Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Land blinds

West of Zion Park

As the weekend and Laddie's next Senior test approaches, with temps in the low 50s, I thought today might be a good day to give him a little handling practice. This adds to the variety of recent days, when we've run such things as a quad thrown with two BBs to exercise Laddie's memory, a double with a sharp angle back and a sharp angle in thrown by a single BB, and a water double thrown with two BBs combined with a water blind requiring a shoreline swim.

Today's blinds (OBs) were hopefully more difficult than anything Laddie will see on Saturday, giving a safety margin in preparation for the test.

The first blind was in the middle at 80-yards. The line to the blind was thru knee-high cover, past a telephone pole, and thru a strip of waist-high cover, then straight up a nearly sheer rise to the top of a 15' high mound. The bumper was planted at the crest of the rise, so that Laddie had to get to the top and then immediately stop, or he would disappear on the other side and we'd be unable to see one another, making handling impossible.

The second blind was to the right at 180 yards, at the end of a split-rail fence. The line to the blind was thru knee-high cover, then moist mud, with the blind planted in a clump of high cover. The challenge of this blind was that the actual placement was in the vicinity of a variety of likely-looking alternative blind placements: a telephone pole on the right, a mound on the left, and a gap between the fence and the mound that could easily have represented a keyhole, with a small meadow and then an orchard of widely spaced trees beyond.

The third blind was to the left at 280 yards. The line to the blind included a variety of factors intended to challenge Laddie's handling. The line was thru knee-high cover most of the way. After an initial open stretch, the line went under a giant electrical tower, past a mound of strongly scented topsoil, over a spot with a deer hoof and several leg bones still attached to each other, and sideways for nearly a hundred yards up a hillside. The blind placement was marked with an LP, and as in the first blind, was placed at the crest of the hill, so that if Laddie went more than a few steps past the plane of the blind, he'd disappear behind the hill and we wouldn't be able to see each other.

Laddie had little trouble with any of these blinds, but did require handling on all of them. For the short blind in the center, he faded left or right each time I cast him back near the sheer rise, since I doubt I've ever run him on a blind that required such a climb, and the rise must have looked like a border or barrier rather than a path to the blind at first. For the second blind on the right, Laddie was drawn to all of the expected diversions, but remained responsive to the WSCs I used to redirect him each time he faded away from the clump of cover containing the bumper. For the third blind, he had little trouble staying on line, but he stalled at the deer bones and required a number of casts to send him racing back to the LP and the final bumper. When I later went to retrieve the LP, I realized why it had taken so long to get him going again: He had used a spot a few feet from the bones to eliminate.

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