Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two Weeks: Texas, Day 2

Chuck's friend and son had gone home the night before, and the other folks planned on running some puppies, so Wes and I were going to hunt on our own. The previous day we had found birds where a road crossed a creek bed and hunted the creek one direction; we planned on hunting the creek the other direction.

We got a late start, and with some wrong turns on the gigantic lease we saw more than we planned. By 11am we were ready to put Ike on the ground. At the motel I wrapped his feet in vet wrap in anticipation of putting duct tape on top of that, to help cure the footsore issues. When I pulled him from his crate I found he had pulled off and eaten most of the vet wrap. Nice. So I re-wrapped him and taped his feet with the most expensive gas station duct tape I've ever bought. I have Lewis boots for him, but his front feet are larger than his rear, so I need to get another set for a more comfortable fit; I've actually never had to use them before.

The weather was much cooler, probably around the freezing point when we started, and there was a nice breeze. We started in the direction where we found birds the previous day and planned to loop back across the road the follow the creek in the other direction. Doing only walking this day, I really became familiar with the hazards of hunting in Texas...everything is pointy and trying to stick you...jumping cactus is the worst. There must be some sort of chemical on the end of their spines, because they poke through your brush pants like hypodermic needles and the sting lasts for a while. Leather gloves came in handy negotiating the cover.

As we hunted up the creekbed, Wes is credited with the first find; a covey erupted from the base of a mesquite tree as he walked by. He opted to watch them down instead of trying a rushed shot, and we did get some birds up; can't remember if we had dog work or not.

We circled back across the road and found this...

I'm thinking "now we're in business." But, it turned out to be a nice buck. Not the first time it's happened, either. Ike made a nice cast in the direction of the deer and went on point again.

This time it was birds. He tried a relocation and some birds went, and here's a video clip of another relocate attempt. I whoa'd him to keep him from putting up what I thought was going to be the rest of the covey. He found them later.

It was wierd. We'd get a point, relocate, maybe three or four birds would get up, and then he'd find the rest of them. I think birds were running from us and the sparse scent of just a couple birds was throwing him off. On covey number three he figured it out without any mistakes. In this picture, he is surrounded by birds; we probably caught them feeding.

Over the next couple hours Ike found four coveys and there was some singles work. One thing I will say, singles are a lot tougher in Texas. The birds almost always run like crazy, and these aged birds wouldn't let you, or a dog, get very close before they'd flush. But the shooting was fast and fun; just as we were finished hunting singles from one covey we'd find another to play with.

We never made it far from the truck and we were able to circle back and get Doc who quickly found a jumpy covey as well. Then, Doc pointed, and during a relocation Ike got in front and pointed. Only instead of little birds, it was a brace of feral hogs that, thankfully, ran in the other direction. After that, we heard some birds calling and made our way in their direction, and Ike pointed them from a good distance.

From there we tried hunting the edge of the bottom back.

And then I found this...

With a long drive home ahead of us we packed it up early and headed home. The Garmin told me that in about two and a half hours of hunting, a footsore Ike covered 21 miles. When I got home I found multiple cactus thorns buried deep in his pads. I was very impressed with his toughness and ability to adapt to the conditions.

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