January 22, 2021
When SCDNR biologist Molly Kneece isn't hard at work doing her level best to improve conditions for ducks and other waterfowl species in South Carolina, the avid hunter and outdoorswoman can often be found in the field herself, with faithful canine companions Willie and Kate by her side.
by Molly Kneece
Sometimes "firsts" are bittersweet.
I’ve hunted many mornings with other dogs and left Willie at the house, or in a motel room, or in the truck— but today was the first time ever leaving the "Ol'boy" behind so I could hunt another dog that was mine.
Last night Willie had a little episode and lost control of his back legs. This seems to be happening more and more regularly and when it happened as I was preparing decoys and gear, I tried to make light of it, but deep down I knew Kate's time to embrace her role as "duck dog" was really here.
As I pulled away from the house with Kate riding in the middle seat on the Polaris and Willie in the house, I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two. I'd dreaded this exact moment for years, but in a way had also looked forward to it since bringing Kate home. If only the Ol'boy understood why he was being left behind— his heart has the desire to go, but his legs are wearing out.
On the drive to the pond, I tried to distract myself with the fact that this morning was all about getting Kate her first retrieve in the field. I had scouted a few times earlier in the season, but the numbers just weren't what I was looking for. However, the previous day’s scouting mission had given me hope for this morning.
Dog stand and decoys were set up and shooting time came. Numerous wood ducks presented good opportunities, but I was looking for the right bird to give Kate a good chance to work — steady to shot, mark the fall, wait to be released, and deliver to hand. We'd been training for months.
Media Contact: David Lucas