Friday, December 31, 2010

Dog Den 2

Dog Den 2
My Dogden2. Easy to put together and the dogs appreciate it. It took me about 30 minutes to put this one together, and that was including all the fumbling around time looking for tools and cutting the 2X4's.  I have two more to go, but ran out of treated wood- and Home Depot closed early for New Year's Eve-('sup with that?).  Anyway, I'm betting they will be open tomorrow and I'll finish the other two.  It warmed up today (a warm 60 and sunshine), but the rain will be here tomorrow and the cold weather with it.  So far, I am impressed with the materials and workmanship and the dogs jumped right in.  I bought a heated one for my old dog which will serve as a puppy pen,  I'm sure.  Also, I'll always have one "old dog" around that will appreciate the warmth on those cold nights.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Join me at Pheasant Fest 2011- Omaha, NE Jan 28-30

After my next hunt in New Mexico, I will be attending and speaking at a seminar at Pheasant Fest 2011 in Omaha, NE.  Two friends and I (sponsored by Rancho Caracol, a wild bird hunting resort in Mexico) will be giving talks about hunting quail in the southeast, Texas and New Mexico.  Come on by, enter the dog runway competition and join the festivities.  Also, come and hear about how to plan for, set up and execute a successful hunt to New Mexico- as well as information about Texas hunting and hunting quail in the Southeast. click HERE to go the  website.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ace and Roosters- I was just thinking about hunting and came across this pic.

Ace and Roosters

New Mexico Blues on the horizon

ACE has a covey nailed!

Every January/February I get the itch to head out to the high desert and chase some blue quail.  The place is  a conundrum.  It's dry, high, cold and prickly, but it's also a great place to hunt- with wide open land, most of it public.  Scaled, or Blue, quail can be runners, but I've found that if they haven't been hunted, they run no more than bobwhites.   Heck, when they get in to some kind of cover, they hold just fine- even extremely tight.  One day, Ace and I got a covey up and dropped a bird on the rise.  As the birds (25+) sailed away, I saw them scatter into some grass about knee high dotted with cactus.  We eased on over there and had some of the best shooting I've ever experienced!  They held very tight and when they got up, it was always two or three at a time.  One of those days to remember....I ran out of shells just about the time I limited for the day....

My kitchen pass allows me to head that way on or about 8 Jan to stay a bit.  I'm looking forward to seeing my friend Tim Bartlett and do a little walking through the sand and cactus chasing some dogs on point.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Strikes the Southland- Dog Den 2 to the rescue! Update 11/26/13

A Cold Day in Georgia

UPDATE-  (11/26/2013)
I just ordered my 4th Dog Den 2!  Those that follow this BLOG know I had 11 puppies and kept two of the perfect Brittany bird dogs. They are 12 weeks old this coming Sunday and just now it is 36 degrees with rain and wind at 20-30 mph. Tomorrow night the low will be 15 degrees and the wind will still be blowing!  For the South, that is cold!  Even in North Dakota, it's not short-sleeve weather! I tried heat lamps for the little guys and bunking up with the big boys, etc., but, finally, I ordered them their own Don Den- just like mom and dad! They will have the heater installed, as well.  Snug and warm and not burning energy just to stay warm.  It not only keeps them energized the next day, but contributes to their quality and length of life. Good food, clean water and dry, warm sleeping will keep your prize hunting/trialing dogs at the top of their game for a long, long time. 



I know my friends in the north will laugh at our little bit of cold weather (and I was raised in Alaska), but I have to say, I don't care who you are- it's cold out there!  Of course, when I call up to South Dakota, or North Dakota, I get a real awakening about how cold this country can get.  God bless you guys! They are calling for a wind chill of 4 degrees tonight, so I made sure the bird dogs had plenty of good hay in the boxes and good shelter from the wind.  I also decided it was time to upgrade to a first class dog box- so I ordered some K-9 Condo dog houses (Dog Den 2 variety).  I have a friend that put them out for his dogs and they LOVE them- summer and winter.  I'm looking forward to their arrival.  

