My morning run with Hera was interrupted when we had a second run-in with a priggish twat and her unruly husky. The winter before last Hera and I first ran up against this annoying woman and her husky. She keeps her dog leashed and it barks and pulls on the leash whenever it sees another dog. The first time I stood in the field across from a friend’s house with Hera while I waited on my friend and her dog to join us for a morning run. As the woman and her dog passed by on the road in front of my friend’s house the dog barked and pulled on the leash. Hera stood calmly by my side, taking no notice. The woman asked if I was not going to move on with my dog. I told her no that I was waiting for a friend. The woman complained her dog pulling on the leash aggravated a back injury she suffered. I told her I was sorry to hear that. She demanded that I leash Hera. I said to her to “just go.”
This morning Hera and I enjoyed a nice, long run as the weather is warm and sunny today. We walked with my friend Andrée and her poodle Oliver during the first part of the run. As Hera and I made a second pass in the meadow in front of Andrée’s house, I saw the woman and her husky in the distance. I did not know it was her at first–there is more than one husky owner in the area. Still, Hera and I chose a course I hoped would keep us from running into the woman and her dog. Unfortunately, we met up with her and the dog down by the river. The dog barked and pulled on the leash as before and the woman asked, more demanded, that I call my dog. She muttered about her sore back again then demanded that I leash Hera. I said to her calmly, “you look after your dog, and I’ll look after mine.” The woman took her dog in one direction and Hera, and I continued on our way.
I wonder where people like this woman get such an exaggerated sense of entitlement. I had run-ins with difficult people over the years when I am out with my dogs. Hera is my fourth Brittany, and I have a fifth Brittany (a new pup) coming in July. I learned over the years that it is better to keep calm while you stand your ground in dealing with people like the woman who confronted us this morning. Although I am better prepared for such confrontations these days, such encounters are still unpleasant and unwelcome. I hope Hera and I do not have a third meeting with this woman and her unruly dog.
Hera cooling off in a beaver pond on a warm September morning.
I made my first kill of the 2018 woodcock season late this morning. I was hunting in the Marlborough Forest at the patch of cover I call Schäfer’s Wood. I shot a woodcock over Hera’s point. I downed the bird with the second barrel of my Franchi Instinct SL in 20 gauge. We are two weeks into the 2018 Fall hunting seasons, and the weather is much improved. Still, conditions in my preferred hunting grounds are the driest I ever saw in all my years of hunting. I hope we get significant rainfall before mid-October. It took a lot of walking this morning, but Hera and I got into birds. I enjoy watching Hera working the covers we hunt for birds; watching her work the covers leaves me wondering at times if I trained her as a hunting dog or if it is she who taught me as a hunting dog owner. Continue reading →
It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about the whereabouts of your hunting buddies when a game bird flushes and offers you a shot. I am strict about hunter etiquette and safety in the field, and my perfect record on hunter safety is a testament to my adherence to hunter etiquette and safety. The fact that carelessness is an issue in hunting came to mind on a weekend grouse and woodcock hunt with Hera, my six-year-old Brittany. My hunting buddy Nick and his ten-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer, Cocotte, accompanied Hera and me on our weekend grouse and woodcock hunt. We got into birds: four woodcock and several grouse, but succeeded in spectacularly missing when we got shots away at flushing birds. Continue reading →
William McClure was a friend and mentor to me starting when I first spoke to him in 1987 until his death in 2013. Bill was a Brittany enthusiast and former breeder of the breed. He helped me find the breeder from whom I purchased my first dog, Christie, and shared his experience in training Brittanies for hunting with me when I trained Brittanies of my own. As this hunting season progresses and I take to the field with Hera, my fourth Brittany, I hear Bill’s voice, his warning against taking my dogs to hunting preserves to shoot pen raised chukar and pheasant. Bill warned me that pen raised birds are often not strong fliers and easy for the dog to catch. This, he warned, gives them the idea that they can catch wild birds too which is the last thing you want. I chose not to heed his warning at the time as I knew that hunters commonly visit hunting preserves with their dogs without issue. I took my first three Brittanies, Christie, Maggie and Juno to hunting preserves and never had a problem. In fact the photo at the head of this blog features me with my beloved Juno at the end of her first hunt on a preserve. Still, I wonder now if I should have heeded his warning, given that Hera is breaking point on woodcock, bumping the birds rather than waiting for me to walk up the point. Continue reading →
Mike and his German Shorthaired Pointer Maggie Mae on her first hunt of the 2017 season.
The heatwave continues as the small game and upland bird seasons get underway. It was Sunday morning, September 24, 2017, the day after the opening of duck season, and the temperature is expected to reach 40 C again. I arranged to meet with another of my new hunting buddies, Mike, who is training his first gun dog. He is the proud owner of a 17 month old German Shorthaired Pointer named Maggie Mae, Maggie being her working name. I met Mike last season while out running Hera and after chatting he and I became hunting buddies. Maggie was still a puppy last season, too young to join us in the field and not gun conditioned at that point. It was really too hot to stay out for very long with the dogs, but we thought we could at least introduce Maggie to Hera and let them get acquainted on a grouse hunt. Woodcock season opens on the 25th of September this season. The objective for this morning was to run the dogs together after grouse on the property near Spencerville where I also hunt deer with three friends. Mike is a seasoned deer hunter and I took the opportunity to show him the areas I hunt deer with my friends. We had a good, albeit brief, morning afield with the dogs on this all too hot day.
In training my dogs I am loathe to use force. This is one of the reasons I hunt with Brittanies. When I researched the various breeds of gun dog I could choose from I found the Brittany best suited for the upland gunning I do here in Eastern Ontario and for my personality: I am a gentle man and a gentleman. I talked to Brittany breeders and read up on the breed and learned that Brittanies are renowned for their eagerness to please their masters and are easy to train. I also learned also they need a soft hand in training; that and there is never an excuse to beat or mistreat a dog. Hera is my fourth Brittany and by far the toughest of the four. As with the three Brittanies who came before her (Christie, Maggie and Juno) I always make certain Hera enjoys her time afield and that every outing ends on a positive note. This does not mean I never have to correct her, but in doing so I use force only as a last resort. True to the breed, Hera is eager to please her master and is happiest when she is in my good graces. When it comes to meting out discipline, usually scolding her in my sergeant-major voice is sufficient. She responds with contrition and I am careful to forgive her and assure her she is still my girl. Continue reading →
Posing with a hen ringbill taken over the decoys in the background.
“Be prepared,” is the motto of the Girl Guides. It is good advice, in my opinion, particularly when I set out on a duck hunting expedition with one or more of my hunting buddies. This morning, I set out with Akber, Omer and Ehtisham for some duck hunting on the Rideau River. I prepared for the hunt the night before, knowing from experience that there is always something waiting to go wrong. I learned the hard way that waiting till the morning of your planned duck hunt to prepare typically ends in frustration when things go wrong or crucial pieces of kit are left behind. Despite my foresight and determination to see that I was prepared well in advance of my departure for the marsh, no amount of preparation (at least in my experience) will stave off all that is waiting to go wrong. This time, however, it took the cake!