Last Thursday I received a last minute invitation for hunting in the middle of the Netherlands. Of course we gladly accepted. I asked what kind of hunting was on the menu and this time we started the day with hiding in a hut awaiting geese and ducks flying by. As this takes steadyness and quietness of the dogs I thought it was a good idea to bring Kaspar too in order to allow him get used to awaiting out of sight of the guns.
I am myself a little nervous when on a new hunt somewhere – as I worry if we will do well and fulfill the expectations. I would be very sad in case an unfortunate shot animal would not be retrieved well – in the end that one of the reasons gundogs are a part of hunting, to ensure that suffering is kept at a minimum in the case needed. Knowing that Rumi never lets me down is comforting but a good hunting dog is not being created only with training. They need the right field experience as well. Today Rumi was “lucky” to get more experience by a cast of a big grey goose that was still alive after a shot. This was the first time for her to retrieve a warm living grey goose. She took a couple of moments to pick it up and came in full galop with the big bird and then it was my task to fulfill the job – also not a beginners thing. These birds are huge and taking an animal’s life – even for your own purpose of eating it is not a light task. The experienced hunter supervised my job and checked that I did it in the most humane way. So also a first for me. I really appreciate to learn from experienced people and today was a very rich learning experience from wholehearted hunters with years of experience. A big thank you for that – to whom it concerns.
The field was situated in the surroundings of Schiphol – every now and then the planes passed by and I was thinking how dangerous such a big bird can be for an airplane engine. Then considering how many geese I spot every day in the fields as I drive on the highway…no wonder hunters are so busy trying to keep the numbers within an acceptable rate.
Retrieving the goose took me back in time, when I as child drove with my father through his hunting area, a forest in the south of Denmark. He sometimes ran in to animals laying on the side of the road – foxes and deer suffering from impact of a cat hit. I remember my father becoming very angry when people had not taken the effort to call the police about hitting an animal. I am not sure if people realize that hunters work together with officials in such cases and that there are trained search dogs available to track hurt animals and relieve them from suffering. He would then jump out of the car and end this situation. When I was younger I disliked this part a bit – but as I grew older I realized that all meat came from animals and that taking a life is part of that proces.
I started horseback riding as a child and during a visit at a stable next to a slaughterhouse I saw for the first time with my own eyes how our beef and pork is being generated. From that day on my whole vision on hunting changed, as I can assure you that hunting and eating game is the most kind way of having meat on our plate. But enough on hunting politics – back to the present.
My little boy Kaspar watched his mother retrieve the goose and a duck – and did a great job of being quiet and waiting. After the morning hunt we went for a driven hunt on hares – so I decided to bring only Rumi for that bit. She is not so experienced yet on hares but with a couple of runs including a hare retrieve. I got some good exercise too out in the field and I drove home with a wonderful hunting experience and an enjoyable day with passionate people and dogs. Tomorrow I will prepare the meat generously given to us by the host and then we will continue training the dogs for next years hunting season.