As an avid upland hunter, lover of bird dogs and active horseback field trialer, I jumped at the chance to spend a few days in Payette, Idaho training and running dogs with one of the nation’s best American Field trial handlers, Rich Robertson. Robertsons’ ranch is spread across more than 5,000 acres (with access to over 50,000) of the west’s most beautiful landscape. Wild huns, pheasant, quail and chukar call it home…I call it Paradise!
As majestic as the scenery was, learning all I could from an accomplished handler and watching the dogs (mine and others) do their thing on wild birds was the real intent of this journey. Both were impressive!
Rich working with one of his young charges.
The next brace.
3x Ch. Idaho’s Lucky Strike – “Ben”
Rich Heaton – breeder, owner, trainer, and handler of Ben
This kind of terrain is unforgiving…the country is tough – the dogs need to be tougher. Get down on ground level in many areas and it becomes apparent that what looks like parched rolling hills at a distance, is actually endless dried grasses punctuating miles and miles of black volcanic rocks. These stones lie in wait to test the patience and perseverance of man and beast. Unfit and/or unmovitvated dogs don’t last long here; the same goes for horses.
Running the older dogs is instructive as well as inspiring. They are instinct and athleticism tempered by training. Puppies are pure fun! There is something about the unbridled enthusiasm of young dogs that makes us smile. How can you not love watching them all but burn the ground beneath their feet searching, hunting for something, even if they don’t quite know what that “something” is yet?
Much too quickly, the time came to pack up the dogs and horses and start the drive back to Utah. In my mind’s eye I will continue to see the country, dogs, birds, and people that made this trip a memorable one. I will feel the wind in my face and the sun on my back…I will smell sweet sagebrush and hear the clicking of horses’ hooves…I will hear every kind word and recall each insightful conversation….I will see every distant cast, every point and every flush…I will continue to see Paradise!
5 Comments Add yours
Pure poetry, Kim. Delightfully presented.Do you think an old guy like me could walk in that kind of country? I do three miles up and down hill everyday and try to stay in shape. I can’t do steep climbs but gentle slopes and level ground are my meat. I don’t go fast, but I go.I dream about me and Pride being able to hunt in country like that sometime.Thank you for giving us this glimpse into your most memorable trip.Walter
Thanks for the kind words, Walter. It means a lot coming from you!Much of that country would probably be pretty difficult to hunt on foot…not only because of the steepness but because of how rocky it is. There are areas that are more forgiving though. I think it’s mostly a matter of going with someone who knows the particular area well enough to guide you to the less challenging spots. One of my friends/training partners is 78 yrs old and has hunted this type of terrain his whole life. So no, I don’t think it’s out of the question, but one thing’s for sure, you’ll never know unless you try! Take care and best wishes for a wonderful season with your new four-legged hunting companion!Kim
Kim: I’d agree with Walter about the poetry. I’m going to borrow these lines at some point — “Running the older dogs is instructive as well as inspiring. They are instinct and athleticism tempered by training.” — just giving you warning. That’s great countryside, even if tough going; I hope I’ll be able to get my boys out there sooner rather than later.bestA+M+M+J
Thanks, Andrew. Where do you live??Kim
Kim, I’m not sure exactly where this is, but it reminds me of some awesome areas that Shawn and I hunt in western Idaho. This country and its bird grow on you. I too enjoyed your beautiful prose. Keep em’ coming!Andy