With snow falling, oak logs offering winter warmth, Tess in a deep sleep soaking up the heat
as I reflect on time spent afield with her. It’s easy to stare into the flames remembering some of her special hunting moments. One was made in South Dakota while on a media hunt with the guys from Pheasants Forever. It was my first trip over there expecting that once crossing the border there’d be birds running everywhere. Not so as I kidded Bob St. Pierre. But later that day we gathered the group heading afield for an afternoon hunt.
Driving into that field was a sight I’ll never forget. There were birds literally everywhere. Running across our field of view, in front of the truck, flying in groups landing in brush and grass. An amazing site for a Minnesota boy more used to seeing no more than 10 birds in a day. Now keeping that in mind imagine what happened when Tess hit the ground
after a long ride but preface it with what I would soon learn--my e-collar
batteries had died. In Minnesota I seldom even needed the collar but with more scent than had ever had come into her nose she exited the kennel and began acting as though on speed racing around everywhere and I had absolutely zero control. Extremely frustrated with her behavior Casey Weismantel of Aberdeen, SD came over smiling and said “settle down she’ll be ok. I’ve seen the same thing before.” A small consolation but some none the
less. In a while I’m not sure if she did settle down or simply got tired but thankfully she began to hunt. Later in the afternoon the group walked some corn and an adjacent woodlot. A rooster flushed, a shot, a winged bird on the run. Tess took off on the scent and gone.
Whistling, calling her name all futile until Chris Niskanen, then the outdoor writer for the Pioneer Press called from the woods “Who’s got the little Golden? She’s got a rooster and
comin’ your way!” Very much alive Tess delivered to hand. Needless to say I was
really proud of her! My earlier frustration all gone and all forgiven!
Another trip taking Fan Outdoors on the road found us in Hitchcock, South Dakota. The gravel main street put us across from Colonel Bubbas saloon. On one side was the Post Office and the other the VFW and the café. We were told it closed at
4 whether finished eating or not. I was sure at any moment Wild Bill would be tying his horse right outside. But as rustic as it was the bird hunting would be awesome the next day just prior to an oncoming blizzard. Radio duties behind we met our guides, both
young women hunters with Shorthair pointers. A short tar road drive then onto a field road found us in an area with CRP, cattail sloughs and brushy areas. Very birdy and really excited and in a bit of a hurry I left the truck, let Tess and Tramel out discovered later that I left the truck idling for more than 2 hours. Duhhhhhh! Our hunt found us in various cover but a
final stretch of grass would be special. Tess wheeled around between Bob and me then suddenly she turned her head, lifted a front paw and like a picture locked up on a rock solid point. Motioning to Bob he was already watching ‘nready. Walking in front of Tess the bird
flushed, a rooster. A shot, a bird down, Tess immediately on it, a retrieve to hand, Bob called out “nice shot!” The end result a priceless memory! Soon after that I learned my truck was still idling. Glad it wasn’t one of the patented “Billy Big Walks” per Bob!
With Pheasant Fest on the horizon it’s appropriate to share this. Not sure if you’re a bird hunter, waterfowler, deer hunter or a parent but when you enjoy the outdoors there will always be stories making memories and that’s special! Special too are those made with family, friends and bird dogs! Bird dogs always “Bird Dogs!”
See you at Pheasant Fest! It’s gonna be awesome!