An excerpt from “The Only Life He Knew and What He Called Family”
By Matt Dyson | Trainer | TX
I stand at the starting line and with a single blast of my whistle it signifies the start of my run. I know it’s just me, the judge, and my four legged friend racing against the clock with the vision to win the trial. I break away from the gate at a rambling speed that few can protest and look abroad at the vast layout of the land and decide what my next move will be. However, my dog has a mind of his own - he knows the game and signifies my decision was wrong as he slams on point a mere twenty feet behind me on ground that I surpassed only moments before.
He stands motionless like a statue cast from bronze as he holds his ground with a single foot lifted locked in place like a kid testing the warmth of the water. His chest is swollen with pride and eyes locked on the dense foliage that lay in front of us. He stands boldly and the intensity of his point signifies he has made game. I walk up in front of him and his legs arch backwards getting ready to pounce but I tell him “whoa” and with reassurance. He stands motionless as I kick at the ground with sure footing - a single bobwhite quail erupts from the dense cover under my feet and explodes airborne, making its way to the tree line in hopes of escaping.
My breakdown shotgun shoulders nicely as I get a bead on the lone single. As I ease the trigger, the sonic boom from my muzzle erupts through the air as the bird cartwheels onto the ground. I break open my over-under shotgun and as the empties eject and hit the ground, the fresh essence of blackened gunpowder hits my nostrils and I remember what makes this sport so special. As I take in this ecstasy, my four-legged companion makes a swift retrieve and hauls back the reward to my hand. Before I could offer him a drink of water to replenish his thirst, he shoots by me like hell-on-wheels and is off to find another bird.
Time is ticking and we are two minutes into the run and setting ourselves in a good position to win the trial. I set foot again and moments later my dog is locked into another picture perfect point and, with an abrupt flush and hours of practicing at the local skeet field, the bird's luck ends similar to that of the first - only this time the bird landed in mere reaching distance and my dog, Bo. He almost caught the cock bird in its mouth as it landed abruptly onto his head and, with a swift pickup, he had the bird in my hand at a near three minutes.
I reloaded my gun and shot outward to the open land that lay in front of me and, with hopes of finding the last bird, we carried on. Time was racing and I was thinking up and down on where this last bird could be. As I was walking to my right I lost sight of my dog and quickly went to the last place I laid eyes on him. When I cleared the hill, there he was...standing tall with his nose pointed skyward taking in the pleasantries of the game that only a bird hunter can surely enjoy. I walk up from behind him and begin kicking around with hopes there would be a bird and we would capitalize on this opportunity at hand. As I walk forward, I look back telling Bo to go ahead and he slams on the brakes like he was about to go over a cliff. I walk swiftly and before I get by his side the bird erupts just inches from in front of me. I throw my gun up to my shoulder placing my left cheek along the side of the swift grain and, as I pull the trigger, the bird shoots behind some cedar trees leaving me with doubt that I had missed the bird and all hope was lost.
I waited impatiently, kicking myself up and down, when all of a sudden out shoots Bo with a feathered object in his mouth and, with that, my spirits are lifted. He runs into my arms and I withdraw the bird from his mouth, calling time in the process and leashing my dog as I stroke the hair on his head telling him good job. As me and the judge walk back to where the gallery was, anxiously awaiting my score, I asked the judge what my time was and he told me it was a six minute run...meaning I had just won my first trial on the bird dog circuit.