We are leaving behind a tough year. You all know what happened, so I won’t go into that here, except to say the low point was the departure of my dear hunting buddy Tex. A sweet giant of a dog, he almost made it 9 years. Tex had a great life. He hunted in 9 states, was provided with $9,000 worth of knees, and was a much-beloved member of our family. He gave us great joy, and he enjoyed life to the end. His nub of a tail wagged all the time, even when we took him for that last terrible visit to the vet. We miss him very much.
So now we move on, and thankfully our bird hunting future looks very bright! Two elements warrant this optimism.
First, I have been introduced to the wonderful world of German bird dogs and the organizations that foster them. These dogs, known as Deutsch Kurzhaars (DK), are distinctly different in configuration and breed management to the American German Shorthaired Pointer. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE American GSPs; this is just a similar but different path. The significant differentiators include the following:
- They are typically larger and blockier than American GSPs. They look a lot like Tex! I like a 50 lb bird dog, but Tex, at 90lbs (!!!), was a great hunter and companion. The DKs run 60ish for females and 70+ for males. But man, they are good looking dogs. Google Deutsch Kurzhaar, and you will see beautiful, robust bird dogs. Very impressive! IMHO
- DKs are bred to be versatile dogs. I only focused on controlling the dog in the field and enjoyed the inborn pointing instinct with Tex and Rio – and so point is all they did. DKs are bred to point, honor, retrieve to hand, and track – upland, waterfowl, and fur. They are also bred to hunt hard but chill out in the house or truck. I have seen this with the Small Munsterlanders that my friend hunts with. It is bird dog nirvana, if you ask me.
- The German organization that oversees the breed has a structured testing program that drives a structured training program. If you work to attain the certifications, you will have a fantastic, competent bird dog! If a dog does not achieve the certifications, then that dog is prohibited from breeding future DKs. There is also a Breed Warden that oversees and approves all the breedings. This produces dogs consistent with breed standards and maintains or improves inherited traits. Very German, very disciplined, very good!
- On December 29th, 2020, Henry was born. We will liberate him from his mom on the first of March, and the adventure will begin!
The second element is the maturity of our bird hunting philosophy. The objective is to be in the beautiful, wild places with beloved bird dogs, good friends, and shooting well when presented the opportunity. It is the dogs, the experience, the camaraderie, the work, competence in the field, and the connection with our nature that is the priority. We are beyond the need to kill, to fill a limit . . . but we do that when we can! This can be accomplished on the vast public land of the west. Denver based, we are poised to exploit hunting in all the states west of the Mississippi.
These are the things that energize the pursuit. I am very optimistic that we will attain a new level of bird hunting proficiency and enjoyment over the next decade. The book of James tells us that “you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away.” So at 60, this is a critical, significant decade, and I intend to make the most of it before it does vanish away!
With Tex’s departure, the Covid debacle, and other crazy things, I only enjoyed two hunts this year, but they were good ones! Bird counts are up, and we had a terrific time on these late-season western hun and chukar hunts. I hope you enjoy these pictures and also hope this is a taste of what is to come . . . . God willing.
Thanks for visiting the Birdhunter and I hope 2021 is good to all of us!