Rumi and I have had the privilege of being invited for larger commercial hunts in Belgium during the last couple of years. This has been such a learning opportunity for me as a handler and it has brought out the best hunting skills in her. Having a high drive dog and combining hunting with competitions in the same season is not the easiest path to choose, but I enjoy this combination more than my ambition.
Our competition season ended a bit disappointing.. first we had to stop during a our first working test A. Rumi had hurt her paw while jumping a fence. Then I became ill and missed the FRC AT. Finally recovered and ready on time for the WFRG Trophy, then it got cancelled due to Covid-19. So not quite the end of a season we had in mind.
End of competition season means more time available to go hunting – therefore I gladly accepted an invitation to join a so called farmer’s hunt in the Northeast of Netherlands. A farmer’s hunt is a small hunt, in this region mostly focusing on regulating the enormous amount of farm land damage by geese. In the Netherlands we have geese in amounts that one can surely call it a plague for farmers and grass areas. They destroy large amounts of crop and fill the fields with excrements – causing high nitrogen release into the environment.
Hunting geese is not an easy task – they are extremely clever and communicate with each other. They spot you very easily in the field and wearing camouflage clothing and hiding well is necessary. Having a dog who is sitting quietly and holding position is essential. For Rumi who is used to retrieving a large amount of ducks on each drive, this is a bit challenging but luckily she is a quick learner. I enjoyed the cold morning – out in the field from sunrise, trying to differentiate the birds while passing. I have great respect for the hunters and their field knowledge and love for nature and care in their decision making. Today was also very special as one of the hunters was lucky to harvest (Dutch language use this term) her first goose. Rumi had the honor of retrieving the goose in a stream.
After the goose hunt, we walked a great deal of farmland with watersides in chance of ducks. Especially male wild ducks are in high numbers and make a good protein source in our diets. As these hunts are only successful if the hunter approaches very carefully I stayed on a distance. Therefore Rumi had 3 retrieves – all blind and by directing on water – I am so proud how well she followed directions and in cold and windy waters. The last retrieve was a duck with an unfortunate wingshot hiding in thick cover of water plants. “Go search” and then it is pure joy to see a flatcoated retriever doing what they master to perfection: working the scent of the wind in the waterside cover. Some turning tail action and I know that she has picked up the scent. Into the deep water, pulling the duck out through the cover and then tangled in water plants pushing herself out of the steep waterside with the duck. I am so proud of her for this beautiful retrieve. Tomorrow I will prepare the duck and enjoy it with my family. Thank you Lieuwe for this wonderful day in the field.