Settling back into the brush, I looked to see how the three hand-carved black duck decoys sat. Each rocked gently, as the small waves slid past, two blocks facing into the wind and one down. Through the oak limbs overhead I watched gray clouds race by and rain pelted against my right shoulder, but adjusting my collar kept my neck dry.
With a firm hand I gently forced my young dog to sit next to me, not wanting to speak over the wind.
An egret gliding past caught the young Wirehair’s eye and she rose to give chase. Grabbing her collar I forced her to sit again. She had hunted before, the uplands, and this sitting and waiting I’m sure just didn’t feel right. Or like fun either.
Ducks passed well overhead, in twos and threes, black against the sky. A big flock of small ducks raced along the far shore, probably teal. Clouds and rain streaked by. The young dog still stared to where she’d last seen the egret, her muscles tight and trembling. Overhead, two ducks made a wide circle and headed toward my decoys.
As they dropped from the sky, with set wings and coming in fast, I rose from the brush. Chara sprung to her feet and spotted the incoming ducks. A hen mallard and a black, I choose the mallard and fired.
The duck crumpled and then splashed. Chara took off like a rocket, hitting the water going full bore. Looking like she’d done this hundreds of times before, she swam out and brought back her first duck.
With head down and tail wagging she brought me the duck. After I took the duck from her she shook, then nuzzled the duck in my hand…tail still wagging and proud as could be.
I sat again among the weeds and she sat next to me. No need to hold her collar again; she sat willingly, trembling as she waited and searched the sky.
That’s how a versatile gundog comes to understand.