For many years, I hunted pheasants without a dog. I have always had friends who have good bird dogs, and I hunted with them when I could. But even when they didn’t invite me to hunt, I would venture out by myself with my shotgun and hope to kick up a bird or two.
Hunting with those friends who had dogs was always an eye-opener. They found more birds than I found with just my feet, and locating the birds we had hit was a lot easier, too. And there’s just something about being out in the field with a dog that makes the experience even better. I suppose that’s how just about everything is – there isn’t much you can do that isn’t made better with a dog to share it with.
Then, back in 2006, I got Cricket. She was a Golden Retriever who could hunt, and she loved it. I became a pheasant hunting fanatic, getting out in the field as often as we possibly could. Riley, the black lab, came along in 2017, and though she wasn’t any good at hunting, she still liked to tag along. I thought she’d eventually figure it out and get to be at least as good a hunter as Cricket, but she never did. We lost Cricket in 2018, and we lost Riley earlier this year. Without a dog to share the hunt with, I just have no desire to get out there.
I do still have a dog, but Paisley’s an Australian Shepherd, and she’s even less of a hunter than Riley was. So I’ve been putting out feelers for another hunting Golden, and I have a kennel picked out. It’ll be a few years before I get one, though, so it might be a while before I’m back out chasing ring-necks. That’s OK, though. If I end up with a great bird dog again, it’ll be worth the wait.