2014 Roca with Cranes.jpg
6 big birds taken and Roca brought back 5 of them. The one she did not get landed in the trees, hidden, so we would not send her. My partner went to find that one himself.
The grass is tall, water is deep, and the muck, well, it is mucky. She could see birds falling, but really there was no way for her to tell how far off they landed. She took great lines, fought the mud sucking muck, and handled better than I ever thought she would. She had never seen a crane, yet never hesitated to pick them up. I've seen her not be happy about snipe, so was not sure what she'd do w/ a monster bird. At 62lbs, she dove in, grabbed each bird, and hauled butt back best she could carrying birds weighing 6-9lbs each (later all 6 weighed in at 47lbs)
Roca picked up the first 2 w/ only a little help handling. Number 3 was a complete blind, as was 4 and 5. 3 was the longest bird out (maybe a bit over 45 yards) and she did phenomenally. On the 4th bird, she hit the muck, found some solid footing, and launched herself toward the bird, as yet unseen by her. Wow! I could see the bird, thought it was dead, but found out just how wrong I was. That bird rose up and struck at her before I could stop her. 2 times that bird struck before I could call her off. She came back and I told my partner to kill it! He did so happily. We checked her over and found everything intact. Whew, that was a moment.
I gave her a line to bird 5, and she tried going back to 4. I handled her away from it and she got the other bird. She brought back that one and I gave her a line back to 4, the one that tried to nail her. She locked on, I told her "back", and she took off. She did not hesitate a bit. We watched closely, though we could see more of the bird and knew this time it was dead.
I was so impressed by her willingness to stop on the whistle, and take good casts through really challenging conditions. I was awed by her determination to get that bird that attacked her.
Opening weekend for ducks was pretty slow for her. She only got a couple of birds, I was bummed. But she did impress me when we took her to look for a possible cripple on some floating matt and she handled all over it without a refusal. I even handled her back into the water, paralleled the edge, and then handled her back on to the floating mess. At 6 years, she is in her prime. I do lining drills and simple baseball in the yard at home, mostly as a game. We did go out and shoot pigeons over her before season, and ran pattern lines in and around the marks. She did well there. I'm excited about what the rest of the season will bring.
Good luck this season folks,