Darby was a puppy from Nikita & Duncan's 2003
litter. She is a litter sister to Kerry
and Strauss. She was intended for field work from the start and has proved her worth.
These are her yearly journals from 9 months of age ...
Darby's Duck Shooting Journal 2004
Darby's recall of duck shooting at 9 months old
How exciting! I get picked up at 6.15 this morning. It is still dark, but there are 4 people in the truck to keep me company. They are all dressed funny though - will be hard to see them, hope they don't lose me.
Arrived at our destination. It is so quiet, and everyone is whispering. Mum gets a bag out of the truck - I smell treats! Just the two of us start walking away from the others, will probably see them later. As we walked across the paddock to the hut, some birds flew off. I so wanted to chase, but mum has me on a lead.
We get to the hut, climb in, and off comes my collar. I wonder why that is. No time to ponder, out of the bag comes a long piece of apparatus that smells funny. Mum leans out of the hut, and there's an almighty bang! Just about needed nappies! We rush out of the hut, and Mum asks "where is it?". I think where is what? - usually I see what she wants me to find. So I go searching anyway. Then I saw something moving in the distance, so I race over, and it's one of those birds, but not flying away. "Good girl" - "Where is it?" Is this what she wants? I try picking up the bird, but it is warm and fluffy - yuk! So I stood and waited for Mum. When she arrived, she picked up the bird, and I got a treat! Must be what she wanted! I'll try bringing it back next time.
A while later, we picked up our things and
wandered over to a big hut - all the other people were there - and another
dog. He looks mighty important - wonder what he knows about all this
stuff. So I went to ask him. As we were yarning, another one of those loud
noises occurred. People were laughing, I was so confused. But my new buddy
got excited and rushed out of the hut by himself, I rushed after him
trying to say that you don't go anywhere without your owner, but he
ignored me. So I followed. Then he rushed into the water (not that keen
yet!) and he brought back one of those birds, and took it all the way to
the hut. WOW! That was cool, and he got a big pat.
Now I am getting really excited. I have to listen for a bang, then go and find a bird - it's all coming together! About an hour later, it happened. Bang! My mate and I rushed out of the hut. He went one way, I went the other. Was I supposed to do that? I turned around to follow him - he knows what he is doing. Back into the water, but I follow this time. Not as cold as I thought. Swimming through sticks and leaves (now I know why my collar is off) and we found the bird! Well the other dog did. He swam back to shore with me in tow, dropped the bird on the bank while he shook, so I picked it up to take to mum - she'll be so pleased!
And she was - I got another treat!
Later in the day, we all went to a big shed, where the people had a cook up. Yummy smells. And that's what I was dreaming of.... then a sausage was placed under my nose. Great. Then back to sleep. What a day!
Darby's Duck Shooting Journal 2005
The saga continues…Darby
is now 21 months old.
This year I had to put up with an older but rambunctious German Shorthaired Pointer who is scared of water, and a middle aged chocolate Labrador who is a townie.
We arrived at the farm on Friday night in preparation for an early start and I was stuck sleeping with the Lab in the truck for the night – and being a dog that sleeps on the bed with her master every night, the Lab needed consoling. Hence, I didn’t get much rest.
But up bright and early on Saturday, and the atmosphere was electric. Everyone was whispering as we marched across the paddocks in darkness (well, we dogs marched, the masters all stumbled due to their two legged disability). But I knew what was happening this year. Guns, whispering, camouflage gear… it all came back.
Got to the pond, and I had to squeeze into the mai mai with the two imbeciles, and four humans. What a joke! Not long though, and that familiar but scary BANG occurred. The lab took off, and the GSP started whining. Here I am, the youngest by far, and I’m baby sitting!
After a few more shots, me and my mistress, and another two legged friend went for a walk to another pond – was it great to get away from the two furry freaks! Before I knew it there was a barrage of shots. I got a small fright, and ran about 15 meters behind mum and waited for my next command.
Then it came. My first big chance to prove my worth. Three ducks had landed back on the water, two quite dead, the other injured. I swam out to the first duck, and came back empty mouthed – no-one told me it would be warm! I got some more encouragement, and swam back out, grabbed it around the neck and came back to shore. You should’ve heard the praise – so this is what it is all about. Now I’m in the big league. Back out I went and got in the second duck, and the third, and although the third one was still kicking I managed to stay focused. This is soooo exciting!
Back to the main pond and the twits still there, I was sent out to retrieve the ducks that had not been so lucky. The ruddy townie lab tried to follow me, but I out swam her. She’s all blubber! Got the ducks there, and we headed away.
