It's time to end the chapter on the first big hunting trip of the 2009-2010 season. While the bird gods didn't shine favorably on us, it was a memorable hunt nonetheless. Here's a photo-essay of the trip.
We made it to the Bessey Branch of the Nebraska National Forest on Wednesday afternoon with high hopes. Accompanying me were Vernon and Steve (hunting buddies and associates from Gun Dog Supply, pictured here) along with Bryan, a colleague from work). So this was all business, folks...
Of course, like any good bird hunting trip, we were supporting actors to the stars of the show -- the 15 dogs we had in tow. In addition to Dottie and Vegas, the Mississippi contingent brought 13 dogs with them... pointers, shorthairs, labs, and a lone brittany. We would not be left wanting for dog power.
I love the minutes before setting out on the first hunt of the day. The air is crisp, hunters and dogs shiver in anticipation, and Mother Nature paints her scenery with a palette that accentuates the promise of the day ahead.
They don't call 'em Sandhills for nuthin'.
Thirty minutes into that first hunt, Dottie and Vegas locked up on a single, and I was fortunate enough to take him with my first shot. This was going to be good, I thought out loud. Little did I know that this would be the last bird anyone would take on the entire trip.
Two proud -- and hot -- pooches.
It spiked to nearly 80 degrees every day -- one of the hazards of early season prairie hunting. Thankfully, this land featured active windmills every half mile or so. The shorthairs never missed an opportunity for a swim -- the mossier the better.
Their handlers employed more traditional methods for cooling off.
The hot weather shut our hunting down by noon. We all said it was for the dogs' health and safety, but these ice packs tell another story...