Bird dog people sometimes talk about hunting dogs with heart, or desire, or drive. They might even sometimes argue that those words describe the same, or different characteristics. Whatever. We all know it when we see it and I was privileged to witness just a little example today.
Patty and I spent a couple hours at our pheasant club and he managed to find and point two nice roosters during our walk. One was a typical situation for our location. Patty caught a whiff of him out in a grassy field and locked right up. But by the time I got over there the big bird had slipped away into one of the canals and the chase was on.
I’ve written before about the challenge of hunting running pheasants and how it can take many cycles of track, point, search and release before you get the flush and, hopefully, the shot. We chased that bird for the better part of an hour and at the end, I missed it.
It was on the other bird though that Patty showed me his heart. This one had burrowed himself deep into a tangled patch of wild roses. Patty got the scent running past the downwind side of the thicket and almost blew a shoulder he stopped and twisted so hard.
I knew the bird must be hunkered down close by so I checked out the brush patch, trying to peer past the twisted stems as best I could. If a pheasant sneaks out from under Patty’s point, he starts to loosen up and lose his intensity but not this time. He remained rigid and focused while I circled and poked and prodded and kicked at the edges.
The thicket was only a few hundred square feet and Patty was clearly telling me that the bird was right there. But eventually, I released him, thinking he must be mistaken. The bird must have run out so we needed to find his trail and then track him down.
Wrong! When released, Patty dove straight in, burying himself completely in the thorns. He twisted and turned and worked himself right into the middle. Heart indeed! He locked up in there and, in awe, I repeated the flushing process. This time, with Patty right on top of the him and his special hidey-hole cut in half, the pheasant lost his nerve.
I felt so bad when I missed the shot. Patty had given everything for the team but I’d let the side down again. He gingerly extracted himself from the brambles and kept right on hunting.
Heart AND forgiveness.