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A slow start

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  • A slow start

    Out scouting for geese this afternoon. I am late getting started this year because my new granddaughter arrived a month early on 18th and her mom is having some problems. So I've been at the hospital or helping take care of my grandson. Also, only a few fields of grain have been harvested due to the almost nonstop rain for last three weeks so not much hunting to be had in the Valley. But I noticed quite a few new geese have arrived in town so I went looking ... for a drive in the country if nothing else. At midday I decided to take the dogs for a walk along a chain of sloughs that sometimes have a few local ducks. The big one in the trees at the end was barren but just as we were fixing to start back a flock of thirty honkers floated in. It took about an hour of stalking through brutal brush before the dogs and I were finally in position to flush the geese. I dropped a triple which was more than I really wanted. Both Ellie and Puppy were off as soon as I shot. Ellie went to the closest honker, a dead one, and started back with it. Meantime little Puppy (Fr Britt) swam after one of the two live ones. I loaded up a couple of #6 steel pheasant loads and quickly killed the other one, then called her off so she was out of the way while I finished her bird. Meanwhile Ellie, confused with all the shooting and shouting, turned around with the dead honker and headed back to Puppy. Then she let go of it in the middle of the slough and returned to shore. Meantime little Puppy kept swimming back and forth between the three dead honkers. She'd reach each one and just swim around it. "They're too big, Dad." Ellie figured Puppy was handling it and wouldn't leave shore again. Brother! She's supposed to be a Labrador RETRIEVER. Seems we're back to stage one all over again. I called in Puppy and we made the long trek through the jungle to the big beaver dam at the far end and then back up the other side where two of the honkers had drifted close to shore. Gawd, what a tangled mess of alder and chokecherry brush! Working our way down the shoreline a pair of dumb teal landed right in front of us. I shot one. Puppy LOVES to retrieve ducks on water, especially teal. Those little things are just right size for her. Seemed the light sorta flickered on with Ellie when she saw Puppy retrieve. Arriving at the first honker I threw a rock at it and Ellie actually swam to it, grabbed it by the head and brought it in. Lots of praise. When we got to the next one she swam to it but only returned a few feet before colliding with a half submerged deadhead. That rattled her and she let go of the bird. I peeled off my boots and socks and was wading out to rake in the goose with a long stick when Ellie decided to get involved again and made her retrieve. The third goose had drifted a hundred yards to the middle of the deep end of the slough. I stashed the birds and we struggled ahead on the steep brush covered bank. Seemed every ten feet I'd step into an old beaver track hidden in the tall grass and willows. Good way to break a leg! Figured I might have to swim for this honker. Then surprise, surprise I stumbled onto an old overturned green fiberglass canoe pulled up into the weeds. And there was a paddle underneath it too. Alright! After determining it was seaworthy we launched with Puppy sitting at the bow. Ellie jumped out before I climbed in but I shoved off anyway and let her swim alongside. Good plan! She soon saw the dead honker in front of us, steamed ahead, grabbed it, and brought it back to the canoe. I threw the dead honker on the floor but then Ellie decided she should climb in with it. "No, no, no! Get down!" I didn't have a life jacket on and that slough was full of mud and weeds. If the canoe tipped over I could have been in serious trouble fully dressed and wearing boots. Ellie was bummed but obeyed and swam beside the canoe till we reached shore. Hauling the three honkers out of that gawdawful jungle about did me in. I eventually pulled off my belt and used it as an over the neck hanger with two honkers on one side and the other honker and teal tied together on the other end. My rolled up hunting jacket served as yoke padding. I'm feeling my geriatricy tonight.

    Ellie is great with uplands but slow to catch on to waterfowl. I can't figure it out. She loves the water and is fanatical about retrieving a training dummy. Guess I'll have to go back to working her alone. See if that helps. Worked for pheasants. Staying home will be hard on Puppy though. Little stinker loves being out in the field.
    Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 09-21-2019, 03:49 PM.

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