On February second my wonderful gun dog Pride, passed on. He was thirteen and one half years old, and his health was deteriorating. We were fortunate to adopt Pride at seven years old, after his original owner lost a long battle with cancer. His personality was unique for a seasoned gun dog. In the field, Pride demonstrated all of the characteristics of an accomplished bird hunter. He could locate evasive roosters, and retrieve downed birds out of the thickest cover. At home, Pride was quiet and reserved. He loved to be loved, and that was obvious by the way he responded to our family.
The most special moment in my hunting life occurred during my first ever pheasant opener in 2011. In our initial field, Pride located a half dozen roosters, and I missed every shot. I had pheasant fever, and my confidence was shaken. In the early afternoon, hunting became difficult when temperatures hit the lower sixties, and the wind blew at twenty miles per hour. We were walking a public CRP field just northeast of Holyoke, Colorado. About two thirds of the way into the quarter section of native grass, Pride stopped on a hard point. He was not a pointing lab, but his posture was unmistakable. Realizing that a pheasant was present, I started to make my way over to my focused dog. The bird must have started to run right as Pride suddenly moved left. When Pride shuffled, the rooster took flight. I shouldered my A400 and fired. The bird tumbled from the sky, and fell over a nearby hill. Pride was already in a full sprint when the rooster landed in the waist-high grass. Almost immediately, I began to second guess my shot. Was that a rooster or hen? Did I make a lethal shot? My anxiousness disappeared when I saw Pride running towards me with the colorful bird in his mouth. I just shot my first wild pheasant.
Thank you Pride. Thank you for teaching me how to be a bird hunter. Thank you for your patience, love and kindness. Thank you for being my partner in many amazing adventures. Rest in peace my man.