Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Airline Travel with your Buddy

Of all people, I should be the one to tell you travel with your dog is a piece of cake.  (I'm a 27 year retired pilot.).  However, the anxiety is still there when I approach the flight- no different than anyone else.

It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour from the time I arrive at the front of the airport to when I clear security and head to the gate.  That's to check dogs and get them through security and then do the same for the guns.  It's a goat-rope for sure, but the 2 1/2 hour flight versus a day and a half drive sure makes up for it.  That is....until something doesn't work according to plan.  In my many years of airline flying, I've seen a lot of that- things not according to plan. 

We wrapped up our hunt in South Dakota with a last day that saw a lot of birds and a filled possession limit.  It was time to head home for Christmas and a lot of family time.  We packed the bird cooler with the birds (with all the requisite information on the birds) and headed to the airport and our Delta flight home.  We got there with plenty of time to spare and got the dogs and guns checked and on their way and eased to the gate to settle in for a short wait.  Piece of cake, I said to myself.  I'll be home by 10 p.m.  Our seats were called and we headed to the plane to stake our claim to the back row.  About 10 minutes before takeoff, the gate agent came back to us.  She said this airplane had a malfunction in the cargo bin and the dogs could not go with us, but would be on the next flight! We knew if we got off the plane we would spend the night there, since all the other flights were full. We decided to go to Atlanta and wait for the dogs there.  "What if they don't get on the next, and last, plane?" I asked.  "They go to a kennel for the night and we'll send them first plane in the morning." she answered.  I sure hope so, I thought.

We arrived in ATL and claimed our bags, guns and birds.  Everything but the most important stuff- the reason I go hunting- my dog! It turns out they arrived about 30 minutes after we did.  We were a little late departing and they were on time.  I have to say, I was glad to see the shaggy eared mutt roll out of the oversized luggage space.  I took his crate outside and let him out to water down.  It was then I noticed his kennel was cleaned out, the attached water bowl was new and different, and the security tabs were different than the ones on the crate earlier.  In addition, he didn't need to relieve himself- he'd been watered before he left.   Those Delta folks did all that in the 30 minutes they had before they loaded him on the next flight!  I was, and am, thankful for those good people.  I know, having worked extensively for two huge bureaucracies, the US Navy and Delta Airlines, that supervisors like letters to inform them of who's doing what.  So I wrote them a complimentary letter using as many names as I could remember.  I do know they will get the word.

That dog trailer is looking prety good for the trip to NM to bag a few blues in January....stay tuned!

Friday, December 18, 2009

SD Late Season Rooster

Absolutely perfect!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SD late season Hunt

It's perfect today! Notice the CRP behind me. Loaded with birds. Temp 15 deg and warming nicely.

Snow Hunting in SD

Great time yesterday!  Even thought the temp never got above 20 degrees, after humping around the fields and through the drifts, we stayed warm and toasty.  There are lots of birds here (so many that the SD DNR came within one vote on the board of upping the limit to 5 birds per day for the rest of the year) and when Ace pointed I nearly had to kick every clump to get them to fly!  Great hunting!  This part of SD has very little public land, but just south in the Huron area there is plenty.  The birds are fat and full of corn- one we bagged needed a running start to get off the ground.  He barely got the wheels up and he was grounded!  Today will be a balmy 25 degrees and our hosts need to get some outside work done, so we are on our own again with (estimated) 10,000 ac. to hunt.  However, we are taking them out to dinner tonight, if I can stay awake long enough. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day One

Woke up to frozen pipes. We got them thawed pretty quick and prepared for the Day One goat rope- trying to get all the beepers and bells and shells and guns and dogs sorted out. High temp today will be in the 20's and that's a manageable temp for everyone. It's only 0600 here and hunting starts at 1000, so we have plenty of time to get the minutia organized.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yow! I'ts cold for a Georgia redneck like me!

Yikes. I jumped out of the van to let the dogs water.  Everything was going pretty well until I turned into the wind!  You need to be tough to live up here.  I grew up in Anchorage, AK, and I swear the weather is more harsh here in SD!

On the way.

The flight with Ace was perfect. -17 chill factor when we arrived, but he beat us to baggage claim. I heard him before I saw him. He was a happy little Brit when he heard my low whistle. Flying is a great way to get hunting in a hurry- I still think I like driving though. I can take all my stuff.

