Reason No. 25 – Even when the day ends with just one bird in my vest, the dogs still think it is a really big deal.
Last year I spent thirty-seven days bird hunting with my dogs, as best I remember. Over the course of those days I subconsciously compiled a list of the virtues of bird dogs as hunting companions, especially compared to us, the less virtuous humans who accompany them and exhibit so many crude, rude, irritating and, well, human behaviors.
Presented here, in no particular order, are thirty-seven reasons why dogs are the best hunting companions – one reason for each of the days spent afield with my French spaniels Sasha and Abbey during the 2013 bird seasons. If I still hunted ducks and geese, there would probably be another dozen items on this list, Labrador and Chesapeake retrievers being a whole different sort of canine hunting buddy than the upland pointing and flushing breeds.
You probably have your own list, and I encourage you to comment on mine and add reasons I have overlooked.
The Curmudgeon’s Thirty-Seven Reasons
Why Dogs Are the Best Hunting Companions
- Dogs do not dwell on mistakes made on yesterday’s hunt or worry about possible problems with tomorrow’s hunt. They care only about today’s hunt.
- Dogs do not spend a lot of time looking at maps.
- Dogs never rag me about my poor shooting. At least not verbally.
- Dogs never complain about my camp cooking.
- Dogs like double barrel shotguns. Also autos, pumps, over-and-unders, single shots, and even bolt actions. Just as long as they knock down birds.
- Dogs do not think I smell bad, they think I smell interesting.
- Dogs have no religious or political convictions.
- Dogs can sleep anywhere, anytime. Few of them snore.
- Dogs ride in the box of the pickup, not on the front seat, when they are wet, muddy, covered with burs, or have rolled in manure or been sprayed by a skunk.
- Dogs do not ask for my roll of toilet paper when they have to take a dump in the woods or fields.
- Dogs like whatever movie DVD I have rented.
- Dogs do not whine about the floaters in my water bottle.
- Dogs do not drive around for an hour on the first morning of the hunt looking for the “best” bird cover.
- Dogs do not argue about who gets to use the boot dryer first.
- Dogs are indifferent about my selection of hunting clothes, and they have no opinions about color coordination.
- Dogs do not wear hats.
- Dogs don’t give a damn about steel shot zones.
- Dogs do not tell the same old hunting stories over and over.
- Dogs do not hit on barmaids and cocktail waitresses.
- Dogs like cheap motels.
- Dogs do not form loyalties to professional or collegiate athletic teams.
- On a nine-hour drive to Dakota, dogs need only one rest area stop to pee and dump.
- Dogs do not pack multiple bottles of medicines and medical equipment in their travel bags.
- Dogs do not shoot skeet.
- Even when the day ends with just one bird in my vest, the dogs still think it is a really big deal.
- Dogs do not think No. 5 shot is better for pheasants than No. 6 shot, and vice versa.
- Dogs like to hunt on rainy days – also on snowy days, windy days, hot days, cold days, muggy days, clear days, all days.
- Dogs still like me on my grumpy days.
- Dogs are not ashamed or embarrassed to belch and pass gas. And they are not annoyed or offended when I do.
- Dogs do not carry cell phones.
- Dogs seldom drink to excess, and never binge on Irish whiskey.
- Dogs do not smoke cigars.
- Dogs do not run the coffee bean grinder at 5 a.m.
- Dogs do not play card games.
- Dogs trust my directions on how to get back to the truck.
- Dogs do not suggest we take a day off from bird hunting to go fishing.
- No matter how old and ugly I get, my dogs still lick my face and tell me they love me.
More stories about bird hunting, bird dogs and bird guns are published in my collection of essays, Crazy Old Coot, and my novel, Hunting Birds. Both are available in Kindle and paperback editions at Amazon.com.