Little did I know the day wasn’t over. We packed up from that farm and went to the pond I learnt on last year. It was good to be back. It was also good that the GSP had to go home. So I was only stuck with the townie.
As there had been no dogs on this pond for the day, my first job was to retrieve what was there. And I got ten ducks, mostly floating around on the water – but that is my favorite retrieve anyway. Once again, the lab was left in the dust.
A short while longer, and we headed back to
the shed for a BBQ and a rest. I was fed some yummy food, had 40 winks, and
another 40 winks (in fact, I think I had a few of those!), then out for the
night shoot. A few ducks later, and we were heading home. Everyone was
making a fuss of me, and it was all exciting – I AM NOW THE MAIN DOG!! What
a day. I even got to sleep in my mistresses bedroom that night. I must have
done everything right.
Darby’s Duck Shooting Journal – 2006
Hi there Great White Hunters!
Sorry for the delay this year, but I’ve been so tied up with a pestering puppy! Actually, she’s not that bad… her name is Beau, and she’s my niece. But trying to get some down time to gather my thoughts for this year has really been tough. Between teaching Beau the finer points in life, and prevent that conniving GSP (remember him from last year??) teaching her bad tricks, my life has been pretty full on!
Well, back to the ducks. Mum and my new Dad (yes, Mum got engaged, so essentially that silly GSP is now part of the family), built a brand new Mai Mai this year. Heaps of weekends were spent at the new pond getting the thing built, but it was great. It is so flash that we can all sleep in it, and get inside when it’s cold, which is great after swimming!
Talking about swimming… boy did I do some work. Those silly ducks kept coming in, even when I was out retrieving. At one point, I didn’t even know which one to bring back first! I’d be out on the pond, swimming back, and another would drop out of the sky and damn near hit me on the chuff! And where was the GSP I hear you ask? Curled up by the gas heater thinking he was on the Bahamas or something. Unbelievable!
Anyway, they’ve made the pond perfectly for me. Great areas for retrieving, and places to hide when I’m told, which is better than having to wait and sit still all the time. Mind you, if you are a GSP, I suppose that’s all you’d want to do… sleep, eat, sleep, lead people astray etc!
After the morning at our pond, we went to the other pond that I first worked on. We went stalking which was excellent – even better was that the GSP got tied up and couldn’t come with us. I got to practice my flushing skills, but unfortunately found out that although I am really fast, I couldn’t keep up with a hare. Hang on… it’s supposed to be duck season isn’t it? What’s with the hare? A nice diversion, and time to run off steam!
After the stalk and night shoot, we went back to the hanger. Yippee – food time. But you know what… that pesky GSP had been given most of the scraps from the BBQ while I was working. Can’t win can I? Nevermind, someone loves me, and I got given left over ribeye steak – cooked to perfection! These people here are great.
Then back home, and a very short sleep. Sunday morning, we were away again. And we got more ducks. By now I had retrieved about 45 for the weekend. I was doing well.
We left there to go and see some friends at another Mai Mai. Apparently there was no dog on this pond, so my professional services were requested. Another 21 ducks later, my work for the weekend was complete.
So there you go – a successful duck hunting opening. And me… a PRO!
I’d better go now… my niece is nibbling my tail. Oh, you want to know more? She is 4 months, one of my sisters’ kids, and looks just like me! Gorgeous! I have to babysit for a short while as her human Mum had an important trip to take. So maybe she’ll be able to accompany me to the Mai Mai one day soon. I think she’ll make a great duck dog – seems like a natural already.
Away now… great catching up again. Till next year!!!
DARBY’S DUCK SHOOTING JOURNAL 2007
I know, I know – I am slack again this year! Running behind time, but I’ll tell you, there has been soooo much going on over the past twelve months since we caught up last.
Mum and Dad got married, we shifted house, a new baby horse friend was born, and now I am expecting a new two legged baby into the family!
First, we moved house in July last year. But what a place! I have heaps of room to run around, I am right beside my horse friends, and I can play hide and seek successfully against that stupid GSP buddy of mine. I swear he gets worse with age! You know, just the other day, he was wondering around trying to look intelligent when our cat mate jumped out of the trees and landed on his back. He got such a fright and ran like the devil was after him, while the cat and I sat back and howled with laughter!! Cat chases dog – whole new series coming up!
Anyway, Mum and Dad got married. What a great day. We didn’t get to the ceremony, and Mum rode in on her horse. I was going to be a ring bearer, and swim across the pond to Mum, but as I, like most dogs who swim, have a compulsion to shake my water off when I get out, the idea floated off in the current as the closest twenty people didn’t want a second shower for the day!
