Young Bert and the visiting pup.

Kismet

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Joined
Jan 30, 2002
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7,200
Young Bert, the not-right dog CHAOS !

I had a number of nice hunts with the visiting Drathaar puppy, Citori, and Young Bert, the not-right dog, in spite of cold, blustery, and over-cast weather. When Saturday's weather was forecast as calm, warmer, and sunny, it seemed like a perfect day to go on yet another training hunt with the puppy. We hadn't pushed many birds, but the hunting was good, Young Bert was healthy, and the puppy loved being out. A side benefit was that puppy energy expended outside meant that there was somewhat less puppy energy to be expended inside. In the house, Citori really liked to take a squeaky ball and chew it up, good and moist, then drop it in my lap to throw. At least once. OK, maybe more than once. Fine, endlessly. She is a sweetheart, but a rip. She's hard not to love. So far, YB is managing. He is tolerant, but learning how to roll his eyes and sigh.

About noon, I took the dogs over to previously hunted areas, savoring the warmer sun, and the drier weather and field conditions. When we walk this area, YB is hunting. Citori is roaming, exploring, trailing, seriously threatening field mice, and circling back to see if YB and I are doing anything interesting. She's good that way, keeping in touch with me while she explores. I think female bird dogs take to this behavior more readily than males, but that may just be my experience. YB and I have had several discussions, ranging over several...uh...years about this very subject.

The area we hunt takes anywhere from an hour to two full hours to cover, depending on ground conditions, my leg strength, and my ambition at the time. YB is getting older, but no wiser, so he will hunt himself into a state of subsequent prostration when we get home. When I cut a hunt short, it is in consideration of him. Yes it is. It is.

We walked the easier ground slowly, covering it carefully. The dogs checked in, YB's bell and his oxygen factory breathing gave me occasional indications of where he was. Citori checked back with me fairly often, but really only brushing my legs while passing me. After the cold and windy hunts, this was a pleasure. Just being out in the cover, the puppy was learning more than I could imagine...all information being stored somewhere in that sleek little head of hers, for subsequent reference. We spent an hour or so working the cover and I contemplated going back to the site where we had flushed the three hens the day before.

Then it occurred to me, I'd never taken the pup to the other end of the area, along a fence line marking the neighbor's property line. I have permission to hunt there, but don't often use it on this side of his land. I loaded the dogs up in the car and drove up and over near the fence line. We sat on the grass for a while. OK. I sat for a while. YB sat after a while. Citori sat when I ordered her to...well, by the third time I ordered her to. The sun was lovely, the field had been in CRP over the years, but recent rules changes had mandated that the existing plant growth...a nice even field of tall grasses...be disked up and replanted with some selection of various grasses and plants, supposedly to encourage new species to use the habitat. It had come in fairly nicely for a first year, and life was good. Two happy dogs, a shotgun, some life left in my legs, and maybe some feathered surprises to help us all learn.

With a satisfied groan, I pulled myself up and indicated the direction we were walking to YB. Citori thought that THAT was a great idea. Again, Citori prefers motion to inaction, regardless of the direction. We were walking up a slight incline to the fence row which stretched a few hundred yards and was rarely disturbed by humans or machines. YB disappeared into the field/brush on the other side of the fence, and Citori followed eventually, both vanishing from sight more quickly than one might imagine. As I ambled along, the dogs would find openings in the fence line and show up on my side, moving along ahead of me, only to disappear again. Occasionally, Citori would roam out in the field to explore some scent that she found curious or interesting, then loop back to the fence line and vanish again.

I was pleased with the chances the pup was having to explore and learn, and pleased too, that YB hadn't exercised too much authority over her in spite of her various provocations. She was learning well and with joy in the process. While it is not hard to make a puppy happy, it is rewarding to combine training and joy at the same time. She's retrieved a duck to her owner, a pheasant to me, and a pheasant to her owner and another hunter. She understands part of the relationship. Maturity and experience will provide most of the rest of her needed knowledge base.

At the end of the fence line, there is a stand of woods, mostly mature oaks. This is an area variously described as an "unglaciated" area, or "oak savanna." The glaciers did not come down this far the last time they took a trip and so the land is rolling, with some limestone/sandstone bluffs. The "oak savanna" designation comes from the vast fires that once raged across the prairies, but jumped over oak saplings/trees that stood in their way. The junk trees succumbed, but the thicker-barked oaks of various variety survived to see the new grasses emerge from the ashes of their ancestors. The oaks are old, living out their life-spans, then falling to feed the woods floor for future generations.

We walked along the woods, with the dogs loping ahead, out and in of the woods and the brush that grew at its edge. No joy, but more learning for the pup, and some visceral pleasure for YB, whose life is punctuated by these pleasures. The land slopes down ten feet or more to the opposite side of the field, then moves up to higher ground, also wooded. Beyond that is another farmer's pasture and crop land. YB and I have moved the occasional pheasant and turkey from the lower land, as it is more densely brushed and untrammeled. Very probably, it was not farmed in years past, but used as a scrub pasture for dry cows. Brush grew up and flourished. It was not plowed under, so old grasses still grew proud.

We turned and headed back in the direction of the car, a day well-spent. There is a line of thick bushes, tall and impenetrable to anything larger than a rabbit or a pheasant, and YB worked in and out there, tail twitching with interest. His tail is my pheasant Geiger counter. When he is hot on scent, it moves as if it were the only outlet for his inner excitement. If he is just mildly interested, it wags, but more out of general pleasure than intensity. Citori's moves much the same, although I've not really seen her hot on the trail of a bird.

