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HOME RANGE: Notes on Literature, Nature, Working Dogs, History, Martial Arts, Other Obsessions and Sundry Annoyances by Henry Chappell

More Idaho Memories

Thank goodness for streams where the simple, old methods still work. 

 

I'm still not over northern Idaho. I'm a warmwater fly fisherman who fishes for trout a few days every few years. I have no business fishing storied rivers.  Thank heaven for small streams and West Slope Cutthroat that will take an Adams or a Humpy. 

Jess

A few days ago in Kentucky at Wilson Creek, Green River Reservoir

 

After growing up with pointers, setters, and beagles, and training and hunting over three big-running German shorthaired pointers and a mountain cur, I have, at the age of 59, taken a chance on a Labrador retriever pup.

 
I never thought I'd own so reasonable a dog as a Lab, but, for once, I yielded to Jane, and considered my long-suffering neighbors who're tired of 6:00 A.M. treeing and fine, squalling coon fights at 11:00 P.M. Never mind the dead squirrels and cottontails delivered to the back door, sometimes to the horror of non-hunting company. Cate, my late cur-dog, the best all-around dog I've owned, loved Jane, who returned the affection, but said, "I love Cate in particular, but curs are awfully rough." I can't argue. 

 
The good ones are rough. I admire their courage, and I loved Cate for hers. She was an efficient little killer, and her prey drive and territorial ferocity didn't make for a great suburban dog. But I would give up a hell of a lot for a few more years with her. 


But Jess ...

 
I brought her home from a kennel in East Texas when she was seven weeks old. Now thirteen weeks old, she's a fetching maniac, but so are a lot of puppies, so we'll see. I trust she's talented enough that whatever permanent flaws she develops will be my fault. Her sire and dam both weigh a little less than sixty pounds, so she probably won't grow large. That's okay with me since we'll be old together, and I hate the thought of lifting an elderly eighty-pound Lab into a truck kennel. 


We'll hunt ducks, of course, but I predict we'll do more upland hunting: quail in West Texas, woodcock in East Texas, and I'm still obsessing over the blue grouse I saw in Idaho in August. 


Hunting birds over a flushing dog will require some adjustment after all the years of walking up to dogs on point, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. (Actually, I have hunted over flushing dogs many times. Problem was, they were flushing birds out beyond .270 range instead of pointing them.) 


The coming hunting season will be a training season for Jess and me, and that's okay. The real hunting will come soon enough. She's still a baby, and I'm feeling blessed.