However, when the photos were getting done, back near home, I was the star attraction! The GSP got into a couple of photos, but as he doesn’t do as he is told, he then got tied up. But me….. I got in heaps, always smiling, and I must say, they turned out marvellously! (See below)
The day after the wedding was even better. There were heaps of people around home, lots of food and attention, and kids to play with. However, I didn’t sleep well that night. I couldn’t lie down comfortably, felt like I need a good burp or something.
On with it I suppose. I am meant to be giving you an account of my duck hunting this year. As usual, I got really hyped up. At my new home, there are ducks flying around all the time, quacking and teasing the curls out of me. So on the Friday, when Mum and Dad got home and started packing the truck, I was in there with a flash, and nothing but a duck would get me out of there.
We arrived at the Maimai that evening, got the decoys out, and sat back and relaxed. Well, I mean everyone but ME! The ducks were coming into the pond all through the night, and I could hear them! I was a shattered wreck at 5am when the humans all got up. Then my uncle went outside to do something and ALL the ducks flew away (and I thought the GSP was stupid!).
Mum and Dad stayed at the main Maimai with us dogs, while the others drifted away. And then we waited…... and waited…….and waited. Nice day for waiting though. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky, and a warm back. No duck sounds, so I got 40 winks. Here I am dreaming of retrieving a barrage of ducks, when BANG! Cool! I hopped up, waited for the command, rushed out into the water, and retrieved my one duck. And that’s about it for the WHOLE morning. Was it worth it I ask?
We packed up and went to the other Maimai on my original pond. My old friend the spaniel was there! I had a quick chat to him, and he said that it had been pretty quiet there too. Great, I get all psyched up and lose all my wedding fat for nothing.
I ended up retrieving a couple more, and the night ended. Had a couple of saussies off the barbeque as usual and away home for the night.
I must say though, since that weekend, we have been stalking creeks and streams around home, and how exciting! There are sooo many ducks! And we get one or two every night! I actually think that’s better than turning my insides out with adrenalin all in one weekend. I get to field retrieve, water retrieve, stalk and flush all in one go – and the best thing of all…… we leave the GSP at home, so it’s all just ME! ME, ME, ME! Boy, I love duck hunting!
Will catch you lot next year. Look after yourselves, and if you need any advice, just ask. I am so worldly wise now, but what a life – every night! Yippee!
DARBY’S DUCK SHOOTING JOURNAL 2008
Well Hi everyone! Or should I say HIGH!! ‘Cos that’s what I’ve been on for the past few days.
Yep, that’s right. Its Duck Shooting time and I’ve been right in the thick of it.
I’ll go back about a month and lead you in, as I think you have to know what my Mum and Dad did to me – it was really cruel.
We had three young ducks in our backyard, behind a fence, mocking me! Mum and Dad picked these up a while back, but I must say that they didn’t do a lot of quacking. In fact they sort of just squeaked and croaked. So these ducks really didn’t bother me in the slightest. But then, a few weeks back, the Olds came home with more ducks.
Now these ducks had a real voice! And boy did they quack, and quack, and quack! I tell you, they have right royally done my head in. And I wasn’t allowed to retrieve them from their pen. Oh no, I had to sit around and listen to their vocals all day until I just about shivered all my hair out with excitement.
So when Saturday morning came, and I saw the guns come out of the house, I jumped in the truck right after them, well before them actually, and they had to pack around me. But that’s ok, just had to make sure I wasn’t forgotten!
We got to the pond. A brand new pond for me this year, and wow it was great. We meet up with some other people, and there was a young spaniel with them. He went to one Maimai, Mum and Dad and me went to another Maimai, and you guessed it – that pesky GSP was there, and he went to another Maimai with my Granddad. How cool was that, three Maimais on one pond! And I didn’t have to listen to that horrible whining all day! Bliss.
Not long after we settled in, the action started. And compared to the last year or two, this was real action. Shots going off everywhere. Why wasn’t Mum letting me go and get them? I was being good, lying down nice and quiet, well at least that’s what they saw. I was actually having tummy flip flops with all the anticipation! Let me outta here!!!
It wasn’t too long, although it felt like eternity, when I was allowed out to retrieve. The spaniel was out there too – and oh no, so was that GSP! But I knew he wouldn’t be much good. Won’t get his feet wet, the pussy!
