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Two Years In The Making

I’ll be taking Hondo out for his first real hunt over the Thanksgiving weekend. He’s fetched some birds but never experienced a full blown waterfowl hunt. I’m excited to say the least, this hunt has been two years in the making!

Some of you may be wondering what took me so long to get him in the field. Well, that’s simple… I’ve made mistakes with my other Labradors by demanding a lot from them at very young ages. Those mistakes took years to overcome and many never were. I wanted to set Hondo up for success right from the start and so I’ve taken my time.

His first hunt will also be highly controlled; just one shooter, Hondo and me. I’m not planning on shooting, only handling Hondo so he has all my attention. This hunt won’t be about limits, it’ll be about creating a positive experience for a young dog getting his first reps in the field.

I’ve created as many hunting-like training scenarios as possible for Hondo over the last two years and he loves birds so my expectations are high. That said, I’m determined to be realistic as well and temper my excitement with understanding and patience.

However, I cannot wait for him to turn the corner from upstart to veteran! I’m going to do my best to enjoy the journey as much as possible. I haven’t done that in the past and now look into Mackinaw’s aging face with regret that I was so laser-focused on him performing perfectly every time we went out.

Mack is a special dog and has given me more stellar retrieves than I could ever have asked for. He’s also had his “off days” when I wasn’t as patient with him as I could have been. It’s that second part that I’m working on with Hondo.

So, when the decoys are set and birds begin to work I’m going to be looking at Hondo with fresh eyes and doing my best to take it all in. Afterall, that moment will have been two years in the making and I don’t want to miss a thing.



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