By Brad Wilson - Guest Contributor
As I sit here trying to figure out what I plan to let flow from my fingers on to the keyboard, I look up on the wall at the beautiful pintail that came from a stellar trip to the Laguna Madre. Then I start to think about the fat greenhead that is resting on a piece of driftwood on my buddy John's wall in his living room. That particular bird was taken off of a marsh pond in the back lakes of Trinity Bay. As I think about hunts that I have been on and cold boat rides, beating the crowd to the public spots and hot September mornings waiting for that huge wad of teal to grace our presence, I know there is something that I am suppose to be typing but I just can't pinpoint what it is. I then get a nudge from Aeva, my yellow lab. Whether she is wanting to go outside or if she is really trying to tell me "daddy, tell 'em about ME" is beyond me, but it is the nudge that I needed.
See, Aeva has been with me longer than my wife, longer than my kids, and longer than most of my guns that are in the gun safe. She is a hell of a water dog and has served me better than any dog I have ever had, and it is a pleasure to call her family. She has probably made in the upwards of 1,000 retrieves from the Lower Laguna Madre to the upper reaches of the Lower Trinity River. She is not just my dog, she is one of my best friends.
That pintail that rests on my wall was taken on a hunt with a fine group of guys that I had the pleasure of sharing a blind with. It was getting close to dark and I had told my group that we would be heading in after the next volley. I knew that the pintails in this particular area were using this flyway to head into the fresh water ponds after a long day of sitting in the salt marsh. About 10 minutes before legal shooting time was up I caught something out of the corner of my eye. This particular single bird was about 150 yards up and locked up on the decoys. I let my guys know that we had a hot one committed and to get ready. At about 60 yards for some unknown reason the fat sprig decided this was not the place for him and decided to backpedal and get the hell out of dodge. That's when I dent a prayer shot up and connected. The bird folded up and started falling. When it hit the water all you heard was a thud followed by a huge splash. At that point the bird righted himself and started to swim. I went to heel Aeva up, but she was already by my side so I sent her on one of many missions that we have shared together. She gets within 5 feet of the bird when he starts diving on her. At that point all the training and time that we have spent fetching dummies in the pond was thrown out the window. You see, Aeva has a natural instinct that any hunter would pray for. With her tail in the air like she was on point, Aeva started swimming in circles waiting for the bird to surface. HE popped up about 3 feet from her snout and immediately went back down. This seemed like it was going to be a lost bird. He popped up again about 4 feet from her and went back down, but this time Aeva did something that can never be taught in any training program. Aeva dove in the 4 feet deep water with determination on her side. She was down for a good 10 seconds when she rose from the depths of the bay with one of the nicest pintail drakes I have ever seen in my life! She came back to my side, tail wagging, and released the bird in my hand when I gave her the command and then went back to her spot in the blind and sat waiting.
That day brought a tear to my eye as I knew that what I had, my best friend, my companion, my family was one of the best retrievers to have ever walked the face of this earth. To say I was proud is a huge understatement. Words can not describe the feeling I had.
As she lays at my feet right now, I look down at the 9 year old yellow lab and start to wonder how many more years she can do this. How many more retrieves does she have in her? When is it time to call it quits? That is an question that only she will be able to answer, but I know that she will be a hard charger until that day comes.
I dedicate this entry to my dog, Aeva. SHe has taught me many things in life, and she has been there for me no matter what. She stands by my side and thinks I hung the moon and for those very reasons I owe this entry to her.
Brad Wilson is an avid outdoorsman targeting waterfowl and saltwater fish and is a guest contributor for the Beretta Blog. He can be reached on Twitter or YouTube.
This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not represent those of Beretta.
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This post and its contents are the views and opinions of the author only, and do not necessarily represent Beretta.