A fella by the name of John Gierach once said, “I still enjoy the company of most dogs more than that of most people, because dogs are capable of uncomplicated enthusiasm.”
I hunt and fish every species allowed under Oklahoma law. While I enjoy them all, there may be nothing I enjoy more than upland hunting for quail and pheasant behind a good dog. Well, I suppose that ties with duck/goose hunting with a good Labrador retriever. I grew up hunting with a Brittany Spaniel that had an unbelievable nose. I swear this dog could find a dead quail in the middle of a four-foot snow drift under a plum thicket like it was a rotting corpse. Rarely did we lose a bird. When I moved here in 2005, I lucked into a Pointer which again, had a terrific nose. The best part? I trained them myself. Not to take away from any trainers (as their dogs are certainly better than mine), but many of these dogs come by it naturally. Hide some birds in the weeds attached to a fishing pole (to jerk away like a covey rise if the dog gets too close) and let the dogs do their work. My friend (and local attorney) Drew Ewbank purchased a Brittany about the same time, so we trained and hunted with them together. They were quite the tandem and we killed many a bird during those years.
I didn’t start waterfowl hunting until college (I grew up in Turpin in the panhandle which has little water) but purchased my first Labrador retriever “Duke” while in college. Duke went everywhere with me, to intramural games, on runs, running errands and anything else I did. I think he even helped me reel in Rachel (my wife of 22 years). He was as much my friend as he was a hunting dog. Although Duke crossed the rainbow bridge years ago, he was followed by a yellow Labrador “Tess” and my pointer “Citori.” I spent hours with these dogs in the field and each one holds a special place in my heart.
I currently have a black Lab named “Pepper” but haven’t had an upland dog for a few years. As I’m writing this story, I’m happy to relay that tonight I travel to Missouri to pick up another Brittany Spaniel. My only hope at this point is the quail population increases so I’ll be able to give him (“Rowdy”) something to do rather than just hike through CRP grass. If not, Rowdy, Pepper, my boys and I will traverse the fields of Garfield and Grant County taking in everything else nature has to offer. Until next time. . .