Recently, my 3-year-old Springer bird dog walked casually beneath a tree stand occupied by a bowhunter during the early part of deer season.
Knowing Patches' disposition, she just was seeking attention from the occupant and wanted to be petted and make friends.
At a later date, the same bowhunter said to me: "If that d... dog comes under my tree stand again, I am going to shoot her."
I knew then that the hunter was not a dog person, did not understand animals and, if he carried out his threat, he was in for serious trouble. That trouble could begin when he violated the Pennsylvania State Game Commission's Code, which states that the fine for shooting a dog could be as much as $5,000 and a possible prison sentence of two years.
Some hunters have paid dearly for breaking that law.
It must be understood that hunters who spend serious money to buy and train hunting dogs do not purchase them to chase deer or undesirable animals.
However, it has been my experience that young dogs or those that are not broken go where their nose takes them because, in reality, the scent is satisfactory and that is what they have been bred to do.
They cannot read trespass signs or understand that they could be disturbing a hunter in a blind or following a scent that is unsatisfactory to their owner.
The canine's ability to smell is so great that when hunters are lost in wilderness country, the setters and pointers are the first to be called to run big and rely on air scent above the ground. When hope begins to fade, the ground-scenting bloodhounds often help.
It is not unusual to pay between $4,000 to $5,000 for a partially trained Labrador retriever. High pedigree pointing breeds could bring higher prices.
The reasoning for that is, normally, hunting breeds require three to five years to reach their potential, with many days in the field.
With the liberal game seasons today and the overlapping of harvesting various species such as grouse, pheasants, woodcock, along with the musket hunters, bowhunters and dog training, we could have a conflict of interest. Eventually your prize puppy will cross paths with hunters.
That event could be just a casual happening, and it is quite possible that the owner is nearby. And, although he may be chasing a deer, it is against the law to cause bodily damage to the dog.
Most good sportsmen that I know understand the animal and own great dogs such as beagles, foxhounds, coonhounds and pointing breeds. If he is a good sportsman, he will try to catch the dog, check the tags and give the owner a call.
That would be doing the owner a favor, and you would have another friend.