Ace's First Battle Scar

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Novel time.... (i.e.: short story, long)

Well, Ace is just 8 months old now, & I can't be happier w/ his hunting abilities. Any shortcomings he has at this point aren't his fault. I haven't been doing a very good job documenting things, but I think we've been out about 21 times so far & he absolutely loves it. The first 7-8 outings, he didn't wear his special collar, before I decided it was necessary & he was ready for it. It took exactly 1 hunt for him to associate the collar with hunting & he goes nuts when he sees me plug it into the charger.

It's been a pretty challenging season, but we've been holding our own, & our birds per trip average has been steadily increasing during the last 10 trips or so. We can finally hunt most cattails (not all), but now so much of the snow is gone that stealth is nearly impossible & the roosters can run to their little hearts' content. We really need another 5"-6" of snow now to slow them down a bit & make our footsteps a little quieter. It's my Christmas wish.

One thing I wish I'd spent more time on before the season started was fetching/retrieving. But that's my track record w/ springers. Mine are great finders right off the bat, but they start off slow as retrievers because I drop the ball. But it doesn't take us long to increase the find/retrieve/putitinthevest reliability to nearly 100%. Not to sound like a blow-hard, but I typically anchor a rooster to the ground fairly well. Our first bird Saturday was NOT one such rooster. Ace busted him out of the cattails & I dropped him (barely) on the ice. But by the time the bird had made it 60-70 yards to the cattails on the other side, Ace was literally right on his tail. I was hopeful at this point. But after a few minutes he returned without the bird. At this point, I knew that unless Ace had killed the rooster, it was very likely in the next section. I sent him back over there, but he soon returned birdless. He did, however, have a nick under his right eye that is visible in each picture below. A struggle had definitely taken place & I guess the rooster won that round. I hate losing birds as much as anyone, but experience has told me that at this point, our best bet was to let things calm down & hope to come up with him when we made it to the other side of the slough.

Now as many of you know, I typically shoot my A5 Sweet 16. But for some reason I got the itch to take my 16 gauge Model 12 out this weekend. I brought the A5 along though, just in case the Model 12 & I had....issues. One area of concern was this. I bet I haven't put a box of shells through a pump in the last 26-27 years, about the time I first became a double gun shooter & then a devout lover of the autoloader. So I was a little concerned that if I couldn't connect on the first shot, would I possess the wherewithal to shuck another shell into the chamber?? I was pleasantly surprised that apparently shooting a pump is similar to riding a bike. Not 10 minutes after losing the first rooster across the ice, Ace flushed 2 roosters & a couple hens simultaneously from the cattails. Both roosters died sufficiently grizzly deaths. My first double of the year. The pic below with 2 birds was taken right afterward.

We eventually got to the area the first rooster went missing. There's basically no cover for him to hole up in & why would he? He had 2 good legs & had already evaded the dog once. But I had Ace tear the area apart again anyway...to no avail. Then at one point a little further on, he began obviously chasing something through the cattails. It excited him so much he barked at it. So I got excited too & laid on the encouragement. After a couple minutes of this, he finally chased his quarry through a little opening in the cattails. Coon. My hopes for recovering the bird dashed, I called him off to continue hunting. We didn't see another bird, until right at the end, where the cattails peter out into nothing. Ace got hot, hot, hot....and nothing. Next thing I know he's under the very last clump of weeds & won't come out. Bingo! We got him. Roughly 300 yards from where I'd dropped him. It was a great feeling & Ace felt almost as proud of himself as I did. You'll notice that the middle bird in the picture has no tail feathers. Goofy springers.

View attachment 9648

View attachment 9649
 
Last edited:

Miforester

Member
Sounds like you and Ace are having a great first season together. Always satisfying when you find that winged bird after a long search. Most of my winged birds come back tailless as well as my Brit tends to pull them out during the chase. Great story!

Merry Christmas!
 

UplandHntr

Active member
I am insanely jealous! Glad you two are getting after them. Wish I couldve made a second trip out there to get some first hand Ace! Eventually..
 

UplandHntr

Active member
Hey Brent- have you been putting boots on Ace? If not, how have his feet been doing in the snow and ice? Getting cut up at all?
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Hey Brent- have you been putting boots on Ace? If not, how have his feet been doing in the snow and ice? Getting cut up at all?
Mike, funny you should mention that. No, I haven't. I've never used boots & have never had problems. I know some dogs do have problems. I wonder if my luck has anything to do with the fact that my dogs usually get out hunting 15 times or more before we start getting into any significant snow. Toughens them up??? Don't know. I apply Musher's Secret pretty liberally though, & that helps a lot with the snow buildup in/on paws, armpits, chest & rear end. That said, just this morning he was lying on our bed licking the heck out of his paw. Has a little owie where one of his pads meets his foot. Looked almost like a little tear or split. Shouldn't be a big deal, but it must hurt a little. My guess is that Thursday he'll forget all about it.
 

PairOfLabs

New member
Yea Ace!!!! I was fortunate to be able to go on two SoDak trips with two different groups-1st near Winner and the 2nd near Murdo around 12/7. The 12 in. of frozen breakable crust snow in the morning was tough on my labs and me. We don't get to hunt in much snow in eastern CO. Great pictures, too.
 
Top