The best thing you can do for that wild pup is get her on wild birds,” dog trainer Rod Rist told me about my nine-month-old pudelpointer. One day it was summer and the next it was September, and ruffed grouse and mountain quail seasons were open. Valley quail and chukar seasons were more than a month away, so we headed west toward the sunset and the available birds.
On a Sunday afternoon, my dog Liesl leaped into her customary place in the back of our SUV and stuck her nose out the window. (I wrote about Liesl in this column in the August-September 2014 issue.) I’m sure she smelled my old bird-hunting vest and saw the shotgun case.
Fifteen miles down the side of the Cascade Mountains, I turned off the highway, let out the pup so she could run around and get a drink, and then we started off again. Soon after we crossed the creek, the road turned to gravel and we turned on a secondary road and parked in a grove of rhododendrons, mature pine trees, and firs. Sometimes the forest yields ruffed grouse in such places, sometimes mountain quail, sometimes a dropped antler, but usually I’m not disappointed.
There, in the trail, I saw two quail. Liesl was on the lead and I unclipped her. “Find the birds,” I said.
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