Monday, September 3, 2012
As normal for day three, the alarm rang forty-five minutes later than the first two days. Everyone dragged to the truck, sore and tired. But luckily the fresh spot is full of birds and everyone loosened up with the excitement of immediate action. This is a very wide dunefield and they elect to both travel east to west, with Charles to the south and Charity to the north. Charity takes her first and only bird of the day within 10 minutes of leaving the truck. The bird got up front and center, but she failed to disengage the safety at the first shot attempt, but then recovered in time to get a shot off as it veered over to her left. She wasn’t sure if it connected, but swore she saw the bird waver as it topped the dune, so they headed back in the direction of the truck. Mae found the bird and licked the blood and feathers, hesitating a bit on the retrieve. She was called off of the bird and Sue was sent in. The strong natural retrieve is Sue’s greatest gift.
Simultaneously, Charles enters his area, pushing another nice mule deer buck out of his resting place and hits the jackpot not long after, putting up a flock of 12 grouse, which was the only large group of the whole trip. The birds head east, the opposite direction of our intended march, but birds don’t follow our puny human plans, now do they? As he comes into the marked area where he thought they landed, the dogs loop to the west of the dune and he elects to go east, hoping to pin the wily critters down. Out of nowhere, Sam starts barking, which is never a response to birds. While Sam is barking his head off (which Charity could hear in the distance and was hoping everything was okay), a lone grouse flushes behind Charles that he quickly swings behind and kills, marking the bird down and leaving it lay to figure out the source of Sam’s anxiety. Just as he turns back from the bird to look at Sam and his yucca problem, BB emerges from behind the plant with a face full of porcupine quills. Charles pinned BB down and pulled out quills from her face and paw, while Sam continued his barking but learning the porky lesson long ago, Charles was confident Sam wouldn’t tangle with it. Once he released BB from her operation, she immediately went and found the bird for the retrieve while Charles called Sam off of the barking spasm.
Charity continued west through the dunes, having a few groups of 3-4 get up both in and out of range within a span of a half hour, but the shots didn’t come together. She spent another hour heading west towards a couple of windmills and a lone tree, but saw nothing.
The team of Charles, Sam and BB eased along the southern ridgeline that Charity had covered to the north and pushed birds into. One got up that he missed, but a second bird jumped that he put a pellet into. It soared a hundred yards away, but it was obviously hit because one leg was hanging limp despite its efforts to escape. They worked over to where it was down and BB found and pointed it, but the bird hadn’t given up the fight. It flushed again and with a close range going away shot, Charles had no problem bagging it. They worked their way further into the area that Charity had busted up and a grouse charged them out of nowhere, flying up over a dune straight at them. Needless to say, Charles’s limit was taken care of in that salvo.
Despite the remote location, they were within cell phone range and Charles texted that he had his limit and was coming to get her. She made her way to the windmill by the lone tree and he drove the truck to pick her up, just in time to head back to town to fix the kids some lunch.
Charles shows the neighborhood boys, along with son, Conrad, on left, how to breast out a sharptail grouse