Now that hunting season is upon us, Roxie’s training is at a point where she can start to hunt on her own. I started to look for opportunities to get Roxie out for some real hunting experience and I had heard that the Department of Fish & Game has a Game Bird Heritage Program where they hold special apprentice hunts for juniors and women. I was orinally planning to volunteer Roxie for the junior hunts but when I saw they also had women’s hunts, I wanted to take advantage. I figured this would be a great opportunity for us, not to mention they are FREE!!! Can’t beat that!
So after I took and passed my hunter’s safety course, I put in an application for the 10/24 hunt at Nelson Slough Wildlife Area which is up Hwy 99 towards Yuba City. I was drawn and was so excited! I talked Liz into coming and volunteering Lyric. Jen, one of the girls from the Women’s Hunter Camp that I attended a few weeks ago was also going to be there. I was hoping that we could all hunt together. Once we all got checked in, Jen ended up in another field and Liz and I got assigned to the same field. We were paired up with a young boy who was accompanied by his father. In the field next to us was a more experienced volunteer, his two dogs and two older boys. Our two groups hunted seperately for the first hour then joined together to search for the remaining birds. But first the first hour…
Lyric and Roxie have worked together before, but in a training setting. I wasn’t too concerned about them working together. Right off the bat, Roxie found a bird and pointed it. As you can see in this photo, Lyric is coming in fast behind her and she is looking at me for direction. I’m not giving it to her, she knows what to do. I thought I had time to get a picture then get the gun ready, but nope. Within a few seconds, Lyric runs past Roxie and in for the bird.
The bird flew over my head and both dogs took off after it. With the gun in one hand, the camera in the other, I couldn’t get to the transmitter for the e-collar to call Roxie off. Plus, I couldn’t get the gun up to take a shot. The bird flew into the next field and we continued working the area. Within no time, Roxie remembered her training and she did real well.
The next hour, we met up with the guide and the other boys who had both gotten their limit of two birds each. We were still birdless…. except for the bird Lyric went in and got for himself. Woops. With the guide, we headed out to the other field to look for some of the remaining birds along with his two German Shorthair Pointer dogs. We found three more birds and for the second time, the young boy shot over someone… this time it was the guide who gave him a good talking to. Obviously, we missed that bird. Next Lyric found a bird and while everyone else was looking in a tree at another bird, the bird flushed but there was no one to shoot at it. The boy however, shot the bird in the tree and Lyric (whom I thought was Roxie and kept calling when she was infact, right in front of me) retreived the bird happily. We headed back to the trucks with everyone but me having got a bird. I wasn’t disappointed in the least. I was just happy with how Roxie performed and felt comfortable that I could hunt while she did her job.
We headed back to base camp, ate some lunch and considered signing up for the afternoon hunt. It was warming up and we weren’t sure how the dogs would do in the heat and after a long morning run. Liz, Jen and I all decided to go ahead and sign up. We hung out for about 1.5 hrs when both Jen and Liz decided to head home. I met up with two other women, Lindsay and Trisha, who were planning to go out again and didn’t have a dog. So we went out together.
Whenever a bird flew, she stood and watched it go. whenever a bird ran, she stood and watched it run. She never got an opportunity to retreive the whole day so she never had a bird in her mouth, but she didn’t seem to mind.
Trisha shot one bird and we later found it. The guide and the boy continued hunting but it was now 3:00 and we were all exausted and they had to leave. I ended up taking Trisha’s bird and a very nice man cleaned it for me. We headed home happy and tired. Roxie was asleep before we hit the freeway.
Trisha talked about coming back on Sunday for the afternoon hunt. Lindsay couldn’t and I didn’t think I would be up for another hunt. I was already exhausted and didn’t really want to drive back out for a second day. Plus, I had housework to do. I went to bed early and slept late. I woke up and started looking at the pictures that Lindsay’s hubby took and got excited all over again. Not only did I have the chance to go out again but someone else asked me to go with them hunting and another invited me to go shooting. Why can’t I get this many opportunities when I’m not sore and dead tired??? Finally, at about 10:00 am on Sunday morning, I decided to go back to the Women’s hunt. At the same time, Lindsay had also decided to go. So I picked them up and we headed back to Nelson Slough.
