Friday, March 10, 2023


Wet day in New Mexico.


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PODCAST: A Bird Hunter's Thoughts- Turn 'Em Loose

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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Retro RV For Sale (HD)

Thursday, February 23, 2023

$43. Learning about neighbors.


The Ring-necked Pheasant is a noble bird. In 1881 at Port Townsend, OR, birds were imported from China, by Owen N. Denny, and releases were made that year and subsequent years in the Willamette Valley and along the Columbia River. Laws were passed to prohibit harvesting them until they sustained a huntable population, and by 1892, in Oregon, the first “Opener” reportedly bagged 50,000 birds. Black-Necked pheasant, from England, were introduced as far back at the late 1700’s, in the eastern states, but were not successful. Interestingly, it’s said the Iowa population originated in 1900 from an escape of several thousand birds from a game farm. Today, South Dakota is arguably the epicenter of pheasant hunting, with millions of the birds, or at least they have a better PR department.

For many years, I would travel to North Dakota to hunt pheasant. A lack of posted signs, hunters, and plenty of squawking roosters always made the trip fun. Over the years, I made friends with numerous farmers, particularly Leroy and Barb. One cool, early November day, I was chatting with Barb, before heading out to walk the tree rows and ditches on their property. She mentioned the neighbor’s property that we could hunt that day, as well. Thankful, we departed for some new hunting land.

We were within sight of Barb and Leroy’s house as we walked along a marshy creek into the tree lines around the neighbor’s abandoned house. The birds were there, and it was a fun time watching the dogs, Ruby, Cap, and Bo, as they worked the tall grass and cut wheat. After an hour or so, we stopped for a drink and a sandwich. I called the dogs in, and we sat on the side of the road enjoying the day.

“Hey, what are you guys doing?” yelled a man walking down the two track. Never a good opening to a conversation, I knew it was time to sort out a misunderstanding. But, first I had to find out what the problem was. “We’re hunting pheasant with our dogs. I hope our shooting hasn’t disturbed you!” I said. (I glanced at the next farmhouse a half mile away.) “Well, you are on private land. My land. You are trespassing! I lease this land to hunters, and here you are shooting my birds! Who said you could hunt here? I should call the Sheriff!” he yelled. Since this was pre-GPS, my policy was to grab my map, start with the truth and stick to it. “Well, sir, I thought this was part of the Johnson property, and I have permission to hunt it. But, if I made a mistake and got turned around, I apologize, and I’ll head out of here right away! I’m from Georgia and sometimes these wide-open spaces can get me turned around. Could you show me on the map I have here where we are and where your lines are, so I don’t have this issue again?” I said. “What about the birds you killed?” he said. I noticed the volume decreased somewhat. “Well, if you show me I’m on your land, you can have them, or I’ll pay you for them. They would be your birds,” I suggested. “I get $50/per day to hunt on my land” he said. I noticed my suggestion of him showing me my location on a map never came up again. “How about I pay you for these birds, then, and we will leave the area?” I said. I reached into my pocket and pulled out $43.

Ruby and Cap on Leroy's Farm

“This is all I have on me, $43. Will that be enough?” He allowed as that would be OK, so I thanked him for his consideration, called the dogs, and turned around to leave.

Just then, a human tornado rocketed past me headed for the neighbor. “What in God’s name are you doing, Earl? This ain’t your land, and you know it! This man has permission to be here, from me, and here you are taking his money!” said Leroy’s voice, while steadily advancing towards his neighbor. Being the forgotten man in this conversation, I listened closely and kept my mouth shut. “By George, you give that money back, or I will whip your ass right here! You’re a sorry neighbor, and I feed your cows all winter, so they don’t starve to death. I’m ready to give you what you need right here!” Leroy growled. Earl pulled the $43 from his pocket, stepped around Leroy, by a large margin, and quick-trotted over to me holding the money in his outstretched hand. “Here’s your money” he said. His eyes opened wide when I said, “No, that’s for the birds I shot you said were yours. I won’t take it back.” Earl went white as a sheet. Leroy yelled, “You’d better hand it to him right now, Earl! I’ve had it with you!” Leroy is not a large man, but right then he looked 7’ tall and imposing. He was becoming more enraged all the time.

