Another year went where hunting season passed into spring and summer, with fishing & diving. Most significantly, my oldest boy Aidan is finding his feet and getting quite seasoned at all this. He’s bringing home plenty of food, e.g. various fish (caught or speared) and octopus. He has also been catching a lot of eels, taking different mates out on bush adventures. So much that I can’t take more eels, smoked or fried, for a good while now. Just a couple of weeks ago he also had a few days in remote bush in the central North Island, with our friends Craig (with Katie) and Derek (with Jack) and a few others. On that fishing & deer hunting adventure Aidan landed some very nice rainbow trout too. The photos above Aidan took of me last shooting season, with Bella having found a winged brown quail, and of her retrieving a double on mallards. Some pics of Aidan below, and my uncle & cousin who recently visited from Norway.
On the dog front I decided against importing a setter pup from Australia, from Bob Crain’s combination of Runanset Desperado (Wingfield Will – Northstream Alinghi) – Runanset Rodeo Rose (Upperwood Quailpoint – Northstream Alinghi). As tempting as the line breeding on Alinghi was, I’m sticking to my original plans of what I’m eventually to get hold of from Europe. Talking about Europe, my good mate Geir in Norway has just had pups from his Barentsviddas Nansen (Anter – Giga) – Barentsviddas Wind Cries Mary (Titan – Barentsviddas Mafia), thereby line breeding on his Italian import Giga. Pictured below is Wind Cries Mary (left) and Nansen (right). Strong workers and good looking!
I do look forward to eventually start working with some young dogs again. On a recent visit to Rotorua with the kids we were watching the shepherd working his sheep and cattle dogs at the Agrodome show. I’ve always loved watching experienced farm dogs at work; at farms where I hunt and in competitions. The guy at the Agrodome used trivial, every day commands to work specific tasks, which may not make sense to the spectator. Like telling the dog to “get outside” when he meant “sit down and be quiet”. It reminded me of the late Danish pointer breeder Gerhard Wolff (kennel Sønderjyden), who always told his pups and young dogs to “leave that cat alone”, every time they saw the farm cat. When he took the dogs in the field he used the same command, if they saw a hare or a rabbit. The association was already so ingrained in the dogs that they instantly also ignored any other furry creature from that command. This was achieved without any great effort, no trauma or misunderstanding with the dogs. Just multiple repetitions to create a conditioned reflex or habit. My late NZ friend Dr Leon Mortensen (kennel Wingfield) described in his book, Bird Dogs – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, how he used the same method on himself. When it became compolsary to wear a seat belt, he kept getting into the car, putting the seat belt on and backing out of the garage – until it was automatic. Talking about conditioning ourselves. Another example is how it can be difficult to establish an exercise routine, like going for a run (especially for us in our late 40’s…). The Japanese have a method of committing themselves to be doing 1 minute of exercise per day. 1 minute. Most people can committ to that! What usually happens is that we suddenly end up doing 10 or 15 or 20 minutes, when we have taken the step of getting into our exercise gear. Soon enough, we have also established a habit of getting into our gear, even though we might still only committ to 1 minute, but the foundation is laid to casually being increased. As I wrote this, I wasn’t sure about how to spell exercise. Now I have written exercise x 5 in short succession and I’m likely to remember it… Capisci?
I really enjoy the challenges with training a dog. I don’t use Gerhard Wolff’s method to stop dogs from chasing fur but I have my own, equally efficient way. I neither find any problems making them respect wings in the air or stay at the shot. I also train my setters or pointers to be totally reliable with their work after the shot. If you know what you’re doing, then going through the retrieving training is extremely rewarding both for man and dog. I have nothing against labradors, spaniels or continental all-rounders but for me, it got to be a British bird dog who’s got it all in one. That’s the complete bird dog, which gives me immense pleasure to work and shoot over.
Pictured below; octopus – caught by Aidan and cooked Spanish style, and the perfectly roasted wild duck.