One Season with the Prospector
Realizations and Regrets
By Grayson Guyer
Before yesterday, if I were to tell you that I was excited about the idea of hunting woodcock with a leggy, plodding Wirehair with a range in the woods of somewhere between thirty-five and fifty-five yards it would have been a safe bet that I was either lying or waxing sarcastic. Yesterday I took Ol’ Tex, the GWP scouting new covers on public land in our area. I normally like animation; quick dogs with patterns that are probably just a bit wider than they should be get my blood pumping, and though Tex is a proven and reliable hunter, he does not fit that description.
This past summer Tex was sold to a lovely couple from New Zealand and I’ve been bending over backwards to get him on a plane ever since. New Zealand is free of rabies, and they really want to insure that it stays that way. Boosters and titers and timelines that never quite got met have kept Tex in his run at Lost Highway Kennels until mid January of 2018. So, when the time came to scout some new cover yesterday morning I decided it was a good opportunity to put him down and knock a little rust off.
We walked for four or five hours, the temperature slowly rising all the while. If I crested a ridge and thought about checking on some decent looking bottom over to the left, Tex cast left with no prompting as if somehow he heard what I was silently considering. If I stopped to check the GPS and get my bearings, Tex was at my feet waiting patiently. Tex may not have the biggest or most exciting ground application of any dog in the woods, but he’s no bootlicker. He hunts independently and with confidence, I guess he just doesn’t; feel the pull that so many of my other dogs feel, the pull that drags them just to the point requires my attention at the expense of my ponderances. Tex never got hot or tired, even as the temps crept into the high 60s. At hour three, he found our first hokumpoke (a euphemism for woodcock that I have recently committed to using exclusively) of the year and handled it like it hadn’t been ten full months since his last contact.
We emerged from the woods around lunchtime, me wet from a hip wader breech and sucking air like a sprinter, him as cool and relaxed as ever. I handled Ol’ Tex on the tailgate, I took a little extra time stoking his ear and looking him in the eye before loading him in the box. More than likely if I had taken him prospecting new cover last season he’d be headed back to the house to take his spot on the couch instead of headed back to his kennel to await his flight to New Zealand. He’ll gather no more rust between now and then, that’s for sure.