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Experience the Hunt

Waterfowl hunting in the the north and central zones in Illinois has been underway now for over a month.  Six months ago we received a red lab whom we named Lincoln, but we call "Linc" for short.
On September 1st we took "Linc"  to the field for his first hunt.  You can read about it here.  While in the dove field, we had some great moments ,as well as, a few mishaps.  These mishaps were to be expected but, the knowledge "Linc" received was well worth it.  We took the experience of dove hunting and began working on his weak areas for this years upcoming waterfowl season.

Opening day of waterfowl season came and we took out our other dog Reagan.   Knowing that our particular blind is difficult for even the most experienced dogs, we wanted "Linc" to succeed, so we left him at home.  With the opener out of the way we were able to take "Linc" out for his first waterfowl hunt.  After discussion we wanted this hunt to be a confidence booster with little distractions.

As we arrived in the pit with about 10 minutes to spare, we decided to have a cup of coffee and began looking for birds.  Off in the distance we saw a duck swimming toward our spread.   It came closer and within shooting distance but shooting time was still 3 minutes off.  The realization that "Linc" was about to get his first duck was settling in and it couldn't be more exciting.  I checked the the clock and it was shooting time.  BANG!  On the water was a drake blue bill.  I got out of the blind with "Linc" lined him up and casted him out.
Knowing that all your work just payed off was one of the proudest days of my life.  "Linc"  retrieved the bird and brought it all the way back to the heeling position.  With all the adrenaline pumping we got back in the blind, and within 10 minutes l a flock of 4 birds began circling us.

We ended up dropping two of the four.  While training "Linc" we tried to have as many scenarios as possible.  However, as "Linc" went to go and retrieve the second bird it began to swim off.  He began chasing it down and everytime he would get close, the bird would dive under the water and come up in a different direction.

After trying to get the bird for several minutes the bird got along the shore line and "Linc" was never able to find it.  We tried looking for the crippled bird but ended up with nothing. However, not all was lost.  The experience chasing the bird was irreplaceabl.  This scenario was something we never practiced, and he handled it well.  The rest of the day we practiced our goose and duck calling.  At the end of the day we ended up with only two.
Michael was able to take "Linc" out on Veterans Day where they experienced strong winds, rain and cooler temperatures.  He was doing great, whining a little bit in the blind, but that is  something we will be working on in the off season. Michael did something that he said he never did before.  After missing a few birds he decided to enjoy the hunt.  He put his gun away and packed everything up expect his calls.  The birds were plentiful so he decided to have a training hunt.  He helped "Linc" find birds that were flying and "Linc" even helped Michael a couple of times. They watch a couple of megansers swim amongst the decoys.  "Linc" was shaking with excitement, but it all came back to training.  Not everything on the water is for you and not everytime we call will you  get a retrieve.  They kept watch for almost 20 minutes when another flock of 8 birds began circling the decoys and landed outside them about 30 yards.  "Linc" kept looking and Michael and wagging his tale.  At that moment Michael spooked the birds up, grabbed his blind bag and gun case and began walking back to the car.  Not every hunt has to be a limit hunt but more then anything it has to be about the experience of the hunt.