Yesterday in the woods, Blaze and Bella had their normal pup antics after we climbed Misery, a particularly steep hill on the property. This trip, I made it to the top of Misery non-stop. It's not that I couldn't have before (and I won't tell you my T-shirt wasn't just a tad drenched), but the pups stayed with me for the entire climb until we made it to the top, after which they began to range out.
Of course, they daily sojourns serve multiple purposes. They are in excellent shape (and by default, it helps me, too). Just as important, they're learning to navigate the woods and explore the lessons the forest faithfully teaches.
The snow has melted in Painted Post. I fully expect more of the frozen stuff before it's all over. It's still February. And it's Upstate New York: nine months of winter followed by three months of really bad sledding, but I digress.
Snow is good for my ilk as it allows us to identify the tracks our young hounds are following and if in the right direction (i.e., the hound isn't taking the "back side" of the track).
The day before, I watched both pups crisscrossing "the bell"--a small, rimmed gully where I've seen everything from squirrel to fisher to bear--with their noses down. Without snow, it was hard telling what they were following . . . until Bella followed the scent onto a log. Now, that observation really only eliminated deer as a possibility--as nearly all small game will travel on logs, with many species like squirrel, raccoon, coyote, fisher, fox, and bobcat preferring to walk atop a log. I always imagined squirrel liked to travel upon logs to reduce sound and better see predators from an elevated position; I always figured fisher, fox, bobcat, and coyote traveled on logs to better see squirrel.
Still, watching Bella and Blaze grow is reminiscent of their father as a pup, who likewise began his education in these hills. On more than one occasion, I've called Blaze by his father's name, as they look and act so much alike. (And once vise versa, calling Seth by his son's name, which garnered a strange look from my brooding hound. Go figure.)
This weekend, these pups will turn six months old. March will focus on handling training--everything from loading into a truck dog box to collar training. At my age, and someone who nearly always hunts alone, my "style" of hound requires them to obey my commands (verbal first and when nearby and collar when out of earshot), each and every time. If you followed my earlier posts, you know that handling training began when the pups were just weeks old, but next month, that training becomes laser focused.
Along with our new grandson, Lance, it feels like a reset of sorts . . . on many levels.
Joseph Gary Crance