Uncle Charlie Tales

................stories about upland game birds, bird dogs, and shotguns but mostly about the man who loves all three

The Dog That Done It

Speck wasn’t much to look at. He must have been the runt of the litter or else he would never have arrived at our house free of charge. What he lacked in looks, he made up in character and he transformed a hound dog man and his boy into insatiable bird hunters.

I must have been about three when Speck arrived. Old Jim, our squirrel hound, didn’t think much of the young pointer from the start. Tom, the gray cat, never batted an eye or lifted a paw. One more dog meant nothing to him; he was above such trivial matters.

Now what does a grown up rabbit hunter know about bird dogs and bird hunting? Absolutely nothing according to Speck for he took it upon himself to teach me and my daddy some rules and principles I’ve never seen in any of the how to books.

The first lesson Speck taught us was that bird dogs know more about bird hunting than bird hunters. Daddy had no idea how to hunt quail and Speck must have known it from the beginning because he just took over. He insisted upon hunting his way which meant if he scented birds – get ready – because birds were meant for flying else the good Lord wouldn’t have given them wings.

My Daddy wasn’t born yesterday and he had an idea that a bird dog and especially a pointer was supposed to point. So the fight began; the young pointer versus the hardheaded rabbit hunter. After round one, the pup was ahead on flushes. He had flushed more birds than he had received whippings. Round two ended in a draw. In round three the temper of the hunter flared and Speck was out for the count. It was unintentional. Dad had ruined his dog. Speck refused to hunt. Both spirits seemed crushed.

When all seemed lost and the hunter had decided to give up his new sport, Speck gathered that instinct together and began to do his thing again. Only this time it was different. This time when he smelled birds, he would freeze into a classic point. Then he would commit the unforgivable sin according to all the experts. He would begin to look around for the hunter. At first he would roll his eyes backward, side to side, then his whole head would move ever so slightly until he had covered a 360 degree field of view. If he couldn’t see or hear Dad coming, he would begin to move backward, slowly, carefully like he was sneaking away from a sleeping dog-eating monster. When he was safely away from the birds he would wheel and go looking for Dad at full speed. When he would see him, he would stop, turn around and look at Dad with his head cocked as if to say, “Well, don’t just stand there, let’s go!” And then he would retrace his steps to the birds and again freeze into a classic point until Dad walked by and flushed the birds.

It was almost unbelievable. My dad had inadvertently and accidentally created the near perfect bird dog. Not only did he have a bird dog that would find, point and hold birds – he had one that would come and get him and lead him back to the hidden coveys! And wonder of all wonders, Speck would even lead him to another dog on point!

One of my Father’s hunting buddies told him what a lot of men must have thought. “I thought you were the biggest liar I’d ever met when you told me that dog was coming back to tell you that my dog had found some birds. Speck made a believer out of me.”

Speck made a believer out of all of us. He lived out his life with us and saw me through most of my school days. He was kind enough to take me bird hunting with him when I was thirteen. Just me and him.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was GREAT.

7:08 PM  
Blogger randy said...

What a story teller!
This story is about as good as the knowing the author. Knowing who wrote certainly made it that much more entertaining.

6:27 PM  

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