March 2, 2018 Update

Upland Bird Member

Jon and MAHA Crew,

2018 was another wonderful year in the field for my Wirehaired Pointing Partner (Berkano) and me. We noticed a good rebound of pheasants and probably had our most productive year on quail.

The first picture is from our last hunt in late January, during which we found five coveys. It’s actually one of the few hunts over my seventeen years with the Association on which I exceeded my self-imposed 6-bird “Gentleman’s Limit” on quail.

As I write this summary, I reflect back on these years with MAHA. I joined shortly after TJ, our first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon joined our household. I had no experience as a dog “handler.” Growing up, my Dad had a series of hunting dogs, mostly labs or Chesapeake’s, well suited for the icy waters of Northern Minnesota. On upland game, he often referred to them as “80-acre dogs,” as they could clean out 80 acres of all feather or fur in the time it took to get our guns out of the truck.

TJ had incredible game drive, and once I gave up on my ill-fated attempts to control her, and simply followed where she lead me, we became a very successful team. I included a picture of TJ with a three day limit of roosters.

When I show such hunt pictures to friends (most of whom do not hunt), they often compliment me “You must be a very good hunter.” I clarify that “TJ is the hunter….I’m just good at keeping her in sight.”

Our pictures have changed over the years. At least the content has changed. Pheasants seemed more plentiful in the early years. TJ was good on roosters and lacked the patience on quail. She found bobwhites in coveys, but maybe her nose was lacking when it came to finding the air-washed singles. Mostly I think she was simply in a hurry when it came to bobwhites.

Covey shots were my nemesis, until a wise old quail master suggested I load carry my shotgun with just a single shot so I would “take [my] time.” These past several years, I seldom take more than a few pheasants in a year. We harvest just enough to provide a dish of Caribbean Jerk Pheasant for our annual Wild Game Feed. I’ve learned to be patient on the covey rise and have become proficient with my side-by-side. Besides, a double barrel makes for a nice picture with a brace of quail.

Berkano joined the family pack twelve years ago. 

While, TJ had a preference for pheasants, “Berk” is in her glory on quail. I’m not sure if Berk ever learned the difference between a scent trail and a scent cone. She will often track dutifully across 80 acres of CRP, false pointing every 50 yards, only to have the rooster flush far out of gun range at the end of the field. On quail, she is patient and cautious. When she picks up bird scent in the area, she will stop with her stub tail flagging just slightly, and await my arrival. Only then does she locate and point. 

 TJ’s every step and manner was aggressive….she was fast moving and her points came in a slamming stop to a twisted contortion. Berk is like a ballet dancer, gracefully stretching and arching into an arabesque position with her nose just inches from the pinned quail. For you ballet neophytes, the arabesque is the move where the dancer stands balanced on a single big toe, leans forward as if looking and pointing elegantly to a penny on the ground, with her other leg pointing up and behind her. By the way, the arabesque a great warmup exercise to use before a bird hunt. Just don’t let other MAHA members see you doing it.

 Well, thank you for the chance to reflect and enjoy these memories of my dogs. And thank you all for these many years in the field. Sadly, this is likely my last year with the Association. Age and health issues are taking their toll on both Berk and me. I will continue to read the Updates pages and enjoy the hunting of our members vicariously. I hope you will continue to keep me in mind when new prospective members want to visit with an old bird hunter. 

 Faithfully Yours,

Charles Dahlstrom of Michelle’s Kennel, Berkano of Hundgaard Kennel, and TJ of Plum Creek Kennel (posthumously).

Charles has been an incredible pleasure to work with over the past 17 years.  You will be missed. 

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