The journey had begun. A few days later, I harnessed up the Covered Wagon, a.k.a., my gone but not forgotten Toyota T100, and drove 2000 miles through rain, slush, sleet, snow and ice to Pratt, Kansas, 70 miles east of Dodge City. Early the next morning, Gary arrived at my hotel room door with 2 year old Annie in tow. After a whirlwind week of hunting in places that only my GPS remembers, I turned the Covered Wagon west and headed back home.
We call Annie "The Tornado", because of her Kansas origin, destructive power and her propensity to twist around at high speed while playing with her pack mates or chasing her tail to spin off some of her limitless energy. If you've ever had a shorthair, you KNOW what I'm talking about.
High octane means two speeds: all out, full speed ahead or all four paws locked up and skidding. It doesn't matter whether she's greeting me in the morning or putting herself to bed, there's literally no speed in between. I've seen Annie stalk, but never walk. I honestly think shorthairs don't know how.
One of the great things I've discovered about pointing dogs is that they make me think I'm a better shot than I am. Imagine walking up on a picture perfect point, fit for the cover of Pointing Dog Journal, gun in the ready position, body relaxed, feet balanced, and, suddenly when you least expect it, the air explodes with the sound of wing beats...
Here's some "fun" excerpts from closing weekend of the 2006-2007 Nevada chukar season when Annie was 6 years old:
Annie finds some chukar and goes on point. After about 3 seconds, the entire covey starts racing uphill, full speed ahead. Annie stands her ground but twists her head around (almost violently) and looks me directly in the eyes as if to say, Get your @$$ up here! I can't do everything by myself !!! They all get away.
Annie intercepts a foraging covey and slams on the brakes. I see her and start side hilling down a ridiculously steep, rocky, and treacherous slope to get to her. The chukar are spread out over an area about the size of a football field and begin to flush around Annie in 2s and 3s as the man dressed in an orange suit and carrying a gun approaches. I increase my speed to "reckless abandon" with due regard to my family's history for ripping muscle from bone when descending common stairs. With every flush, Annie jerks her head from the left, to the right, back to me, and clearly communicates, Doh! Doh!! Tripple Doh!!!. They all get away.
Three hunters invade "my" side of a 50,000 acre mountain. They inform me that they are locals from Lovelock and express shock that anyone knew about "their" super secret spot. I add another item to my mental list of "super secret spots on a paved road" and keep my glee hidden behind a poker face. I decide to take the "high road" and hump it over to the other side of the mountain. They have, after all, let me in on their "secret". Five hours later, I get back to the truck without having seen anything bigger than a tweety bird. Annie won't even look at me.
We're slowly 4 wheeling up a series of switch backs leading to the top of a ridge. As we round a switch back, we see a couple of gentlemen with duck hunter "physiques" run back to their rig, jump in, slam the doors, and gun the motor. My Nevada hunting partners point out the California plates. Our plan foiled, we drive back down and head up the opposite ridge. 30 minutes later, we reach our destination, get out and, to our dismay, watch the road hunters driving back down the ridge we wanted to hunt. G*&D@~^ Californians. Annie ignores my whining and complaining and leads me on a 3 hour "stroll" back to the chukar on top of the first ridge.
Stay tuned, I'm sure there will be more tales as the adventure with Annie continues...