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Outdoors

Macie and me: German shorthaired pointer helps with hunt

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    Macie, a German shorthaired pointer, stands on point after finding a a pheasant during a hunt in Wayne County.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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    Macie, a German shorthaired pointer owned by Brad Zahar, stands guard over the day's harvest from a pheasant hunt in Wayne County.

    BRAD ZAHAR / CHRONICLE

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In the age of the internet, anyone can claim to be an expert on just about anything. I witnessed an online feud this week between a few folks over the photo of a deer that was killed on private property as opposed to public lands.

What stuck out to me is how internet naysayers discredited any skill involved and called it not “real” hunting if on private property.

Preserve hunting with a 15-foot fence with the animals trapped is another debate for another day. If you ask me, I’m not opposed to all preserve hunting. However, if I have permission to hunt or fish on private property, why is that frowned upon by the social media police?

About six percent of the U.S. population hunts. Social media for the outdoor industry has become a medium to argue over the ethics of hunting and

catch-and-release fishing, to name just a few hot topics right now. Many of these outdoorsmen simply cannot win.

This week, I had an opportunity to pheasant hunt on a pheasant preserve.

The debate of “real” hunting didn’t even cross my mind. I’ve been to enough pheasant releases on public land with my dog to feel unsafe. People and dogs are everywhere with shots flying in multiple directions.

I’ve seen birds destroyed from concurrent shots from multiple guns. I’ve witnessed arguments on who got to keep the animal since nobody knew who shot it.

Going the route of preserve pheasant hunting and getting to safely enjoy the time with my dog, I knew fun was almost a sure thing.

Macie, my German shorthaired pointer, and I hunted a farm in Wayne County. I haven’t been able to do much bird hunting this season, but with a day off midweek, I took advantage of the opportunity.

While I know these birds are planted, it’s a chance for my dog to hunt, me to shoot, eat some birds that evening and assemble some feathers for my fly-tying collection.

The birds flew and moved quickly. If I didn’t make a good shot, the birds flew away. The only difference with pheasant preserve hunting in this manner is that the birds are there.

It is the dogs job to go and find the birds. Even if I’m hunting public land at a pheasant release, those birds were put there at some point. This isn’t Montana or South Dakota where pheasants are as wild and common as any other bird. If you want to bird hunt in Ohio, there are limited options on how to do it.

After an hour or so in the field, we flushed five birds. I wouldn’t say my shooting was as good as it could have been, but we picked up some birds, the dog did some work and, as I write this column, I’m about to make some pheasant stew.

Whether the bird is planted, wild or not, the anticipation of the flight is what gets me excited.

The dog is on point, you’re going in to flush the bird not knowing what’s there or which way it will fly.

But from the dogs’ point on, it’s all on you to make a safe shot and have a successful hunt.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.

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