Bo had just taken her first pheasant and 2-bird daily bag limit in Minnesota two hours earlier and here we were with permission to hunt 320 acres in North Dakota
and the expectation that the neighbor would also let me hunt more than a thousand acres of his ground for the next couple of days.
I was parked on a hill overlooking picked corn, several small sloughs and a 40 acre sidehill and low marsh of CRP. The owner said his group had hunted this on opening day and hadn't seen a bird but they didn't have a dog and he knew there were birds there. Hopefully Bo would determine if he was right.
I set a path into the wind along the sidehill not expecting much but I wanted to circle the marshy area wide believing that's where we would find any birds. This way if they flushed wild they would stay on the ground I had permission to hunt instead of sailing across a private fence. But Bo got birdy right away and trailed a weaving runner for more than fifty yards before he eventually flushed. If the rooster had run flat out, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to keep up with Bo but with all the weaving, I managed a 35 yard shot and he tumbled leaving a few feathers drifting in the breeze. I let Bo carry the rooster for a short while and circled to the far end of the marsh with confidence.
There was a line of willow thickets on the north side that I expected any pheasants to be loafing under at mid-day. I waited for Bo to commit to the thick stuff and then tried to run to the far end before any birds tried a quick exit.
Wouldn't you know, that Bo was flushing birds right in her face 30 yards behind me that I could have been on top of if I hadn't thought of being clever. Fortunately these were juveniles and there were quite a few late flushers. By the time I got to the swamp side I picked out a rooster flying over cattails and hit him with the improved cylinder and then another flying over open water further to my left that fell with a splat. I was thinking that shooting a double over a marsh was a pretty stupid thing to do with a 6 month old dog, but then again, I had to find out what Bo was made of.
Well, later in life Bo showed me that she would have good days and some not so good, but today was pretty magical. I was out in the marsh splashing around in mid-thigh water trying to help her but she showed me she didn't need me for anything but knocking birds down.
Exactly 5 hours from the time I stopped for permission in Minnesota, Bo had five roosters in the bird box. A double limit of pheasants on the first day of our scouting trip!