I figured out, at this point, that Earl was sort of an opportunist. I wasn’t on his land, but he saw a way to take a few bucks off the flatlander. Normally, it would work, but he didn’t reckon with Leroy. And my refusal to take the money back had him in a real pickle. I also realized that I wasn’t the issue. This confrontation went back many frustrating years between neighbors.

Finally, I said, “Earl, I’ll take the money back. Leroy, I’m sorry I came between neighbors. I won’t hunt here again. I’ll take my dogs and leave.” Earl couldn’t get the money in my hand fast enough. His relief was obvious as he turned and (almost) ran away.

It was then I learned about the years the neighboring farms took care of Earl’s livestock all winter to keep them alive, and other things, as well. The situation reinforced a lesson about ensuring I was on the right land. (I was.) I learned that no matter where you are, someone is watching you. I learned no matter how far apart the houses, neighbors know each other’s business. And, I learned about how large a short North Dakota farmer can get when he’s full of righteous indignation and keeps on coming.

God Bless the American farmer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sole Oak Supply- a Small Business Worthy of Support!

As I shop online for products I can use while bird hunting or trialing, I lean toward the small operations.  This is the new marketplace.   Many times, these are side industries, with excellent customer service and products perfect for what I need.  Eric, of Sole Oak Supply, is a field  trialer and bird hunter.  See the links below to check out his products and services!  

We offer Special orders of Silencers, Firearms, Optics, Ammo, and Accessories, Firearm Transfers, Complete Rifle Systems, and Premium Sporting Dog Leashes. (Click this link.)

Purple Medium Handlers Leash

Leads for hunting and trialing dogs. (click this link) 

Monday, January 30, 2023


If you are a business owner and your business is related to bird hunting and bird dogs, and you want your business to receive some great targeted exposure, contact me @

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Your business must be related to the subject matter, because if I endorse a product, I use that product.  

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Mearns Quail and my dog BLUE. A covey rise!

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Dress for Success- Hunting the Cold

My wife and me.  South Dakota.

 I don't mind hunting in the cold....too much.  This year (2022), the day a I arrived in South Dakota, in early November, it was 80 degrees!  Two days later, the high was 45 degrees with gusts to 45 mph.  The next week, the lows were in the low 20's, the wind was consistently stiff, and the hunting was awesome. After a week of bird dogs and fraternization I checked the weather for the next week. The weather app showed a strong blast of rain, ice, snow (6.5") and blasting winds on the way.  I pulled out the day before it arrived.  

Blue, me, Chicken

3 SD Roosters

Prairie Chicken

Hunting in cold weather is usually rewarding.  It localizes the birds, for the most part, and the wind can keep them from hearing the dog's approach from the downwind.  But, there is a limit to what I will tolerate.  Blizzard hunting is out for this septuagenarian.  

The top picture is of my wife and me.  It was below 30 degrees that day, and breezy, but the bright sun helped keep our faces warm.  You can't see it, but, I have 4 layers below the orange, windproof jacket.  Marino wool under-layer, cotton long sleeve t-shirt, wool long-sleeved shirt,  and a long-sleeved, gortex-lined Marino wool zip-up sweater.  My wife was similarly attired- mostly in Orvis products, since they have a great women's line of hunting clothing. 

I don't wear "long johns", but my wife does.  On really cold days, I suppose they would add comfort.  I find they seem heavy and restricting.  They are just not for me. 

The gloves are wind-proof and water-proof.  Good gloves are mandatory!  Wool socks in good boots with good tread, and hats, wool and doubled up, are critical, too.  An adage says, "If your feet are cold, put on a hat."  Truth.  

One piece of cold weather gear in the picture is relatively new to me.  It is the neck gator.  It keeps the neck, front and back, and ears and mouth warm and out of the wind.  I have several of them now.  Mandatory cold weather gear for me! 

With the right gear, cold weather hunting can be fruitful and very enjoyable.  Without the proper gear, it will be a miserable experience.  As a side note, I've been married to this woman for a long time.  I will testify to the truth of the adage, "If momma ain't happy, ain't no one happy."  Trust me when I say, if momma wants a certain piece of clothing to go hunting with you, buy it.  Your day will be so much more enjoyable with a warm, happy significant other alongside.  

Don't forget to mount the gun a few times to get used to the extra thickness of you clothing.  Many a time I've raised the gun to my shoulder, counting on "muscle memory", only to have the gun butt hang up on my hunting coat with no shot at the bird!

