Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I thought I was going to lose him....

Ace is almost 10 now.  He's seen a lot of places and birds.  He's been my main bird dog for most of those years.  When a large lump came up on his side, my vet was not too optimistic.  We got an appointment to the regional vet teaching clinic at Auburn Vet School, and I was in the process of resigning myself to the bad news.  But, another friend of mine said the location and the rapidity of the growth made him suspect a foreign body.  Since we hunt from Wisconsin to Arizona, from September to February, my dogs are exposed to all kinds of nasty awns, seeds, spines and quills. Not intentionally, of course! 

So I started in with the Epsom Salt soaks three times per day.  My reasoning was:
if this was an infection, it may come to a head and burst.  If it was cancer, I was doing no harm.  My appointment at Auburn was not for  another 5 days, so I had plenty of time to try it.

After two days of hot compresses, the bulge doubled in size and became soft in the center.  I was feeling more and more like it was an abscess.  I took him back to my vet and he agreed that this was a different looking swelling and we lanced it. I thought I was pretty immune to what could happen to my dogs, but that was the rankest, nastiest smelling stuff I've ever experienced coming out of that lump.  But, I was thrilled!  This wasn't cancer at all!  

Photo by Nancy Whitehead

We drained, I don't know how much stuff out of that wound, and put him on some strong antibiotics.  When we got him home, we did it some more!  He's in a crate right now, until the drainage stops, and then he'll be an inside dog for a few weeks while he heals up.  Mid-January he'll be going with me back to NM.  I can't leave him behind. He'll be my co-pilot, confidant and best buddy.....again.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Contemplating What's Important....

Randy Schultz's photo.
Watering Cap

So, I'm sitting here browsing through hunting pictures thinking about my last hunt and wondering about driving distance versus hunting time in the field. Then, I started thinking about hunting time in the field versus quality of life. Then, I pondered quality of life versus longevity of life. Finally, I came to the conclusion that to live a long and happy life, I need to go back to New Mexico in January. I love philosophy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blue Quail in New Mexico- Hunting the running Devils! (A Photo Album.)

Cap on a covey. 

Ace has them pinned down.

Watering the hard working dogs! Notice he lost one boot. 
Cap and Zella team up.

Shack is coming in to his own! 

Tracking the covey. 

Nice bird! 

Pearl riding and resting on the way home.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Desert Quail in New Mexico

"Good morning, Mr, Scaled Quail!" Ace isn't so fast anymore. He limps a lot and sleeps a lot. But, he has 10 seasons of pointing birds from Idaho to Florida. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to preserve even a small amount of that experience and knowledge?

Ace has a covey of Blue Quail pointed. 

Here's a little Scaled Quail track star! 

I've been averaging 6 coveys per day. The cover is good and boots are mandatory to protect the dog's feet from sand spurs. 

Here, Ruby and Pearl model their high fashion new footwear. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Arizona Mearns Quail

I had a great time hunting the Arizona mountains for America's rarest quail. This year, some parts of the high, grassy country got 20" of rain!  Perfect for the grass the Mearns needs. The grassy, savanna the bird requires, spotted with oaks, is very reminiscent of Spain. It's beautiful country and not what I  would expect of Arizona.

Male Mearns Quail. 

These birds hold tight- real tight! They are perfect for young dogs. My two puppies each had several covey points. The birds politely held until I arrived and, after the flush, they flew straight line and didn't go far, at all.  With cool weather, the singles would be easy to pick up. 

My friend Wally and his fine, young Brit, Spirit. 

My puppy, Shack, and the day's take. 

Vince got a true double with his 28 ga.!

I met Vince, who hunts over pointing Labs. He let me tag along on an afternoon cast. His dogs, Fargo and Bullet, worked  close and found 5 coveys for us in the warmth of the afternoon. It's not my cup of tea, but they are fine bird dogs and the results are just as good as the traditional pointing dogs. 

Over all, I'm honored to have been able to hunt this fine bird with these folks. I hunted with a retired Air Force fighter pilot, a retired attorney and s retired collegiate All/American and NFL football player. None were under 70. It was a pleasure. Mearns hunters are a special breed of bird hunter, a little like the dedicated Chukar hunter. It was good to meet a few of them and see their excellent bird dogs in action.  It gives me a picture of my future.