Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Next adventure- 19 Oct.


Well, my kennel is filling up with dogs- one today, one tomorrow and 4 more on Sunday. I'll be busy for the next few weeks. I leave out on the 19th October for SD and ND and some great pheasant hunting. This should be another wonderful year! Old Bo, Peaches and Ace will be running again! Until then......

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ace (Stinky) and his Trophies

Last weekend we tried to defend our victory in the 2007 Ironman, but I failed miserably for my part. We finished 3rd. Here are his trophies- both Welker Originals from the last 2 years.

Next hunt will start 19 Oct for the pheasant extravaganza to SD and ND- stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Driving in to Hunt

video

Last day- heading to the honey hole. 8 flushes so far. The cover is very thick and these boys are wiley and FAST! Having a blast hunting the best gamebird on the planet.

Last Day of First Hunt


It has to come, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Lets see, skunks, vets, wolves, points, retrieves, flushes, great dog work, great weather...wow, lots of memories! Today, I'm going to be the first guy on a particular set of trails. No prisoners today- I told the dogs, "No birds- You get sold!".. More later.
Oh.....this dog is the daughter of Ace. The owner brought her along at 8 mos. old and she's hunting like an ......well.....Ace. I told him to just leave her with me, she ain't much, I'll take her off your hands, etc., etc. He wasn't buying. She'll be a good one! Her name is Lily.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Smith Rapids Covered Bridge

Amazing what you find in the backwoods! This covered bridge was re-built in 1992, over the Smith Rapids.

A little vet action

Here's Ace recovering from the anesthesia after the procedure to pull a seed from his eye. It was stuck in the soft tissue around the bottom of the eye and he had to be sedated to get it out. All is well now and he should be back on the job tomorrow.

Perfect day again. Sunny and 50 deg.

Monday, September 15, 2008

To the left is one of the culinary establishments of the Great North Woods- notice the great food and bait advertisement. To the right is Robert S. and his 6 month old Brit, daughter of Ace. She's already hunting great and putting things together. The hunting today should have been great but I had only 3 flushes and one in the bag. I had 2 flush at the same time and knocked the first one down, then swung to the second and dropped it too! The bad news is that I hunted dead for 10 minutes and could not find that first bird- I hate that. It was a picture perfect day for grouse, today. I really don't think the numbers are up at all this year, at least in this area. There aren't any hunters in the area doing well- so it isn't just me. We walked between 8-10 miles today. The good news is I'm having a great time in the woods.

Sunday, September 14, 2008



Here's a shot of the foliage in WI right now. You can't see it, but the weather was 58 deg and rain. All the hunting parties, including me, had a poor day. Ace locked up on a bird 30 yards off the trail and it held until I got there. The flush was left to right (I'm a lefty- so this was a good thing) and I was mentally putting this bad boy in my bag and pulling the trigger on the Fox when...oops, where did that sapling come from? The barrel hit the tree just as the gun fired. I still have the mental image of that grouse and I swear he was looking right at me- and laughing! I figure if you take this grouse hunting personally, you'll be a bitter old man in short order. So, my philosophy is- I've never had a bad or unsuccessful day in the field. Period. If you measure your success by the size of your game bag at the end of the day, you are going to end up giving up this sport. I have some friends that ask me, first thing, all the time when I get home, "How many birds did you kill?" "All of them I could!", I'll answer.

Tomorrow, I know a great spot and I'll bet its loaded with birds!

Skunk

Forgot to pass along the only totally effective skunk remedy- verified by Ace. 2 bottles hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 tbsp dishwashing liguid. Mix in gallon water. Pour on - skunk gone. Rermarkable!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Day 1


Like my daddy used to say- It rained like a cow.....well....it was really raining! I think we got over 2 inches throughout the day and I was soaking wet. Temp was only 60 deg. so really not a problem. Saw 6 birds and got one in the bag, too. Pretty low numbers so far, but I'm sure the weather had a lot to do with it.

The picture is of one tired dog (Bo) at the end of the day. He disappeared around 4pm and I waited and waited and shot 4 times and blew my whistle, but finally I headed back to the truck to dry off. I left about an hour later and headed back down the trail to find my dog, sans gun. About a hundred yard in, a large gray, bushy tailed, gray with red and brown undertones dog came out of the brush beside the trail and walked to the middle- looking away from me. It was a wolf! I yelled and it turned, stared and loped away up the trail. I kept pushing on and, finally, about 4 hours after I last saw him- I found him! He was so tired he kept wanting to lie down and that's when I noticed the blood on his left hindquarter. A perfect puncture wound! My theory is that he knocked heads with a wolf and got away. Bo ain't talking either.....

