Friday, May 9, 2014

My Go-To Dog Isn't Even Mine!

Bandit and limit of Sharptail Grouse
 This short-tailed, shaggy-eared, brown dog and I left the trailer one hot day in Montana. I didn't expect much since my other dogs had been birdless all day in the heat and dry grass. I loaded up with water and he and I took off up a draw with cut wheat on both sides, brush in the draw maybe ten feet across. He showed me lots of pep, pride and gung ho. "Sure", I'm thinking, "Let's see what you look like in an hour, hot shot!" Up draws and hills and we turned the corner and climbed up to higher fields and plum thickets. I was daydreaming now with my gun over my shoulder. The water was about gone as the dog swung by every ten minutes for a fill-up. We were on the home lap and over the next rise I should be able to see the truck down below us. The dog was tireless. A freak of fitness. He covered the hills in the heat like no other dog I'd ever seen. He checked every patch of low growing shrub, getting interested each time (I could tell by watching the white patch on the end of his tail). Finally, as I was standing in the shade of a small bush watching him, he spun and locked up! He was about 250 yards away and up the side of a slope. He deserved every bit of effort I had to get a shot. He held like a rock as I came up on the other side of the slope and walked to him. Sure enough, he found them! 15 Sharpies rose up and we had ourselves some fun! This little Brit is Bandit. He is a pup by my Ace dog, but is owned by Glen Bahde. Every year I borrow him and take him with me. Every year, he's the last man standing after my other guys are worn out.

I'm always amazed at the differences in the dogs in a litter. Out of Bandit's litter, two other dogs made great grouse dogs.  They are close working, cautious with great noses and easy, gentle dispositions.  One other puppy is a house dog and I've lost track of him.  But Bandit could never be described as close working!  Good nose and easy disposition, yes.  But, he is a go-getter and he "moves out"- and always has, even as a little puppy. I love the the Bandito!  I don't think I've ever seen him injured or worn out or less than 100% ready to go.  If attitude is a measure of a bird dog, he is the best there is.  

Bandit and me in Montana this year

Bandit (l) and Ace (r) have one cornered