The 2007 pheasant season had come and nearly gone, and I’d yet to hunt with my German shorthair, Kaiser. He was 6 years old and hadn’t hunted a bird in more than 2 years. I was failing him as an owner and as a friend.
My occupation as a state trooper, and being a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve, had taken a toll on the time I spent with Kaiser.
Another officer who raised pheasants advised me he was going to take his two sons hunting and offered the chance to get Kaiser back in the field.
The night before the hunt I broke out Kaiser’s e-collar. I slid my Remington Model 11 shotgun into a gun bag and filled my vest with shotshells. The next morning came and I looked in dismay at my e-collar; the battery had failed to hold a charge. Regardless, I put the collar on Kaiser and hoped he’d remember what to do when the collar was on. Bottom line: I simply wanted him to behave.
Kaiser and I stood in a field where five pheasants had been planted. I gave Kaiser the “Go find!” command and off he went, running full tilt with his nose glued to the ground.
Not a minute into the hunt, Kaiser went on point. It was so sudden that I was totally caught off guard. I whispered “Whoa” as I walked up to his right side, his eyes burning a hole into the bushes in front of him. I kicked at the bush and out came the rooster.
It took two shots but I connected, and feathers blossomed as the bird fell to the ground. Kaiser went directly to the bird, picked it up and started trotting back to me. He dropped it 5 feet from me and then came and heeled on my left side. I was more shocked than proud at this time. My friend and his boys were whooping and hollering in the distance at what they’d seen.
The hunt continued, and after an hour I’d harvested four of the five birds. Kaiser had found all five birds, but the final bird had gotten away from me and had flown 200 yards before landing. My friend suggested I send Kaiser out to find it. So off I trudged with Kaiser in front and two young boys following me. We checked one area to no avail, even though Kaiser had gotten “birdy.”
I decided to send him in the opposite direction. No sooner had Kaiser started in the other direction and he locked up. I walked over, kicked the bird into flight and completed my part of the deal. Kaiser brought the bird back, deposited it near me and heeled next to me with a mouth full of loose feathers.
Now I was proud. This bird had flown off and yet Kaiser had still nailed it. In my glee, I emailed photos to friends and to various co-workers. My commanding officer sent back a reply which summed it up. He wrote, “You can take the dog out of the hunt, but you can’t take the hunt out of the dog.”