The saddest day of a hunter's life is the day your favorite hunting dog can't do it anymore. All of the memories of the hunts in the past are the all that's left. My dog, Lindy, has reached the age where the time has come to retire. Like any old yellow lab, there is a bit of arthritis and a bit of excess weight from one too many treats from my wife. A busy day for Lindy is a walk in the yard and maybe a nap in a sunny spot. In her younger days, she would hunt until she would drop from exhaustion. She was a great hunter, and loved to get the birds. There are many ways to judge a great hunting dog. My major factors have always been the need to listen to commands and not disrupt fellow hunter's trips. Lindy would listen well and I never came home with a sore throat like so many of my friends that have to yell commands from the moment their dogs get out of the truck.
For the past couple of years, Scott Hill, owner of Fishing Thrills guide service, has invited me to visit his first love, the hunt club he was employed at Blonhaven Hunt Club in Orfordville, WI. Orfordville is just a short drive west of Janesville.
Blonhaven is the oldest continuous hunting preserve in the state. The first hunt was in 1953 in Milton, WI and operated there for 46 years. In 1999, it moved to the present location which offers 3 times the hunting area. Bonhaven is nestled in the rolling hills of Spring Valley and offers 300 acres of sorghum, switch grass and milo which have been groomed for hunting upland game; Ring neck pheasants, Hungarian Partridge and Chukars.
Steve Novak, owner of Lake-Link and his dog Remi joined me for my dog's last hunt. We met at Blonhaven's beautiful clubhouse late in the afternoon. We chose to hunt a field that would be easier for an older dog to have some fun. Scott planted eight birds for us and after a little wait it was time to harvest. Our hunt was late in the season which made the birds want to run. Scott told us that in spring as the birds get closer to mating they get very active and tend to run. Even with running pheasants, we harvested six of the eight birds which wasn't too bad for a fat guy with a fat dog. Steve's dog Remi had boundless energy, which clearly aided in our success. We hunted for about 3 hours and in addition to our 6 of 8, we managed to get a couple of scratch birds as well. It was a great day with a good friend and my loyal dog, Lindy.
At the beginning I was afraid that I would have to carry my dog back to the truck, thankfully, that didn't happen. She followed quite a bit but you could still see the spark in her eye that all good hunting dogs have. I had it in my head that this would be Lindy's retirement hunt, from here on; she would have a life of leisure on the couch.
When all was said and done she had as much fun and was able to handle the hunt for a few hours. This fall there will be a couple more hunts, I won't be able to leave her at home with those sad eyes.
For more information about Blonhaven, you can contact John or Scott at 608-879-3811
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over
20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com