MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) – As the leaves change and temperatures drop around New England, hunters are grabbing their dog’s for bird hunting in the great outdoors.
At the Springfield Sportsman’s Club in Monson, 12-year-old Mocha is excited for a day in the woods with her owner and the club’s preserve director, Ron Fussell. Since the pair first united seven years ago, Mocha has taught Ron and his other hunting dog, Roxie the fundamentals of hunting. “Mocha already knew how to hunt. she taught me how to hunt. I’m sharing that with Roxie as is Mocha. I am an amateur dog trainer at best,” Ron said.
The trio’s hunting rhythm is simple, but effective. Mocha is a German Short-Haired Pointer, and as her breed name suggests, her job is to point out a hidden bird in the brush. She stands there next to the prey, then Roxie, the flushing dog, rushes in to flush the bird off the ground and into the air. Once the bird is far away from the dogs, Ron takes his shotgun and shoots the bird out of the air. Finally, one of the dogs retrieves the fallen bird and hands it to Ron. On this day, however, Ron took Mocha out with a new flushing dog, Lin, and let her owner, 20-year-old Owen Comeau, lead the pack.
The collaboration between hunters and man’s best friend is not only common in New England, but has deep historic roots around the world. There is debate in the scientific community about exactly when humans domesticated dogs, but one theory says that it began with man’s best friend helping early humans hunt in present-day Jordan. Evidence from a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and University College London suggests that humans and dogs were hunting together over 11,000 years ago.
The millennia old practice has forged an unbreakable bond that could be felt in present day Monson. These hunters feel connected to their dogs during a sport that originally stemmed from survival. After the hunt, the men are sure to split the bird meat fairly with their furry assistants, so that the dogs can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Massachusetts’s bird hunting season generally runs from early October through the end of November, exact dates vary depending on the bird. At the Springfield Sportsman’s Club, the bird season runs from September 15th through March 31st. During this time prospective hunters can buy pheasants and partridges that Ron raises on site to hunt in the preserve.