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August 13, 2000
The early mornin’ deer hunt went well. I saw a doe and was happy about seeing her
even though I didn’t take her. All I could think of was my dog and quail.
It was unusually cold and breezy in Central Texas that day. It had been snow flurrying all morning. My face was wind burned and cold. My circulation had all but stopped in my feet and I was ready to move about.
Quickly returning to camp, I spoke with my Dad about my quail hunting plans and exchanged my deer rifle for my 20 gauge single shot shotgun. I found Molly all snuggled down in her kennel. She immediately became excited when she saw my little shotgun in hand. She was ready to stretch her legs and get to the hunt. I released her and she worked fast towards our quail coverts.
It was about 10:30 a.m. by then and the snow flurries were now blowing horizontal. The winter browned native grasses had already frozen and crunched underfoot. I could see the fog of our breath as we worked to find the birds.
Molly knew exactly where to go as she had been on these quail early in the season. Over a ridge of pasture rock and down a slope into a flat bottom near the Pecan Bayou where there was plenty of prickly pear and turkey berries – native foods for the bobwhite quail.
Quickly Molly made game in the blowing wind. I hurriedly fumbled for a shotgun shell, a task made difficult by numb fingers, and drew the ice-cold hammer back with my near frozen thumb. There was a sudden burst of about 16 quail. They flew low and in all directions. They weaved effortlessly through the trees and cover. A wind muffled shotgun blast did not find its mark. The same result with scattered singles. Oh well, it was thrilling for me; the young 16 year old boy and his dog Molly had found game and enjoyed the fair chase.
Who knew that just two years later, I would enter the service and that Molly would pass away before I could retrieve her to my new duty station in South Carolina? I think Molly would have enjoyed South Carolina. They had abundant quail near where I was stationed and I know we could have had many memorable days afield.
I feel a certain injustice for her as I was so young and didn’t fully understand what her potential was. I wasn’t experienced enough to give her the best training some 27 years ago. I also was a novice shot gunner. If I could have only bagged a quail for her on that frozen morning.
It’s interesting what moments stick out the most in your mind 20 or 30 years later. Molly was my first Brittany. I suppose Molly knew how deeply I cared for her and I feel grateful that she loved me in spite of my own shortcomings. She always wanted to please me in the field and at home. She had only one flaw, caring for someone who didn’t know beans about life, dogs, or anything else for that matter.
If I could just take what I know now, step into a time machine, and go back to the beginning. The beginning of when I received that tiny female pup that I named Molly…
Thanks for sharin’ an old memory with me.
‘Til next time,