Good luck and have some fun this winter.  Most states and seasons close around the New Year, but South Dakota extended pheasant season until the end of January.  (ONLY pheasant season, I might add.  Not Sharps, chickens, or Huns!). If you decide to hunt late season, you'll most likely be pleasantly alone.  Shoot straight! 

I've listed some links below for a few pieces of gear to get you started.  Note: Buying a product off the links helps support the BLOG, at no cost to you.  Thank you! 

Marino Wool Neck Gator:

Gamehide hunting jacket:

Orange Wool Watch Cap:

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Podcast from A Bird Hunters Thoughts- Turn 'em Loose. Picking a Puppy #2

Randy gets to go down to the breeder's farm and pick out the puppy he wants.  He has "pick of the litter" for two litters born a week apart.  Looking for a  liver, female, he has some specific ideas about what is important in picking out a new puppy.  Luckily, he found exactly what he was looking for! Please like, subscribe and share! . #abirdhuntersthoughts. #endlessoctoberbook. #oldmanbirdhunting Don't forget to look on the right side of my home page on my BLOG, click support, and contribute any amount.  It will help.  You guys are awesome!  My wife asked me why I do all this.  The answer is because I wish, when I started bird hunting, I had all this technology available to have an idea what to expect when I turned that dog loose.  Maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to avoid some of the bad stuff, and enjoy more of the good stuff after watching, reading, or listening.  I sincerely hope so! 

FYI:  I bought Jade at this breeder.   I recommend them.  I did not receive any consideration.  They are a first class operation.  

Click Here for the Podcast!

FlyBoy's Brown Shuga Jade (Jade)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Just in the Nick of Time!

In the Nick of Time


It was Wednesday.  I was due in Great Falls, Montana Thursday night to judge a field trial starting Friday morning. For the last several years, I started my season by hauling my camper to Montana, judging one day, and then running the next two days in a three-day Chukar trial.  After the trial, I would bird hunt for a few weeks in Montana and Wyoming. It was a win-win situation for everyone, and I looked forward every year to meeting up with my friends.  


I spent the previous night at a rest area in Wisconsin, and made it to my favorite breakfast restaurant, Norske Nook, right when they opened. Then, I made it through Minnie and traffic was light on I-94 northwest bound.  I was cruising at 70 mph with a tailwind, which makes a huge difference pulling a camper. It was one of those beautiful Fall days in the northern tier- blue sky, slight wind, light traffic.  Life was good.  I happened to glance in my left mirror and saw a tire, 20 feet in the air in the left lane just behind the camper! Instantly, I figured it couldn’t catch me if I maintained my speed, so I rolled along and watched the black tire hit the grass in the median and swerve back onto my side of the freeway and disappear behind my outfit.  I saw no cars behind me or coming the other way, either.  I was on I-94, at two p.m., in the middle of the week, and there were no cars in sight in either direction.  I thought that was very lucky for someone since the tire bouncing along down the road could have easily hit another car.  “Some guy just lost his spare tire,” I thought.  My rig was rolling fine.  Maybe it was my spare tire?  I slowed and pulled off to check my camper just prior to an exit.  Braking was good, and nothing pulled as I eased onto the shoulder.  I jumped out to check my spare, but the mystery was solved the instant I looked at the axles on the driver’s side of the camper. The front tire was missing. As I walked down the side of the camper, I saw the entire wheel assembly was gone.  Only the end of the axle was left.  I looked back for the tire and saw a guy walking along the edge of the freeway, rolling a tire ahead of him.  I walked back to him and thanked him for rescuing my errant tire. He laughed and said he saw a tire in the air and slowed down to see where it would go.  After it crossed behind me, it hit the cable along the edge of the road and stopped.  I told my story, and then asked where the nearest town was to take the camper in for repair.  He pointed at the exit and said, “That’s the exit to Fergus Falls.  There’s an RV place in town.  I don’t know if they are still in business though.”  “Can I drive it like that?” “Sure,” he said, “Just go slow and take it easy on the bumps.”   So, off I went up the exit ramp to Fergus Falls. 


At the top of the exit, I pulled off the road and grabbed my phone.  I dialed four different auto repair places, two service centers, three bait shops, and a motel. This was during the heart of Covid, and the story was the same everywhere.  “We are backed up two to three WEEKS. Sorry!”  No one answered the phone at the RV place. I figured I’d slowly pull the rig to the facility and see if anyone was home.  Not knowing if I would break the remaining axle or blow the remaining tire, I drove through the business district of Fergus Falls, Minnesota with three tires on my four-tire camper.  Oddly, no one gave me a second look as I pulled up to the RV store. It looked closed.  


