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Sammy was a Bird Dog

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It's been said that every hunter deserves at least one great bird dog in his lifetime. I don't know if I've had mine yet but I had a really good one in Sammy. It's been a few years since Sammy passed away and it seems like a good time to reminisce about her. Sammy was very independent to the point of almost being a self hunter and I had to stay on top of her all the time in order to get her around. It was a lot of work and many times I swore I'd never want another dog like her. However, reflecting back I realize that she was an incredible bird dog who gave me some great memories. Here's a few of the many proud moments I had with Sammy.

Velcro Bird

It was a mid-October morning; possibly even the opener and my brother and I found ourselves at a new piece of ground we'd never hunted before. It was a low area with a ditch going through it. The whole cover was a little over a quarter mile long and maybe 150 yards wide. It contained an assortment of cover from cattails in the ditch to tall slough grass and other various grasses and weeds. It was eerily still as we started our trek. One always hopes for some breeze but in this case there was almost no movement in the air. In spite of that it wasn't too long and we had our first point and our first bird in the bag. After taking a moment to pay homage to the bird just collected we continued on always keeping one of us near the ditch while the other moved farther out. Sammy was unusually compliant that morning and was handling nicely for me as she covered the ground. As she hit the outside edge of the cover she turned in to go back toward the ditch checking all the likely spots on her way. As she got closer to the ditch she slam pointed a patch of shin-high grass that was about the size of a truck tire. There was no question there was something in there but when my brother kicked through the grass nothing came out. After pondering the situation I went over and released Sammy who very quickly circled the patch and reestablished point in the exact same spot. Another flushing effort produces the same result. There was nothing to do but release Sammy again. All this did was have her repeat the same sequence. At this point we are both pretty skeptical but there is nothing to do but try again. Brother takes his first step in and a rooster comes roaring straight up out of the grass. Quickly collecting himself he downs the bird. We stand there a moment trying to absorb what we had just experienced but all we could do was say "That was cool!" I don't recall what happened the rest of that day but that bird that stuck to the ground like Velcro stuck with me for quite a while.

The cut, the buck and the birds

It's post-deer hunting season out in farm country which means colder temperatures, ice, and snow. I'm hunting a creek that stretches from North to South through a one mile section. My brother has dropped me off on the south end of the section and I'm working the East side of the creek with Sammy. Sammy is not a great linear cover dog. She is too independent and eats up too much ground. In a ditch she will end up far away because she'll run out of cover close by. Usually this setup leaves me wanting to fry her like side meat but today I don't care. I let her have her way. The creek is typical for farm country. It runs through fields and has cuts running in perpendicular to the channel. In these cuts the cover is usually thicker in the bottom and it thins as it nears the field. This particular creek is a [PoorWordUsage] shoot. You never know when there will be birds using it. It's sort of secondary cover with a better piece of ground not too far away. I watch Sammy disappear about 100 yards in front of me - roll my eyes and wonder when I'll see her next. She may run all the way to my brother who is posting at the other end of the section. Or there may be bird somewhere along the way that may sit tight enough to stop her. With Sammy’s departure I’m now alone trudging along pondering the great mysteries in life. Clearing a slight incline I can see a tiny brown spot off in the distance. Hmmm, if that brown spot up there is Sammy she's not moving. By distance I mean 300 yards. She's out there. Unconsciously my pace picks up - I need to find out if that's Sammy. It is Sammy and she’s pointing! Hold on little brown dog. The cavalry is coming. Don't move baby. Another 20 yards and I'll be at the edge of gun range. Okay, I'm in range! Slow down to stay quiet. The snow is crunching. Everything is making too much noise! Little brown dog, oh how I love thee! Sammy is pointing at the edge of a cut. There could be birds anywhere in this thing. Approaching from behind Sammy complete pandemonium ensues. A big eight point buck bolts from the bottom of the cut and seven birds flush from the top. Standing at the mid-point of the cut I nearly get a whiplash looking first at the buck to my left and then at the birds to my right and then back again. No cock pheasants in the flush but a split second later a nice cock flushes in the opposite direction of the other birds, back to my left. One shot promptly downs the bird. Glancing up; I watch the buck rolling down the creek towards my brother and think about the story I'll have to tell when I meet my brother at the other end.

Tumbleweed Volcano

Is there anything worse than a shooting slump? I'm in the worst slump of my life and my confidence is so low I'd have to dig a ditch to get under it. I'm walking a creek on a sunny December day thinking about what I need to do to shoot my way out of this slump. Sammy as usual is much farther out than I like, but despite my sour mood I let her roll thinking if she bumps some birds at least I won't miss because they'll be too far away to shoot at. This stretch of creek has never held much so I'm thinking it's an exercise in futility when I look up and see Sammy cat walking toward a tumbleweed bush at the top edge of the creek bank. Finally she stops and I'm wondering what the heck she's doing pointing a tumbleweed. As I approach my mind is elsewhere and totally unprepared for what happens next. This is no ordinary tumbleweed. This is a tumbleweed volcano and it begins erupting pheasants. Like quail on steroids, a complete covey of pheasants flushes from behind this magical bush. There are birds in the air everywhere. Finally, spotting a rooster quartering away I shoot and miss twice. My mind instantly goes back to the horrid slump. At that moment the magic bush belches up one more bird, a young rooster. Taking care to shoulder and fire with my last shot I dump the bird in the plowing. Finally connecting, my spirits are lifted and I look with disbelief at the tumbleweed that housed fifteen to twenty birds.

I still see that tumbleweed in my memory but the birds are gone and Sammy is gone. She gave me a lot of memories like these. Good dogs live forever.

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Awesome stories, gspman! Thanks for sharing! I too, have had that once-in-a-lifetime-bird-dog. I will have to share some stories some day as well. Thats a great primer for the coming season.

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Great stories there gspman.....sounds like you guys had some fun. Really gets a guy thinking about walking a creek bottom during a cool fall morning vs. doing work!!! grin

Maybe my new little one will fit this bill some day....

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Thanks for the stories. I think everyone who hunts has some special memories of hunting with our dogs.

I try to convince myself it is just a stupid dog, but for the life of me I can't seem to understand that. They are truely our best friends.

Sorry for your loss, but the memories of Sammy will always be there!

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I got to see Sammy in action many times. That was me in the velcro bird and creek story. That velcro bird story just goes to show you should trust your dogs nose and not necessarily your eyes. That bird just about ended my life(heart attack). laugh If I remember right I blew the right wing clean off.

That eight point buck trotted up to within 10 yards of me and the rock I was sitting on. cool

Those stories got me a little misty, I must admit. I miss Sammy and hunting the high ground at LQP. Those are some of my fondest hunting memories and I'll never forget them or her. She wasn't just a bird dog, she was a HE11 of a bird dog! Glad I got to be a part of it.

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