The reds, blues, greens, yellows, pinks, and whites had no design just shapes, it was if someone dripped color down a piece of cloth and cut a three inch cross section then wrapped it around my hat to form a hat band. The hat was my mother’s idea for keeping the Texas sun off my head and neck. My mother doesn’t know about sun screen and I’m sure she doesn’t care to know about it, just as well. Her job as she sees it is to make me look like that kid all the other kids gave wedges too as he walks from gym class. She feels protecting me from any number of ills related to the Texas sun is way more important than me looking like a dork.
I was jolted out of my examination of the brightly colored Panamá hat by someone saying ready?
I’d brought my labs and my hat to a Heart of Texas Retriever Club AKC hunt test. I’m a member of the HOTRC so I showed up ready to work my fingers to the bone and do my part to make sure the hunt test went off without a hitch. The night before the test a good friend phoned and asked me to bring a shotgun to the test. I figured they were going to shoot poppers and wanted a gun. Poppers are shotgun shells that only have primers in them, so they make a small bang and nothing else. Just loud enough for the dogs to know something went bang.
At the check in station I was asked to help check people in and make sure each and every one signed a liability waver. I assured the hunt chairman I was up to the task and I wouldn’t let her down.
I wondered if they wanted my shotgun to make sure no one got past me that hadn’t signed the waver. However no one tried to sneak into the event without their signature so I didn’t have to resort to drastic measures. One guy did drive through and didn’t stop but I didn’t tell anyone since we didn’t charge to get in, no harm no fowl.
At the check in station time past at about the same speed as ice cream melting. Along about 8:30 I decided to go and watch some dogs run the test. I wanted to see a friend run Jimbo, a dog I’d hunted over. I weaved my way back to where the senior dogs were applying their trade just in time to see a young pup brake for parts unknown. As far as I could tell he still may be running north. The immigration standard in Texas, where’s ICE when you need them.
The next dog to run the gauntlet was a beautiful chocolate owned and handled by Doug Doehring, a dog after my own heart. He strolled to the line with pride and confidence. I wanted to see this pup run all his passes. When Doug sent him he was off, first came the water then tall weeds no obstacle was too great for this young chocolate. He picked up each mark like the champion he someday will become.
I watched while several more dogs were sent through their paces, each one a champion in their owner’s eyes, all found the ducks and with seemingly little effort brought them back to their handlers.
Not wanting to spend a lot of time in any one place in fear they might put me to work, I moved to where the junior hunt test were being conducted. I arrived just in time to see a beautiful chocolate lab run her first pass of the day but I’d seen great looking labs run all day, what made this one special was Louis Oviedo II. Louis was the perfect match for this lab. If he’d so much as felt a command Siena would obey. What a wonderful performance out of a boy of only thirteen years old.
This amazing feat of dog control was followed by yet another stellar presentation by Duncan’s Jet owned by Michael Rizzo who is in Korea serving our country. Jet was ran my Michael’s wife Mary who made a promise to him to work and run his dog while he was gone. I was thoroughly enjoying watching these magnificent animals and not paying attention to who showed up looking for me.
My heart sank as I felt a finger on my shoulder. I hoped my sheepish grin would endure me to the hunt chairman but alas she stood there with a “we need to talk” look on her face.
“What can I do for you” I asked. Hoping she only wanted me to get out of her way.
“Did you bring a shotgun?”
“I sure did, who do you want me to shoot?”
With a look of “what’s wrong with you” on her face she went on to explain.
“As you know or at least should know the AKC requires that live ducks be used in their hunt test. We would like for you to go to the senior test and shoot the ducks.”
“Shoot them with what?” I asked.
“With your shotgun.” She replied.
“Let me get this right, you want me to shoot ducks?” I said.
My mind, as if often does, started signing the Hallelujah Chorus without any prompting. I was thinking of some witty retort to her request but settled for the lamest response I’ve giving in quite a while.
“I’m your man, just let me get my gun.”
I turn on my heels and tried my level best not to run to my truck for my shotgun. I got to the test just in time to see another member carrying a shotgun, my heart started to sing “Hallelujah” as I caught up with him.
We walked together to a curtain, camo in color, just about 80 yards from where the judges sat talking with a handler and his dog. When we got behind the curtain I took my Browning Citori from its case opened the breach and looked down the barrels, why I don’t have a clue. You see it all the time men in kaki from head to toe opening their double rifles and looking down the barrels. Then right on cue from somewhere in back ground a native could be heard saying.
“Gun empty Bawana.”
I noticed the other duck shooter was smiling I would almost bet his mind was singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” as well.
Someone from behind us said.
“Load up, the test is about to start.”
I dropped two shells in the breach of my Browning double barrel as my mind started up.