With the arrival of the first of March came an instant drop in temperature, and an instant rise in excitement. Exactly a year ago today I was feeling very sorry for myself in a bright green cast from my wrist to my shoulder, and as a consequence I missed out on the roar.
There have been many changes in my life over the past few months, with the end of my relationship, the loss of my hunting buddy due to a misunderstanding, and the acquisition of a new partner in crime, this time one who is firmly embedded in the hunting world. My initial partner had been very supportive of my hunting hobbies, however pretty disinterested in participating, and our separate lives became part of our undoing. A week or so after the breakup, my number one hunting buddy announced some longstanding feelings that I had been oblivious to, wrote a bunch of soppy stuff on Facebook and then deleted me. The new man in my life is a very keen hunter and fisherman, and slotted into my life perfectly. We have a lot to teach each other, and I can now look forward to trout fishing, duck shooting and of course, my first roar.
With a longstanding family tradition of duck shooting, the new man put the idea in my head of training up one of my dogs as a duck retriever. After all, I have a pitbull who is an awesome deer hound, why not have an unconventional duck dog too?
We started off with a freshly dead road-kill pheasant and a rope on her collar to teach her to bring it in when she got carried away. She retrieved it about 40 times before it fell apart, and although we didn’t have a 100% retrieve rate, she showed good enthusiasm and a gentle mouth. Her second attempt was in a swimming pool with a rubber training duck. She had the idea this time, and brought it back much more consistently. She was so good that she and I were invited to come to opening morning, which in this family is a huge honor. We’ve since been practicing at the river with a training duck, and she has performed very well indeed, and no rope is necessary on her collar now. She is an extremely strong swimmer and very enthusiastic; the only weird thing about this dog is that she is an Asian Ridgeback breed, so my “dingo” will look quite distinct amongst the labradors in the water on open day! Soon we will introduce the shotgun before throwing the duck, and she should almost be ready!
We’ve got two four day hunts planned for the roar, so needless to say I am staying away from any “wheeled recreation devices” this year! The aim is to get a nice red stag as a starting point, and possibly to move onto fallow or sika if successful there. There should be many more interesting stories to come – watch this space!