Many, many years ago, we had the flu virus strike a bunch of our guides right in the heart of hunting season. Our folks are all very loyal, and will go as hard as they can even when sick, but this was a very virulent form of the flu. We had about five guides out with 102+ fevers, and we were desperate. I managed to call in two retired guides, one neighbor. Plus our manager, Aaron and I both had to hunt.
I should have smelled a rat when at least six guides each offered me two of their best dogs. Back in those days we only put six dogs in the jeep rather than the 8-10 each guide carries now in his jeep. At any rate, I was most grateful to get 6 “good” dogs. I asked Aaron to assign me to the Eastwoods hunting course since it was virtually in my backyard where I grew up, and I knew where every covey of quail tended to congregate on that course. Now might be a good time to also point out that the Eastwoods is also the hunting course that is closest to our dog kennels.
At any rate, I started my morning with a great deal of confidence as I dropped out my first brace of hunting dogs. That was also the last time I saw that pair for the entire morning. They tore out like “scalded dogs” straight to the comfort of their kennel,bed, and food. I began to get a sense of foreboding that this might not be a good morning for me.
I decided to drive the jeep to the back side of the course prior to turning the next pair of champions out. We did not have electronic collars back then; so I stood by the jeep ready to tackle the first dog that made a dash for home. I need not have worried as evidently this pair of dogs were trained to hunt only one thing, and that was the jeep! No matter how much I whistled, cajoled, and begged, they merely plodded right behind the rear wheels of the jeep. It was now approaching 10:00 am, and my guests had not fired a shot. They were getting restless, and I was mortified.
At that point I figured that I had nothing to lose; so I kenneled my jeep trackers, and dropped out my last pair of dogs. I do not remember the second dog’s name, but the first one was named Henry. I had asked each guide to give me a name and description of the dogs I would be hunting. It is important to note Henry’s name because one of my guests that morning was also named Henry. These last two dogs could hunt. However, somewhere in his training program, the dog, Henry, had decided that it was his job to flush the birds just before the hunters could get in position or range for a decent shot.
Finally it happened. Henry the dog flushed a covey out ahead of us while Henry the man took a desperation shot. In my frustration, I yelled, ” Henry, you S.O.B.”. Mr. Henry looked at me and yelled right back, ” I’m shooting as good as I can”. To which I promptly replied. ” I wasn’t yelling at you, Mr. Henry. I was yelling at the dog. I would never call a man with a loaded shotgun an S.O.B.”.
It was at that point in time that I resorted to an extreme measure that I had sworn I would never do, As I watched Henry the dog merrily chasing this covey to the next hunting course, I borrowed Mr.Henry’s shotgun, and shot Henry the dog in the rump from a distance that I deemed would only sting him and get his attention. Well, it worked, and I made a Christian out of that dog. We managed to come in with 21 birds, and I was just delighted not to be the first guide at Riverview to ever come in with no birds on a hunt.
Thank goodness, one of our regular guides felt good enough to go after lunch, and I removed myself from the line-up, but I never forgot the three guides who each gave me a pair of their “best” dogs.