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