I parked in the shade and walked to the door to check their hours.  The door was unlocked, and I eased into a room piled high with parts. I could hear men talking around the corner. So, I casually browsed through the isles as I determined which guy was the owner and which was the customer.  Finally, the part was ordered for the customer, and I learned Aunt Betty’s health was OK, Rotary’s speaker for the week cancelled, and the odds of the Vikings going all the way that year was zero. Then it was my turn.  I said, “Well, I have a problem.  My tire departed the camper out on the freeway, and I have absolutely no idea how to fix it!”  I basically threw myself on the mercy of the parts man at the RV repair place.  


He said, “Let’s take a look,” which was encouraging.  I thought laughter and “See you tomorrow, bud”, was more likely.  But we went out to the camper, and he closely inspected the damage.  He jacked up the axle and put a wood block in the springs, so the good axle could support the camper better.  Then, he pronounced the most likely cause was a failed bearing that finally melted the axle and the entire wheel departed.  “It’ll take a new axle, bearing, tire, and other minor stuff,” he said. “Let’s see what I have.”  I said, “If you have the parts, can you fix it?”  (It’s about 5 p.m.)  “Sure, if I have the parts, but I don’t have an axle that will fit.  So, let’s see if we can find one.”    While I checked on the dogs, he started Google searches for RV axles based on the picture I took of the information plate welded on the damaged axle.  An hour later, he looked up from his fourth phone call with a smile, and said, “I found one!  But you need to be in Becker, MN at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, at this address.  This guy will fix you up.  He has an axle.  But, he wants to know, right now, if you can make it.”   “Absolutely!” I said, having no idea how I would get a three-wheeled camper back 130 miles the way I just came.  He hung up after getting the address, phone number, and name of the shop.  “Uh, John? How can I get my camper 130 miles back the way I came?” I said.  “Randy, I see this type of thing all the time.  You have 3 good tires. You have two 5300# axles, so you can support over 7000# easily.  The max gross on your rig is 8000# and you aren’t packed full of stuff.  You probably don’t weigh more than 6000#.  I had one customer drive all the way to Pennsylvania on three tires.  Just take it easy, go slow, and take your time.  You can do it.”  I tried to pay him for his time, but he said, “I never did anything but give some moral support.  You don’t owe me anything.  I need to closeup and head over to the church.  It’s fried chicken tonight!  Good luck!”, and he was off. 


I found the address on the map.  Luckily, there was a rest area on I-94 just ten miles from the shop. The adventure just kept on keeping on. 


I arrived at the rest area several stressful hours later. I fed the dogs, ate a sandwich, and went to bed.  It was 11 p.m.


The next morning, I was up at 5:30 a.m. and on the road by 6.  I was gaining confidence driving my three-wheeled camper around but was still taking it easy on the bumps.  The directions were not to a business district.  In fact, I was on the outside of town.  It looked more like grouse hunting country.  I turned off the paved road on to a rural gravel road, then on to a more rural gravel road.  I was in the grouse woods, but I couldn’t really enjoy them because I was worried about turning this train around should I arrive at the wrong address.  Finally, I saw a small sign nailed to a fir tree advertising trailers and trailer repair.  Below the sign, an arrow pointed to a two-track snaking off into the woods.  Below the arrow was a phone number.  It was the same number I had for the shop.  Encouraged, I turned on to the two-track and checked my watch.  It was 7:15 a.m.


After a few hundred yards, with the road turning slightly left then right, I flushed a Ruffed Grouse off the road.  Smiling, I turned another corner and the woods opened into a very large clearing with a well-kept house, lined up trailers, and a huge shop at the far end.  The rollup door of the shop was open, and I saw a man sitting in a chair drinking coffee.  I pulled up, rolled down my passenger window, and said, “I’m Randy.  I sure do hope you are expecting me.  Can you fix my axle?”  It was 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. 


“Back that thing in here,” he said.  Two more men appeared out of the back, as I unhooked the trailer.  “Why don’t you head to Rebecca’s CafĂ© in Becker and get some breakfast, “he said.  “We got this.  I’ll see you in an hour or so.”  Before I left, they had all three tires off the ground, the wheels off, and I didn’t want to get in the way. I left the high-flying wheel with them and left to get some breakfast. 


