The Bargain




After repeating this mantra a few times I did not feel zen, enlightened, or one with inner peace. The pangs of hunger, fatigue, and now frustration were starting to squirm under my skin. The granite slab I was standing on was tottering back and forth, the weight of my decision lightly balanced under blown out Danners.

Do I go get the bird?

She’s staring at it, then at me, over and over again. Although retrieving is not a setters strong point she brought back all the other birds today, with only one call of the command. We had the episode last year when she threw a bird off of a cliff. I deemed that an act of protest for not holding up the “shooting well” part of this strange partnership. It may seem like a master and servant arrangement to those who don’t own hard headed bird dogs, but it’s as delicate a balance as any relationship. I had a middle school teacher who exalted and cursed his bird dog so often that we all thought Gretchen was his wife.. I only found out when she got porcupined that Gretchen was in fact, 100% german shorthair.


She began to pick up the dead chukar, then dropped it while staring daggers at me. This lapse wasn’t an accident. She wanted something. I pulled out the water bowl and asked if she wanted a drink. She cocked her head and started to walk toward me.

“If you want a drink, bring me that bird. Fetch!”

A minute later I had more weight in my game bag, less in the dogs water bottle, and just the right amount between the thirst vanquished dog and myself on this shifting rock.

8 responses to “The Bargain

  1. Reconciliation is sweet. But will it last? See Leonard Cohen’s “Ballad of the Runaway Horse.” Angus is acting weird. Am I reading too much into his quirks? Thanks for the great writing. Are you headed up north? Swing by Cambridge?

    • I’m sure Angus fine, it’s still early and dry, tough on the nose. My northern trip was scrapped, hope to make it up sometime just for birds. It’s looking good down here, found them in good numbers on every outting. They’ve all been up top, still green from some rain a few weeks back. All the guzzler/spring lazies are bitching heavily about it. “No birds at my opener spot..” At least it lets me know who walks and who quads. Haha a filter of friends I guess.

    • Waiting on the snow and word from some friends who ranch out there.. Nobody has seen much of anything. It’s a zone where they’ve been trying to eliminate the herd for 30 years, so there aren’t many to begin with. Keeping my fingers crossed. How’s your season?

  2. Last stand at the Alamo time. If its brown, its down (well unless it has antlers). Im left with nothing but late season cow action, and am going to spend 4 days on the mountain to try and fill the freezer. Bird season isn’t looking great either, since last week between my two worthless brittanys and myself…..I was the only to find a covey of huns. And picked up where I left off and whiffed on two cake shots. So status quo ’round here.

  3. Just laughed so hard. Great writing. We only just this year have seen Tater really get after his fetches with passion and charisma — he’s a stubborn little precious bugger and it’s taken a lot of dedicated yard work to get him to hold birds in his mouth. That said, it’s a true relief to be able to finally give him a gold star for his retrieves.

    Are any pointers natural retrievers??? What you say about setters is what everyone says about GSPs.

    • Haha Tater! Way to go bud! Pat him for me.

      Pudelpointers are natural retrievers, as are most GSPs and GWHs, but as you know you have to work with them on it, a lot.

      Setters are not natural retrievers. The minute I got Ava home from picking her up in Idaho we started playing fetch with a tiny tennis ball. I played fetch with her every day for a year and a half with few exceptions, and it payed off in the field. She now out retrieves my golden lab Rosie.
      Repetition, repetition, repetition.

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