-18 Wind Chill

Good to be a travel day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting Psyced Up

Ace is ready for the plane ride (his first) to Minneapolis tomorrow. Then a 4 hour drive to Redfield, SD. Dennis is taking his Lab, Gracie. Between us we hope to have enough dog power to make a dent in the pheasant population up there. Most, if not all, of the corn is down so it should be just like the start of the season. Aside from the fact that the high tomorrow is 4 deg, everything is perfect! Yikes, where's my Elmer Fudd hat?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

SD changes limits on pheasant for the rest of the season....

Effective 5 Dec. South Dakota changed the daily limit on pheasant to 5 roosters and possession limit to 25 roosters (after 5 days hunting).  That little bit of news couldn't have come at a better time- we'll be heading up to hunt SD from the 15th -20th, just a little south of Aberdeen.  The corn is, or will be, cut by then, the dogs are ready, the guns are's time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Tailgate Web

It’s a little intimidating to talk about dog training.  There are so many men and women out there who are such good “dog whisperers”- I can’t hold a candle to them.  But, I do know and use a few techniques that work for me…..

Touch- Good work is rewarded with a stroke down the side of the body or along the side of the head.  Not excessive- just enough for the dog to know you are pleased. They love it!  Watch momma-dog with her pups.  Where does she lick them and touch them? Along the side of the face. 

Voice- Tone and cadence are very important.  Initially, all they hear is “blah, blah, Ace, blah, blah!”.  But soon, they get the gist of what it is you want.  They will respond to the praise- “Good, Boy!”, “Let’s Go, Buddy.”, “Look in there, buddy!”.  They will also respond to “You short-tailed, spotted, snub-nosed, shaggy-eared mutt!  Get away from that skunk!” when delivered with the proper tone!

Probably the most important technique for me is consistency and repetition.  Make it the same every time and do it the same every time- and do it over and over. 

One reason I enjoy my dogs so much is because all they want to do is please me.   No other living creature can say that.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I love the Fall!


This is what I am forced to look at in the mornings, this time of year!  Don’t feel sorry for me- really!

The only thing that could make that scene more perfect is my Ace dog on point- just visible in the fog…yeah.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One Big CAT.....


I got an email about how this Cougar was shot in SD after stalking a hunter.  Hey, I “ain’t skeered”! THIS is what I use to protect me in the woods.  “A big kitty…… C’mon, give me a break!”


Monday, November 9, 2009

Yeah, the old man still has it!  This is Bo at 11+ years old with a Grouse he retrieved.  It's fun to watch the wise, old guy work- not a step wasted.

Here's Ace and me in a ND wheat field.  The CRP comes right up to the edge.  Lots of birds this year- lots of good hunting.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It works great! Keep your birds frozen!

I had the usual dilemma of bird hunter everywhere- how do I get the harvest home without spoiling or defrosting? Last year, on my way home from Kansas after duck hunting with some great friends, I stopped in the WallyWorld in Pratt, KS. The were selling dry Ice. I gave it some thought and bought 10# to lay on the top of my frozen birds. It worked great- kept them solid for 2 more days until I could get them home.

This year, going from ND to WI for more bird hunting, I had a cooler with my Pheasant possession limit in the back and needed them to stay frozen for 5 more days. A quick search located a dry ice retailer in Fargo, ND. 30# this time kept them frozen from Tuesday until Saturday. The guy in Fargo was only a mile off the interstate and didn't slow me down much.

It isn't that cheap- about $1/lb., but I think it's worth it to keep the catch fresh. They wrap it in heavy brown paper and give you a warning about breathing it (for the moron). Definitely worth the extra effort.

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Garmin Story

We were about 2 hours into a cast for grouse in Wisconsin.  Bandit was working great for an eighteen month old pup- working either side of the trail and checking in, but not too far out. I guess I became complacent, because, the next thing I knew, his beeper was GONE!  I remembered watching him about 50 yards off the trail and backtracking, but I didn't think a thing of it- he'd done it all day.  I gave a blast on the whistle and expected him to come flying up like he always did- no dog.  I reached for the Garmin a watched the little sucker heading for the hills about 200 yards out.  The problem was, he was heading deeper into the woods and not turning in response to my plaintive toots on the whistle!  I yelled and blew the whislte as he kept moving deeper and deeper- 300, 400, 500 yds.....finally, at 1 mile he turned and looped around- and around- and around.  I knew the little guy was lost, couldn't hear me, and had no idea which way to go. Hoping he'd figure it out, I fired my gun in his direction, but although he stopped (and I fired again), he turned in the wrong direction and headed out away from me.  Finally, at over 1.5 miles in the thick, hilly woods of Wisconsin, I got a beep and message that the signal was lost.  I ran to my truck (about 400 yds away), grabbed my extendable antenna, got on the road and drove to what I estimated was the closest point of approach to a local road.  I stuck the thing out the window as I drove and picked him up at 2.5 miles from the truck.  Luckily, he was heading for another local road in the woods and I determined to head him off.  As I got there, I watched him turn in circles again about 700 yds out.  I jumped out and fired 2 quick shots and noticed him stopped ("On Point").  I fired 2 more shots and he started my way.  I noticed an old logging trail that headed in his direction and started up it with the Garmin in one hand and my whistle in the other.  When he departed from the track, I'd give a long blast and he would home in on it again.  Finally, he saw me!  That was one happy little camper as he jumped in to me and wagged around me.  I guess I was a little happy, too, to see the little bugger again.  I can only surmise at what caused him to head out and figure he bumped a bird and went after it, perhaps bumping it again, or chasing a deer.  Whatever the cause, I was darn glad I had and was using the Garmin.  I may have found him that day, but I may not have.  And it would have been a miserable night for both of us.   (On a separate note, I jumped 2 grouse on that old logging road heading in to find him.  It's marked on the GPS for future exploration.  There's a silver lining to every dark cloud.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Typical Wisconsin Hunter Trail

