A story of a dog winning during Colorado Pheasant hunting
I stood at the kitchen counter pouring over the autopsy report, jaw agape. The results were in and there was no use questioning them. I mean, facts are facts.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” was all I could manage to say. “Not a single BB, not a broken bone, nothing. There is no damage to this bird.”
Hazel came over to me.
“Maybe he had a heart attack, Doc,” she suggested, “Did you run your diagnostics on his circulatory system?”
I just think she was tired of me harping on the subject. But damnit, it was a subject worth harping over. CNN worthy, maybe not—but Fox News would air any damn thing and this story could run as a top story by morning. I mean, one ring-necked pheasant down and not a single shot fired all weekend! Isn’t that quite the story? And although I would love to be the hero of this drama, I’m afraid I wasn’t. I was just an audience member like the rest of the hunters.
The sun was just making it’s lazy appearance over the horizon as we pushed out into the field. Hazel was with me and so were some of her more adventurous family members. We let the two hyper dogs work between us. That field had often produced an appearance by a pheasant or two. The problem was the undergrowth, which was usually so dry that the birds could hear us crunching through it from a mile away. That day was no different. And with the addition of snow, we might as well have called the birds on the phone to let them know we were coming.
“Are those pigeons taking off out ahead of us?” someone said in a thick Tagalog accent. Side-note: I had thought that word had something to do with a bad guy in Lord of the Rings as well, until my girlfriend told me they speak it in the Philippines.
“No those aren’t pigeons,” I grumbled, “that’s what a pheasant looks like from three hundred yards.” I hate bringing new hunters out only to show them how not to do things.
We pushed towards thicker cover, hoping they might be holding tighter in its security. My dog Sage was out in front and was so birdy that I could almost hear his tail cracking like a whip.
“That good, huh buddy?” I whispered to him in encouragement.
Sage, zoned in and doing what he was born to do, might as well have been in another universe. He had a single motivating purpose, not flittering between twenty different things like the rest of us ADD riddled humans. His precision focus could rival any Olympic athlete—
God, I love this dog.
I was not the only one taking notice. My fellow hunters were gawking at him as well.
And we saw his hard work paid off; he was tight up on a bird’s ass. I readied myself with my Citori, working it to the most efficient snap position. But there was no need. Out went Sage in a fury, up rocketed a beautiful ringneck pheasant in a picture perfect takeoff.
Before I could shoulder my double barrel, Sage was meaning business, stretched out to his full length in the air. Three years of flushing countless birds for me and this time…well. This time, he was taking one for himself.
Just as the bird’s landing gear came up, Sage had his mouth wrapped around him. Down they went, both dog and bird, in a tumble.
“Haaazzzeellll diiiiidddd yooou seeeee thaattt!!!” came the slow motion response of utter disbelief to what we witnessed.
Hazel shook her head, knowing that this incident would give me one more reason to put my pup Sage on a pedestal. Sage trotted over to me, pulled in tight to my side, and held the bird until I gave him the release. Just as he had done one hundred other times.
You know what I say?
Proper hunting dog etiquette be damned.
Fred is a writer, photographer and self proclaimed inventor. Toes in the dirt and fingers on the keyboard; he tries to spend equal time in the woods with his dogs, working on new products for Sage & Braker and raising his young family.