Ever since my bird dog passed a couple years ago I’ve had a disconnect with bird hunting. When I head out and knock down a bird or two, there’s a big empty spot in the fun. It’s not that I’m incapable of retrieving my own birds. Frankly, I sometimes found them first and had to re-train her as to what we were doing. Either way, it was a blast to have my best friend by my side when Big Black and I headed out the door.
Big Black is my Benelli Super Eagle. Everyone says he’s too big for a little lady like me, but I’m all good with him. He knocks birds down with no prejudice as to my size and I appreciate that.
When my four-legged hunting pal passed, I was so broken hearted, I couldn’t imagine having another dog to replace her. Mind you, I already have a Healer and four hunting hounds. I decided we would keep what we had and count our lives as blessed for having the 90 pound Weimaraner in our lives as long as we did.
Not long after our crew was diminished, our little Healer dog decided she had to take the job as leader of the herd. She became very protective or her pack, a.k.a. US! She showed signs of aggression and we realized she needed a new friend.
Family and friends wanted to buy me a “Daisy #2”. That was her name you see, and Daisy was the most fabulous four-legged hunting friend I had ever known. I just couldn’t imagine anyone ever filling her paws. I decided I wanted something completely different than her.
We live on a ranch and that means we have the seasonal attempts of the gypsies trying to move in; Mice that is. They think they should be allowed on the premises and I do not. Long ago I was at a friend’s ranch and they had two Rat Terriers. The pair hunted rodents like pros. I told the family I wanted another hunting dog, but it would be a mini-hunter.
We agreed upon a Rat Terrier. She’s done her job keeping the pests away from the house and has become another kind of great pal. (Don’t they all?) Since she enjoyed my company so much, I decided to let her tag along on a dove hunt. Although it was as big as her, she did an excellent job of tripping over and retrieving the first one I dropped.
Since then, I don’t take the little Rattie too often. She’s not quite sizeable for the job of retrieving.
But hey! What about that Healer I mentioned? She’s become ultra-friendly again, but I should mention she is terrified of guns. While the Weim used to run to my side when she heard the safe latch open, the Healer ran too… AWAY!
Today that all changed. We decided our sweet, hard-working healer needed to learn. We were certain she could do it because she’s such a smart dog. I grabbed Big Black and Hank grabbed his shotgun and we headed out the door. We encouraged her along and before we knew it she was sitting in the tall grass beside us. I sat beside her like any good mentor should. We waited and called and she sat perfectly still.
A flock of six mallards made a pass. She sat still.
We called and the ducks banked to come back. As they neared, we waited. So did she. I didn’t even have to tell her. How does she know these things? Did I mention she’s smart?
As the ducks flared over the water, Hank shot. A green head spiraled past, plummeting into the field. I looked at her and the Healer dog looked at us, as she does with prairie dogs, cats, and other prey, asking, “Can I get it?”
Hank told her, “Sick. Sick.” She ran from her spot in the grass and pounced on the duck. Since this was a trial and error experience, she could’ve done as she does to the prairie dogs, and shaken the thing to smithereens. We called to her and she turned with the beauty in her jaws. She looked at us and came sprinting back to drop the duck at our feet.
Do you know what happened next?
She said, “This is fun! Do it again!”
Hmm. Maybe I’ve found a new four-legged hunting friend!
Mia Anstine is an outdoor writer, licensed outfitter, hunting guide, life coach, keynote speaker, and range safety officer, firearms instructor, and archery instructor. She is the founder of MAC Outdoors and Host of the MAC Outdoors Podcast.
Mia Anstine strives to encourage others to get outside, hunt, fish, shoot, and survive life with others in a positive way.
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