Easy walking. Difficult shooting.

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Back in Wisconsin

It's good to be back in Grouse country! The frost is pretty thick this morning, so there's no need to rush to the woods. I'm having a nice leisurely breakfast at the Crystal Cafe and will be in the woods by 0830. I don't see many dog boxes around here today- a month ago it was a sea of Orange hats and dog boxes. The leaves are down and those that aren't are brilliant. The sun's out- it will be a good day!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Great Place To Hunt In North Dakota

Public land and a lot of it.  (Correction: This is private land open to sportsmen- that is, PLOTS.  There is a lot of it, too!)

the Big Valley

The hunting is incredible and the dogs are better.  Old Bo is tired, Ace is always ready and Bandit is coming along nicely.  Bo had a good day yesterday, just him and me working the birds like the old days. 

After a long day, on the drive out, we almost ran over these birds!  Proud suckers!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chef Dan

This is Dan and his two Labs and his first limit of pheasant!  Dan's been working hard for the last few days, along with the dogs, learning the nuances of pheasant hunting.  Today, it all came together!  Dan is a great guy to have along- he's young with good eyes to read maps and such, he can drive at night and is full of spirit.  Did I mention he's also a real life, bonifide, no-kidding CHEF!  Oh yeah, I never knew food could taste so good!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Relaxing after a long cast

He wanted into the truck. Take alook at those paws! No way!!

Hate it!

Not the hunting, but knocking 2 birds down over old Bo and not being able to find either one! Very nice points, too. Well, I do hate that!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mr Bad Boy

18 months old. He did a great job on these two. Less than 5 minutes on the ground. Bandit, son of Ace.

Wheat Awaiting Market

This is the most productive ground in the world. We feed the world, too!

Can You Spot the Fleeing Pheasant?

Big old rooster!!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

ace and three.

It doesn't take long with the right dog!


38 deg and light rain! Ace is whining and pacing and bumping me with his nose-"Hey, dude, let's hit it!" he's telling me. It must be nice to fulfill your genetic destiny like these bird dogs every time they hit the ground.

Riding the Dinosaur

It was dark when I finally caught the critter and taking this picture was problematic, for sure. When you pass through Lemmon, SD, be sure to stop at the local museum!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Visual pollution

Folks, this is ugly. An Iowa windfarm.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009


Good gosh, this a long drive. So far, I've gone 805 miles with 970 to go. It's time to pull off and watch the Falcons whup the Bears.

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I must be getting old!

Late departure- yikes. Look out birds, the boys are back in town!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We knew this was coming!!

I just got an email that said it bluntly.  The USDA is considering reducing the land in CRP by about 1/3!  Comments can be sent via email or snailmail.  Below is a my letter as an example.  I'm sure now that I have released this information to the public, my loyal readers will swamp the USDA, overwhelming the email servers and stop this bad piece of legislation.  For more informaion, email this organization:  .
Dear Sir:
I am requesting that you DO NOT reduce the acreage for CRP. In addition to the items below, CRP is a vital resource for the economic health of many rural regions around the country. Hunters spend many millions of dollars to hunt the game and bird species that rely directly on the CRP program. The loss of those dollars would directly impact the jobs in those areas and the areas surrounding those communities. The unintended consequences of a decision to reduce the acreage of CRP would be negative, serious and far-reaching.

CRP produces an estimated 13.5 million pheasants annually.

CRP in the Prairie Pothole Region produces 2 million ducks per year.

CRP boosts populations of bobwhite quail, prairie grouse and non-game grassland birds.

