‘They don’t just want game: the great ones burn. They want it not because of lessons but because it’s who they are.
They’re not robots following orders, but arch-predators listening to voices we will never hear. Sometimes that makes them seem arrogant. Watch them when they hit scent and it’s clear that they work in a trance, the instinct of generations unfolding without thought. The truth is, the great ones are difficult and demanding. All we can do is put some structure to it once the genie is out of the bottle.
Even then, a brilliant nose, good instincts and drive cannot explain why these dogs make the mark on people that they do. Long after the trophies have grown dusty and the photos have faded hunters still talk about them with a quiet sense of awe. The panting face cut to pieces by blackberry, but clutching a fierce cock pheasant. Pads worn bloody on rock, but still running.
And at the end, an aging body weary with old wounds, that rallies through the pain and insists with dim, faded eyes. ‘Just one more, Boss. I can do it.’
We see in them the best of ourselves. It is greatness of heart we remember them for, and why we cannot let them go.’
from Hunting New Zealand – Parts Unknown
Peter P. Ryan www.faraway.co
Image courtesy Garth Oakden