Josie and Jessie, much to their dismay, were placed into their enclosure while Jacob suited up as the backer and Colby prepared to act as the guide. Sadie, the German Wirehaired Pointer and Jo-Jo, the Setter, were to accompany us on the second leg of our hunt on the South Fork Hunting Preserve, or maybe better put, we were to accompany them. Instead of wheat fields as our destination, we would head into the bottom land adjacent to a wide creek. However, our journey down did include our new companions coming across another bobwhite that took off like a rocket and was last seen heading toward South Carolina. Both barrels of the shotgun missed this time, and thus the retreating form was sent on its way by a ‘two-gun salute’, colorful language from the shooter and a “tsk tsk” from his incredibly-talented photographer/wife, Frances…
As we reached the bottomland, the dogs went ‘birdie’, or at least that’s what the trainers-cum-guides called it. There did seem to be a definite uptick in the urgency of the dogs’ movements, from no zig-zagging, to darting back-and-forth near water’s edge. It was Jacob who said, “I wonder if the birds heard us coming and flew across the stream?” Just then Sadie froze in front of a tiny clump of dead grass that didn’t appear large enough to hide even a small mouse. Colby signaled Jo-Jo to a halt, while Jacob led us toward Sadie’s’ position. The [significantly-larger-than-a-mouse] chukar exploded straight up, doing a very passable imitation of a towering woodcock. With the report from the first barrel, the bird descended back through the slowly-expanding cloud of feathers. Sadie had to wind her way through some dense groundcover to reach the downed bird, but appeared to relish the chance to bring back the game to her proud handler.
Our group headed out of the bottomland towards a grove of trees adjacent to another wheat field. As we made our way up the hillside, the beautiful surroundings – the green, gently-rolling farmland, the distant treeline and the azure sky – came into focus. There could be no better backdrop for the beautiful dogs that were once again working to-and-fro through the young wheat plants. We did not make it to the trees before the duo locked up once more into that lovely attitude seen in paintings.
Have you ever seen a melanistic form of the Chinese transplant that North Americans call, Pheasant? When the rooster exploded with a squawk, and with that feathers-in every-direction appearance, he looked like a small tom turkey. The series of photographs that Frances captured shows the shotgun being mounted and the hastily-departing rooster dropping from the sky after the first barrel was fired.
The bird was impressive in flight, but even more so when Sadie brought him back and we were able to examine his beautiful plumage and impressive spurs. The chukar and quail were beautiful, but this guy definitely took first prize. The taking of the rooster marked the end of our time with Sadie and Jo-Jo; we headed back toward the kennels, and the next set of dogs awaiting their release from pointer-prison.
Check out Chapter 1 here.
Next week: In the Company of Artists – Final Chapter