CRP reduces the amount of sediment released into the environment by 200 million tons.

CRP reduces sheet, rill and wind erosion.

CRP sequesters carbon, helping stop more than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the environment.

Randy Schultz

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ready to Go

The Jones trailer is ready to go this trip.  I only am taking 3 dogs, but the weather may be downright cold when we get there.  We are starting in Regent,ND and then perhaps SD or WI or both. I figure I'll take the trailer and that will be the insulated overnight condo for the boys after a long, hard day.  I'll put them in the dog box on the back of the truck for the day trips.

It's tough buying shells, though.  At least I'm down to 2 guages- 20 and 16. SD requires steel on public land as does ND, on one of the areas we hunt.  Lead is still good in most places, though.  I'm gradually switching over to all steel, now, but I have a few antiques guns I hunt with that can't take the steel and I still use lead shot in those. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What's Coming Up

This is my dog Peaches and the reward of a good afternoon hunt near Regent, ND.  Peaches was a good, solid, deliberate bird dog and is missed in the kennels.  We'll be hitting this very same spot in a few weeks.  The weather is great up there, finally- cool and cold at night....perfect. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Grouse Woods have a hold on me.

This is a trail a little north and east of Phillips. It's typical cover for the grouse woods.  This was shot on opening day this year (2009) and you can see the dog is hot. I've often said if I were limited to only one type of bird hunting, it would be for the King of Gamebirds- the Ruffed Grouse. Hopefully, I'll be back up there the end of October to hit the trails again.  Now that's some fun hunting with the leaves down and the temp cool all day- perhaps a litlle snow, too.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Garmin and Tritronics and Possible Frequency Interference

I had an interesting occurrence my last hunt using the Tritronics collar with beeper and the Garmin GPS tracker on the same dog. (That's a lot of "bling" on the dog!) I noticed the Tritronics beeper collar turning itself on and off as we hunted! Being the inquisitive type, I assumed it was a run down battery on the beeper and changed that in the field, but the problem recurred. Then, since it was a hot day in WI and the birds weren't cooperating and I had plenty of time to walk along on ponder the situation, I started thinking about interference between the Tritronics collar and the Garmin.

As best I know, the Garmin receives the signal from the GPS and then the collar sends the info from the transmitter on the bottom of the collar to the handheld. Depending on the settings you choose, it could be every 5 seconds (the setting I chose). So we know the Garmin is transmitting at least every 5 seconds. The Tritronics, on the other had, controls the remote beeper through the collar. When you send the signal to turn the beeper on or off, the handheld unit sends a signal to the collar and it sends a signal to the beeper. (Very short range signal from the collar to the beeper.)

What I noticed was my beeper was turning itself on and off every 5 seconds, when I was running a dog with both units on and functioning. I checked the location of the collars on the dog and noticed the Garmin unit was riding up the dogs neck and was within 90 degrees of the Tritronics beeper, which was close to the top of the dogs neck. Which unit was moving on my dog is irrelevant, it's the relative location and distance between the units that is important. I adjusted the Garmin to stay underneath the neck and the problem went away.

My conclusion, based on my totally scientific experiment near Clam Lake in the Wisconsin woods (Laughing!), was there there may be some frequency interference between the two units from different manufacturers.

How to address this problem is beyond me. I will send this to each company and let them chew on it- and it may not be fixable or even a real problem (see "scientific experiment" in previous line). If it happens to you, you'll see how I fixed the problem.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


These two tired bird dogs are just getting back from a short "roading" jaunt. What a great way to get some dogs into shape. It amazes me that they love it! They pull as hard as they can as long as they can. It's a simple set up using roading harnesses. Eventually, I'll get up to 4 dogs per run. Right now, I'm waiting for the pasture to get cut- I don't want to get all four dogs on the road at once. Once the hay is cut, we'll be able to make loops of the fields as much as we want.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Garmin Astro

I've said it before and I'll say it again, The Garmin Astro will revolutionize bird hunting. I used it every day for two weeks in Montana and in Wisconsin this month. In Montana, I primarily needed it to keep up with my hard running Brit when he crested the coulees and was out of sight for a few minutes- just to ease my mind. Once, he did that and I crested the coulee myself and found him gone. I pulled the Astro out and saw he was 180 yds away and on point! After selecting "Dog" and checking the direction, I walked over and found him locked up on Sage Grouse (they taste great when cooked by someone who knows what they are doing, by the way). Could I have done that without the Garmin- yes. Did it make my hunting experience more enjoyable- yes! That's the key- it makes the hunting experience much more enjoyable.

