Doug P. Came up from North Carolina to go digging on the dogs, and he had his green dog, Murphy with him -- a very nice-looking naturally bob-tailed fell terrier he got from Dave Mason down in Tennessee.
Murphy is a she (think Murphy Brown) and she had found her first possum a couple of nights earlier.
You never know how it's going to go with a brand new dog fresh in the field, but Murphy is age two and the penny had clearly dropped; she did splendidly.
Mountain found very quickly, but Murphy lost no time getting a handle on the situation, and she was quick down another hole and giving the groundhog the business.
We tied up Mountain and Pearl, and Murphy bayed it up nicely, pushing the groundhog to a bottle, before we dug down for a dispatch. Murphy came out without a scratch. Excellent!
We noodled around a bit more, checking a lot of blank holes (I have thinned out this farm some in the last six months), and Murphy gloried in chasing Canada Geese, and busting out a Meadow Lark. Her destiny is to be a hawker's dog (Doug hunts Harris and Red-tail hawks), and I think she has all the right stuff for that; a very "birdy" terrier.
Mountain found again in another sette, and we figured we had it bottled it up nicely when it managed to bolt out and dive down into another nearby hole. Undeterred, we dug on, but at a certain point I figured the groundhog had gotten away and we began to fill in two small and shallow exploratory holes we had knocked into this second sette. Of course, just as we finished that little bit of cleanup, Mountain opened up to a solid bay. Isn't that always the way? We cleared out one of the holes we had just filled in, expanded it a bit, and dispatched the second groundhog of the day.
The third groundhog of the day was quite a character! Murphy pinged on this one first, coming into a sette just below the edge of the creek. She could not get in very far in, but she sure was trying!
Meanwhile, Mountain and Pearl were pinging on another hole about 20 feet away. I did not think the two holes were connected, as Murphy seemed to be angling the wrong way to get to where Mountain and Pearl were marking, but time proved me wrong -- again!
A bit of digging and we found Murphy baying out of the left side of the pipe, and Pearl baying out of the right. We located the groundhog, but while expanding the hole a bit with a posthole digger the groundhog sprang straight up and bolted. I was fast on it, and Pearl was right behind me.
The groundhog managed to scoot up a short tree (Yes, they can climb!) and before I knew it, Pearl was up after her. I was rather astounded to see Pearl climb about 15 feet into the air, splayed out on pretty thin branches, pushing the groundhog to the end of its rope.
Of course, it was about the end of the rope for Pearl too, and I was bit worried about an aerial battle between these two characters, and so I knocked the groundhog out of the tree with a well-placed toss of the shovel.
The groundhog tumbled out of tree, ran down the bank, met my boot, rolled out underneath it, slid down the bank, swam the creek, climbed the next bank, and went to ground in another earth.
By this time Pearl had slid out of the tree in a rather ungainly bounce down the branches, but she was unfazed, and followed the groundhog down the bank, across the creek, and to ground on the other side.
It was getting a bit long in the day now, and Doug had a five hour drive home, so we crossed the creek, noted where Pearl had gone to ground, and walked the other dogs back to the truck to wash out their eyes and put them up.
Pearl stayed at her game, and so I wished Doug well on his ride back, shouldered tools again, and went down to dig out Pearl. In truth, she was having a ball, and the dig was not deep or complex, and I was down to the dog and the groundhog in short order.
And yes, I let this one go. Any groundhog that will run, climb, fly, swim, and dig is one I want to keep in the gene pool. May this one have a very long and fecund life!