Chilly has now had 12 full days of hunting since she returned from camp. She has been on two separate trips to the Harvey area of ND, and one game farm hunt at Traxler’s yesterday. There have been some ducks, but the majority of the work has been on roosters. I have not kept precise track, but conservatively I would say she has flushed close to 200 ringnecks. She’s retrieved about 20 mallards from cut corn, and 3 from the water.
All I can say is: “WOW!”
I could not be more pleased with how she’s doing. Her bird work on pheasants is terrific. She hunts close and never gives up on a bird once she has winded it. There have been a couple of times where the roosters have run and I haven’t kept up well enough to get a shot, but other than that she has always provided my hunting companions and me with great opportunities to shoot. She seems to understand that we are hunting as a team, and that it not all about her.
I would have to say that the best thing about hunting with Chilly now is how she responds to the e-collar. A couple light taps to turn her or to bring her in a little is all that is required. No yelling, pleading or whistles. I have hunted with some guys this season that spend their whole day doing this, and it certainly does detract from the experience.
After the shot, her retrieves have been great as well. Having a dog that will heel and then retrieve to hand is the best! I must admit that I was skeptical as to whether or not she needed to go through the trained retrieve process because she was doing an adequate job in her first season. However, there is just no comparison to the quality of her work now.
On waterfowl, we are not as far along. To a great extent this is just because we have not spent as much time or seen as many birds. On the positive side, she is well behaved in the blind. She stays at heel while calling, doesn’t take off running every time a shot is fired.
Her first experience with mallards was in cut corn, and it was quite a shoot! It was one of those deals where the ducks could just NOT stay out of the area we were set up. We would whack them for awhile and then send the dogs out to retrieve. At first she would run out and sniff a duck, and come back. I would cast her again with a stern command to fetch. She brought birds back eventually, but certainly not with the same joy and enthusiasm she has for ringnecks. Do you think this is just the way she is, or will it grow on her as she gets more experience?
The next day we were shooting over decoys in a fairly good sized pond. The bummer was that over night that water had frozen and there was about an 1/8 in layer of ice. You know Chilly loves to swim, but there was no convincing her that she could break the ice and go after the duck. On another occasion we were shooting over open water and she was anxious to retrieve, but because we were sitting in high reeds, she couldn’t mark the birds. I spent some time (and money) throwing 3 1/2″ steel shells in the direction of the bird so she could find them!
So all in all I could not be more pleased. You did a great job, and I thank you for all of your hard work with a dog that I am sure was not always a model student. For me, it was time and money that was extremely well spent. To have a dog that is not yet 2 years old hunt this well for me really is a dream come true.
P.S. Yesteday’s shoot at Traxler’s was with Jeff Willett. He was really complimetary about how Chilly hunted. He has a new lab puppy at home that he will be looking to train before long.