Uncle Charlie Tales

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

Mack's Story

Almost without exception, bird dogs are a lot smarter than some people I know. Mack, Uncle Charlie’s old setter, is the dean of dog professors, but I’m getting ahead of my story.

I have to be truthful from the beginning. Uncle Charlie obtained Mack through subterfuge and downright dishonesty from the estate of old Dr. Parker. Doc was the ultimate hunting buddy because he had a lot of money and a sense of humor to go along with it. He was also blessed with common sense and an almost insatiable taste for fried quail. But being a doctor didn’t give him any time for dog training or puppy pampering so he usually bought his bird dogs, fully grown and trained, from the best breeders in the country in order to speed up the process of getting coveyed up quail from the field to the skillet.

Doc, being one who never shirked his duty when it came to shelling out hard cash for hunting, laid out $2500 for Mack and had him flown to Atlanta from Ohio where he had been whelped and trained. Being a busy man, Doc simply dispatched Uncle Charlie, his hunting buddy, to the airport to meet the new canine.

The shipping crate was loaded into the back of the pickup and Uncle Charlie headed south. As soon as the traffic had thinned out, he stopped the truck alongside the road and opened the crate. He coaxed Mack out, put him on a lease and walked around a little to get the kinks out of both of them. When they got back to the truck Mack refused to get back in the crate. There was nothing to do but invite Mack to ride up front in the cab. Uncle Charlie told me later that they reached a lifelong agreement that day on the trip home. The lanky young setter and the old briar scarred veteran, saw something in each other’s eyes they liked and by the time they got home that evening they were the best of friends.

That first season with Mack was an eye opening experience for both Doc and Uncle Charlie. After all the careful tallying had been done they were both amazed at the number of productive points and the number of birds they had killed over Mack. The most amazing statistic was they never lost a bird that hit the ground. Mack was good. No, Mack was the best dog they had either one ever seen. That both swore not to tell anyone how good he really was and Doc bought a big padlock for his kennel and gave the extra key to Uncle Charlie.

The dream ended when Doc died suddenly from a heart attack on April fool's day the following year. Before Uncle Charlie could even react to the news, the nearest of kin, a nephew of the black sheep variety, moved right into Doc’s house and set up housekeeping along with his wife and a whole passel of ugly kids.

Uncle Charlie at first tried a frontal assault and approached the nephew claiming that Mack was his dog. No dice. The young whippersnapper said he’d already seen the invoice and besides he was a bird hunter himself and knew his uncle always kept good dogs.

Uncle Charlie was beside himself. This was a totally unacceptable development. A man in his lifetime only rarely sees or hears about a dog like Mack and to have hunted over him for a season and then have to give him up was unthinkable.

He knew he just couldn’t steal Mack and not get caught so he started plotting. Meanwhile Mack was getting jumpy because the kids were picking at him through the fence and the nephew was only feeding him table scraps whenever the notion struck. Uncle Charlie started slipping over late at night and kept Mack’s spirit up by finger feeding him hamburger through the fence.

One Sunday night he fed Mack nearly three pounds of hamburger and left town. Wednesday evening he was back in town with the spittin’ image of Mack sitting on the front seat of his old truck. Over the next few days he made a point to show off his “new dog” all over town. He even said his name was Mack Jr.

If the Doc’s nephew had been smart he would have changed the lock and sat up all night guarding Mack’s pen with a shotgun but he didn’t know Uncle Charlie had a key and he had no idea of how good Mack really was. The switch was made on a dark rainy night and the nephew was none the wiser. In fact around Thanksgiving someone overheard him complaining about the doctor wasting all that money on such a mediocre quail dog.

By January, he had sold him to Uncle Charlie for $100 and was glad to get rid of him. Uncle Charlie drove to the train station and shipped Mack Jr. back to Ohio demanding a refund. When his $500 came in he and Mack celebrated over two of the biggest T-bone steaks money could buy.

After all, It’s not every day you get to buy your best friend, a $2500 bird dog, for $100!

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Blogger BlacknTan said...

Just found your site..

That was a great story! I'll be back to read more..


Bill @ http://theblackntanbombshell.blogspot.com/

6:20 AM  

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