Why I Always Hunt Ducks with a Retriever

When you own a dog, you always have a hunting partner.

A good dog is as excited about hunting, or more so, than you are.

Today Lola once again proved that a dog is invaluable when it comes to retrieving your game.

About mid-morning on a recent hunt, a pair of specs lifted off from a field to the northeast of us and climbed into the air over Fred. They were up there, but Fred decided to take the shot. As the birds turned back to the north, one of them slowed and descended, but did not drop out of the air for about three to four hundred yards.

From my vantage point, I could tell that the bird had died before it hit the ground. It came down at the opposite side of the pond, and disappeared behind a wall of cattail. I had a good line to the bird, but didn’t know how far behind the cattail wall it had reached the ground.

I decided to go after it with Lola. It was slow going while crossing the pond as the bottom was slippery and the water deep enough to be disconcerting. When I reached the wall of cattail, Lola turned left and disappeared for a moment. I called to her and led her out of the pond onto the berm. From the berm, I sent her across a canal on the north side of the property and she searched unsuccessfully for the goose. She returned and searched the tall grass along the road on both sides.

I concluded that the goose must have fallen into the thick cattail and it came down so hard that it must have buried into the thick mass of bush. As much as I hated to give up, the effort seemed for not and I was impatient to get back to hunting. But, I didn’t completely write the bird off. I figured Fred and I could come back after we finished hunting and maybe we would find it then.

About two hours later we returned. With field glasses we scoured the field to the north. If the bird were there, we would have seen it – plus Lola had already checked it out. We searched along both sides of the berm again with no results. Once again I concluded that the bird must have come down in the thick cattail. I told Fred that I was going back into the cattail to see if there was any chance of recovering the bird from the thick cover.

As I walked through the path we’d made through the cattail, I remembered that Lola had briefly disappeared previously (maybe because she had smelled the goose) and decided we should go down wind of that area to see if Lola might go to the bird. Near the spot where she had disappeared previously, I led her into the wind and we made our way along a narrow path through the cattail. It was easier going that I had anticipated. Then Lola’s pace picked up. Maybe she smelled the bird.

I made it through the tunnel of cattail and popped out onto a very small opening in the cattail where the surface of the water was exposed. There before me stood Lola next to the downed goose.

It is amazing how many birds you can recover with a good dog. Fred was impressed.

A good dog not only finds your birds, but gives you confidence to go after birds that dogless hunters would give up on.

A good dog not only finds your birds, but gives you confidence to go after birds that dogless hunters would give up on.

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