In Wisconsin, easing down a trail with a new pup, I listened to his beeper getting farther and farther away- probably he flushed a bird and chased it. Instead of laying on the whistle, or tapping him with the Tritronics, I pulled up the Astro and watched him get out 400 yds and run in circles for a bit. Then I hit the whistle and watched as he turned and headed back to me. I didn't have to keep blasting- just a toot when I saw that he was stopped (on point) and listening. When he got to 50 yards, I laid off it entirely and let him run around a little and get scared. After a bit, I gave him a tweet and we had a little "Homecoming". That little bit of training in the thick Grouse woods was invaluable- he constantly checked for me after that and made my Grouse hunting much more pleasurable.

That's only 2 examples of how the Astro worked into my hunting. I never had a dog fall off the radar screen, so I really don't know the max range in heavy cover. I do know that 500 yds is a long ways in those woods, and I was tracking a dog that far for a while. Can you hunt without it- sure can. Will I hunt without it- not unless I absolutely have to! However, it is no substitute for a training a dog properly- no doubt about that- and I hope guys don't start using it as a crutch for proper training.

I think we've only scratched the surface on how to use this thing. It seems to be as tough as it needs to be, too. I had no trouble at all. I did put it on the charge every night, though.

Hey, Tritronics, are you listening? Can we get a collar that integrates it all? Hey, we put a man on the moon using slide rules. Now, we have micro-miniturization and batteries that are incredible. Can't we get one collar that does it all? Heck, my dog carries almost $1000 worth of bling around his neck as it is. I'd be willing to pay for a combination collar........

Ace Waiting

Are we there yet? How much longer? When will we be there?
Nothing pays attention to you better than your best dog!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Corey Perdue wins the Ironman 2009!!

Here are the winners for this year's prestigious Ironman 2009 competition! Corey Perdue, Butch Stansell, and Zack Kirby. These stern-faced young men are the youngest winners in the history of the event. It was a great time in Sparta, GA.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

2009 Ironman Trial Sparta GA

We run dogs for points, then shoot the pistol, shoot skeet, fish for an hour then throw 2 horseshoes. The winner takes home the Welker Original handmade trophy! This the 10th anniversary in the Georgia Region NSTRA and a great time for all!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A great trip comes to an end...

Well, I'm packing for he homeward drive right now. 16 hours and I'll be in sunny Georgia! Next trip should be in October, Lord willing. This one will be to Regent, ND and then back to Phillips, WI. Of course, Regent is all about the ditch chickens (Pheasant). I'm really excited about Bandit, the pup. He is working with me and had a great attitude. I think he will really shine on pheasant. Well, back to work, my good friends......

End of a Trip

It was a good day with 6 flushes. Bo and I are just finishing a 3 hour cast. This may be his last look at the grouse woods- his 13th trip. Long drive tomorrow. But it will be good to sleep in my own bed with the old ball and chain again.

Best Breakfast In Wisconsin Grouse Woods

Not only great food to get you through a morning chasing birds, but good conversation and even a few good tips on where to hunt- really! Phillips, Wisconsin. Crystal Cafe- Mark and Becky

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bandit makes the big leagues!!

For a bird dog, Ruffed Grouse is the Bigs. The true King of Gamebirds in difficulty to hunt and bag. Today, the porcupine loving, shaggy-eared, short-tailed, son of Julia's Flyboy Ace became a dog. No more slack, Bird Dog. Hey Sam, you have a good (maybe great) dog.

Heading to the Honeyhole

We found the best looking habitat I've seen in all the 14 years I've hunted here. With two limping brits and an 11 year old setter, we will attempt an assault- clear and 57 deg.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Old Bo

11+ years old and still pointing the partridge!

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Bandit hits a Porcupine!

Only about 100 quills. He was a real trooper and let me take them off the roof of his mouth. He recovered well and was hunting the next day.

Hunt day along creek

Hot weather hunting garb includes plenty of water for the dog, too!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hot Day in Wisconsin

The morning chill didn't last. By 9:30 am, it was hot. The biggest problem was keeping the dogs hydrated. We both carried water bottles and they were usually gone after an hour. Bandit, the pup, hunted great and only got out 350 yds this time before coming home, scared and tired. Bo, the old dog, found and pointed the only bird today! But, of course, it got up behind a tree and was a flash of gray in the woods. Ace hunted strong and hard in the heat of the day and came up dry. we knocked off at 3 pm to watch football and rest the dogs (Who am I kidding? I am beat! )

Another day tomorrow. We'll slay 'em then.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bandit on Sharpies

Here is Ace's 18 month old puppy working Sharptails in Montana. He did a good job!
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