By the time I returned, a new 7500# axle was exactly fitted and mounted, with new brakes, new bearings, and one new tire.  Also, the other axle’s bearings were checked and the bushings that linked the axles were all replaced.  By 11 a.m., they finished up and I said, “I owe you some money.  You have no idea how much I appreciate you and your crew.  Thank you!”  “Randy,” he said, “I’m glad to have the work.  We need it.  This Covid thing has our entire state about shut down.  We are happy to help.  How does $1100 sound? I only charged you labor for one guy, even though all three of us worked on it.”  He said he’s thankful for the work.  He had orders for over 100 ice-fishing houses but couldn’t get the aluminum to build them with Covid shipping problems.  Every day he wrestled keeping the business open.  So, we thanked each other. Him for the work.  Me for his work. He will never know how close he came to a bro-hug.


Wednesday afternoon, I never thought I’d be back on the road the next morning. It was 11:15 a.m. on Thursday.  I was rolling up the freeway, just past St Cloud, MN, and I was due in Great Falls, MT at 7 a.m. the next morning (Friday) to judge.  I figured I could make it if I drove through the night with a 2-hour nap thrown in there.  I texted the trial chairman and told him what happened, and I would be there for the first brace.  He expressed some skepticism. I headed west. 


The rest of the tale is uneventful, if exiting the freeway onto a narrow two-lane county highway in pitch black Montana, headed to Roundup, in the RAIN, at 1 a.m. on a Friday morning is uneventful.  In addition to the rain and dodging deer, there was a serious coffee emergency underway.  When I drove through Glendive, then Miles City looking at a beautiful sunset and dry highway, I really wasn’t thinking ahead about coffee for the all-nighter.  I assumed I’d be able to find some- somewhere.  There is no “somewhere” along that route.  Later, after a two-hour nap, I didn’t want to stop and crank up the generators to brew some, since I was already cutting my arrival close.  I had no coffee, the rain was steady, and I was pretty sure the deer were out.  I rolled into Roundup, MT at 2:30 a.m. looking for coffee. The town was closed.  I spotted a deputy idling his car, so I stopped and walked over to him.  He rolled down his window.  “Hey, Deputy, what did you do to earn the midnight shift?” I laughed. He chuckled and asked where I was headed.  “To the nearest coffee in Roundup,” I said. “I need to be in Great Falls by 7.”  “Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is there is no coffee here.  The worse news is the closest coffee is in Lewistown, an hour and change up the road at the Town Pump,” he said.  “What’s the good news?” I asked.  “I get off work in 4 hours,” he said, laughing.   


At least the rain backed off to a drizzle.  


When I hit Lewistown, it was still dark, still raining, and my “caffeine low” light was flashing red.  I stopped at the Town Pump and filled a giant Yeti cup with their finest, organic, sustainably grown, family-farmed, farmer-harvested, eco-friendly, gently roasted gas station coffee. It was so strong it was doing pushups in the cup.  It reminded me, a little, of Ready Room coffee in the Navy, but marginally more refined.  Perfect.


At 7 a.m., the Beast, the camper, me, and 5 bird dogs rolled onto the trial grounds off the end of the runway in Great Falls, MT.  I staked the dogs out, watered them, and climbed on to a 4-wheeler to judge.  I drove quickly to the start line, saw another judge, two dogs, and two handlers.   I checked my watch, waited ten seconds, and yelled, “Turn ‘em loose!” at exactly 7:30 a.m.  


In less than 24 hours, I went from a broken axle/lost tire on the side of the freeway, hundreds of miles from my destination, where I didn’t know anyone, to cruising down the road, whole and healthy, and on the way to fulfill a promise, on time.  Everything just fell into place.


Yep. Livin’ the life.




Randy is a member of the Georgia Region NSTRA (#8381).  This article is an excerpt from his next book. Both his published books, Endless October and Endless October- Season 2, are available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Audible Book formats.  Check out his BLOG:, Podcast: A Bird Hunter’s Thoughts-Turn ‘em Loose, and YouTube Channel: A Bird Hunter’s Thoughts.




Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Dr Vaughn, DVM does Acupuncture on my 12 y.o. Brittany, Ruby.

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