On Anzac Day, April 25th, I decided to take Bentley on an early morning training run in coastal dunes south of Whangarei. It’s a stunning area, looking out over Bream Bay and towards our fishing & diving grounds at Whangarei Heads and Hen & Chickens Islands. I hadn’t been to these dunes for years but often went here with previous dogs Quinn (Wingfield Warrior), Line (Lapphaugen’s Moulin) and Bella (Northstream Blue Belle). It’s a good place for a speedy dog and sometimes one can find brown quail and pheasants, and rabbits.
Anzac Day is a public holiday and national day to commemorate those who served and died for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) in all wars and conflicts as part of the Commonwealth. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire at dawn on 25th April 1915. Traditionally, Anzac Day is marked with dawn ceremonies around the country. Bentley and I had our own lovely dawn ceremony and he had a nice find on a pheasant before we drove back home for breakfast.
Pictured left Northstream Blue Belle backs her mother Lapphaugen’s Moulin in the same coastal dune terrain a few years ago, & pictured right and top photo is Fieldline Bentley in the terrain on Anzac Day. Moulin is Bentley’s great-great-grandmother x 2.
The shooting season then finally came around the first weekend of May, after all the weather events we’ve had the weather forecast was still a bit dodgy but we decided to leave the ducks and go for upland game. It was a good decision as duck hunters most places had a poor start to the season because of all the flood waters, with ducks spread in paddocks all over the place, not just around natural water ways and ponds. The opening Saturday had multiple showers and we got a bit drenched a couple of times, however we still managed to get around and find some birds. We had a bit of bad luck on a couple of pheasants that came up in awkward positions and the quail shooting has in general been tricky the last couple of years in the forest where we hunt. You’ll have to be quick before they disappear into high & thick cover. However, both Aidan and I managed to bag some quail. The next day the weather was better and it was my birthday but it was Aidan who got to the best opportunities and he shot a rooster, some quail and a hare.
Bentley is still a bit youthful and he only just turned two years old. He is still impressive with his running style and speed and his nose is working. On the second weekend the weather was good and we got a couple of pheasants and several quail. We did put in the kms too though so we felt it was well deserved! The second photo below shows Bentley with a pair of quail, from a covey that he found near the area where both Bella and Line’s ashes were spread a few years ago. Aidan and I shot a bird each from that covey.
The third weekend just gone started out late on Friday afternoon at Jack Bisset Wetlands only 30 minutes from where we live. Aidan was keen to make sure that Bentley was still up to scratch with his water retrieving. There were lots of black swans which I’ve never been that keen on. I remember years ago when I shot opening weekend at Lake Waahi in Huntly with the Stables brothers. Some people shot black swans and they came crashing down like B52 bombers. We saw some mallards and grey ducks but didn’t get any shooting opportunites on those, however Aidan shot a couple of paradise ducks. The first one fell in a river with a bit of a current. Bentley didn’t hesitate and did an excellent retrieve. That reminded me of a different opening weekend with the Stables brothers but that time at Ngatea on the Piako River that flows into the Firth of Thames. That’s the best duck shooting I’ve had and that weekend totally made Quinn into the superb duck dog he was. He was not yet two years old and he had a busy time with many ducks being shot and to be retrieved from the fast flowing river. He brought in every single one of them. The second parrie Aidan shot for Bentley was also quickly retrieved from the large pond it landed in. Both retrieves pictured below.
On the weekend we made a couple of trips to Puhipuhi forest north of Whangarei, a place I used to hunt quite a bit with Line and Bella. Unfortunately, the local forests around Whangarei have so much gorse throughout them which makes it quite challenging to get some proper dog work. That being said, Bentley still presented us with a rooster on a silver plate. We had a situation on a hen whereafter Bentley took off in a straight line and set the escaping rooster. He then flushed it straight back at us where we were positioned, something Line was an expert at when I had her flushing from a distance. He also had a very good find on a covey of quail up a steep bank but the shooting in that situation was too difficult and the birds disappeared into the trees.
And finally, the hunting pic below from days gone by. Leon Mortensen (Wingfield) and Noel Allen (Berry Field) hunting near Whangarei in the late 1980s or possibly very early 1990s. The dogs are from left Wingfield Quill (Sharnberry Quin – Wingfield Intrigue), Wingfield Lace (Sharnberry Quin – Wingfield Jemima), Wingfield Moss (Tad of Colchicus – Wingfield Honey) and Berry Field Cowboy (Berry Field Brigadier – Wingfield Moss).