I was 14 when I first got a chance to hunt ducks. The first 2 years I shot 1/2 and 1/3 of a duck. Yep, shared the honors with one other friend on the first, and 2 friends on the second. Those first several years we were our own dog. We slogged, waded, paddled, and sweated to find the birds we shot. Funny thing, we never got smart enough to try and shoot birds where they were easy to get to.
When I was 19, an older friend, the man who started me duck hunting, ended up with a "borrowed" yellow lab named Rusty. His owner could not hunt, and wanted Rusty to get out some during the season.
That dog could hunt. Golly, I still think back to watching him work. He was steady, marked well, and could really dig the ducks out of the grass and swamp. He figured out tough problems like ducks skulking away pretty much on his own.
That weekend Rusty and I became close friends. I would take him back out in the boat when everybody else was resting, and we would walk the grass flats and hunt non-stop all day. The next summer, even though I had my first lab pup, I asked Ray if we would be able to borrow Rusty again.
Opening day found us out in the flats with Rusty by our side as well as my 3 1/2 month old pup. 30 years later I still remember those 2 years of hunting ducks with Rusty. I think he is a big part of why I am so hooked on hunting dogs, and labs in particular.
What is your first memory of hunting with a dog?