Elsa’s hunting days were few and far between during the winter months of 2008 and 2009 due to weather and field conditions. However, we did manage to run around the wildlife preserve behind our place just about every other weekend… and never saw a single pheasant.
We finally got a date scheduled to hunt on Pine Hill Kennel & Sportsman’s Club‘s sprawling 160 acre “Big Prairie” farm. On April 11, 2009 Elsa and I headed out with my friend Bobby to find some pheasants…and Elsa was the only pointer in the field. The conditions were dry and windy, not exactly perfect for scent capture. For the first 30 minutes Elsa ran around like a lunatic until she inadvertently flushed 2 Hungarian Partridges that took off like they were shot from a canon. Soon after that it was as if something clicked inside her… she settled down… seemed more focused.
The next thing I know, she locks-up like she had hit a brick wall. The only thing moving on her frame was the rhythmic expansion of her chest. Her eyes were transfixed ahead on some invisible quarry amid a blur of grasses still dull from the winter’s thaw. I slowly walked towards her slipping off the safety of my 12 gauge, and within a few steps the silence is shattered by the clamor of a rooster cackling as it rapidly took flight. The bird drops, Elsa proudly returns, and with a slight bit of hesitation gives up the bird to hand. In the next 2-1/2 hours Elsa would point no less than 6 pheasants and 2 partridges. Thinking back on where she started, it was immensely gratifying to see her so intensely participating in her breed’s purpose.
I attributed much of her growth to allowing her to hunt solo. During previous hunts, she seemed distracted by another dog in the field. I think allowing her the opportunity to puzzle out the situations and piece together her training helped her advance.