Knowing I shouldn’t be taking Peat hunting until he’s “ready,” I took him anyway. He’d demonstrated some troubling tendencies that needed to be dealt with: obviously, running off with stolen birds, but also busting and chasing birds, and appearing on the cusp of learning the joys of hunting for himself. My first Brittany, Glenna, was a masterful hunter for herself, which caused me to quit hunting until she died.
Still, I took Peat out yesterday, with Angus and Leslie. Leslie had the leash, and I thought she’d be able to control him if Angus got birdy. The problem with this idea was that as soon as we set out, Peat sprinted an arrow straight course for 200 yards across a boulder-strewn field and stopped on a dime. He was pointing. I mean, he literally jumped out of the pickup and sprinted straight to a covey of Huns. It took him fifteen seconds. Angus was birdy, but doing his normal quartering. Peat had him beat by several minutes. I hustled toward Peat. As I neared, he actually turned his head toward us, almost as if to say, “What took you so long, and exactly what am I supposed to do now?” Just before I was within range, the birds busted, and Peat followed them and would not come back.
So Leslie leashed Peat and wrangled him back to the truck. I’ve been working with him, trying to do a force-retrieve, which has revealed to me the extent of his stubbornness (see the video below). We’re starting to collar-condition him, too, so we can gain control over this diamond in the rough. I mean, his nose is staggeringly good, his athleticism and prey drive are phenomenal, and he is figuring out what the game is. But this was his last hunt, probably for the season. It breaks my heart to leave him at home (which I did today), but I’m trying to think of the investment.
So I got to hunt with Angus alone today. Leslie’s staying home and exercising Peat, so I apologize for the dearth of winning photos and video. I miss her company on our hikes, too. But Angus found seven coveys today, Huns and chukars, and did some good retrieving work on crippled birds. It was windier than Trump at a Knucklehead Convention, but my old boy crept his way in on everything. He’s limping a bit after our journey today. It’s sad to think of him being past the halfway point. It seems like just a year or so ago we discovered this pastime together. Time flies when you’re chukar hunting.
So, I hope I can stick to the plan of working with Peat every day and keep him from the field. So far he’s making quite unremarkable progress. I won’t hold my breath.