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!
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!