We arrived in time to sign in and be assiged to the field next to the one we were in yesterday. We were in the field all alone, no kids, no guide, no other dogs. Just the three of us and Roxie. While it was really nice, Roxie had a lot of ground to cover and she did it well. The three of us spread out in a line and Roxie quartered back and forth between us searching for birds. The first bird went up, and it was Trisha’s. She shot, she hit, Roxie retreived. Perfect! We found several other birds, but all missed. Then about an hour later, Roxie went on point, a bird flew, they shot and missed. Roxie immediately went on point again in the same area and I thought it was just old scent. Then a bird flushed in my direction, I shot and hit! Woo Hoo!! I got it! I got it!!! Roxie retreived and we were happy! I immediatly got the camera out for my photo op.
At this point, only Lindsay hadn’t gotten a bird so we continued hunting. We ended up in the next field where we knew two birds had flown and were walking into the breeze. Roxie caught the scent early, but kept working until she was positive and her point became solid. The bird flushed, she shot and hit it, it landed but before Roxie could get there, it got up and flew away. As we were heading to go find it, Roxie went on point again and another bird ran away… she stayed where she was and watched it go. Lindsay and Trisha went to find the running bird and Roxie and I followed behind. I was watching the girls when apparently, Roxie came upon another bird and it flushed all by itself, I turned and shot and missed. Roxie was still steady as a rock. We headed over to the girls who had coralled the bird in the sheep coral. They chased it out and it flew, Lindsay shot and missed. Damn! We headed back to the other field where the wounded bird and the last bird I shot went and by golly if Roxie didn’t find that bird!! I was too far away to get to them. Roxie was still tracking and creeping up on the scent and when she got close enough to be sure, she pointed solidly. They could see the bird only a few feet ahead of them and saw that it was indeed wounded. But Roxie was solid and wouldn’t move. I was still to far away to get to her and they were trying everythig to get her to go get the bird. Finally, I hollard at them to tap her on the back and tell her to fetch. They did and she immediately went in to get the bird. Lindsay was so happy to have found her shot bird and I was extatic with Roxie’s performance. We stopped for the photo ops and then decided to call it a day. On the way back, Roxie seemed to know that we were done and stopped hunting and walked close to us.
We got back to base camp and checked in our birds and set up for some more photo ops of the three of us. As we were doing this, someone pointed out where a bird had recently flown so we loaded up and went in search of it. There was nothing where we thought it would be but decided to keep walking a little ways to see if there was anything else. Roxie pointed a spot that seemed to be old scent then a few feet further, she pointed again. She wasn’t solid but she was steady. I could see the bird and I thought it was dead. Lindsay said it was defintely alive. She went in and kicked it, and as it flew away, Roxie jumped for it and took off after it. We all shot at it and as I went for the transmitter to get Roxie back (because she was chasing it at this point) I realized I had left it at the truck. Roxie was gone. She chased that bird over 100 yards away and finally I could see her heading back. We could only see her bobbing in the bushes and they said, “wouldn’t it be funny if she caught the bird?”… and when she came closer, that damn dog had the bird in her mouth!! I was disappointed that after all her good work over the weekend she ended it by breaking and chasing. I’m hoping that she did it because she knew the bird was wounded but I’ll never know.
On the way back, Roxie had a sure way of telling us she was DONE for the day:
Here is a link to a little bit of video I took as Roxie was hunting. It’s not much, but you can get an idea of how she looked. At one point, she caught the scent and went on point, although right when it happened, I turned off the video to pay attention to the bird and shooting. At the end of the video, is Roxie retreiving the bird that she chased at the very end of the day.
Overall, it was a GREAT weekend! I got to work with Liz and Lyric, got to see Jen, got to meet some great new women to hunt with, saw that Roxie really does know what she’s doing and Roxie and I got our first bird together. I can’t wait for the next time!
P.S. For those interested in keeping up with the Adventures of Renee & Roxie and are reading this because of an email or posting on a forum, be sure to sign up for email updates so you don’t miss out on future postings. I don’t always post all over the universe and if you subscribe, you won’t miss a thing!