Thursday, May 18, 2017
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
|Photo by Nancy Whitehead|
|Watson and Clayton (handler)|
Ruby and Watson puppies due mid-June. Watson is arguably one of the best, if not the best, Brittany in NSTRA now, and has been for the last few years. (See below) Ruby is my female and, while we compete in NSTRA with a lot of success (2015 NSTRA Georgia Region High Point Female and Fifth Place Georgia Championships, 2016 NSTRA Georgia Region Winner/Champion, 2017 NSTRA Georgia Region 3rd Place, 1XNSTRA Champion), she really shines as a bird dog hunting all around the country- 7 states, 10 species last season alone. This will be her third, and last, litter. I have 2 of her puppies, of my 4 total bird dogs. She's a smart, long-legged, sweet girl, who handles all her birds with class. Both dogs are Nolan's Last Bullet line. Ruby is a direct daughter of Bullet. Watson is a grandson to Bullet. Please PM me for more information. Males $1000/Females $1250 770-584-5085
|Ruby and me- First Place in GA Region Championships|
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
|Handheld Alpha and Standard and Mini Collars|
Along with my dogs, guns, shells and license, my Alpha is a mandatory piece of hunting gear. The picture shows my outfit (minus one more standard collar). I'm not exaggerating when I say I won't put a dog on the ground without it. The peace of mind it offers is nothing short of amazing. I hunted for 20 years with every tool used to locate dogs, from nothing but an eyeball looking for my dog, to a bell, to beepers, etc. When the Astro 220 hit the streets, I was an eager consumer. The Alpha has many advantages over the Astro. I'm not going to compare models- go to the Garmin Website (https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/cIntoSports-c10342-p1.html) to do that- but I will relate a few things I've found over the years. One big advantage is it reduces the number of collars on your dog. I would use the Astro and also an ecollar. The Alpha incorporates the ecollar and tracker into one unit. The smaller collar, the TT-15 Mini, has many advantages over the standard TT-15. It fits my smaller female Brit (the standard TT-15 would not tighten enough to put the contacts on the dog's skin), and the smaller profile means it's lighter, as well. Any replacement collars I buy will be Mini's. The battery is slightly less strong on the Mini, but because I charge them constantly and keep them charged, that is not an issue with me. The batteries will easily last as long as the normal 2-3 hour cast (17 hours for the Mini- depending on setup), and you can turn off the collar to save the battery, if you like (or change the update rate, or use the "sleep" feature of the Mini). I've never had an issue with battery life (except when I was too tired to charge it at night- then I plugged it in on the way to hunt and let it charge.).
|The Home Screen|
Above is the Home Screen. Every hunt starts here. EVERY HUNT- no matter how long you intend to be gone. The upper left circle says "New Hunt". When you press that icon you will get a couple of prompts to 1.) Mark your truck and 2.) remove old dogs tracks. Be sure and mark your truck. There is nothing more pitiful than a hunter wandering around, lost, with $800 of sophisticated GPS in his hand, because he didn't mark where he started. I've seen it happen, just sayin'. Also, removing old dog tracks doesn't mean you lose them, they are merely removed from the Map screen. You can still move down the page, select Track Manager (the bottom right circle) and save all your old tracks and display them on the Basecamp software in your laptop. That is advanced gps-ing and you can learn about it later. I have a friend who saves every cast and it's interesting to go back years later and remember the entire walk. I do mark every covey, however, and keep the data on # birds, # shot, etc. Also, I have a temperature attachment that records the temp outside when I do save the track, for future reference.
|Map Screen with a dog track on it.|
This is the Map screen you get by pressing the square map symbol on the Home screen. It shows you and your dog(s) and their track. It will also show roads, public land, way-points you put in, etc. Once, in New Mexico, I used the map screen to exactly follow my wandering track back to the spot where I thought I dropped an item. It accurately put me right on the piece of gear! The next screen is the compass screen. You get there from either pressing the lower right round compass icon on the map screen, or by going to the Home screen and pressing the upper right, round compass icon.
|Compass Screen- the one I use 90% of the time.|
This is the screen I use 90% of the time. It points to my dog and tells me how far away he is. I mean, that's really why we bought this thing, right? It indicates when he is on point, as well. When a dog points he will show a pointing icon, but, in addition, I have mine set to vibrate and give off a beep tone. Normally, either the beep or the vibration will be my first indication and then I'll grab the Alpha and look at the dog's location. I'm aware of where they are, generally, so it's not a surprise. But, those guys can cover some territory and I've been taken aback more than once. My dogs will typically hunt between 50-500 yards, so this unit ensures I'll know when they locate birds. Also, I like this screen because I have confirmation of the buttons for actuation of the e-collar. Notice the very top of the screen, under the buttons. You'll see Ruby, Cap Pearl and, underneath, a "T". The T means Tone and, of course, the dog's names. As shown, I would be only running Pearl, her button is far right and her track on the map screen would be Purple. (Other options are Continuous, Momentary, Vibration, etc.)
