Pheasant hunting 2015 with the Von Meistern dogs was one of the most successful and fun seasons I have had: ever. The quantity of birds shot wasn’t the reason. Although enough birds were shot to eat Pheasant once a week for the last two and a half months and still have plenty in the freezer. It didn’t hurt that my shooting was very much improved once I got the hang of my new over and under. The real reason that 2016 was so much fun was the quality of work that the Von Meistern dogs did in the field. Doree, Greta, Kaiser and even 6 month old Elsa did an outstanding job, finding pointing, and retrieving birds.
Each dog brings strengths and weaknesses to the field at the beginning of the season. Most of the strengths lie in their innate abilities as well bred German Shorthaired Pointers. And most of the weakness are the result of uneven training and lack of time hunting actual wild birds. After all a bird season only lasts 2.5 months in Iowa. By uneven training, I mean hunting dogs, of different ages and levels of training, together at the same time.
Doree has had the most time in the field pheasant hunting, therefore one of her strengths is being able to work a rooster pheasant who sneaks out from under a point. She was just brilliant the last month of the season working those sorts of birds. It was so much fun to watch her work. Another strength is her ability to puzzle out a roosters twisted trail and find him. For a large female, sixty-four lbs, she has a ton of stamina, and drive.
Greta really showed her abilities on the National Grasslands. The grasslands are the perfect type of place to hunt a GSP with the speed and range of Greta. Because it is so much easier to see a dog on point at a distance, and it is so much fun to watch her at work. Greta works well in less open cover, it just takes longer to find her, since I don’t use GPS. Not to worry, she will hold point as long as it takes to find her. She had a nice find and point of a group of eight pheasants, on a very cold and windy day in South Dakota, unfortunately that was not a good day for my shooting as I missed the one good opportunity. She worked well with the other dogs backing when necessary. Unfortunately for her she soon went into heat after the South Dakota trip, so she missed a lot of the late season.
Kaiser was the most interesting to watch develop. He was fairly young last year and did ok with the time he got in the field. This year was a real strong leap of growth. He got off to a slow start as he seemed content to let the girls do the hard work. In other words, Kaiser didn’t seem to have the drive I expected from him. Then he got spurred in the mouth by a cripple he went to retrieve and it seemed to scare him. Kaiser is a prime example of why not to give up on a dog. He has the breeding, he has the physic, he is in shape, whats the problem? Answer: lack of confidence. Solution: keep working him in the field with lots of positive encouragement. At seasons end you would not have believed it was the same dog. He was hunting hard up to three hours straight, finding birds, solid points, backing, and retrieving cripples, dead birds, and on his one opportunity to run down a run off cripple, he was on it. That bird cooked up very nice. All the while very cooperative, hunting mostly within gun range, He is going to be a joy to hunt with for many years to come.
Elsa was just 4 months old when the season started and 6 months 10 days when it ended. Elsa unlike her dad never has a lack of confidence in the field. By the end of the season she found a few hens to point. Made a retrieve and hunted pretty darn hard for a pup. She worked independently from her parents about 50 or 60 % of the time. What was really special for me was that she learned to honor by watching the older dogs pointing and honoring points. I haven’t ever had a dog so young honor, especially without any training to teach that it’s a requirement. Elsa also picked up real quick that if she heard the hawk scream, it meant Mom was on point. She would run over to sound where Mom was and most of the time back her on point. How cool is that?
The future sure looks good for the Von Meistern dogs, I just pray all stay healthy and safe from harm. And barring bad weather and or flooding a nice crop of young Rooster Pheasants next year.