Friday, November 13, 2009

Dogs on the mind.

Tomorrow is Oklahoma's quail season opener and rather than hunting I will be puttering around the house watching the boys while my wife takes a group of her students to an "Academic Bowl" tournament (sort of a high school Jeopardy for brainy kids).

Which of course is perfectly fine by me, because being a common non-landed, non-gentried public-hunting prole, I hate quail openers and avoid them like the swine flu.

In fact, were I not staying home with the kids I would be spending tomorrow morning sitting in the cattails with Tess or Lewey listening to the cacophony of shotgun blasts, beeper collars, whistles and the endless screams of "HERE! I SAID HERE, DAMN IT!" as a small army of pointers, setters, shorthairs, Brits and mutts of unknown "bird dog" lineage are loosed upon the land.

And many of them, tasting freedom from the kennels for the first time since possibly last year's opener, take full advantage of it. It's quite the scene. Of course, the sheer numbers ebb and flow according to the yearly quail outlook. This year is supposed to be merely so-so, on the low side of average so perhaps it won't be so chaotic.

Still, I'll sit it out, and when things calm down I'll load up the dogs and we'll go see if we can flush a few quail. Which brings me to the point of this blog post. I used to hunt quail quite a lot but in the past few years I really haven't done much quail hunting, because let's face it: chessies aren't exactly quail dogs.

But the dog in the picture certainly was. That is (or rather was) DP, which is short for Door Prize. I won DP at a QU banquet shortly after I got married and while I was still in college. DP was - and probably always will be- the sweetest little dog I ever owned. She was of Elhew/Fiddler and a little Guard Rail breeding, but heaviest by far on Elhew and so maybe that's where the disposition came from. I'm not enough of a pointer guy to say for sure, all I know is she was a lapdog in a pointer's body. If ever a dog had a truly gentle soul, it was DP.

She was also a beautiful, stylish hunter: her gait was effortless and fluid. When she locked up on point she had a straight twelve 'o clock tail and a gorgeous head (not so much in this photo, which was taken when she was fairly old and sported a head full of scars from a vicious fight she got into with (and barely survived thanks only to our vet) my first chessie (a mean, surly bitch who also ended up breaking my heart).

She was my first real bird dog. But as she got older her pancreas started to fail, and to make a long story bearable, I ended up burying her not far from where she pointed her first quail.

And I haven't had a pointing dog since, partly because I had the chessies to occupy me, partly because we didn't have room for three dogs in our old house, partly because I didn't think I could find another dog like DP and partly because I wasn't even sure I wanted to get back into bird dogs.

But lately I've been thinking. Just thinking, that's all.


  1. A very slippery first step.

    A good pointer is pretty magical. Getting a pointing lap dog is just gravy.

  2. The problem with that thinking stuff is that it so (too) often leads to doing stuff and then you're all involved in dealing with stuff... but most of the time, in my experience, it seldom ends in regretting stuff.

    I've been a retriever guy most of my life, mostly because I prefer waterfowl to upland hunting, but there's something pretty awesome about watching a pointer work.