Hunting with our Dogs
As with most dogs, they are pets 95% of the time, and hunting dogs for the rest. When it comes to being a family dog, our dogs have it down pat. Of course, they like their bones, their pets, and their naps. But, what they like best is to load up in the truck and go find some birds out there.
We try to spend at least 50 days, or at least part days, in the field. We live in the Upper end of the Snake River Plain, which is in the heart of Sharptail country. To the right is a photo of Anna and her first brace of sharptails (can you find the birds in the picture?). Sharptails live in wide open native grass areas, at least a half mile from any tall object or trees. Not exactly the kind of landscape the Drent was bred for, but the dogs are very effective, nonetheless.
Bowi came to us late in 2004 as a one year old "diamond in the rough". He is the fastest Drent I have ever seen, and his natural range in sharptail country is about 200 yards; much farther than most Drents. His bird drive is exceptional, he holds point very well, and his stamina and willingness to please are superb. He has a slighter build, a shorter coat and more white on his coat than the average Drent. All are positives in our area, where conditions are often warm, and terrain is wide open. Speed, a great nose, and holding point are what it takes.
Of course, anytime you are around farm land, you have pheasants and huns (gray partridge, Perdix perdix). Gray partridge is, of course, the partridge in "Drents Partridge Dogs". With the new "Fauna Law" in The Netherlands, the Drent will no longer be allowed to hunt partridge in it's home country. Very sad, but fortunately, the tradition can live on in the US. We will gladly carry the banner for the breed!
Anna is our pheasant specialist. She hunts slower than Bowi, and works scent exceptionally well. Her points are very close (usually within 5 yards), which puts enough pressure on the pheasants to often keep them from running. What makes her especially effective is her work after the shot. She is as persistent and stubborn as any dog I have seen, and she has run winged pheasants to ground after tracking jobs of over a mile long. She does not give up! Now, if she would also retrieve as well......
In the high country, we find good populations of forest grouse species. Blue grouse on the high ridges, ruffed grouse in the aspen filled draws near springs or creeks. To top it off, we hunt the high sage brush plateaus for sage grouse, and the dry, rocky hillsides in the Salmon River country for Chukar.
Hunting sage grouse, or "sage bombers", is a unique experience. Sage grouse are big birds, with old males going over 5 lbs, easily. They inhabit large sage brush flats. Come to think of it, the terrain is almost like a Dutch heather field. Except it is dry, and you will most likely run into a horny toad, or antelope......... It took our Anna a couple of trips before she "figured them out", but now she is as enthusiastic about sage grouse as most birds.
Chukar is a challenge the dogs relish. Steep, desert, rocky country, a few rattle snakes for good measure, and birds that laugh at you if you miss. They say you hunt Chukar the first time for sport, but for revenge ever after! The steep slopes, the birds that run instead of hold, and the fast flying means that each and every bird becomes a true trophy.
Clio on point!