Work and family have kept me out of the field a lot this year and last weekend I finally had an opening to break away for a weekend hunt. This was a solo mission as my hunting partners were unable to go. While I typically hunt with buddies or my brothers, I also really enjoy hunting with my dog on our own. I hit up a spot that treated me good last year and we hadn't gotten 200 yards from the truck when Grace got birdy. She put up a covey of quail but I passed on them as I was loaded for pheasant and had a hunch that there would be one or two in this piece of cover. A rooster got up wild at about 80 yards but we watched him land in a cattail patch that bordered a pond. Grace pinned him against the frozen pond and gave me a great shot. Down he came on the other side of the pond and we had one in the bag. We flushed another rooster wild and then a hen that came up from underfoot. It was getting late so we circled back to see if we could find some quail. I had just switched out my loads to #6 steel when she put up a big covey and I was able to knock two down. I checked my watch and it was end of shooting light so I unloaded and we headed for the truck. She put up two more good sized coveys of 12 - 15 birds each and kept looking back at me wondering why I was not shooting. We sat on the tailgate and watched the sunset over the desert listening to the quail calling to each other and regrouping. The next morning I pondered where to go as I was having breakfast. I asked Grace what she'd like to do and she said she'd like find a duck, so off to find some moving water. I decided we'd try a spot we'd never hunted but looked like it had good potential. It is a creek that drops into a fairly steep canyon with waterfalls, but has some slow pools that are perfect for jumpshooting. We knocked down a couple mallards, passed on a number of teal and quail and decided to call it a day. On the way back she flushed a number of snipe. I run into them a lot and I have always been curious how they taste and decided if I could hit one I'd try it out. Sure enough one popped up and I got him. Grace picked it up and then set it down and looked at me. She brought it about halfway back and then would not pick it up again. It was pretty funny because I have read that some dogs just won't retrieve snipe. Apparently they smell different or something. I let her off the hook and pocketed the little guy myself. It was a great outing and it felt good to chase the dog again. Grace is really coming into her own in her third year and despite my formidable shortcomings as a dog trainer, she turning into a pretty good lil bird dog. She made a couple really tough retrieves and I couldn't have been prouder. She won't win any field trials and she will always be a character but it's hard to beat a couple days on the desert with your dog. On a side note, the quail numbers in the area were really good. Gonna have to get back and target them a bit more. I tried some Hevi-metal for the first time and was impressed with the stuff. 3" #3's and 4's was good medicine for ducks and pheasant. That stuff knocks em down dead and I was amazed at the shot penetration when I cleaned the birds. Spendy stuff but it works.