Just A Snack

Trying to find some relief from the hot, September, Texas sun the afternoon of opening day of dove season, we were stationed under shadeless, it seemed, mesquite trees around a stock tank.  The tank was on the edge of a just cut milo field, on our new hunting lease in McCulloch County, Texas.

The afternoon flight was just beginning as a pair of mourners zipped in and bam, bam; they tumbled down into the field. Rooster, one of my two Brittany Spaniels, raced out and picked up one bird, brought it to me and dropped it at my feet. Rooster, right, was a great retriever.
Gus, his son, enjoying his first hunting season, looked kinda silly standing over the downed dove that he went to retrieve. Finally he picked it up, started trotting to me and dropped the bird half way, spitting out feathers and sitting down.

His first dove retrieve proved difficult and for the rest of his hunting career, he never liked to retrieve them. When a retriever picks up a dove, and rolls it into the proper carrying position in its mouth, out come the bird’s feathers resulting in a difficult retrieve. Quail, ducks or geese don’t shed their feathers and are much easier to retrieve.
We continued hammering the doves and both the shooting and temperature was hot! Several birds, when shot, fell into the water and Rooster splashed in and retrieved them. Gus continued fumbling around trying to retrieve birds that fell into the field

Finally, I had just splashed another one, and Gus, pictured left, bounced into the water to bring it back. He picked up the bird, tried to position it in his mouth, and for some reason, began swallowing it. Into the waist deep, muddy bottom, water I sloshed and grabbed Gus. The dove’s tail feathers were sticking out of his mouth as I reached in, before he could swallow it, and pulled it out of his throat .
Gus hunted with me for eight more years and he never tried that trick again!