Grouse Heaven

This is the sight that a grouse man likes to see. First cast today was dry with stinky, but we were early in the day. Had a few lock down points with no production. It's humid and 60 deg with a smattering of rain, so I would think things would be good! Lunch with the other party may yield some clues. Ace ran to big on these trails. Hopefully, he'll figure it out. Peaches my 8 year setter is up next and she's great on grouse- hope the shooting is up to par.

September 2008 Grouse Opener

Phillips, Wisconsin- opening day. Raining like.....well, it is raining. Still manage 6 flushes and 1 in the bag. But, hold the presses, another more interesting story is for the telling!! But, later gator, we are off to take in some food......

Opening Day

What every good grouse dog dreams of. This one is no exception!

Friday, September 12, 2008



We are travelling from Montana to Wisconsin at the present. I need to drop Dennis off at the Minneapolis Airport first and then it's off the Phillips for the Ruffed Grouse opener! I enjoy walking those trails probably more than any other form of bird hunting. I've often said if forced to hunt only one bird- it would be Ruffed Grouse! That is a true gamebird- hard to find and impossible to shoot. I'm sure that there are many who would say they have no problem getting a 5 bird limit everytime they go out. I do- and I'm not ashamed to say it. I limited last year in September and took a self portrait- its my screensaver. I love to look at it and remember the dog work, the shooting and the day.

That's Ace (stinky, I call him now) above with one of his Sharpies in Montana. Good year up there, by the way. Not like last year, but when is it ever- right?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Skunked again!

Great day and smelly dog! Yikes. Poor Ace hit the mother load this time. He must have been a big boy skunk- no warning shot this time! Ace got it right in the kisser! He ran to me across the field and I could smell him coming- the poor thing. He threw up twice on the way back to the truck. What you see is the tomato juice with baking soda and white vinegar. He's outside whining right now. Guess I better go see him. Phew!!!

You meet the strangest folks when bird hunting all over the states. I was alongside the road trying to clean Ace off when I heard a familiar voice saying, "What are you doing here?" It was Rick Hopkins from GA! Earlier today we went into a roadhouse to buy some cokes to go with lunch and who do I see, but Quintin Wiseman and a boat load of hunters from GA and SC! Small world for bird hunters, I guess.

Tomorrow, it's off to WI for Ruffed Grouse. It will be a travel day on Friday- the season opens on Saturday.

Tricks of the Trade




Ever wonder how you give water to your dog out in the middle of the prairie? It's not one of those pressing problems until your thirsty buddy is looking at you holding a water bottle and you are thinking about how to get it in to him without spilling half of it. I used go carry little cups and collapsible bottles and all manner of things when I had to hunt on the prairie. Now I just pull my hat off and pour the water in it. It works great! With the added benefit that when the dogs are finished, I get to put a cool hat back on my own head (that's cool in temperature- my hats are definitely not "cool"). My dogs now recognize when I call them in and take off my hat, they know it's watering time. My rule in hunting is to take enough water for you and the dog and give it all to the dog. Many places we hunt have ponds, lakes or streams and that makes it easy for the dogs to get all the water they need, but some places are high desert and you have to bring your own (such as Montana, TX, NM, ND, SD).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008







Here is the intrepid hunter in the morning looking all fresh, the "outfit" the call it up here- my trailer and truck parked, and Bo ready to go. We had a great day today. It started out real slow with just a few birds found and they jumped up too far out to shoot. Dennis got one finally, but I was bird less. Then at another field, we found a big covey and both of us got one. We moved to another ranch and jumped on a field that was dry last year, but this year I took my Ace dog. He found me three huge coveys in 30 minutes- I had my limit by 2pm! You should see this guy roll! He eats up the real estate and always knows where I am- I just stroll along and keep him in sight until I see him lock up. Then it's my turn to do my job- the pressure is on.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

End of the day

Hard hunt for the limit. End of the day- tired and successful. We were out of the truck at 0800 and in the Alfalfa. By 0810, we both had birds in the bag and wondering about what we would do with the rest of the day after hitting our limit in 40 minutes! By 2 pm, the temp was 82 deg. with the sun beating down and we still had a bird apiece. We reverted to combat hot weather grouse rules and went back to the motel for a combat nap. We recovered at 5pm and hit a huge alfalfa field at 5:45. We had 3 birds apiece in 30 minutes with Ace the star. What a great ending to a possibly poor day. It was incredible the number of birds we got up. The first flock was 30+ and the latter flushes were 10+. This was a great day....