So us other two got to work. In the water, out of the water, back in again. Busy, busy!. And what fun! After bringing back quite a few ducks – about 40, we were packing up to leave. And yep – you guessed it, back to my first pond. Must be a tradition. The GSP went home, much to his disgust, and I went on the back of a strange truck. What’s going on here? Mum gets in the front, and we’re away.
We arrive at another farm. I see, must be my professional services are required again. Mum tells me to go into a big ditch. That’s a bit weird – now I can’t see anything – big high walls around me! Hang on, a duck! It’s in amongst this weed here somewhere, can’t get it out…pull, tug, pull, got it! How do I get it to Mum – she’s way up there! So I scramble up the bank, drop the duck, and slide back down. This went on for about an hour. Up, duck and down, up, duck and down. Then around the corner we went and got to a pond. Into the pond, more ducks!!! All these ducks were still moving! Why aren’t they either dead still, or flying away? Mum was saying something about steel shot not being that good – so that must explain it. Either that or the other people are terrible shooters!
Anyway, I retrieved another 15 ducks for those people, and back on the truck , and back to the shed with the BBQ – which was great ‘cos I’m really hungry! And yes, a few steaks later, and away home.
Sunday morning – cold, cold! What a frost, but I’m back in the truck and out again for the hunt. A lot quieter today, but I still managed to bring a few in. So all in all, I was on the main end of retrieving 80 ducks for opening weekend!
Tell you what though – I’m tired today. Think I might mosey around home and tell those pet ducks what I think of them! All that adrenaline that I wasted! And I might cuddle up a little with my wee brother. Yep – remember last year? Mum had a little boy - Sebastian. He’s seven months now. Won’t be long till he’s out duck shooting with us… I went out at nine months.
Catch you all next year! Happy hunting.
DARBY’S DUCK SHOOTING JOURNAL 2009
Great White Hunters ahoy!
It is with great sadness that I complete my journal this year. I have had the worst year of my life, and probably was for Mum too.
It started when that pesky GSP thought he was invincible and got hit by a car. Smashed his front leg to bits, and he had to get rushed to hospital. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), he came home two days later with metal in his leg. The good part about it was that we were inside for 8 weeks, and he was confined, but I wasn’t!
During that time, my little human brother Seb had his first birthday. Now that was a fun day, all the food, attention from kids, and heaps of new toys to play with…. Well no-one told me they were Sebs’ and not mine. I didn’t ruin any, but I think some went in the dishwasher for a clean up.
Five weeks after Sebs birthday, we were out in the vege garden. I was helping to babysit, ‘cos he was pulling out all the plants. The GSP was tied up because of his leg still, and we were enjoying a day in the sun. However, it turned terrible. Dad collapsed suddenly, and Mum was frantic on the phone and pumping Dads chest. I was trying to console Mum, but I didn’t help much. Shortly after the fire engine arrived, and so did the ambulance. The firemen were really nice and kept me away from what was going on. They took Dad away in the ambulance, and I haven’t seen him since.
The weeks that followed were pretty bad too. The GSP pined for a long time. In fact he is only coming right now. Things are a lot quieter without Dad, I miss him heaps.
Anyway, I must get onto Duckshooting, which again was a sombre affair without Dad. I think he was the life of the party at the pond.
Again the weather was high and dry. Heavy frost! I slept beside Mum in the Maimai on the Friday night, and was kept awake for most of it with ducks coming in to land on the pond. One rowdy duck had us all awake at one stage, as she called the others in.
We got up just before daybreak. The noisy one on the pond started up again! Finally, we went out for a go at her. A couple of shots went off, and I was out there. Straight onto the pond. Yep, I said “onto”. The ruddy thing was covered with ice! So smart am I, that I trotted over the ice to where one of the ducks fell, when “Oooops” damn that’s cold…. I fell in.
Well, I got my duck, and went searching for another to warm up! I only did field retrieves for a couple of hours after that – had to wait until the ice melted. When it got quiet at my pond, we went over to the next one. Uncle Jason, and cousin Dylan had done really well! They got about 30, but they also have a Goldie. Arky had gone out and retrieved most of their ducks, so I didn’t have much to do there, but I did pick up a couple that were hiding. They are my favourite ones to get, the cheeky buggers.
After that, we did the traditional and headed to the hanger (my first pond) to see what was going on and to raid the BBQ! The same ol’ faces were there and it was good to catch up. Although, there was a new hound on that pond. He is a black lab, and what a glutton! He ate my sausages! Little did I know that Mum had kept some steak aside for me. I had to tell him that he might get spoilt in a few years when he grows up. In saying that, he was good company and we played for most of the afternoon.
