I always wanted to hunt my JRT (the reason I wanted them in the first place) but had no idea were to start. So I met David and Mitzi Day at a trial in November 2008 and they invited me to hunt with them. So about six weeks ago they sent me an email to set a time on January 3-4, 2009.I explained to them that this would be my first time ever in the field so I wanted to go with someone to show me the ropes and teach (most importantly) to do it safely. I also explained that my terrier (Little Eden Katie) was as much of a novice as me and they still welcomed us. So I set about making plans and preparations. My Mother was to keep the children because my husband Reese, also, wanted to go and learn. So I went to my Parent's ranch to drop off the children and got to talking to my Mother about my fears. I was so afraid, that with me and my terrier being green, that the Day's would get frustrated with us in the field. She suggested that I take Spade (Conquest Spade) along as a backup plan. So I put her in the truck and off we went.
When we got to the Day's the next morning I explained that I also had Spade along in case things didn't work out with Katie. They told me to take them both out of the truck and let’s go hunting!!! So off we went...
We hunted most of the morning the whole time the Day's teaching Reese and I the finer arts of hunting...from using the box to knowing when trouble was near. The two terriers were working great…checking each and every hole they came to and returning when called, to check the ones missed. By late morning we were at our third spot with still no luck....then it happened…Spade hit a scent!!!
Mitzi and I came to a single hole sette where she was teaching me the different signs to look for when a hole might be occupied. I called Spade in to check this hole and she immediately dove in came out and looked at me then went to ground again and began working. David showed me how to locate her and the beginnings on how to start a hole dig...she was about 7 foot from the entrance and 2 1/2 ft down. I started to dig under my teachers close supervision. About 45 min later we got to the tunnel and could clearly hear Spade working under us. David felt that the quarry Spade was working was most likely armadillo, but we were soon to find out. We broke through and found Spade working a small-medium size opossum.David couldn’t believe it and told us that they have not harvested opossum in the ground for over a year!!!!!My chest puffed out and I couldn't stop smiling.Watching a terrier work under ground is such an amazing site…much more exciting than I thought.We removed dog and quarry from the hole and after checking the opossum placed it back in the ground.David then showed us how to back fill the hole and informed me that Spade just earned her NHC to Opossum…WHAT!!!!I couldn’t believe it…first time out and not only did we find quarry we earned our very first NHC…YEAH!!!!We all went to dinner that night to celebrate.
The next day (Sunday) we went out again in freezing weather…which we were told is ideal because the quarry would be to ground.So bundled we went out again.About two hours in I came across a large hole and called Spade over.She went in then came out…went back in and stayed a little longer.At this time I bent down to smell the hole (as we were taught) and got a faint skunk smell.My heart went to my throat.Spade came out again looked at me and I tried to catch her but she turned and flew back to ground before I could stop her and immediately began working….I knew she was not coming back out.I tore my pack off to find my box and yelped for someone to help!!David came first, smelled the hole, and yelled for everyone to “Get her out!”The Days and Reese grabbed all the shovels so I was on my knees trying to dig to her by hand and removing what dirt was created by the shovelers.With tears in my eyes…I envisioned the worst…Spade in the hole gasping for air…clinging to life.My mind was racing trying to think if I packed everything needed for a skunked dog in shock and thanking heaven that Reese came along (he is a veterinarian).We got to her in about 10 min and heard her still working….that didn’t make sense!!!The faint skunk smell came out of the hole when we breached it and Spade was working and sparring like the pro she is.I was closest to her, so I grabbed her tail and began to pull with all my might...couldn’t pull her out.David got down grabbed her waist and pulled also….still she wouldn’t budge.Reese then jumped in and helped pull and she came out with the largest opossum that I have ever seen.
Now talk about the biggest mix of emotions ever…first I was losing my dog…then she was fine…another NHC!!Upon inspection, we noted that the skunk smell was coming from the opossum….it was sporting a yellow chest from skunk spray.After checking the opossum and being sure that no harm was done, it was also place back to ground. We then back filled its hole and called it a day.
Now some may call this beginners luck but I would have to put all the credit to what a wonderful littler terrier Spade is.
I just had to share my first hunting experience which wouldn’t have happen without a Jack Russell Terrier and our great teachers and wonderful friends, David and Mitzi Day.