Hazel – a force of nature!.

So small, that this Farm bred, red, Working English Cocker Spaniel, can be lifted up, and tucked under the arm, whilst crossing wire fences!.
Small she may be – but no dog on earth ever had a greater love of the hunt, or more spirit. Hazel is a ‘Force of Nature’.
Born on a farm in ‘Middle of nowhere, Aberdeenshire’, (that’s right next to the end of the World), the rattle of a full cartridge bag, or the sight of a shotgun, make this Sprite of a working Cocker, shiver and shake with excitement !.

As soon as the Jeep door is swung open – she is in!. Once there, she knows that she is included, and will not be left behind, (a Cocker’s nightmare). As we drive along – her nose pressed to the open gap in the driver’s side window – she sniffs wildly, in an attempt to scent our shooting ground. As we approach our rough shoot, she picks up the scent for which she has been searching – whines – and begins her ‘Happy dance’.
We small group of friends clamber from our 4WD’s, put on cartridge belts, ‘Wellies’ and weatherproof jackets – as the excited canines, of various working breeds, mill around are now muddy feet.

Hazel looks as though she will explode, if she doesn’t get into some thick cover soon!. Giving the command “Heel”, we head off toward a thick, tangled, Larch wood, made almost impenetrable, by a heavy under cover of bracken and bramble. Spaniel Heaven!
Crossing over the fallen down fence, we are into the wood. I hear the commands, and remonstrations of my friends, as they to enter the Larch wood, and attempt to control the bursting enthusiasm, of their excited dogs.

Hazel sits in front of me now, shivering with adrenalin – longing for the command to work. “Get on”, I say, and gesture her forward with my left hand. Like a coiled ginger spring, she bursts forward, and in a second has vanished into the jungle of waist deep bracken.

To my left I hear a cry – followed almost instantly by a double shot. Dogs are whistled, and commands are given. Within a minute the Hen Pheasant is picked, and in the game bag. The line moves forward once more.

A clatter above !. A dozen Wood Pigeons take off out of the Larches, disturbed by the commotion below

Hazel is working like a Demon now – her lolling tongue, showing that despite the heavy frost, she is already warm. Her tail beats into a blurr – closely resembling a demented egg whisk. Oh – this is a happy dog!.
A few seconds later, I hear a crash and a crackling from somewhere ahead – and two Pheasants roar up through the canopy of Larch, flushed, by the little red Trojan.
One foot down a rabbit hole, ( why does it always happen that way ?) I swing the little 20 bore onto the curling Hen – and in spectacular fashion – miss!. No time to analise though, as the heavier, slightly slower Cock Pheasant, rockets up in front of me.

Foot now out of the hole, I lean into the shot and blotting him with the muzzles – fire. In no more than a minute, a now rather wet and bedraggled Hazel, emerges from the frosty bracken – a very dead Cock Pheasant, held gently between her jaws.
I bend – and carefully take the still warm bird, from the little dog’s mouth. Feathers stick to her lips. Her breath clouds the air. Her eyes are bright; and her tail – oh yes. The tail still beats like a demented egg whisk.
I put my hand on the little dog’s head, and whisper quietly – “Good girl “.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy W. says:

    Scolopax, Let me be the first to say that your writing is a force of nature! I loved this post! Hazel sounds like a little terror on birds. I love those field bred cockers. Shawn’s Ellie is a little firebrand herself. Don’t know that I have ever seen one with Hazel’s color. I wonder if it has anything to do with her devilish origins. Haha! One of these days, you’ll have to share that legend with our readers as it is a fun one! There is no doubt in my mind that you are a wonderful addition to the Upland Equation! Keep the stories coming and give Hazel a hug for me. Andy

  2. I seem to always find those holes in the field too! I loved reading Hazel…those FB English Cockers are hell on four legs! Can’t wait to read more…

  3. Scolopax says:

    Thanks for your kind words guys. As for Hazel being ‘Devilish’.Well maybe that’s why her tail is docked. They cut the forked end off it !!.Regards, Scolopax.

  4. Kim Sampson says:

    Very nice, Scolopax!! Hazel sounds like a little “pocket rocket” that would be a blast to hunt over!Kim

  5. Ben G. says:

    Great story, I have never hunted with a English Cocker before, but now I want to seek one out and try it. Hazel,sounds like a wonderful little dog.

  6. Scolopax says:

    Ben, Go out there and hunt over a W.E.Cocker. You have nothing to lose but your sanity!. I understand that there is a hospital ward somewhere,FILLED with recovering Cocker owners!.Kim, Not sure just how a ‘Devil dog’ would perform in your high desert. Being so short, the Chukar certainly wouldn’t see one coming!.Personally, I think that Hazel would need shades.

  7. “Hazel”, “Hazel”, I thought you were describing the latest hurricane to hit Scotland out of the Atlantic. But no, it’s just “Hell-on-4-legs Hazel”, the cover-smasher, I’ll retrieve anything Cocker! I think her tail is the cause of those gusty winds and winter storms you have to endure. Needs to be splinted and taped. Of course then if she hit your shin you’d be a crippled ward of the NHS.I have hunted with Shawn’s “Ellie” and can only say that as a pup she ran with the setters and pointers, sometimes literally banging on their heels. I have never seen such energy is such little bird dogs!You are a fortunate fellow. I don’t know how many dogs you’ve owned in the past but I’ll wager she is the grandest so far.Your post was exciting. Keep them coming “Becasse!”(I can’t remember if it’s masculine or feminine! Oh well, you know what I mean.)

  8. Matt Ortiz says:

    That’s one fine story and an even better group of fine looking spaniels!

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