Proud Papa


With apologies to Kyle Wintersteen…

Everyone has had the experience of having a friend or acquaintance brag about their kid. And virtually all of us are guilty of bragging as well. It’s just one of those naturally occurring social events. The listener is obligated to look as if he or she is truly interested and impressed with the braggart’s stunning story. With that in mind, it is my turn to tout my “baby.”

Miss Lily Langtree, my English setter, finally got her first pheasant over the weekend. I confess she has had nowhere near the formal training she should have—my bad. My constant penchant for puttering and putzing around is what gets me running behind for everything from meeting magazine deadlines to getting things built around here…and training a bird dog. We had been out a couple of times since the opener and between deer hunts, but she had only found hens.

Saturday afternoon we worked down to the lower pasture. Lily was working well, quartering within range of the shotgun with negligible correcting from me. When she locked up on point I wished momentarily that I had a camera, but then the rooster flushed. The stars must have been aligned for me because I had to twist back to my right and shoot into the sun—miraculously the rooster fell. Of course, Lily was not staunch to flush; she was on the bird in a flash, eager to saturate her nostrils with bird scent.

It has been 17 years since I have had a real bird dog of my own. When I was working at NRA headquarters I traveled so much it would not have been fair to a dog or me to try and keep one. Bird hunters know innately that it isn’t about the birds; it’s about the dogs and the relationship with the hunter. Sure we have to shoot the birds and it’s fun, but working with the dogs is why many of us are out there.

For hunters who are dog people, a new pup’s first bird is a memorable event. Watching Lily do her thing almost totally from her heart and instincts almost brought a tear to my eye. It’s got me to thinking of making a trip to Montana for sharptails and South Dakota for some real pheasant hunting next year.

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