Nowadays, I prefer to find my entertainment in the great outdoors and the Fall is my favorite time of year because of the abundant opportunities to chase birds with my brother Shawn and our birddogs. Sometimes we have as many as five dogs on the ground at once pursuing gamebirds. Needless to say, it can get pretty chaotic with all of those dogs competing for attention and birds. I fondly recall one early October morning, my late pointer, Dusty, flushing sharptails to the horizon on the Royal MacNab without a second thought for the hunters way behind him (hence the nickname “Bustin’ Dusty”).
On each occasion, however, usually one or two dogs step to the forefront and show the other dogs what this game is all about. On these special occasions, we designate the dog to the “A-Team” for the day.
Shawn made a nice shot on a hun. Too bad he closed his eyes for the camera! For that, I’m not sure he made the A-Team for the day.
The phrase originated from a banner hunt that Shawn, our nephew, Josh, and I had on my favorite valley quail cover named, “Trail to Quail” (See below, “The White Wonder: Sniff it up Boys”). On that day, Geppedo, Shawn’s now tailless Elhew Pointer, was seriously injured and spent the day in her kennel. Left to hunt, were Ginny, Shawn’s English Setter, Sunny, my young French Brittany, and Dusty, our Elhew. At six years of age, Ginny was what we call a late bloomer. Before this day, her performances were inconsistent at best and, although she was unbeatable as a companion, we wondered if Ginny would ever become a “great” birddog. However, with dominant Geppedo out for the day, Ginny girl stepped up and had a slammin’ performance on quail. I would call it a Farle’s-like performance (See below, “The White Wonder: Want to Trade Dogs?”). It seemed that everywhere we turned, Ginny found birds and held them with intensity with her feathers rippling in the breeze. “Shawn, Ginny girl made the A-Team today!” I complimented. “Brother, I know, Ginny became a firstrate birddog today,” Shawn replied ecstatically. And that, my friends, was the beginning of the birddog A-Team.
Quail Hunter’s Heaven: The Trail to Quail
. Josh and I make our way towards one of Ginny’s exciting points
Dusty honors Ginny girl’s staunch point.
Sunny, my young French Brittany, also made some pretty impressive retrieves from thick inpenetrable willow clusters in the creek bottom. As Shawn and I walked back to the car, I said “Man, with that last retrieve Sunny also made the A-Team for the day.” Although Dusty had a few good finds that day, because of his unwillingness to follow commands, he didn’t quite make the cut (sorry B.D.!).
Since that time, it is always interesting to see which dog will step up and make the A-Team for the day. Just because a dog receives the honor one day, does not mean they make it the next time. Heck, with my shooting, sometimes I don’t even make the A-Team. Even Bustin’ Dusty had days in which he made the A-Team. The roster changes often and this is part of the fun of the hunt. In the timeless words of Mr. T, “I pity the fool” who does not have the desire or the opportunity to chase birds with birddogs each fall. The’re missing out on the new A-Team.
Good times with the A-Team!
In loving memory of Ginny girl. There weren’t many days afterwards, that she did not make the A-Team. She is greatly missed!