Derrick’s First Hun
by Karl DeHart
The alarm screeched, disturbing the quite morning and prompting me to reach out without lifting my head to silence the monster. With a push of the snooze button the wailing of the beast was silenced instantly. I knew its howl would soon fill the room again if I didn’t take more drastic measures…I had to get up. Damn. This is the hardest thing for me to do each day, even on hunting days.
We met up at O-dark-thirty and got on the road to the area I picked out. I had been to this area earlier in the year and there were plenty of small hun coveys to work. They were skittish though since the area is well known and gets hit hard. But with good dog work we should be able to get a few opportunities. And good dog work is what happened only a hundred yards from the trucks. The wind was howling on the West slope we were walking up so I wasn’t really expecting any birds until we crested the ridge and got out of it. I looked up from the boulder laden ground to see Z with her nose up high testing the wind and looking a little birdie. Kate, Derricks new 5-year old GSP was a little uphill of Z and upwind when she locked into a sweet point. It’s always exciting to see a new dog point. Watching a dog for the first few times their individual style really stands out.
(Left to right: Kate and Spike working a hillside, Z on point, Derrick moving in on a point by Z)
Excited by the quickness of a possible covey we moved in and 6 huns bust up into the wind…I think we each pulled off 2 shots only to watch the covey fly away unhampered. I find myself hoping he still has the curse. Just when we thought we missed, a bird fluttered up in a failed attempt to take flight and then just started running. We followed it as it ran thinking we could keep an eye on the little fella until Z came around. No sooner did Z show up that I lost sight of the bird in the short grass, I figured it was just hiding. Z worked and we tromped through the area to find nothing. Suddenly Z turns, nose to the ground and is off down the hill. I’ve seen this before, countless times, and have learned to let her have her head in these situations. Once again she proved herself by locking on point 40 yards or so from where we “smart” humans thought the bird should be. Nice team work by the dogs, we counted this first one as the dogs bird since neither of us felt we actually hit anything.
Because of the muddy roads we weren’t able to park close to the area I really wanted to hunt. We quietly walked through lots of ground I’ve had some great shooting to get to the next covey rise. Kate and Z were working hard but not getting seriously birdie. We had crested the hill, circled it a little, moved down the far side and were a ¼ of the way up the next hill before Z locked up. I just knew it was huns but Derrick was on the other side of the ridge so I couldn’t call him over. The covey rose before I could get to Z and 4 or 5 birds moved away into the wind and over the ridge but one lone suicidal hun flew directly at me, over my head and straight away. The shot brought Kate and then Derrick and Spike over the ridgeline.
We harvested the dead bird and it was time to see what Derrick’s puppy Spike was going to do. I threw the bird on the ground and after walking by the bird a few times his nose finally registered the scent and he leapt on the dead bird. He picked up the bird full-mouth and his excitement was obvious. He carried the bird around proudly and without any noticeable encouragement he turned and took the bird to Derrick. He repeated this retrieve to Derrick with a later bird too. All these behaviors were good signs.
I think from this point on things really never slowed down. Every 15 to 30 minutes we were trying to get to a dog on point or watching a covey flush wild. Unfortunately Derrick was more than three quarters the way through the time he had for this hunt. Again he had shot several times with nothing in the bag. We decided to push one last ridge line before he took off.
The dogs were working hard ahead of us when suddenly a small group of huns surprised us by flushing at 10 yards. The bird that moved to my left was mine. I pumped one shot and he started to flutter. The bird’s flight slowed with my shot but he virtually hung in the air still trying to get away. I finished with a second shot and immediately turned to see the bird of Derricks doing that same mid-air dance as mine; as if trying to mimic a Kestrel hovering above a mouse. Derrick’s second shot finished off the bird. With a quick high five and congrats both the curse Derrick carried and the bad streak with the huns were over. I guess he just needed to be completely surprised by a flush which didn’t allow him to have the time to think about the flush like you do when a dog is on point. Congrats Derrick.
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