Monday, November 9, 2009

Autumn is Also for Music, the Dogs and Fishing

After my wife and I worked around the house and yard Saturday, she was off with a crowd of friends to the city, and I to a concert with friends.  The concert was held at the very large barn of a local man as a fund raiser for the Raritan River Watershed Assn.  Michael Monroe, a one man acoustic folk band from Minnesota performed mostly with his guitars, but also with flutes (one made of glass), and other instruments played on his guitar and synthesized into drums, cellos, violins and other voices for harmony and sound that was electronically looped - so well, that by the time he was a few mintues into the song that if you closed your eyes you thought was coming from a good-sized band, complete with back up singers.  Very cool stuff, and the barn had the chops acoustically to pull it off beautifully.

On Sunday we were up early and off to the OMB FTC field trials.  If you like being outdoors, dogs, horses, good people, good food and lots of exercise - yep, in that order, sort of - this was a great day.

Field trials are contests between dogs that show their ability to perform, in the field, the things they were trained to do.  In this case, all the dogs competing were bird dogs - dogs trained to find upland birds, stand on point while the hunter approaches and flushes the bird, and then retrieve it after it is shot.  (Although live birds were used, no birds were shot as the dogs handlers used blanks.)  The dogs, and handlers, compete against each other for placements and points, which are assessed by two judges on horseback that follow the "braces" - two dogs at a time compete against each other.  The better a dog is at finding birds, pointing and following its handlers orders, the more points it is awarded.

We were on a large estate just down the road that is full of fields, hedgerows, thick brambles and dense tree lines.  When a brace goes off, first the dogs move into the first field, followed by the judges and as many spectactors that want to follow and watch the action.  The "hunt" follows the same route for each brace, and in this case it was about 2/3-3/4 mile from start to finish.  You start and finish in the same field, essentially going in a big circle.  The entire area was planted with many quail and pheasant prior to the trials.

So the brace goes off and the dogs run off and scour the field, sniffing, turning and shifting as they go in one direction to the other.  When they sense a bird, they slow as they approach, then stop, point (most of the time), and their handler walks up and the bird takes flight.  A shot is fired, and then the dog moves on - the entire time each handler is shouting directions and/or blowing a whistle to signal the dog.  It's fascinating, fun, and very social.   Some dogs are very smart and well trained, and others just seem to go through the motions.  The birds, well, the quails are small, swift and erratic in the air.  The pheasants are big, and quite quick for their size and take a straight path to the next area of cover.

Working the dogs early in the day.
Working the last field in a brace.

And finally, today I took off and hit the river with a friend.  The water was clear under warm skies and hazy sunshine.  The trout were looking up, which was good as I decided before I even got the river that I was only going to fish dry flies.  I was not disappointed - brought many browns and a couple of rainbows to hand.  Here are the only two flies I used today - well-chewed and ready for retirement.

Do I have to go to work tomorrow?


micah said...

wow Matt, those flies are horrible looking. You should dontae those to the TU raffle.

Anonymous said...

Hey Matt,
Check your April 14th post....I don't know why I looked...maybe some B&B and a bad day fishin', tryin' to remeber a good one. Thanks again.....

Anonymous said...

shut up and play yer guitar......who's better than Danny Gatton?