We walked up the slope and along the field side of the thick brush. The grasses were high here--eye high for me. I could hear YB's bell and panting, and Citori bumped into my leg as she ran past to see what YB was into. They disappeared. I kept walking in the general direction of the car. I reflected that I'd done well for the pup. She'd learned good things. She'd learned something about pack order...ahem. She had no scars nor injuries during her stay with me. I was a good experience in her life and my friend would have a still-solid pup to work with.

(continued)
YoungBert and  raccoon07_.jpg citorigreatprofile1.jpg
 
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Kismet

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Jan 30, 2002
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Young Bert and the visiting pup continued



Then I heard YB bark.

Oh. Dear. (rough paraphrase)

YB doesn't bark at pheasants. YB will occasionally bark at rabbits, but it is a more excited yelping, almost hound-like.

YB DOES bark at...let me see...oh, yes...raccoons.

Citori is over there. The perfectly-formed, completely impressionable, not-yet mature Drathaar, whose ancestral breeding includes hunting for furred game.

This is not good. (Again, rough paraphrase.)

So, I yell, "NO BERT !!! NO !!!!" I grapple for the training control for Citori's collar, now tangled with the strap for the darned camera that the darned sun had prompted me to take out on this darned hunt.

"NO BERT!!!!! NO NO NO NO NO BERT NO!!!!! COME!!!!"

And I hit the hot button for the collar.

Citori came charging back to my side, to sit at heel. Bert and the growling animal were now enraged, but from the sounds of it, not engaged.

I had someone else's perfect puppy. I had my own dear sweet fierceatthewrongtimeandbackidiotdog. I had a single shot shotgun. I couldn't see a thing in the high, thick grass.

YB was not coming back. Citori was going to go with me, regardless of the instruction I gave her. She was at heel and by gawd, she was going to stay at heel.

I HAD A LEASH !!! I grabbed it out of the game bag to sounds of serious insult-exchanging between YB and critter. I put it on Citori. At least I could probably save her from damage.

I moved towards the sound, the YB came back to me. I grabbed for his collar.
YoungBert and  raccoon07_.jpg
I missed. He went back.

Oh dear. (rough para...you get the idea)

I got to a trampled area and saw YB charging into a grass tunnel, then jumping back. A snarl that would have made a wolverine proud echoed back at him.

He charged again. A (yes) raccoon charged out, all teeth and without humor.

I had the precious puppy on a lead in my left hand. I was screaming NO NONONONONONO!!!! to no effect. I had a single shot shotgun in my right hand. I couldn't let go of the puppy. I wasn't going to drop the shotgun. I needed a third hand to grab YB, the not-right dog, before they got into the clinches.

I do not have a third hand. I can't remember ever really, really, WANTING a third hand before. Circumstance dictate wants, sometimes.

So...holding my left hand with a death grip on the leash for Citori (the pup might have been dangling off the ground for all I know,) I extended the barrel of the shotgun to push YB back.

He moved back, then around to the muzzle of the shotgun. Not good. (And to my credit, not for one second did I consider...nevermind)

I clunked him on the back with it. He ignored it and charged again.

Finally, I pushed his chest back with the barrel of the shotgun, moving him a foot or more back from the now raging raccoon.

Quickly, I shoved the barrel of the gun into the grass tunnel, felt it hit something solid, and pulled the trigger.

No more snarling. But, of course, YB charged past me to grab, bite, punish his arch-enemy.

I looked down to Citori. She was fine, although not entirely at ease with the screaming, growling, snarling, shooting, bloody event.

Neither was I.


I took her back about five yards, completely out of sight of the battleground and knelt down to examine and calm her. I put the shotgun down. The pup was fine. I was trembling and depleted.

Now. I got a friend's precious puppy here. I got YB, t n-r d, over there, probably bleeding from gawdknowshowmany bites and cuts. AND, I got a raccoon, a species which I do not want Citori interested. I think there is a logic quiz like this. How to get A, B, and C across the river when the boat only holds...something...and one eats the other or something.

So, firmly, I commanded Citori to sit and stay. I walked to YB and the battleground. I felt something on my left thigh. Citori. Of course. Perfect.

I got to YB, who was guarding the body of his vanquished foe. I made Citori sit and stay. I examined YB. Blood, but mostly ear gashes, which bleed a lot, but are not serious and heal up quickly. I examined the raccoon, whose head had seen better days. I grabbed one of the critter's legs. This appeared to be (and turned out to be) a thirty pound raccoon. A big fat dead raccoon, smelling all raccoon-y for Citori.

Dammit.

So, with YB trailing behind until I yelled at him, I dragged the raccoon by the leash, encouraged Citori to forge ahead, and found that...uh...one should not shoot a single shot 12 guage shotgun with a high-brass shell single-handedly. The result was a huge flap of skin drooping down from what was/had been? the web of my right hand, and some of the blood on me was my own contribution to the gory episode. The gun had recoiled and slammed the hammer into my hand. I didn't even feel it until we were walking back. I stuffed a tissue over the gouge and we made it back to the car.

I put the dogs in the car. I dropped the leash and the shotgun.

I pulled out a cigarette. I slumped.

Jayzuz.

We got home. The dogs are fine. The raccoon is not. I should have had stitches but when I FINALLY found the super-glue, I was able to wash with soap and water, then alcohol, then hydrogen peroxide, dry it and drip the dregs of the glue onto the flapped flesh. With some tape over the glue, (yes, I know, but it wouldn't stop bleeding) it is holding.

We took the next day off.

YoungBert and  raccoon07_.jpg citorigreatprofile1.jpg
 

Fiddleback

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LOL. Why don't they get hunts like this on TV. LOL. A 30 lb Racoon. I'm glad Ivy never found one of those. She'd be dinner...
 
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