Yesterday we had our first field day on a new hunting expedition in Uruguay. We have many of the usual suspects, Bill, Jim, Eloir and myself, and a couple new friends that joined the group, Pedrinho from Caxias do Sul and José from Americana.
As usual, we come to Uruguay for the fantastic upland hunting, and Perdiz (Nothura maculosa) is our main goal, along with a couple half days of dove shooting and the odd invasive European hare (Lepus europaeus) that hides among the rock outcrops in the fields.
Last Friday and Saturday we had a lot of rain and the hunting and walk has been hard as there water just about everywhere taking a heavy toll from our (or mine) sedentary legs, but that does not stop the birds from flying hard. The brutal wind is a different thing and challenges the best dogs in locating and flushing our birds.
However, rather than the shots we made, what made the first day memorable were the shots we did not make!
The field that Pedro and I hunted had a small stream bissecting it, and prety heavy cover, which besides perdiz is also home for the Perdigão or Martineta (Rhynchotus rufenses), a protect bird in Uruguay, which is the true "Queen of the Upland Birds."
As the German Shorthair, Uma, got in her first point the cover looked a bit suspect to us, and after some great dog work a perdigão flushed with the same subtleness of a Huey helicopter. I held my shot and told Pedrinho not to shoot. Perdigão generally live in pairs, and a couple minutes later another heavy bird took to the air, this time at Pedrinho's point. Again, no shot was taken.
We started hunting in some higher drying ground and shot several perdiz, and decided to cross the stream to the other side of the field, and of course as we walked through the heavy cover Uma went on point again and a third perdigão flushed from almost under Pedrinho's feet. Not five minutes later, another perdigão took the air, right in front of Uma's nose.
All four birds presented perfect shooting opportunities and although we were both disheartened from not being able to bring home the greatest game bird of South America, we were both equally proud of our painful exercise in self control.