It had been a tough hunt...pheasants were scarce and we encountered few that were within shotgun range. My dad, several other relatives and the novice myself were the hunting party. We spent the day hiking though and around wetlands, cornfields and an assortment of weed patches. For our efforts, we had taken only a modest number of rooster or cock pheasants.
Edging toward a large lake we struggled through dense cover when a rooster pheasant burst forth cackling as he swung up and away over the lake. He made the mistake of exposing himself closest to Dad the best shot on our team. He was up to the challenge dropping the pheasant in water some distance from shore.
As the bird floated away, its prominent tail buffeted by the wind rose erect like a sail driving the bird towards deeper water. However, we had a dog a springer spaniel who had been bred and trained to do what was required...get out there and bring that pheasant back to us.
Our dog had seen the bird splash in about thirty yards away. Yet she remained glued to dry ground. Her owner, Dave, pointing towards the bird with tail feathers in full sail shouted "fetch!" Still, no movement. Several of us urged our pooch to make like a retriever. She remained rooted to dry land.
Finally, Dad could see there was no way that dog was going to enter that cold water. He took action. Removing his boots, socks and rolling up his pants, he made like a retriever wading out and fetching the bird in water over knee deep. Needless to say it was was a speedy retrieve. On shore, Dad dried off, dressed and we continued on our hunt with one very wet pheasant added to our game bag.
Perhaps the spaniel was truly and upland game bird dog. Leave the water retrieves to Labs
and tough ardent bird hunters.
STORY TIME WITH KENT OLSON A Collection of Wildlife Short Stories