Buck Smith’s Option
Part Seven

                      By Tom Word

The Suburban was headed for Montana; its two human occupants on their third six pack of the day, their two setters asleep in airline crates, and Headstrong on his haunches on the seat behind them enjoying the view of passing wheat fields.  The setters were worn out from three days of hunting pheasants and sharptails as the two outlaw hunters had stopped roadside whenever they passed likely cover.  They’d rented the Suburban at the Bismarck airport after flying in from Chicago.  Their theft of Headstrong had been a matter of luck.  They knew that as a trial dog, he’d be hard to foot hunt, but they had an electric collar they hoped would shorten his range sufficiently.
When they reached the Montana line, the country was desolate, just endless dry overgrazed pasture on both sides of the road for mile after mile.  Finally, they came upon a stretch of CRP land with likely weedy cover and stopped to try out their new dog.  With the electric collar set maximum high, they turned Headstrong loose.
The big pointer looked at his orange-clad, beery-breathed companions, each armed with a twelve-gauge automatic, and fell in at their heels.  Headstrong was collar wise—he would not hurt a lick with an electric collar on his neck.  When the thieves realized their new dog was not going to hunt with the collar on, they removed it.  Headstrong made an opening cast across the CRP land without looking back; that was the last the thieves would see of him.  Headstrong was on his own now on thousands of acres of unbroken prairie.  He soon found a pothole and, after putting its ducks to flight, jumped in for a cooling swim.  This is fun, the big pointer thought.

To be continued in Part Eight.