|Bottom right depicts a square icon to quickly go to maps. Bottom left, pressing the House symbol takes you to the Home Screen.|
|Touching the Dashes in bottom center will take you to a menu for more good items.|
When I first got my Alpha, I'd been using the Astro for many years. I was worried about the touch screen with gloves (can be a problem, but you get used to it), and worries about unwanted inputs into the touch screen (can be a problem, be sure and check exactly what the screen says before using the e-collar!) when moving through brush and tall grass. On the other hand, I put data "chips" in the handheld and, wherever I'm hunting, I have the public land, BLM land, BMA land, State Land, National Forest Land, and even private land with owner's names! And, it shows me where I am in relation to that property, so I don't trespass. (www.huntinggpsmaps.com) It's easy to keep charged- I just plug it in at the end of the day and it's ready to go in the morning. If I move locations, I'll plug in the handheld while moving the truck. It uses either a USB connection in to a cigarette lighter slot, or it has an adapter for use with a standard 110 outlet. I have the charging cables all ready in my truck and plug everything in when I load my dogs and the units charge until I put them on another dog. I don't recommend crating the dog with the collar on- the antennas make super tasty chew toys to a bored dog. It only takes a minute for the handheld and collar to locate themselves again in the new location. They are already paired and stay that way as you turn them off and back on.
A really nice feature is the "Lost Dog" mode, I call it. If the collar battery gets to less than 25% charge, the refresh rate (the rate that the collar transmits position to the handheld) automatically changes to every 2 min., thereby saving the collar battery. As you drive around the country looking for your Pointer, you can watch the handheld. It will point to his last known position and will pick up the collar again when you get in range (they say 9 miles, but that's under perfect theoretical conditions. Still, it's a long ways.). This isn't the default setting, so be sure and set that in the initial setup. Speaking of the 2 min refresh rate, if your collar battery is getting low, and you know it and don't need the lost dog setting, you can go in and change the rate back to 2.5 sec (or whatever you want). It's amazing how far a bird dog can go in 2 minutes! You may think the unit is messed up and not following your dog- check the refresh rate first. The shortest refresh rate on this unit is every 2.5 sec. It works fine, but I wouldn't even mind a faster refresh rate than 2.5 sec. (Hey, Garmin, are you there?) I mentioned how the handheld will vibrate and tone when a dog is on point. Right now, the handheld emits the same tone for each collar (you select). Wouldn't it be nice to have a separate "on point" tone for each collar? Often, it would negate needing to look at the handheld to see which dog is pointed. (That's another one for you, my GPS-engineer Garmin friends.)
So, should you buy one? Most likely, YES. I've only scratched the surface of what they can do. They can send messages between handhelds (preset). They have sunrise/sunset tables, preloaded cities, navigation, etc. The same stuff normal GPS units have. Is fact, you can remove the tall antenna and use them as a normal GPS. It's going to take some sitting down with the manual and playing with it. Walking along waiting for the pager to go off, you can scroll through the screens and browse. When a bird or covey flushes, I like to use "Sight and Go" to mark where they landed (top right circle). I also Mark (bottom left circle) every covey or flush, etc. and keep record of hunting trips all over the country for the last...many years. I highly recommend using this gear. It is the class of the group. It's reliable. It's accurate.
Full Disclosure: I've not received any consideration from Garmin.
|I heard the page. Now, how far away is she?|
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
|Cap and me in Idaho- Chukar|
I hunt all over the country. When a new area piques my interest, I do the research and load the dogs to check it out. I often think, my dogs must think their dog boxes are the most amazing machines- they go in at home in Georgia and they pop out somewhere else! The only thing they know for sure is that there is some gamebird at the end of the trail. It's pretty interesting to see how quickly they figure out the bird and the particular way that works best to pin them down. My older dogs jump out of the box, look around, and say, "Hunh! Alfalfa fields, dikes, warm, dry, wide open.....must be Montana and Sharptails, again. But, I'll bet I get another shot at Huns, today, too! I just hope the Bossman can hit 'em this year!"
|Hunter walking trail, Wisconsin.|
All that said, not only are there rewards for the traveling hunter (and that may be just an hour away- not necessarily across the country), but there may be many hazards, as well. For example, snakes in September in Montana (Prairie Rattlers) as well as porcupines and skunks, porkies in Wisconsin/Minnesota, snakes and Javelina in NM, lava rock in AZ and barbed wire everywhere!
