In spite of Covid and social unrest, my thoughts are turning to a cold drink and a hot shotgun on the edge of a stocktank or sunflower field. Summer is upon us and we only have to endure another six weeks and bird season is here! What better way to social distance than sitting on the edge of a field within shouting distance of your buddies?
But in addition to watching for sales on #8 shot at Academy, cleaning the rust/blood/feathers off ol’ Betsy, and digging out your camo T shirts, you need to start now acclimating yourself and your dog to the heat and activity. Lockdown has made many of us couch potatoes and the heat will hurt you if you don’t acclimate.
Also, if you’re like me, the year has flown by and the best intentions regarding daily workouts for your best four-legged buddy slipped away. He or she has spent the summer inside most likely, and begged a few too many treats, making that opening day potentially deadly.
As always, a visit to the Vet to ensue there are no physical problems is a good place to start and while you’re there, be sure your dogs’ rattlesnake vaccine is current. Dry now, but it was a wet Spring and the snakes will be exactly where you least expect them; don’t lose a hunt or a dog because you didn’t get the shots.
I have had five Labs and have to admit that as I have “matured” my concern for their welfare has grown. Just as I can no longer run down a cripple in 100 degree heat, don’t expect a chubby dog to do it, either. Walk your dog several times a week in the morning if you can and leave her outside in the late afternoon, just when you will be heading out to hunt. Make a practice of throwing the dummy for him/her in the evening and cut back on the treats. Lastly, after five Labs, I’ve invested in a ramp for Ruby and she has never jumped into or out of the truck.
Just as important as your hunting experience is your hunting heritage. Not always convenient, making the time and effort to include young hunters in your plans pays off in great memories, a lasting appreciation of the outdoors, and potentially preserves the hunting experience for generations to come.
As always, I pray we have good birds this year and both Ruby and I make some great memories. I write this in the hopes that you do, too and your hunts are not ruined by an over-heated dog only trying to please the Boss.