See the link below to read about them.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ruby Does the Job

Ruby and her 5 quail
Two covey finds and numerous singles on the follow up. She was too excited to retrieve the first one, but settled down to locate and bring back the rest. My little Pixie is coming along!

One of the most gratifying things a bird dog man can do is see the results of countless hours of work, patience, worry and training pay off.  Today, I saw that in my 9 mos. old Brittany puppy, Ruby.  I wish I'd had the presence of mind to get a picture of her on point, telling me "This is a covey, Boss, not a single.....dang, there is a lot of scent here!"

Ever Wonder Why You Love It So Much!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kansas Day 1- Birds 7, Me 0 (This is Hunting, not Shooting)

Cap- 6 mos old in Kansas

The dogs were eager and the land was perfect for quail and pheasant.  I had some pre-mission Intel on the area from some pretty good bird hunters and was confident we would be able to get into some birds.  I started with my main man- Ace.  We made a 2+30 cast and covered the chosen area pretty well.  He pointed  several roosters and I let them go.  I was particularly interested in quail, this trip. Food was plentiful: ragweed, deer vetch, sunflowers, and the area was managed for the little buzz bombs.  The problem, I think, was the area was hit pretty hard opening week and steadily after that.  I saw lots of evidence of footprints, shells, dog tracks (all pretty good indicators to an old Indian tracker like me). These birds were survivors- the dumb ones were dead. (Of course, the alternative to my assessment was too awful to contemplate- that my dog wasn't worth half a bag of Ol' Roy.  That may be the case, but I suggest you keep that news to yourself.)  We were almost back to the truck, when Ace's pager alerted in my vest.  (I gotta say, that is exactly what it seems like with the new garmin!)  He'd been out of sight for maybe 30 sec and I knew he was working some cattails near a pond.  I was sore and tired as I ambled on over that way.  I was halfway thinking he was in the pond drinking.  But as I made my way over there, the "on point" signal repeated.  That dog was locked up in some of the thickest brush I'd seen in this area.  In fact, I couldn't get to him.  A deep, 10 yard across cattail slough kept me from entering the brush pile.  So I got as close to him as I could (figuring he was on a rooster and I'd catch him when he flushed up from the pile) and just started talking to him.  I knew the bird was nervous already- he was trapped on a spit of dry land.  Sure enough, the brush moved and 20 quail blew out of there headed to a stand of spruce trees.  I threw some lead, but these boys stayed low and kept the brush between me and them (hence, they were still alive from opening day!).   Ace came out, looked at me and said, "How many do we have down, Boss?"   It was a bad day at Black Rock explaining how the "sun got in my eyes, sand obscured the birds, the Coriolis Effect threw off my aim".  He was not amused....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Latest Field Trial

Having a few of my NSTRA friends over for a field trial in the back pasture is an awesome thing.  I thank God that we can still enjoy this wonderful sport right in my back yard.  Take a look...Field Trial. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Here's A Picture of a Rooster's Worst Nightmare

Caught Rooster!
That's Dad (Ace) and son (Bandit) on a Rooster Pheasant.  It was that bad boy's end of the road.

Short Kansas Hunt on the Horizon

So, I'm sitting around the estate, you know, all the workers are off cleaning the stables or stocking the fishing ponds, or counting the wild coveys out in the back 10,000, and I suddenly realize I haven't been on the road in more than a month (well, almost)!  I buzz up a few friends and got the readings on Kansas.  They all pretty much say the same thing- some good days, some bad days, but any day in the field with a dog is better than any day at the office.  So, I ran the possibility of a kitchen pass by the Old Ball and Chain and managed to get a signed pass for one week commencing on the 14th of Dec.! (Didn't cost me much more than a Lexus LS 460 delivered by Christmas!)  My pups are ready for some wild birds and my broke dogs are ready for something more than field trials.   By the way, my two pups, Cap (Brit/M) and Ruby (Brit/F) and really progressing nicely with solid points and OK retrieves. I wish I could get more pictures of them, but I'm training alone and carrying a camera is tough.  I really need to video Cap when he hits scent- wow! Yesterday, he acted like a broke dog twice his age as he worked with me to find a bird that moved after I planted it.  It was a picture for the books! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