|The Boys have them nailed- NM Blues.|
|Young puppy, Cap, and me in NM.|
A few years ago, I looked at Pet Insurance and did some pretty extensive Internet research into the companies offering the product. I found a pretty diverse premium range and range of what was covered or not. For example, I was only interested in accident insurance. Mainly, I figured my main hazards would be porcupine, snakebite, barbed wire, animal encounters, roadway crossings, etc. Big stuff that would cost thousands to fix. All of that was covered in all the policies. I asked a vet in ND, one time, what did she mostly see in the clinic as far as hunting dogs? "Barbed wire and cruciate ligament tears", was the answer. So, I looked for the exceptions. In fact, cruciate tears are not covered in my policy, nor in most others' standard policies. Nor are genetic defects, etc. It's so important to read the exceptions and apply that to your particular case!
|Ace and a few ditch chickens in ND|
I decided to go with a company called Pets Best. I covered 4 Brittanys- 2 male, 2 female (none altered), ranging in age from 3 to 6 years old. My policy is for 20% deductible with a one-time/year/dog charge of $100. They pay 80% after the $100 (once per year) charge. My premiums are $272.64 every 6 mos, auto charged to CC. Total of $545.28/year. I did get some discounts for number of dogs, military retired, auto deduct, etc. There are lots of options there. You can go all the way to 100% coverage, or up to $1000 deductible, etc. I have no doubt the care would have been done, adn I would have paid, but this coverage made the repair of my dog's eye much more palatable.
So, to my particular example. Cap, my main man now, took a spine of something to the eye in NM this year. It entered the eye, passed through the lens and went out the back! Evidently, he jerked back, because while the track was there, the spine was not. My local vet wisely referred me to a Veterinary Ophthalmologist immediately. I got a referral the same day and was sitting in the office by 1pm. Apparently, these guys are rare as hen's teeth, but one opened an office 30 miles away. Normally, I would expect to go to the University of GA or Auburn Vet School (both 2+ hours away). Cap was treated successfully with surgery (I won't go in to detail since this is about the money) and is back running field trials with great success. I guess 3 weeks wearing a cone wasn't too debilitating. So, the numbers: The total for surgery was $3810.79. After the one-time $100 ded. and the 20% deductible, the amount deposited in my checking account was $2968.64. The claim was filed on 19 Jan 2017 and the money was in the account 10 Feb 2017. There were other charges along the way for different meds during recovery (they were changed due to a stubborn infection during recovery) and they were all paid at 80%. Along with Cap, Pearl, Brit female, also had corneal damage and was seen at the same time as Cap. Her treatment was done with eye drops, was in the $450 range and was paid into my account at the same time as Cap's.
|Cap on the way to a NSTRA First Place 2/11/17|
All the paperwork was filed online. (I have an app on my phone that will take a picture and convert it to a .pdf document.) The company did request some records from the specialist for Cap, and his staff provided them. They did not request records for Pearl, the difference due to the disparity in cost of Cap's procedure, I assume.
I guess the question is this: Is $540/year justified by the likelihood of incurring a covered injury. For me, the answer is a conditional "yes". If I was only running field trials, or hunting the family farm, maybe not. But, my policy paid off three times now (also, barbed wire for Pearl last season in ND). I'm happy, but I still check around. Recommendation: IF you decide this might be for you, I can recommend this company- Pets Best. I had an excellent experience with them. They did everything they said they'd do- on time.
Full Disclosure: I received no consideration from anyone at Pets Best. I have not corresponded with them, other than to file claims, obtain the policy, etc.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
I hunt, almost exclusively, public land. I can't afford Texas, or, in
some cases, I don't want to be tied down to a lease I've paid a pile of
money for. I hunt many states every season, for numerous species of
birds, and, if I had a sweet Texas lease, I'd feel that pressure to "get
my money's worth".
So,given that I hunt public land a lot, I'm very attuned to any effort to
"sell, dispose, transfer" public lands to the states. Why? Because
states have done an abysmal job of managing their lands, including
excluding any hunting, fishing, recreational use. To be fair, the
primary use for the states' land is to raise revenue. The ways I've
seen them do that is to lease to farmers, ranchers, etc. Some states
only restrict access when there are standing crops in the field. Some
states restrict assess all the time. Federal lands, by law, are
required to manage for many uses, including hunting, fishing, camping,
off roading, mountain biking, etc.
