The previous article told about Jessie's first hunting trip to Brooks, Alberta in October of 1997. My friend, Al Kouritzen and I again made the trek to southern Alberta in October 1998, this time a week earlier and by separate routing as Al first visited his son Mike and family in Edmonton before joining Jessie and I in Brooks. This year Al brought his one year old Brittany Spaniel, Danny, a springtime addition to the Kouritzen household. Al had been training Danny all spring and summer and was anxious to test out Danny's inborn hunting and pointing abilities in the Brooks environment.
But first, let me tell you something about Jessie's development over the past year. Although still a pup at heart, she has grown into a well muscled mature dog with the ever gentle lab nature, a product of daily morning exercise and tons of attention every day of the year! Jessie has outgrown her desire to chew up papers if left alone in the house and of course has long been properly house broken. She does shed hair at certain times of the year and still gets very excited but in more of a controlled manner when people that she knows and likes (which is almost everyone) come visiting to our house. I have continued to take Jessie to trap shoots and in fact, she is a companion almost every time I use my 4x4 pickup truck! Jessie even made a vehicle trip to Oxnard, California, this past January where we stayed at the Marriott bordering the River Ridge Golf Course. You could not ask for a better behaved dog while travelling as she can sleep in a moving automobile for hours on end! But the test in Brooks was to see if Jessie's hunting abilities had improved since last year and of course, it was really a first time test for Al's dog Danny.
Al and I agreed to mainly hunt separately as Danny tended to range much further than Jessie. He needed time to work with Danny to control the Brit's very strong desire to hunt without waiting up for his slightly slowing master! However, our first opportunity at pheasants came very quickly upon leaving our vehicle in an area just south of Brooks. A rooster missed by hunters just south of us glided into the heavy growth of an irrigation canal. Jessie spotted the birds flight path and was after it in an instant. I saw her find the scent and then chase the bird across the canal where it disappeared in cover on the other side. I couldn't cross the canal because of the water depth so all I could do was to call encouragement to Jessie even though she was well hidden from view. I had almost given up about 5 minutes later when Jessie appeared on the opposite bank with the rooster in her mouth. A loud chorus of what a good dog you are and she was quickly at my side with a gorgeous cock pheasant. I next caught a glimpse of Al firing two shots at another rooster which then disappeared over the horizen. I hurried over and asked Al if he had seen Jessie as somehow she had disappeared from my view while I was putting the first retrieved bird in my hunting vest. He said yes, she had gone after his bird and in a couple of minutes, Jessie appeared coming back over the hill with another fine rooster in her mouth! We then decided to hunt across the canal in a field to the east where we thought a bird or two had landed. Sure enough, Jessie became quite birdy near some heavy cover and surprised me when she pointed the pheasant! I was able to hurry over from about 60 yards away and actually walk into the cover to put the bird up! Although it was a fine sunny afternoon, my shooting wasn't quite on as yet and two shots later the big rooster sailed across the field but landed about 1/4 mile away near the edge of a small lake. Al had been hunting in that direction and quickly was at the place where he saw the bird settle in. Jessie, well ahead of me, also reached the area at the same time as Al. She again seemed to go on point but Al couldn't see anything in the thick weed cover. He stepped ahead and then Jessie buried her head into the cover almost under his feet and pulled out the pheasant! She was a very proud dog as she presented me with my second pheasant as I huffed and puffed up to the scene!
It turned out to be an excellent week for both dogs (and owners) as Danny began to make some very staunch points, holding birds even when Al was a fair distance away. Jessie too, pointed about every third bird that she found, which was an absolute delight to me as I thought labs were strictly flushing dogs! Jessie retrieved a couple of hungarian partridges for me that week as well but we learned that the Brooks sharptail grouse flushed very wildly upon seeing a dog, apparantly from their learned experience of evading coyotes according to some of the fine Brooks towns people that we met on our trip. You could say that both dogs passed their test with flying colours as we couldn't have been more pleased with them, Jessie at 20 months and Danny at exactly one year old!
Do you want to see the previous articles about Jessie?
Jessie Part 1
Jessie Part 2
Jessie Part 3
Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Don Haaheim at 1-250-861-4192Http://www.tourcanada.com -- Revised: November 6, 1998
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