The more I swell with false pride on knowing about retrieving dogs the less I seem to understand. Sometimes they are just so clever it's truly beyond human ken, and sometimes they are so thick it's still beyond human ken! I had an example of both today when working two of my dogs on a driven shoot.
Incident one .... I was picking up in scrubby woodland right at the back of the drive in my normal spot about four hundred yards from the line of Guns. I can't really estimate how many unshot birds drop all round us, probably the middle hundreds, but there are usually a couple of pricked birds amongst them. The procedure is to just quietly hunt the dog on, allowing the fit birds to scamper off and then pick up the wounded ones.
I cast "Jack" off towards a thicket in an area which we hadn't been able to see birds drop, it was just a sweeping up operation. There was no wind at all. Instead of just moving a couple of yards from me and sniffing around as per SOP, he shot off about 35 yards in a dead straight line to the thicket edge and picked a small hen pheasant, still alive but only just, clapped tight to the ground. I swear he didn't see it drop, and there was no air scent. Frankly it was to me at least, inexplicable. Over the years I've hunted him he's done something similar on four or five occasions; no wind, no sound, no sight of the fall, and drops on it like a guided missile.
Incident two, searching out a hedge bottom with "Eddie" his kennel mate. I spotted a wounded hen about four feet into the brash, and cast him in. I swear to God his head was ten inches from it when he turned back having missed it completely. Again next to no wind, but it was plainly in view hardly obscured by branches or leaves at all.
As I said the more I see the less I understand. Does this stuff happen to everybody or is it just me and my lunatics?
"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;".... A snippet from "If" by Rudyard Kipling.