Thursday, August 12, 2010


Even in Kansas we manage a few trout-food type hatches.  You usually can find mayflies and caddis under outside lights on summer nights.  I'd call this one a hexagenia mayfly, but I have no clue if that's actually correct.  He was probably three inches long counting the tail.  Anyway, he was in the garage watching me build a dog topper I'll be posting on shortly--I'm really welcoming the versatility it will bring to my pickup.

There's another change coming this hunting season: Scampwalker has acquired himself one of those hot-shot trial-bred short-haired setters. Two falls ago I saw a dog out of the same breeding run in Montana, and if this gal turns out as good she's going to be a brag-worthy bird dog.

With Scamp's newly acquired pigeons we set out last weekend to give Lulu her first exposure to birds at just over six months of age.  As many well-bred dogs do she caught on quickly and was winding pigeons from range and establishing point like an old salt.  I am captivated every time I witness that first special moment.

Imagine if your entire life were completely devoted to one purpose, one function.  Mayflies and bird dogs both are a lot like that.  The former exists purely to procreate.  They hatch from eggs in a river and live a year as a nymph trying not to become food for an organism further along in the evolutionary process.  Then, when the time is right, they swim to the surface, wildly scramble to crack open their exoskeleton, escape the shuck, dry their wings, and fly away to avoid what would otherwise be a premature death by salmonoid.  Finally they gather over the water in swarming groups in what must be an insect's version of Woodstock.  The males donate their genetic material and, completely exhausted, they fall to the water's surface to give their bodies back to Mother Earth.

Bird dogs also only have one simple function:  to point birds.  Sure, they're bred for conformation, stamina, boldness, bidability, companionship, etc, but the dog has got to have a nose, and he has got to love birds.  Those are paramount.  Anyway, I thought that a well-bred pup's first point must be a lot like a mayfly's (only) sexual experience.  The molecules enter the dog's nose, the receptors process the scent, signals are sent to the brain, and a previously unengaged instinct takes complete control of the dog. The tail straightens, the body tenses and begins to shake. They are helpless to do anything but endlessly ponder the next movement.  Captivating, truly.