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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Day 1 in Wisconsin

It started out pretty nice at 55 deg. Boy, it got hot in a hurry. Ace and I and Dennis and his Lab, Gracie, took off down a great grouse trail. Within an hour, we had 5 flushes over points. The birds are definitely here! It was a technical problem that kept the game bag empty. Ace was finding the birds and holding them off the trail in the thick cover. He has a Garmin tracking collar on him, which worked as advertised and I am extremely pleased with. The problem arose when the beeper collar he has on, which I can turn on and off remotely, started turning itself to very minimum volume all on its own! I can still find him OK, but the beeper would have allowed me to get there much earlier and the birds wouldn't have moved so far. The birds are there and the dogs can find them- if only the equipment would be OK. Thankfully, I have another beeper. We'll see how the afternoon goes.

OH! Get a Garmin Astro! It is the best thing going for bird hunters with a dog that gets out more than 20 yards. I've used it now in Montana and now in the Wisconsin grouse woods. It works!

Great Grouse Cover!

Ace is whining and pacing and sampling my coffee. The sky is blue and the temp is 55. We are on the way to one of my secret coverts.

Opening Day!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sage Grouse

Here's the Ace-man with a Sage Grouse. Huge bird that it is- they fly well and they will hold tight for a pointing dog. Ace did a great job on this one! I'm getting the "What's the big deal?" look right here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 4

We got up very early and decided that we'd be waiting for the birds when they got to the fields to stuff themselves with grasshoppers. We've determined that 90% of the birds are full of them. It was a great day! We shot Sharpies, Sage Grouse, Hungarian Partridge and had a great time doing it. The dog work was exceptional for such a hot day! We had to knock off at 1 pm due to the heat, and watched the temp rise to 95 degrees. Right now the wind is howling and the temperature is dropping. Tomorrow the high will only be 65! Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 3

Hot!!!!!! We hunted hard until about 1pm then we took a break that lasted the rest of the day. Bandit is a hard hunting little Brit that is get his hunting legs under him. Yesterday, he did really well and here are the pictures to prove it. Today, he managed to point 3 bulls and 1 meadowlark. To his credit, he wanted to have a go at the bulls..."I can take them, boss! Really!" he said. Ace is hunting with his usual style and excellent sense of where to hunt and where the birds should be. Bo ran for a while in the morning and I'm rooting for him to find a bird......

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 2

This is what the well dressed, Montana, Sharpie hunter is wearing these days!

Weather: windy and drizzle- 50 deg AM with clear and sunny 70 deg PM

Bo hunted in the morning and we stayed out for about an hour. We didn't find any birds, but he looked pretty good. He's not gettting around that much anymore, but just because the body ain't willing doesn't mean you can't try.

In the afternoon, I put Bandit on the ground and headed off to the hills. after about an hour of wlaking through alfalfa fields, we heased to the tops of the hills. Once over the top, we worked down some coulees. Finally, Bandit locked up! About 30 yards away 7 birds got up and we dropped 2 of them. Later on, he found a 20+ bird covey and we chased those for hours. He was great! We ended up with my 3 and Terry's 2- all found and pointed by Bandit. He's really coming along!

First Day

We started out hunting in areas I was familiar with from the last few years. The birds are here, but not in the numbers of the last few years. When we would get 15-30 birds in a group last year, now we would see only 8-15 birds. There is green everywhere- lots of food for the birds, but a wet, cold spring, right at their nesting time, cut back the population significantly.

The dogs are great, but out of shape like me! Bo is showing his age, and I think his hearing is suffering, too (although it may be that "man disease"- selective hearing). Ace is powerful and classy and finding all my birds. Bandit (Ace's pup) at 1.5 years old, is full of vinegar, but is still working on that first lock down point. He found a few groups of birds yesterday, but "assisted in putting them to flight" as we say. He is showing great promise though and I look for him to put it all together today or tomorrow.

Water is a major consideration for the dogs (and hunters). We water them at the truck constantly and carry two water bottles with us every cast. I'm also using an energy replacement powder that I am evaluating. We'll see how that works.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day One

We found our motel to be a cozy, charming, fixer-upper- "as is".

Can you spot the Sharptail Grouse in the picture?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Way Up In N. South Dakota

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How tall is the corn?

The picture doesn't do it justice. It's every inch of 8'.

The Mecca for Bird Hunters

You have GOT to love this place!

Video of Soth Dakota Interstate

South Dakota Interstate. Flat, flat, flat!


Sun is coming up over the Iowa hills on my right. The Missouri River is on my left with Nebraska past that. I would sell a bird dog cheap for a Venti Starbucks right now- or perhaps Pete's Coffee. I'm approaching Sioux City, IA and rumor has it there is civilization there. Coffee!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Traveling Companion Ready for a stop.

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Just made it to Iowa!

Right as the sun is setting over Nebraska on my left and Iowa on my right. Its time to find a soft bed!

A little of a late start.

I was shooting for 0400. Twenty minutes isn't too bad with all the buffoonery that goes on last minute. This should be a good trip. Old dog, young dog, prime dog- one of each. My thanks to Glen Bahde and Sam for the loan of Bandit.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Birthday Present

My #1 dog got me this pillow for my birthday. It fits nicely with a saying I have on my wall at work- "Lord, let me be the person my dog thinks I am."