The Surreal Killer

The Surreal Killer
Machu Picchu. Peru

Sunday, March 23, 2014


A friend and fellow dog owner came by last week with an invitation to join him hunting Chukar (partridge) and to bring our dogs.  He had several birds left on his card, which expired the next day, to shoot at a local hunting preserve.   So, Elaine, the friend, and I, plus all four of our GSPs went bird hunting on a beautiful, but hot, 80-degree (F) day.   The rest of the story is about Ries, our 6-month-old puppy, one of the four hunting dogs we took along.
The first round we hunted over Vinia and Jolie.  They found all of the planted birds, pointed them, and were able to retrieve the ones we were able to shoot.  Jolie got a little too eager on a couple of Vinia’s birds, which she flushed early, so we didn’t get them all.  The second round we hunted over Schoene and Ries, assuming Ries would run after his mother and had the vague hope he would get a general idea of what Chukar hunting was all about from the dog’s point of view. Surprise! Ries actually hunted---several rock solid points ahead of Schöne, who honored her son’s points, matched with a few excellent retrieves.  Surprise!  He has a better nose than any of the other dogs---he set up his points some 6-8 feet further back in the scent cone than Schöne, who sets up some 6-8 feet further back than Viña or Jolie. Looks like we’ve got a precocious puppy with a lot of talent who was all set for Junior Hunter competition in the Hunt Tests Elaine entered him into the following week.  We were eager to see so I was there in the spectator group for the hunt tests.  Elaine was also there as the show secretary for our local GSP Club.

Yesterday and today were the first of the hunt tests for this season.  Ries went out in a brace of two puppies, the other older than him by about eight months.  Ries did very well, with a strong qualifying score (found the birds, pointed the birds) and a great finale, which left the audience and the judges gasping or laughing depending on their experience level and mood.  His brace-mate had finally found and pointed a Chukar as time was running out.  Ries spotted the other puppy, a Vizla, on point and honored him for almost a full half-minute from some 20 yards away.  The Vizla finally flushed the bird, which flew about 50 yards in the opposite direction from Ries before landing.  Ries ran after the Chukar at full speed, finally getting the bird into his mouth after three or four attempts to pick him up or catch him on the wing.  Ries then looked around, ignoring his handler (Elaine) until he saw me crouching some 75 yards away trying to be inconspicuous among the spectators.  Ries retrieved the Chukar to me, handing me the bird from directly in front of me.  No holes, no blood, a perfectly intact, uninjured Chukar with barely a trace of doggie saliva on him to show for the experience.  As far as Ries was concerned, full honor, retrieval to hand, good bird finding, steady point, soft mouth----Wow!  That’s a good start on hitting all of the required tasks at the Master Hunter level.

I think I’ll get this posted before Sunday’s results are available just in case he reverts to puppyhood today.  At the same hunt test, a few of Ries’ siblings also had their debuts as Junior Hunter candidates.  Three more of the original 11 puppies from Ries’ litter were there, two sisters and a brother.  All four qualified for their first leg as Junior Hunters-to-be, with one of the sisters showing much the same precocious skill set that Ries had (without the honor and retrieve demo at the end).   Scores for the puppies ranged from 7 (out of 10) for the low end to lots of 9s at the high end.  All in all, a good day for the litter.

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