Buck Smith’s Option
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
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
continued in Part Eight.