They don’t call them man’s best friend for nothing. Dogs become a part of our life once they enter them.
Our families German Shorthaired Pointer, Macie, has become just that.
Growing up with Golden Retrievers who spent their free time catching up on sleep, a hunting dog was new to me, and a lot more energy than ever expected.
In my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, late November gives us a bare landscape of frozen grass and leaves all fallen from trees.
Throughout the years late months, the sun does occasionally break from behind the grey clouds giving way sunshine and an underrated outdoor community that offers far more conversation starters than just LeBron James.
After spending over a decade pursuing monster Ohio whitetails or Walleye or Steelhead fishing on Lake Erie, I picked up my grandfather’s handed down Remington 1100 shotgun and took up pheasant hunting with my mom, dad and Macie.
In years past, my dad and I always spent Thanksgiving morning bow hunting. But with some property being sold, people moving, we were out of a hunting spot. The next logical thing? Take the dog and lets go hunt for some birds.
Moving targets had never been my thing. But like anything else, the more you do it the better you get. I’m used to a slow draw with a bow waiting for an ideal shot on a buck, or watching your indicator drift down the river waiting for a fish to strike. But as grandparents and my elders have told me for 25-plus years, when it comes to bad shots, the best way to fix it? Shoot again.
On a gloomy day in late November, after a few frustrating attempts at pheasant hunting, something just clicked with my gun. I saw the pheasants better than before. I followed them with the barrel, the trigger felt smoother.
Macie appeared to be on too. As an early season snowfall hit and knocked down the high grass giving way for much easier hunting and visibility for her 40-plus pound frame.
She doesn’t care what the conditions are however. At just 15 months old she’s still in the puppy stage and romps around my house like a wild animal most days. When she’s in the field, the instinct she has around the house is much needed.
Her nose smells birds planted from days prior and ears hear the proverbial pin drop in a quiet room.
It amazes me as we walk into a field how quickly Macie goes to work. Within two minutes she’s on point waiting for us to flush the bird and shoot. After getting the hen up it’s one shot and she’s down.
Through the high grass Macie trots in and out of it coming back with a bird in her mouth dropped at our feet. Unlike every neighborhood dog that barks at the sight of another living thing, Macie doesn’t treat the bird as something to attack. She stalks it and gets on point with such grace and ease. How she works in the field amazes me. While some of that may be because I’m a novice to the sport of bird hunting, her desire to hunt and find birds for an extended period of time finds me easily in awe of her abilities.
A dog goes to the bathroom when we let them outside. (Unless they’re not housebroken) They can’t eat without us feeding them, but in the field we are completely reliant on their ability to pick up scent and sounds. We’re at their mercy to find the birds and have a successful hunt.
Having a well-trained dog is something maybe I’ve taken for granted. But also it’s just as important to have a dog that finds birds as it is to make sure you get off a shot.
Again, we fix bad shots by taking another one. However, with no bird in the air you’ve got nothing to shoot.
In four flushed birds, my dad and I walked away with all four of them. Four good points, clean shots and good retrieving results in a successful morning hunting Ohio pheasant.
We clean the birds and head on back in time for what is sure to be the best meal of the year on Thanksgiving Day.
The ride back from the farm gives her plenty of time to catch up on sleep like the dogs I grew up with. She’s tired and worn out, but she’s earned it. The pheasants we have in the back of the truck are the receipt from a day of hard work.
While I never grew up bird hunting it’s now become a family thing. And yes, Macie is a part of that family event, as any furry friend would be.