Mia’s duck hunt

Mia enters cattails on her duck search

The difference that a couple of days make. Saturday morning was warm and windy, hunters lined the ponds and ducks filled the air, but Monday was 20 degrees colder, perfectly calm, few birds flying and fewer hunters shooting.

I missed several opportunities on flyovers and a couple of ducks that we flushed, much to Mia’s disappointment.  We had been hunting awhile when Mia went on a nice point and I flushed a rooster Pheasant. Unfortunately, Pheasant season wouldn’t open for a couple of weeks.

Mia on point

I dropped a hen Mallard on the far side of a large patch of cattails. Knowing it was asking too much of Mia for a blind retrieve through acres of cattails, I took her around to the opposite side to begin our search.

Mia with a flotilla of ducks behind her

It was about a quarter of a mile to where we could cross, but once we came to the general area where the duck fell, I sent Mia in to find it.

Mia with the duck she found and retrieved

Mia is a very cerebral hunter and has developed an interesting way of searching. She would wade through the cattails a few feet then stop, sniff, listen, and proceed a few more feet. I enjoyed watching her work the cattails in that manner and it wasn’t long before she burst out of them with bird in mouth.

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Opening day duck hunt

Saturday was opening day of waterfowl hunting in this region of the state, so I loaded Doc into the Toyota and headed out dark and early.

sunrise, opening day of waterfowl season

We arrived just as shooting hours began and the ducks were flying. Other hunters had already claimed spots around the ponds so I decided to hunt the drain ditches.

We hadn’t gone far when some hunters dropped a couple of greenheads and wounded another.

The wounded duck did a long glide and landed not far from us. I could tell it was hit too hard to take off again, so I sent Doc on a duck search while I waited and recorded. It took about five minutes of searching before he found and retrieved the duck.

Doc’s head held high scenting the wind

We continued on, and I dropped a duck in a small drain ditch. I saw it splash down between two small clumps of cattails and sent Doc to retrieve. He was too excited to take my cast and it took several minutes to get him over to where the duck landed.

Doc searches cattails for the lost duck

No duck. We searched quite awhile without any luck then followed the ditch as far as we could, and still no sign of a duck. Doc caught a scent, but nothing came of it.

Doc retrieves his second duck through a forest of reeds

Parliament in session

Elvis works into the wind.

This past Friday I took Elvis partridge hunting, it was the first time I had taken him to that area since he was caught in an illegal snare several years ago.

One of the owls we encountered

I haven’t seen partridge there for a few years but it was a conveniently short drive. We found no sign of partridge, but ran into a parliament of 11 owls. I’ve seen parliaments of this size in December and January, but never this early in the year.

Doc partridge hunting

To catch up with Doc’s hunting, I took him partridge hunting to another area where, again, I haven’t seen birds for a few years. We saw no sign of partridge but Doc went on point and I found fresh Sage Grouse droppings nearby.

Doc checks out a lava tube

Several hail storms dumped on us while hunting so we didn’t stay long.

The Snake River Comic Con

Pirate (hiding a donut) with baby

Witches, wizards, Hobbits, aliens, superheroes, even actors and those in the writing and film making industry converged at the Red Lion Inn for the first annual Snake River Comic Con.

Paparazzi catches Green Arrow at lunch

With presentations on everything from wand making to film making, plus a special gaming room for gamers, it had something for everyone.

The dog costume was most authentic

Although I wasn’t an attendee this year and stuck with the free stuff, it’s something I may attend next year, as organizers are already lining up guests.

Costume repair room for attendees

Elvis’ Certificate of Achievement

I’d like to thank the SCOA (Spinone Club of America) for recognizing Elvis’ therapy work with a Certificate of Achievement for his AKC Therapy Dog Advanced title.

Two days after receiving his certificate, Elvis assisted in a patient’s physical therapy. Ok, all he had to do was lay on the floor, but during our therapy visit, a physical therapist who was working with the patient asked Elvis to lie on the floor. The patient then had to lean over and pet Elvis as a means of helping her regain balance.

Elvis’ certificate of Achievement

Mia’s Sage Grouse hunt

Saturday was opening day for both partridge and sage hen, and it was Mia’s turn to go hunting.

Mia on a lava ridge

Unlike Doc’s forest hunt, this was open desert as far as the eye could see. We hadn’t been hunting very long before I saw a sage hen in the open, about 75 yards out. I “whoa’d” Mia and was trying to determine the best way of getting close enough for a shot when it, along with 9 others flushed.

Not long after encountering that flock, Mia caught a scent and turned to give me her “come here” look – it’s the look she gives me when she wants to show me something. I gave her the “hunt” command and she began tracking a sage grouse.

  Mia gives me her “I have something to show you” look

She was still working her way towards the bird when it flushed and I dropped it, a young rooster. Mia then did a nice job of retrieving.

Mia pointing sage grouse at about 50 yards

With that shot I had my sage hen limit so I changed tactics to partridge. We continued hunting several more miles into the desert without luck, but encountered three more sage grouse. They didn’t fly far so I influenced Mia around just for another chance to point them, which she did at about 50 yards.

A Sage Grouse about 75 yards away

We then returned to the 4Runner for lunch. I checked out Mia’s feet and found that the lava rocks had worn her pads down and I was afraid that she might slip a pad if we hunted any longer. She had also picked up a number of cactus thorns in her feet and legs, even though she’s experienced in avoiding them, so I called it a day.

Mia with the sage hen she retrieved.

At the age of 8, Mia’s beginning to show her age on these strenuous hunts and needed a little pain medicine to relieve her aches and stiffness.

The dog crate makes a great picnic table for soda, chips and sandwich.

Doc opens hunting season

Doc got the call to open hunting season, with a Ruffed Grouse hunt in Wolverine Canyon. It was perfect hunting conditions – wind, rain, and temperatures in the mid 50’s.

Wolverine Canyon

Doc scented birds several times but was unable to track them down.

Doc

The burrs and grass seeds were much worse this year than I’ve ever seen, and I spent about half-an-hour grooming them from his face. I was worried about them getting into his ears and decided to call off our hunt.

Doc covered in burrs and grass seeds

Hunting the creek bottom on our way back to the vehicle, Doc locked up on point. I could see a Ruffed Grouse running through the brush ahead of him and when it stopped, I moved in. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a shot when it flushed through the heavy brush.

Doc stares down a calf

Back home, I spent two hours grooming burrs and grass seeds out of Doc before bathing him. Even though I was not successful in bagging a bird, it was nonetheless an enjoyable opening hunt.