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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A day with Terrierman

Terrierman and Mountain Girl

The redhead and I  were in northern Virginia last week with our younger daughter and family.

We did the grandparent thing -- great fun. 

We also reconnected with a few old friends, and it was a matter of good fortune that I joined Terrierman himself for Sunday service at the First Church of Field and Stream

Not often does one meet a blogger with the following of Patrick Burns.

I'm addicted to Terrierman's Daily Dose  -- "working terriers, conservation, wildlife, hunting, fishing, public policy, population dynamics, and health care".

It's meaty.

He's also the one who awakened me to the void in my life called canine companionship.

But I couldn't pass an online test for prospective Jack Russell Terrier owners.

Working against me were the presence of small children and the absence of  ground hogs and fenced yard. 

The upshot was that Fred came into my life. 

So early Sunday morning I found Patrick in his driveway loading his kit, and met Mountain Girl and Pearl.

Under a cloudy sky we drove to the hedgerows of Maryland and loosed the dogs.

They disdained the obvious burrows and disappeared into the largest briar patch in the county.

Bung-first emergence (when the tunnel is too tight)

Mountain Girl seemed lost in the underworld, finally came up for air, and again submerged.

Mug-first emergence (when there's turnaround space in the tunnel)

That's all Terrierman needed to know. 

With flashing machete and undaunted by sticker and thorn, he plowed into the thicket with the effect of a bush-hog.

A half hour later he coaxed the panting dog above ground and tethered her.

Then Pearl the subordinate had a go at it, and soon we heard her muffled soprano barks and growls. 

"She's face to face with it."

I confess that Patrick did most of the work, but it took the two of us to exhume a rock the size of a (small) rune stone. 
The next move was to zero in on the dog's transmitter with a receiver that rattled when directly above the dog. 

The digging had been off course. 

In other words, we didn't have to move the rune stone.

With the determination of St George Terrierman resumed spudding and digging in the new location. 

Then we discovered two larger rocks barring us from the quarry. (Yes at this point I was actually helping.)

The stones were side by side with a narrow gap that opened into the rodent's tunnel.

So close -- 4 feet at most, and yet so far, energetically speaking.

The service was over.

That whistle pig had earned its keep. 

Thanks for a great day, Terrierman. 

1 comment:

Doug said...

I've hunted with Patrick a bunch of times. It's fun stuff. Thanks for the story.