Also, Federal lands (BLM, Nat. Forest, etc.) can be protected by the Feds-
for example forest fires. A huge western forest fire could bankrupt
some western states. They really can't afford it. So, the obvious
solution for them is to SELL it. And, you can rest assured there are
individuals out there who will buy millions of acres one day and post it
|Rick and Gigi|
The states have a solid track record of selling their land. To my mind,
it's best to ensure the Federal Government keeps, manages and protects
our land. To those of you that have never hunted a state with BLM land,
it is an amazing experience. With very few restrictions, if you see it,
you can hunt it- not something most Easterners are used to. But, you
can also camp on it, hike on it, fish on it, get closer to your kids on
it, honeymoon on it. Don't let this incredible resource slip out of our
|National Forest Minnesota|
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Please clisk this link and read the fine BLOG post by Andrew Wayment. He hit the nail on the head.
Click here for Upland Ways
Click here for Upland Ways
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Click Here for GoPro video.
I'm taking some pretty good pictures on my travels. However, I'm missing easily 50% of the best pictures, because I don't have a zoom lens. I have a GoPro and, with the editing software, I think I may have found a solution, short of spending $2000. I'm going to give it a shot.
|Love these Blue Quail in New Mexico!|
For some reason, I love hunting these frustrating birds! Back home, in Georgia, I'll mention I'm on my way to New Mexico to hunt Blues and I'll get lots of comments about how they run and are hard to get up to shoot. Exactly! They are a tough, challenging bird. As much as I enjoy hunting a Texas lease with 20+ coveys per day, for the walking hunter, these Blue Quail have their own mystique. I wish all birds were as cooperative as Bobwhites- a true gentleman bird. I finally realized I must not be that gentleman. I truly enjoy the challenge of chasing the Blue devils.
|Shack has a covey pinned|
These tough, blue SOB's are anything but gentlemen. They will run away so fast a West Texas pointer can't keep up with them! Then, the next covey will split up and hide in every bush, or fly and land in a cholla cactus tree, of just hold tight while the dog runs past looking for a sprinting covey. They will flush in front of you, behind you, under your feet. They will flush half a covey and run the rest!
|Shack catching scent a ways off.|
|Shack with a snoot full of Blue Quail scent.|
|Pearl says, "When you're done fooling around, I'm ready!"|
|Ethan and his first Blue Quail- He did a good job!|
|Them Texas Boys is shooters!|
|Cap finds a swimming hole!|
|Lunch on the tailgate- wind is brutal from the front of the truck!|
|Ending a successful season with Robert Siler!|
Finally, at the end of the last day, a bottle of good bourbon appeared and two, old birdhunters lifted a glass to good dogs, good friends and a worthy opponent! (Hey, Honey, only 7 months until bird season!)
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
They are a special type of polymer. Tough as nails and legal everywhere.
That's a bunch of gripping action!
It's a common problem when hunting out west, or even here in GA on the red clay back roads we have. Out west, many times, the roads will be frozen heading in to the back country, and will thaw during the day, making getting out somewhat problematic. In the south, even a slight rain turns the red clay roads into a form of slick snot. I don't care how many wheel drive you have, you ain't going anywhere. Tires are a factor, but I like to have some form of chain to put on my wheels, in the event I need to get somewhere, like bed and a hot meal. I've used actual chains when getting stuck on some North Dakota roads, and it was a pain, and muddy. But, eventually, they worked and I got myself unstuck and on the way. Twice in my hunting career, I've relied on the largess of a local farmer to pull me out with a tractor. (Both times those tractors were so big, they could have pulled the dark out of the night, I think.).
I knew there had to be a better way. Go Claws. (http://www.flextrax.com/). Google searching produced this interesting little article. I followed up with a call to the company and the owner, designer picked up. Nice guy! I ordered a set, then another set. I figure, if I put one of these on each wheel, I'll be able to go anywhere, anytime.
They are incredibly easy to put on. Literally, after you do it once, it will take less than 5 minutes per tire, more like a minute. You can drive with them on bare road for many miles and not damage the tires or the road. And they grip like a tick on your best bird dog!
Recommendation: go to the website and watch the videos. My recommendation is a buy. I have a set for each tire and it gives me great piece of mind while on a trip and seeing storm roll up the valley. "Bring it!" I think. "At least I'll make it back to the motel."
(Full Disclosure: I was not compensated in any manner by anyone selling, manufacturing, or marketing the subject of this post.)
Thursday, December 22, 2016
|Male and Female Mearn's Quail|
|Ruby has a covey!|
|Shack backing Cap backing Spirit on the birds!|
|Ruby, me, Pearl after a nice retrieve by Pearl!|
|Wally and Spirit cooling off.|
|Cowboy statue in Senoita, AZ|
|A lost visitor needs humanitarian assistance. Antonio.|
|Trans-Texas Highway Scenery|
|Blue Quail/Scaled Quail/Cotton-top|
|Shack has the covey!|
|Sunning on the road by our parked trucks....sorry.|
|Nastiness. Cholla cactus.|
|John headed to the point!|
Merry Christmas, my bird dog friends!