I stood over the kitchen counter, jaw gaping, as I poured over the autopsy report. The results were in and there was no use questioning it. I mean facts are facts. "You've got to be kidding me." Was all I could manage to get out. "Not a single BB, not a broken bone, nothing. There is no damage to this bird."
"Maybe he had a heart attack Doc. Did you run your diagnostics on his circulatory system?" Came Hazel's grinning retort.
At this point I think she was tired of me harping on the subject. But damnit, it was a subject well worth harping over. CNN worthy, maybe not, but Fox news will air any damn thing, so this should be running as their top story by morning.
I mean one pheasant down and not a single shot fired all weekend. There's a story there and I would love to be the hero of this drama, but I'm afraid I wasn't. I was walking along, an audience member gawking up at the stage just like the rest of the hunters that witnessed the events.
I carry on. Let's get to the meat of it.
The sun was just making it's lazy appearance over the horizon as Hazel, some of her more adventurous family members, two hyper dogs and I pushed out into the field. We spread out wide, letting the dogs work between us. This field has often produced an appearance by a ringneck or two, the problem being the undergrowth is usually so dry that they hear us from a mile away.
That day was no different, add some crunchy snow to the mix and we might as well have called them on the phone to let them know we were coming.
"Are those pigeons taking off out ahead of us?" Came an accented question, thick with the ring of Tagalog. (Don't worry, I thought that word had something to do with a bad guy in Lord of the Rings as well, until my girlfriend filled me in. They speak it in the Philippians.)
"No those aren't pigeons." I grumbled. "That's what a pheasant looks like at three hundred yards."
I hate bringing new hunters out only to show them how not to do things.
We pushed towards thicker cover, hoping that they might be holding tighter in its security.
Sage was out in front, so birdy that I was waiting for the sound of a cracked whip to come from his tail.
"That good, huh buddy?" I whispered to him as words of encouragement.
At this point he might as well have been in another universe; zoned in, doing what he was born to do. A single motivating purpose, not flittering between twenty different things like the rest of us A.D.D. riddled humans, but a precision focus to rival any Olympic athlete.
God I love this dog.
I was not the only one taking notice. My fellow hunters were starting to put an eye towards him as well.
His hard work paid off and he was tight up on a bird's ass. I readied myself with my Citori, naturally working its way to the most efficient snap position, but there was no need.
Out went Sage in a fury. Up rocketed a beautiful ringneck pheasant in a picture perfect takeoff.
Before my double barrel began its approach to my shoulder, Sage was in the air, stretched out to his full length and meaning business. Three years of flushing countless birds for me and this time, well this time he was taking one for himself.
Just as the bird's landing gear came up, Sage had his mouth wrapped around him. Down they both went in a tumble.
"Haaazzzeellll diiiiidddd yooou seeeee thaattt!!!" Came the slow motion response to the utter disbelief of what we all witnessed.
She shook her head, knowing that this incident would give me one more reason to put my pup up on a pedestal.
Sage trotted over to me, pulled in tight to my side and held the bird until I gave him the release; just as he had done a hundred other times.
Proper hunting dog etiquette be damned.
Your pup ever pull off a stunt like this? Let's hear about it in the comments below!