The next morning, I met up with the lab again as we went out for another look at the ponds. It was pretty quiet until we stalked the creek. Boy that was FUN!!! Me and the lab were flushing out ducks and swampies left, right and centre. We even got a duck each without them being shot! How’s that for being smart?
It was fun having a new friend for the weekend, even if he did need some etiquette installed into that tiny lab brain of his.
So my weekend was a little quieter than usual, but the ice did make it an interesting one! And I think I covered a few more miles that usual, and that was fun. Stalking and working is better than waiting around.
So, I guess I’ll catch you all next year. Make sure you have a great one, and I’ll make sure our one improves.
Happy hunting…. Darby
DARBY’S DUCK SHOOTING JOURNAL 2010
Yip, it’s me again. Hate to think it is becoming the norm, but WHAT a year…again! I have sooo much to tell you that I don’t know where to start.
Maybe if I do it in chronological order (crikey that was a big word!).
Well, during duck shooting season last year, I got introduced to a really handsome Goldie boy. His name was Leo. We decided after a brief chat, that it would be very disappointing if we didn’t try to keep our collective genes in the pool. So after a couple of meetings and a little love, we parted. And what do you know…. I was going to be a mum.
The pregnancy wasn’t too bad, my Mum let me eat almost anything I liked – bonus! But then she also made me work it off too. We went deer hunting during this time and walked for miles and miles. But it was so much fun! All those bush smells just got me trembling in my boots!
It wasn’t long after we returned (well, a couple of weeks I guess) before I was in terrible pain. Mum was by my side thankfully, and kept me calm. Before I knew it, I had 7 healthy mini-me’s! Wow, how cool was that!!!! The first couple of days were great, but then I accidentally squashed one of my precious girls and she stopped breathing. It was really sad, she was so cute.
So, apart from that, I was cruising. That is until….. all the little blighters started walking, and climbing on me, and biting me, and chewing on my nipples, and demanding I be there EVERY SINGLE MINUTE ! I don’t think I’m cut out for this. Thankfully Mum kept me busy away from them, so I got my time out.
I must say though, that the day came when they all started disappearing, I was missing them (although they had been a pack of rascals, they were my pack of rascals). There was one more to go away, and I dreaded the day…… funny thing that, I’m still dreading it ‘cos she is still here! Yip, one of my daughters is still with me. Stealth is her name, and Stealth is her game. But more about her later.
It was also about this time that a whole herd of humans came to live at my place. I guess Mum needs human company as well as having me! And it’s not all that bad….. I get four times as much attention as I did before. However, in amongst the humans arrived another GSP! This one is a girl though, and a little older than me. She (Tess) is a little more switched on than Bullit, but does tend to lead my girl Stealth astray!
This brings me to my gorgeous daughter (of course she’s gorgeous, she looks like me!). Stealth is a full on water diviner. Any water and she’s in it. Better than I was at the same age. So she will be a great duck retriever like me. I didn’t take her with me on opening morning as she doesn’t know how to be quiet and sit still yet. But that will come with practice I guess.
Stealth is however, living up to her name another way. She is a thief! She has brought back home empty cans, a questionable pot plant, kelp (and we are 30 miles from the sea!), socks and a t-shirt. It is getting a little out of hand!
Now on to the duck shooting, which I am sure, you are all here about. We went to a new pond this year. A pretty good one by my standards, lots of scrub around the edges where the little buggers try to hide out. Mum took along Matt (Tess’s dad), who has never been duck shooting before – what a laugh! I thought only us dogs were amateurs when we start out.
As we approached the pond, over 100 ducks flew off…. And not ONE of them was shot. How bad was that! Then I sat quietly for aagggees! Finally two ducks were spotted, and shot at. They went hiding under the scrub, and I managed to get them for mum.
Soon after we left that pond, and headed back to my first ever pond. We picked up Stealth and Tess too, as there were a few wounded that needed retrieving.
Stealth tried hard and did well for her first time out under pressure, and even Tess swims, and brought back ducks. So things are picking up on the GSP front.
Back at the hanger, I got the usual. Sausages, steak and this time some whitebait patties to enjoy! (Well I think I was allowed them…..)
So, there you go all you white hunters! That was my last 12 months – another jam packed full time. Mmmmm jam, all this writing is making me hungry.
Catch you next year! (Got to go and teach the youngster a thing or two about getting these ducks).
Darby’s Duck Shooting Journal 2011
And Darby's brother Midas has also taken up duck
with his owners Allan and Jo De Reeper in Blenheim ... May 2009