and … yours truly got a few pellets into a bird that flew into standing corn. Risky, but I sent him for the retrieve and got it. Ditto for another nice point, which Trent and I both dropped inside 20 yards … and another nice retrieve. I didn’t want to, but when Manny appropriated the head, I didn’t argue. Would you?

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Mine? Beyond my wildest expectations. That was our chukar and valley quail opening weekend. Our annual “Boy’s Weekend” at 1) our usual camp spot (unoccupied); 2) weather threatened but skies brightened; 3) a gigantic quail covey not 50 yards from camp – woohoo!

Highlights: Buddy worked hard, finding down birds when nobody else could. Dave’s pup Buster joining the fraternity of bird dogs – the light went on when he understood what retrieving was all about. Manny’s elegant point on that big covey – where’s a camera when you need one?

Buddy hunted along the stream with Dave and Mike while I got Manny out of the truck, and I don’t know if there’s a more gratifying feeling than watching your dog help someone else by pointing, then retrieving chukars. Now, if only our shooting matched the dog work!

And only at Fields Station in southeast Oregon can you run into old friends from New Jersey!

Finally, after passing by for decades, we stopped to hunt a new canyon: steeper than everything nearby, the toughest climbing up and down dangerous scree slopes … but all was forgotten when the fourth, fifth, and sixth coveys of chukars thundered aloft.

This is the place.

You'd be tired, too, if you retrieved so many birds!

When we started hunting this patch, it was a whole, dead cow.

Good boy!

Maiden voyage for the Aliner Expedition ... sweet!

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Quick reminder: Wingshooting USA apparel sponsor Filson is hosting my “Bird Hunting Boot Camp” (an extended, two-hour version) Sat. July 23 at their Seattle store. And this one is FREE. But you need to register in advance at rsvp@filson.com, so get on it ASAP. Last year was standing-room only and everyone had a great time. Starts at noon.

This year, I’m bringing Buddy as my teaching partner, so come on down and meet the real star of Wingshooting USA. Bring dog biscuits … and a treat for Buddy too. Get more information here.

Buddy sez ... come to Seattle!

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It’s your seventh birthday, Buddy. “Lucky,” in most people’s books.

I don’t know who’s luckier – you, or me. You are a rock, and you ROCK. Steady, loyal, sensitive and tolerant … of your nephew Manny and my training foibles, for starters. On your birthday, I’m reminded again of the many milestones

A few birthdays ago ...

we’ve passed together: launching two TV series, the arrival of one pup and the passing of your uncle, health crises for both of us, rough times and smooth sailing. Always (always!) you were there with a head on my knee when I needed it most.

You were our first “store bought” dog – lithe and light, even as a pup. Your conformation is the envy of every other wirehair owner. The weekend I went to Idaho to get you, three others left town for points north and south, returning with wire pups too. I’ve hunted with them all, and still believe you’re the strongest, fastest, with the most stamina. Some day, all of us will share a field together!

Okay, so you’re not the best retriever in the dog world. Your “drive-by” fetches get the birds close, but sometimes they’ve still got some steam. That chukar in the Pueblos that glided over a mile after you put it down two steps from me? You’re forgiven, even if you hadn’t found it after I’d given up at the bottom of the draw.

When we have coffee in the morning, your long-distance gaze is puzzling to me. Are you looking for birds? Guarding the back yard from flower-eating mule deer? Or is that just a way for you to relax and take in the smells and sights of a happy home life, shared with a most appreciative owner?

You run faster and climb higher than your nephew, producing birds we’d never find otherwise. You’ll go anywhere for a bird, including that ice-covered river that almost took you away from me for good. And when the day is done, you’re a good sleeper too – settling in and quiet in those places where dogs aren’t allowed but you are.

And more recently ...

You are an ambassador for our shared passion. From banquets to barrooms, you’re the laid-back, tolerant life of the party. And when I need a fifth, sixth, or seventh take on a “Buddy & Me” segment on the TV show, you wait patiently for me to remember my lines and hit my marks.

You have a stoic streak, that has only gotten stronger with the arrival of your nephew. Maybe because of his energy and curiosity, maybe simply from maturity, maybe it’s rubbed off of me. You’re now a “senior dog” in the industry parlance, but not in my book. You move like the wind, floating over sage and lava as if wearing Mercury’s winged sandals. When a truck full of their own Labs and shorthairs are available, my hunting partners choose you.

And so do I.

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(Back by popular demand, Scott’s six-year-old German Wirehair has posted his next blog. His nephew, Manny, is still learning to type but Buddy says he’s progressing nicely and will soon be filing his own reports from the field. Here is Buddy’s latest account:)

We’re a pretty good team, The Pup and I. He’s a diamond in the “ruff,” but that beard and those eyebrows sure hold promise!

That day The Boss took us a long way in the box-on-wheels-he-yells-at. When we finally jumped onto the cold white stuff we were happy. Cold good, we smell easier. Not smell better, The Boss says … he thinks dead deer pieces we roll on bad; we LOVE. Better birrrd sniffing, though.

The author

The Pup sniffed three-toe tracks on cold white stuff, up one bump and down another. Me too. Big smell stopped us. Birrrrrds go up and boom stick loud! I look for more, The Pup carries still birrrrd to The Boss. Boss learning: give back to Pup for more sniff-lick and he is happy, won’t swallow birrrd. Good human!

Bang! Boom! Stick works good, for a change. Little birrrds fall down. We bring for extra sniff and taste, get to go again. Two booms and one birrrd on white cold stuff. But The Pup not watching The Boss … playing in wet splash. Sniff-lick for me and go again but I know: other birrrd in sticks by wet splash.

The Boss stroke my top and scratch my floppy hears when I mouth second birrrd to him. Big kibble after!

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