Bailey is a celebrity of sorts, with many people knowing him through Rod's blog. He definitely had a fan club here at the NGDC. I had several people approach us and ask "Is that Bailey? I've read so much about him and just love Rod's blog. www.redbirddog.blogspot.com
Bailey ran in the afternoon of the second day of running. He maintained what most hunters would consider a true foot handled gundog range. The grounds here at Calhan have seen drought in the last season, and with snow recently off not a lot of new growth had taken place. This meant cover that might typically be 1-2 feet tall was only a few inches. As a result, dogs that had reach to distant objectives generally fared better than the moderate working dogs. Those of us that hunt know that it's those moderate range dogs we really like when it comes to putting birds in the bag - exciting as the others may be to watch.
However, Bailey is a strong and experienced dog. He knows terrain, wind and appropriate cover and even in this atmosphere he worked the draws that would hold birds. On the first bird he was on point, as was his bracemate 40 yards down on a separate bird. The bracemate's bird flushed easily and Bailey held through the bracemate shot while I was working to flush. Bailey's bird however, did not want to flush and the dismantling and removal of a Christmas tree pile was achieved with Bailey holding through it all to finally produce and blank the bird. Bailey moved on with no delay chase and eventually caught up to his bracemate.
The second find came in a low area just before a spot that became known as the Terraces, an ascending step up a hill. He was working scent on a line of deadfall winter cover when a bird popped wild from the opposite side and end. I "whoa'd" him for the wild flush and then saw the bird run back to cover. The judge advised that this would be a kill bird for a retrieve - the retrieve being a component of the National Gun Dog Championship. Every dog has it's strong point and it's weak point. Bailey's strong and weak points are interconnected. The best term to describe this is "over-retriever". Over-retriever is when a dog is so excited to make the retrieve that it breaks on the shot.
After a few attempts at a flush and a throw of a hat the bird finally flew and was cleanly killed. Thankfully, Bailey's training held and he stayed until sent for the retrieve, which he could not see from his vantage point - the deadfall cover being well above his head. He nevertheless ran around the line of deadfall, hunted the bird out quickly and retrieved with all in order.
At about the 30 minute mark after going up, then down the terraces Bailey slowed. I called him in for water and as he approached I thought I saw the slightest change in his gait. On examination, this stoic boy had several cactus quills in one foot. I pulled forceps and removed them. After a few moments of testing he resumed his steady hunting pattern.
Bailey's third bird was on a treeline and upon my approach the quail ran down the treeline with great haste. The judge witnessed their departure and advised me to blank them off and move on, which we did with great appreciation. Bailey maintained a steady pace up the final long hill, watered at the bottom and was definitely "hunting" on our way to what became known as "Pheasant Gauntlet". The final 4-6 minutes of the course winds through cattails, heavy brush and rounds a pond. It was the undoing of several outstanding prospects. As most were working hard to keep their dogs out of the Pheasant, Bailey was doing what Bailey does best, and that's hunt pheasant. He worked the cattails, tried to track through the stand of heavier willow searching for the wily bird. I thought it would be a well stamped finish if he pointed and stood a wild rooster, which I have seen him do many times before. Sadly - we came up empty in the gauntlet but we made the hour clean with three finds.
Bailey is a great dog, and I'll be happy to carry a gun behind him any day of the week.