Top Ad

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

The story.

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The story.

    I promised the "most memorable" story of my time with Opal. For most of my dogs it's been the first and last birds that stick in my mind. At five months Pearl fetched her first bird when I managed to duck next to an abandoned gang plow in a wheat stubble draw and took a honker from a family group gliding overhead to land in an adjacent cornfield. Ten years later when she was sick with autoimmune disease six months before she died, Pearl retrieved a eleven geese shot from the same flock. Those were her last birds. Opal pointed and fetched her first bird, a Hun, at only three months. Sadly I forgot to take a picture but my partner snapped a photo of us three days later with her second retrieves, two sharptails. In November I posted the story and photo of her last birds, the only daily limit of roosters I've managed to shoot over the last two seasons. It was a great day for a grand old lady.

    Still, my most cherished memory of Opal happened another day on that same piece of property within a stone's throw of the gate where I snapped that last bird picture. Two years ago an early snowstorm and heavy rains turned the creek on that place into a raging river. I can almost always count on finding pheasants on a willow brush corner where the creek curves almost ninety degrees east opposite the rancher's hen house. The owners are okay with me hunting that spot as long as I don't shoot towards the buildings. But it's tough getting a good shot through the trees going the other way. That day the dogs put up a spooky rooster out of range before we got to the creek and I figured we were busted. That late in the season if one squawker gets up, any other birds in the area usually follow suit immediately. I was surprised when Puppy (Fr Britt) working out front went on point near the edge of the creek. I called the Labs in and moved quickly to get us in position to intercept if the bird flew downstream to a grove of Russian olive. I released the Labs, in they went, and up went a cackler. I shot through the willows and dumped it dead on the opposite bank. Opal and young Ellie were in the water as soon as it hit the ground but Ellie was spooked by the swift current and turned back. Opal drove on and finally hit land almost to the next corner sixty yards downstream. I tried calling her off but it was hopeless. She really lived for pheasant hunting. I guided her to the rooster with hand signals and she had no trouble finding it. Opal jumped back into the creek and was half way across when she was caught in a big whirlpool eddy caused by the corner's radical change in direction. It spun Opal around almost three-sixty before sucking her under. She just disappeared. I gasped and my heart fell right through my boots. Oh no! Then just as quickly Opal surfaced again, nose pointed straight in the air, rooster still firmly gripped in her jaws. I'll never forget her blowing water from her nostrils like a mini-whale. You'd think that experience would send her into a panic. Nope! It was all just business as usual, paddling away calmly. I followed her downstream and then laid down to reach over and pull her up the cutbank. Sorry, no photo of that bird. He was a soggy, muddy, scraggly looking thing by the time I had him in hand. Instead I've attached another great shot of her this past season with a fine bird she pushed up for me on the bird refuge.



  • #2
    Her look of intensity of purpose and adoration of you put a lump in my throat.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Ontario Honker Hunter View Post
      I promised the "most memorable" story of my time with Opal. For most of my dogs it's been the first and last birds that stick in my mind. At five months Pearl fetched her first bird when I managed to duck next to an abandoned gang plow in a wheat stubble draw and took a honker from a family group gliding overhead to land in an adjacent cornfield. Ten years later when she was sick with autoimmune disease six months before she died, Pearl retrieved a eleven geese shot from the same flock. Those were her last birds. Opal pointed and fetched her first bird, a Hun, at only three months. Sadly I forgot to take a picture but my partner snapped a photo of us three days later with her second retrieves, two sharptails. In November I posted the story and photo of her last birds, the only daily limit of roosters I've managed to shoot over the last two seasons. It was a great day for a grand old lady.

      Still, my most cherished memory of Opal happened another day on that same piece of property within a stone's throw of the gate where I snapped that last bird picture. Two years ago an early snowstorm and heavy rains turned the creek on that place into a raging river. I can almost always count on finding pheasants on a willow brush corner where the creek curves almost ninety degrees east opposite the rancher's hen house. The owners are okay with me hunting that spot as long as I don't shoot towards the buildings. But it's tough getting a good shot through the trees going the other way. That day the dogs put up a spooky rooster out of range before we got to the creek and I figured we were busted. That late in the season if one squawker gets up, any other birds in the area usually follow suit immediately. I was surprised when Puppy (Fr Britt) working out front went on point near the edge of the creek. I called the Labs in and moved quickly to get us in position to intercept if the bird flew downstream to a grove of Russian olive. I released the Labs, in they went, and up went a cackler. I shot through the willows and dumped it dead on the opposite bank. Opal and young Ellie were in the water as soon as it hit the ground but Ellie was spooked by the swift current and turned back. Opal drove on and finally hit land almost to the next corner sixty yards downstream. I tried calling her off but it was hopeless. She really lived for pheasant hunting. I guided her to the rooster with hand signals and she had no trouble finding it. Opal jumped back into the creek and was half way across when she was caught in a big whirlpool eddy caused by the corner's radical change in direction. It spun Opal around almost three-sixty before sucking her under. She just disappeared. I gasped and my heart fell right through my boots. Oh no! Then just as quickly Opal surfaced again, nose pointed straight in the air, rooster still firmly gripped in her jaws. I'll never forget her blowing water from her nostrils like a mini-whale. You'd think that experience would send her into a panic. Nope! It was all just business as usual, paddling away calmly. I followed her downstream and then laid down to reach over and pull her up the cutbank. Sorry, no photo of that bird. He was a soggy, muddy, scraggly looking thing by the time I had him in hand. Instead I've attached another great shot of her this past season with a fine bird she pushed up for me on the bird refuge.

      You are lucky to have had Pearl and Opal, two super dogs.

      Comment

      Welcome!

      Collapse

      Welcome to Field and Streams's Answers section. Here you will find hunting, fishing, and survival tips from the editors of Field and Stream, as well as recommendations from readers like yourself.

      If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ for information on posting and navigating the forums.

      And don't forget to check out the latest reviews on guns and outdoor gear on fieldandstream.com.

      Right Rail 1

      Collapse

      Top Active Users

      Collapse

      There are no top active users.

      Right Rail 2

      Collapse

      Latest Topics

      Collapse

      • Gorsuch is correct.
        by FirstBubba
        I agree with longer sentences for crimes involving guns, but Justice Gorsuch is correct.
        The Constitution makes no mention of crimes committed with...
        Yesterday, 10:19 PM
      • Reply to Gorsuch is correct.
        by FirstBubba
        "... Vague laws leave it to unelected attorneys and judges to determine what acts qualify as crimes, ..."

        One must simply look...
        Today, 07:39 AM
      • High Velocity Politics
        by jhjimbo
        Can you believe the Democratic candidates have a whole 60 seconds to answer a question and say what they want tomorrow night and Thurs night. Wait, that...
        Yesterday, 08:38 PM
      • Reply to High Velocity Politics
        by bowhunter75richard
        Can you just imagine the more than two handfuls of D’s all trying to outdo the other ? How in the world will they be able to come up with enough lies...
        Today, 07:34 AM
      • Reply to High Velocity Politics
        by crm3006
        60 seconds is about 50 seconds longer than I want to listen to any of the current crop of demoncrat losers, liars, fakers, dumb-asses and has beens. I...
        Today, 06:53 AM

      Right Rail 3

      Collapse

      Footer Ad

      Collapse
      Working...
      X