Skunked

Why is Ace looking forlorn in the back of the truck? If you could smell the rascal, you'd know! He was working some real thick Alfalfa (I was looking right at him) he acted like he was making scent- then he jumped, yelped and ran up to me. I thought it was a porcupine and checked him over for quills. The wind was blowing pretty hard and he was down wind so I didn't smell him. Later, I caught a whiff of him and knew why I packed the Fabreze. I'll bet it was a mature skunk that hit him. It was really just a warning tap- a little shot right between the eyes! Old Mister Skunk was saying "Hey, dog, here's a little present! Come any closer and you'll be walking home because I'll make you stink so bad they won't let you in the truck!"

Forget the tomato juice or any of that stuff. Fabreze breaks it down chemically and takes care of it. He's back in his box now- smelling outdoorsey fresh!!!

Habitat

It doesn't look much different, but the green in the pic is Alfalfa. The thicker- the better. Found 20+/- birds in the left end of the draw. Bo nailed them down for me.

Good Hunting


We are finding birds- lots of birds. We will only hunt the alfalfa and only the thick stuff at that. Finding land to hunt is not hard, either. We know of a few sign in places that hold birds and on the way there we keep an eye out for likely looking ranches with thick alfalfa fields. Then we look for the green sign that indicates they are in the Block Management Program. Usually, the farmer's phone number is on the sign and we'll call them up and arrange a visit to the house for a 3 day (max) pass. There is no fee for this, other than your hunting license. We have about 50,000 ac. we can hunt this morning, of course only a small portion of that is suitable for Sharps, but, still, it sounds good.

My 16 ga. is the perfect gun for this! I'm shooting 6 shot Fiochi Golden Pheasant. Now, they are real proud of that shell, but, to me, it's worth the extra expense. Oh, and one more thing, in case you haven't bought shells this year, standby for sticker shock! What you were paying last year for a box of your favorites ($7) is more than doubled ($18). You can thank the Democrats for that- (Note!- Not really, but I always wanted to say that!).

Don't forget to get your BLM maps and Block Management Maps ahead of time. With a little planning, you can have a great time. I'm thinking it's even better up north. Well, I seem to have deleted my pictures off my computer and chip- so I'll talke a bunch today and try to catch up....don't forget...

Hunting is close to heaven behind a good dog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Status

It looks like another great day- cool in the am and a little warm during the day. Later in the week, it will get to the 70's and we may have to take a break during the middle of the day, but today it will only make it to 65. Bo, my 10 year old, is a little stiff this morning, so some Remadyl will do the job and a long walk to loosen him up. I run him first, since he has seniority and it's cooler then too. Peaches, my 8 year old setter is next. Then the bonehead (Ace) takes the field. I know some guys hunt more than one dog, I used to do that, but lately I like to concentrate on just one dog. Well, off to another day in the bird wars of 2008.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First Day Dogs

Well, dogs need to get fit too! My legs hurt and I'm a little tired, but Bo is 10 years old and he's moving real slow right now- after hunting for 2 hours today. Peaches is 8 and she hunted pretty well and Ace at 3 is super and ready to go again. I a little worried about these great dogs.

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Here's to a good first day! Ace is checking out the haul. He doesn't realize it but he's looking at whole wheat pasta with grouse sauce for dinner tomorrow night. Let's see- we marinate 5 grouse breasts overnight in a marinade made of olive oil, fresh garlic, fresh sage and other spices for 13 hours. Then cube, stir fry and add to favorite pasta sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.

This place is great again this year and the honey holes from last year are still producing. I look forward to working dogs and shooting birds here for a week.

