Two full years have passed since Wylie has hunted.  Well, that`s not quite true; in Baja he hunted poisonous toads, skunks, bobcats, lizards, herring, and the occasional sea lion.  In Austin he hunted raccoons, squirrels, armadillos and god knows what else on his daily forays into the thick woods of Barton Creek.  But two full years have passed since Wylie has hunted ducks.

And ducks, my friends, are his raison de etre.  Just as they are our raison de waking up at 5:00 am to go sit in a swamp when it’s five below zero.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast week, however, the weather was a bit more civilized.  The water was still liquid, the wind was blowing from the south, and despite these pleasant conditions, we decided to go out anyway.  Our expectations for the duck hunting were low and our expectations for Wylie were even lower.  We were fully prepared to begin his training process anew, all those hundreds of hours of rigorous retriever training lost for good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe morning began well enough; Wylie sat calmly while I tossed the decoys into the pond, and then he sat calmly for the first hour of light as not a single duck flew overhead.  No whining, no fidgeting, just sitting still and observing…this is half the battle for a good duck dog: to stay still, quiet and alert whether or not the shotgun is sounding.  Perhaps all was not lost after all.

Since the ducks were not flying, we decided to take a walk and do some jump hunting on the adjacent ponds.  Katie and Wylie walked to the upwind side while I wended my way to go sit in wait on the other end.  Soon enough a flock of a dozen mallards appeared over my head, the plan executed to perfection.  I stood and fired twice and watched as a drake was hit but sailed into a pond about a half mile away…

Part 2 to come….