by Gloria Esguerra Courser
This is the story of a tail, a wagging tail, and the dog that came attached to it. Birdie Mae is a rescued Labrador who joined our family almost three years ago. Meeting Birdie for the first time I thought she looked just like all of the old Remington advertisements I had seen. So, Birdie the bird dog she was christened. The only problem is that I was not a bird hunter….yet.
Historically, I am a big game hunter; but after seven years of hunting I realized that I might only see big game on the rare occasion but I would see grouse almost every time I was out in the woods. They would flush up so quickly and loudly that I nearly had a heart attack every time. After each of these heart attack moments, I knew I would get my grouse one day. This past fall, a bird hunter I did become.
I headed out with the bird dog and a .22 caliber pistol. A shotgun never crossed my mind; first, because I don’t own one and second, because I’m not great at shooting one. I also thought it would be a great chance to practice my handgun skills. After all, a grouse’s head is a pretty small target.
Birdie proved to be very good at flushing birds; over and over again. She just didn’t prove very good at finding them. They would explode into the air and I would look at her and say, “Find it! Where’s the grouse?” and she would look at me as if to say, “You find it.” We would wander around the timber with necks crooked back and eyes scanning trees until either me or my hunting partner, my mom, found the bird. Birdie became newly christened as “The 50/50 Bird Dog”.
My first grouse season, I finished with eleven birds. Half of those I give credit to Birdie. I learned many important lessons while hunting with my dog, though. I learned that a hunting dog is only as good as her human and that mixing dogs with guns requires A LOT of training. What else would you do during off season besides dream about hunting again?
It’s all worth it, though, because the sight of her eager brown eyes and seductively wagging tail tell a story. They tell a story every time I put my hunting boots on now. They tell a story as she stands beside me at the front door as if to say, “Oh no, you aren’t leaving me behind this time.”
Gloria Esguerra Courser is a huntress and a poet. She shares her love of the outdoors through the crafting of words; leaving a legacy of this love and inspiring others to get outside too!