Peaches

Here's Peaches and I after a successful cast! She's my old reliable- steady and constant. Old Bo is trying hard, but you can tell he's tired and, like me, takes a little more time to do the same things he used to. Ace is flash and fire and he is finding the birds! I laugh out loud when I see him screw himself into the ground when he hits scent in the field- just rock solid. Today I'll try to get a picture of him- I've been so excited to get up there and shoot birds, I don't do it.

Balloon Race in the ND Badlands

Balloons over the badlands. Medora, ND.

Great Hunter Motel

Motel decor in Belfield, ND. We'll be in the field in an hour or so. 44 deg/ clear. Dogs are raring to go!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

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There we go!! One more state to go. Beautiful weather!!

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This is the best breakfast in America. I only wish I didn't have to sit for 12 hours after, of all thing, potato pancakes. The pies are national award winners too. Osseo, WI.

Friday, September 5, 2008

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They said "pet friendly"- so we took them at their word. Right, Ace? You've got to love places like this Econolodge near Osseo, WI that welcome your dog(s). Rain and 66 deg with lows to 37 tomorrow!

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Wisconsin at last! Norske Nook in Osseo for breakfast. 37 deg in Baker, MT tonight. Great hunting weather for next week! Perfect!

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Still truckin'!

On the Road Again

I made it with 4 mintes to spare. Will spend the night in IL pr WI to be in Baker Sat night. I hate missing the football game, but we'll catch one next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Last Day before departure

I never can figure out exactly what to take. You'd think a guy like me that's been travelling all his life all over the world would be able to pack for a little two week trip! I mean- hot or cold? Well, it looks like 40's at night and 60-70's during the day. BUT, it could be 20's at night and 90's during the day. I'm hoping for the cooler weather, for sure. I'll take my favorite sweater, short and long sleeve shirts and jeans and canvas pants- heck, I usually wear the same thing for several days anyway- too tired to change out. Jacket and hats, etc. Raingear and gloves, vest, etc. Three 20-ga. guns and one 16-ga. should round out the gun load.

Depart at 0400 to pick up Dennis at 0500 in Marietta- then on the road again......

Dogs are ready, trailer is ready, guns are ready and I'm way past ready. I even gave Bo a little "come to Jesus" lecture about running off. We'll see if that worked- Ha!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Front Porch Photo

You have to love fall. Today is my birthday and I took this picture looking out my front door. With a hint of the cool weather to come, you have to love this place!

Monday, September 1, 2008

To Trailer on Not?


When I started traveling to hunt around the country, I used to get all my gear, dogs, guns and stuff in the pickup. Dog crates jammed in the bed of the truck, clothes and guns stashed in the backseat- I looked like a member of the Clampet's on the way to California. We'd laugh at the stack of stuff tied in with the dog crates and food buckets and water cans. About 6 years ago, I finally broke down and decided it was time to get one of those fancy dog trailers. I'd been seeing a lot of them at the NSTRA trials. The big boys would roll in to the area dragging fancy trailers behind their motor coaches or big diesel trucks. Those dogs had is good- living at the Ritz! I looked at Cabelas and Bass Pro and online, too. I asked a few of the "big boys" what the best trailer was and, without exception, it was "Jones". (http://www.jonestrailers.com/) I compared prices for about a month with all the folks I could find on the net. While Jones trailers were higher upfront, when I started adding up all the features to get other trailers comparable, the Jones many times was cheaper. They are custom made to order most times- mine was stainless steel, 6 holer, with fan and water. I really like the safety aspect, too. They make no bones about the fact their trailers protect your dogs.


I have 3 bird dogs, so I figured a 4-holer would be perfect. When I talked to the Jones folks, they told me they'd sell me what I wanted, but they recommended the 6 holer. "No one ever brought back a 6 holer and said it was too big, but we get pleny of 4 holers brought back for being too small. Seems like bird hunters always pick up the dogs of their friends and hunting partners, too, so you gotta factor that in!" Oh, how right he was! I fill this one up all the time.


So I packed up the old F-250 and drove to Woodson, TX to get my trailer- made it right at 5:00 pm in one day, too. I hooked that trailer on the back and headed home. It drives so well, I have to conciously remember that I have it on the back. I can haul everything I need for extended trips in that trailer and I'm convinced it is more comfortable for the dogs, too. Now, these trailers are the best on the road, in my opinion, and those folks in Woodson, TX are real proud of them, too. But the re-sale is very high, also. I recommend them to you.