When I was a kid my dad and I raised German short hair pointers. From July 15 right on through November dad and I would run our dogs morning and evening both for the exercise and just to watch the dogs work. I always enjoyed watching a bird dog work a field. There’s something majestic about watching that dog work her way into the wind, back and forth, across the field. Watch him or her stop, freeze, and lockdown on a bird. As a kid, I thought I always knew better than the dog, and would often stare at the ground where the dog was pointing and accuse the dog of being stupid because I could tell there was no bird there. Of course, I kicked around in front of the dog and up would go pheasant or quail sometimes even a grouse. Those are fond memories from 40 and 50 years ago.
It’d been years since I’ve done any serious bird hunting. I got married started raising the family didn’t make enough money to buy shotgun shells or even think about a hunting license. And when I could hunt it was always about chasing the allusive whitetail and bow hunting. My dad died young. the bird dogs we had were gone and though I thought fondly of those times watching the dogs hunt my mind tended to stay focused on whitetails, fletching and compound bows.
But as I’ve grown older I like to take frequent walks down tree covered trails, two tracks, and open fields when I can’t hunt. And it’s nice to have a companion to take those walks with you. So I have threatened my wife for years that I was going to get a German Shorthair Pointer pup. Four years ago I had an opportunity to hunt pheasants from a game farm in a church activity. I had forgotten how much fun bird hunting could be. Watching those dogs work the field brought back many fond memories. My threats to my wife increased! So last year I took the plunge. I was working in Illinois and found a half a dozen breeders that were planning litters in the spring and slowly began to scope out which litter might choose the best dog for me. After a number of visits, and some serious negotiation with the breeder I was able to steal the pick of the litter, a liver and speckled Shorthair that reminded me of one of our dogs from my youth. She was so close in coloration to one of my teenage dogs that I gave her the same name, Gypsy. She is just as stubborn, too!
My wife of course, was ecstatic about the purchase of this pup, and chose other endearing names for Gypsy - names like Tornado, That Dog, and the Filthy Beast. You can see how she has fallen in love with Gypsy, can’t you. With my wife and my relationship to Gypsy firmly established I began training her at a hunt club near my place of work in Illinois.
Now I don’t want to make you nervous. This is a bow hunting website, and we don’t know write articles about duck hunting, goose hunting or things like that that require the discharge of a fire stick. Not that we have anything against gun hunters. Heck, I own one or two of those things myself, and occasionally even discharge them on purpose. I have visited a number of bird sanctuaries or game farms over the last few years and have always intrigued by the fact that the operators of these farms have always been less than enthusiastic about hunting pheasants with a bow. None of the owners that I have spoken to have indicated that anyone attempting to hunt pheasants with a bow has ever taken one with a bow. Hah! I am going to change that.
About 10 years ago I had an opportunity to shoot with a couple of traditional archers. These guys were serious traditionalists. I learned a lot hunting with them. I learned a lot more just shooting with them. They had developed a contraption that would throw a 2 inch thick foam disc about 12 inches in diameter into the air at 20 to 30 feet. They were pretty proficient at wacking that target with a recurve or a long bow and a Flu-Flu arrow. I tried it, and heck I even hit the target once or twice!
Ever since then I have harbored the notion of being able to take a pheasant with a bow. I haven’t made an attempt as of yet to hunt the birds with the bow. I’m still working on getting Gypsy trained so that shall hold point, won’t flush the bird until I’m ready and I will need to get somebody to throw some 12 inch disks in the air so I can do a little more practicing. I’ve seen video on YouTube of guys shooting geese, even doves with a bow. I figure why not me! So I may write an occasional article about my exploits in training Gypsy and hunting over her. But by next year I’ll be writing articles about how many pheasants I miss with my stick and a string! Come back and see how I do.