by Burl Johnson
The following is a story from early last fall:
I was lucky enough to be able to join my son and a friend on a pothole duck hunt this past weekend. I decided to take along my five year old Springer/English cocker cross, Max. Max is a great upland dog, but had never tried ducks or geese.
We set up on a small transition pond on Saturday morning. We killed nine ducks and Max did a good job of retrieving seven of them. Two of the retrieves were all of fity yards, one way. I was more than happy with her performance.
The only problem was getting her to stay when just about any kind of tweety bird or duck was within sight. She was so fired up that she would whine and try to move forward any time something moved in front of her.
Here's the capper. We set up in basically the same location on Sunday. The birds weren't flying very well due to a gale blowing out of the south. We did manage to shoot four ducks, all of which Max retrieved. Excellent! About nine 'o clock, a lone Canada goose appeared out of the North. We all started hammering the honker calls, and the goose seemed to come in on a string.
At about forty five yards, seeing no geese in our little spread of puddlers, the bird flared out to the left. Johnson took the shot and dropped the bird into the water about sixty yards away on the edge of the cattails, across a small bay from our location. Max took off swimming across the bay after the goose.
The bird was swimming as well, and heading for the cattails. Johnson said he would back out, go around and try to go in on the other side. Tim and I continued to watch Max, as she followed the goose into the cattails, whining and yipping as she did so.
We didn't figure she would retrieve, but at least might be able to pin the bird down. We continued to watch and wait.
Three or four minutes later, from around the corner of the cattails to our immediate left comes Max.....carrying the ten pound, still very much alive, Canada goose! She had evidently picked him up and followed the edge of the cover back to our position, swimming all the way!
She dropped the goose at Tim's feet as we laughed and good girl'd her to high Heaven. About this time, Johnson busts out of the cattails on the other side and hollers "Which way did they go?" Tim held the big bird up and shouted "Max brought him back!" All Johnson could do was shake his head and smile!
Now, I know my little dog is a fair to middlin' upland hunter. Pheasants all but surrender when she and her kennel mate show up. However, I really never expected her to do so well with waterfowl, much less retrieve a live goose, a third of her weight, to hand!
You always hear stories about the heart and drive these little dogs posess, but now I truly have one for the books! Thanks for reading my brag, guys. A great season to one and all. Burl