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Bird Dog Tales: “Jersey’s” Close Call


“I heard a slight yelp, but Jersey kept on trucking, ran by me and I didn’t notice a thing. About ten minutes later she flushed a rooster, I shot it, she retrieved it.

It wasn’t until I was done taking a photo of her and the bird that I noticed some blood on her chest. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the puncture hole – if I were to guess, I’d say it was an old tree that fell into the cattails that still had branches on it. You know how those old branches get after laying around for a period of time.  Of course I was the farthest point from the vehicle, it was -20 and we had to trudge through knee deep snow. For a while I didn’t know if either of us would make it.

Right around an hour had elapsed from when I noticed the injury to when we arrived at the Red River Animal Emergency Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota. When we got to the clinic a few other people were in the waiting room. I explained what was going on to the person at the front desk, but I don’t think they realized the extent of the injury until one of the other people waiting remarked ‘Oh my god, look at the hole in that dog’s chest.’ What a roller-coaster of emotions. Don’t think I’ve ever prayed as much as I did that day.

Drugged, stitched and sore, our little girl was okay and lived to hunt another day. She is fully recovered other than an ugly scar.

I always put a skid plate on Jersey, but the day of the accident I didn’t. I almost learned a lesson a very hard way. Considering the size of the hole in her chest I don’t think her skid plate would’ve completely stopped the impalement, though it could’ve helped.

A few bits of advice I’d offer would be: Never hurry, nothing ever good comes from being in a hurry. Easier said than done, but try and keep calm (I was a basket case, don’t think I’ve ever prayed and cried so much in my entire life). Have your vet’s info handy, especially emergency phone number. I didn’t have an emergency number for our regular vet, which would’ve been closer, so I just went with what I knew and went to the emergency clinic we’d been to before. Carry a dog emergency first kit in your bird vest and practice using it before the actual situation arises. Obedience is much more important than most people think, especially in a situation like this. Keeping your dog calm and under control is key.

We did make it out hunting one last time before the season closed. She flushed up a nice rooster but I couldn’t take a feather off of it. It’s amazing how fast she bounced back. It’s amazing how resilient dogs are. She’s doing well, back to her old wild self.”

-As told to Pheasants Forever by Ryan Kappes, Pheasants Forever member and volunteer with the Clay County (Minn.) Pheasants Forever chapter. His bird dog, “Jersey,” is a springer spaniel/German shorthaired pointer mix he adopted from the local humane society.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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5 Responses to “Bird Dog Tales: “Jersey’s” Close Call”

  1. Chuck Forry says:

    Field injuries are horrifying. Some things are left to God and faith when you are out on the plains. I’m buying chest plates now for sure after seeing this. Thanks for sharing! Glad all ended well.

  2. erzola says:

    Glad she recovered. I know of two dogs that were impaled in a “brush hogged” field in late summer training. Stay away from any area that was brush hogged. It leaves a ton of sharp knife like growth the perfect heigth for sticking a dog.

  3. James tadeusiak says:

    IT was opening morning in Iowa, mason city area, drizzle and a little cold as we were working the filed behind the farm with five gunners and my trusty Spaniel Boojou jumped in a small grass patch with gun coming up and a yelp and strong smell coming out, WOW , direct hit from skunk, in the eyes, throat and down the chest, lime green and tear jerking strong ,worked are way back two farm and got two roosters, asking farmer what he had for tomato products,it was Ragu and soup, i went with the soup and rubbed her down and hit her with the hose from well,on too next spot ,which was the tracks , we could stand her in truck for a while , we made down a mile and she tipped over,wow, empty my gun and gave it to my buddy and picked her up and went for truck, knowing where Vet was from shoulder tear on barb wire , off we went, hammer down to Vet all four legs go up and eyes roll back into head, buddy says , she is barely breathing,hoping the vet was there , we hit the door and he could smell what was going on , he tied one leg off and put a shot of rush in and took her temp, she was in shock and hypothermic, he ran a hot bath and tied off the other front leg and put another shot off rush in and her eyes rolled back down and her legs came down , he put her in tub and got her to warm up and bath her with skunk out and we picked her up in three hours and had one of our best seasons ever when the CRP was every where, VET gave me Tip on this one , I carry summers eve product in emergency stuff for dog

  4. J.E.Fawcett says:

    I feel your pain brother worst thing in the world when your best friend in the field is injured my girl Sadie a brit was injured opening weekend in Madison minn opening weekend we were working a fenceline brabed wire of course I heard a yelp but didn’t think much of it cause she kept pounding it and it was thick so couldn’t see her real well after about a mile we got in a clearing and sadies whole hind end was covered in blood well needless to say I freaked she had a six inch tear on her left thigh we took her back to the hotel and cleaned her up with no medical supplies all we could do is cover her wound with toilet paper and wrap her up with duct tape she finished out the weekend like a trooper but im a firm believer in have a first aid kit along on every hunt.

  5. As an upland hunting guide, I put my dogs in harm’s way every single weekend. A few years ago, we had a group of clients out and the first point of the day resulted in a low bird. I yelled “Low bird!!!” several times, but yes, you guessed it, “BANG!” My GSP took the shot along her right flank, caught the bird and retrieved it. When she brought the bird back I saw that she was covered in blood, so I took her back to my truck, patched her up, and put her in a crate to wait for my partner to come and get her to take her to the vet. We had several other dogs still out in the field, so I went out to get them and my little GSP broke out of her crate and started hunting again. She refused to be put away, and she ended up hunting until lunch when she finally went to the vet for some antibiotics. Luckily the client was using light loads and she didn’t suffer any permanent injuries, but she’s still carrying several pieces of shot in her side.


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