December 21, 2010
Duck Report From Stuttgart
By David DiBenedetto
Pritchard and I just returned from Stuttgart, Ark., where we hunted timber for ducks. As I mentioned last week, this was a first for both of us. And on return I can tell you this—if you love duck hunting and have never been too Stuttgart, make plans to. And if you have a gun dog, bring her.
At times, ducks (mallards, spoonies, etc.) and geese (snows and speckled bellies) literally darkened the skies. Roadside fields were alive with thousands of birds. And the timber was loaded with mallards. The birds were so plentiful they made me look like a decent shot, and a group of five of us would limit out by 7:30 a.m.
As for my dog, well, Pritch was on the B-team this week, falling in line behind Maggie, my nephew’s golden retriever. But she made an appearance in the blind, and learned what it truly means to Watch for birds. Her retrieves were a little less than mediocre, but she made huge strides with her steadiness. No more whimpering. No more chewing the bark off of trees, bucking, etc. Just a steady dog ready to go to work. That was worth the price of the trip alone…but I surely didn’t mind the shooting.
Pritch also took quickly to life at the lodge. (If there ever was an argument for crate training, travel with a gun dog is number one.) And we worked every afternoon in the nearby timber. Then at sunset we’d sit at the edge of the pond and work on Watch.
I’ve said before that training a gun dog has made me get out in the field more often, and this trip was one of those occasions. Hunting with my brothers and my nephews made it all the more special. This may not have been Pritch’s most shining moment (I’m still waiting on that), but it was unforgettable. And for that I can thank my dog.
Anyone else having good luck this waterfowl season? Is your dog performing up to expectations? Let’s hear it.