Bird Dogs: Tribute to a Hunter’s Heart


To turn back the hands of time and share that moment again.

To walk with friends in the field or call from the blind and train a pup.

A Hunters Heart Honest Essays on Blood Sport Edited by David Petersen.

From Mike Gaddis “Over the years, hunters who truly love the woods and wild things come to revere such moments of privilege.  As often as not, no shot is fired.”

For myself, I will have experienced a pinnacle in my life without knowing it at the time. Someone asked me once after just what I said and they added are you rich?  Indeed I said for the pinnacle in my life will be pushing a field for pheasants with a dog and my good buddies.  The response was what is that? there is no money in that I don’t even understand where you’re coming from, pushing a field for pheasants and the dog part you lost me.

Ya lost alright, I was to until I had such an experience and these hairy ass biscuit heads along with my family and friends under the canopy of nature where I felt something more real than my own life.  To where that feeling gave me life in which to respect and honor the harvest of the fallen one that I hunted and to not leave it behind.  For on my own, I could not find it in the tall brush but I know my hairy biscuit head would not give up until found or the result is no supper.

You can go through your entire life chasing blue ribbons and waiting for the notoriety when all along it was out in front of you, you’ll get my meaning here in a moment.

I can remember a time with several of my friends one day hunting at Green River in White Sides County Illinois.  Five of us to be exact and my dog Dutch at the time we’re going to go after pheasants the limit is two a piece so that’s 10 birds a lot of work for one dog.  Green River is a large area and we love hunting here.  We start out and Dutch is working for everyone and were getting birds but I noticed a fella walking along behind us.  Time for a break, water the dog have a smoke, talk about the day and say hey to the fella watching us.  Sure enough, he comes up and asked if he and his new pup could work along with me and my dog?  Well, I said there is five of us you make six that’s twelve birds and a lot of work for Dutch for he can count and he’s going to work for all of us it’s what he does.  The fella says I know but if his pup could work with my dog maybe he could pick up a thing or two.

Well, I’m sold for I love dogs and this fella is a complete gentleman about the whole thing so let’s go.  Dutch starts working and anyone who has taken time with a dog knows what they love and man they love to work a field, you will never see any creature work like a dog,  they live for it.  At this point of the hunt, every buddy has their limit but or new guess and my friend Kent who needs one more.

Dutch gets on a cock roster and pushes it out in front of Kent and our guest, they both shoot and the bird goes down,  here comes the retrieve.  As I take the bird from Dutch and look at Kent for it was his shoot that tagged the bird.  I gave it to our guest for he did not have one yet (I don’t like to leave anyone out) if you could have seen Kent he looked like a small boy who just was denied,  with head down and he was, but he’s a good boy and understands how I guide when we’re all together so no worry mate.

Well the day is getting long and hard for Dutch and it’s showing, his eyelids are cut, nose bleeding from working the thick brier brush, time to quit and head back.  I hear Kent, come on guy I just need one more,  I say listen,  there still a chance for we’re heading back and he’ll keep working but I’m not going deeper Kent, look at Dutch!  So we’re all heading back to the vehicles from where we started and the group knows it’s going to be slim pickings for any action and for Dutch that pleases me because he is tired.

The truck is in sight not far to go and I’m thinking of Kent, so I see a food plot of standing corn not too many rows deep and walk along it.  All of a sudden Dutch gets birdy (meaning he smells or hears a bird) I look down at him while he is looking up at me and I say you think there’s a bird in there buddy?  He looks into the corn and back at me again and I say get him.  At that time I yell ahead to Kent who is out in front of me.  Dutch is on one get ready, you should have seen how excited he looked.   He yells where is he I said in the corn,  right after that Dutch pushes out a bird right in front of Kent, I mean you could not have asked for a more perfect flush from a dog a Kodak moment to say the lease.

Kent got the shot and his limit he yells out,  Dutch you’re the King! Everyone had their limit but for my new guest with his pup but I felt OK with that for Dutch did a great job,  11 birds is a tough go for any dog.  Get back over to the truck water my boy down and into your bed, you go, no cage the whole back of the truck, I like to think of it as a rolling dog house with the topper.  I’m sitting on the tailgate and my guest comes over to thank me and he explains who he is.  Turns out this fella is the Vice President of Travelers Life Insurance,  “at times myself and members go hunting at clubs where the weekend cost $1500.00.   Today sir,  I spent $10.00 and had one of the best hunts I’ve ever been on, just wanted for you to know that and you have a great dog,”  as he shook my hand and walked away.

As I looked at Dutch I thought I don’t need ribbons my heart was full my mind pleased and my Boy,  well the Best.

Mark Brewer-mb productions


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