James Rutland: Instinct Shooting

James Rutland

I call these "Shooting Balls"
 Let me say this about that......This course is exactly what it is purported to be.  I learned to shoot a BB gun with no sights and without even sighting down the barrel.  I started on large plate targets, then smaller orange circles on the plate targets (until I bored a hole at the 1230 position on one of them), then started shooting at the balls on the ground. As James gave me a color, I would hit the ball- from big ones down to the size of golf balls!  Then he started throwing metal disks in the air- from 3 inches on down to a quarter (see last picture) and a Tums (which I shattered on the first shot) and, finally, another BB.  It took about 20 tries, but, after nicking it 3 times, I finally nailed it solidly and it disappeared! (I am NOT exaggerating.  This was a shot that could not be done and I did it 30 minutes after driving up to the cabin.)

Then we moved on to the shotgun.  I pulled out my trusty SKB 20 ga. Model 100 that I field trial and hunt with.  James immediately noticed the gun was too small for me, so we put a rubber, removable kick plate from one of my other guns on it.  The fit was better.  We worked on stance, smooth movement, head and foot location and focus and concentration.  Then he started throwing the clay targets.
The Training Cabin on the Lake

I started breaking them.  I missed maybe one out of 25.  James was saying to not just break them, but powder them, "And here's how you do it", he would say. I took his advice and I've never powdered so many clay targets in my life. I mean, they were GONE! He threw them from behind me, high and low, 45 degrees to either side of  straight ahead, curving and straight.  After 4 boxes of shells, James says I only missed twice, but I'm pretty sure I must have  missed about 4 times.  I did all this in  the space of an hour and forty five minutes!

I shot this quarter.  IN THE AIR! Check the dents.

This is the bottom line.  This works.  It is for real. I used my own gun and I wished I could have stayed all day.  I've never shot 4 boxes of shells so productively in my life.  This method is perfect for the field trialer and quail/pheasant/upland hunter! Click Here for James Rutland Instinct Shooting School Website

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Field Trial Buffoonery

Ace is my champion NSTRA (www.nstra.org) trial dog.  Once I tune him up after a hunting trip, he makes the transition to the field trial game very well.  We've been working the last two weeks on the little things that make a good trial dog.  Today he showed me something I've never seen before in a field trial and only rarely in any situation. 

We came off the starting line and Ace sprinted 30 yards and locked up!  I flushed the bird, shot it and he made a good retrieve.  "Good boy" I said as he handed me the bird, "Let's go!" and he turned and started looking for more birds.  He handled well and listened to me.  In the back of my mind, I  was thinking he looked very good in his ground coverage, hunting objectives and working with me.  He nailed another bird within a minute and I flushed it up and shot it, as well.  The bird landed perhaps 50 yards away and he was on it only seconds after it hit.  I watched as he picked it up, turned away, dug a hole, put the bird in it, buried it and trotted over to me, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Sorry, boss!  I couldn't find the bird."     

What?

We went on to take a second place today- by 10 points!  That (zero point) retrieve would have been about 85-90 points and it cost us another First Place! 

Arghh!  Just when you think you have them wound up pretty tight....the string comes loose.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving

The Grill Meister is ready!  We are having two fresh, cage-free, organically-fed Turkey breasts and one free-range, acorn fed, formerly happy Venison hindquarter  (humanely shot in the left ear at a distance of 25 yards in the pristine totally organic, green, environmentally- friendly back pasture) all cooked on the Big Green Egg.  Since we are eating at 3pm, I will prepare pheasant and grouse tasties, at noon, for the hungry ones in the crowd.  All of this will be enjoyed with a Southern liquid, flavored with an organic sweetener made from Iowa corn.  (The recipe for the concoction is stored in a vault in the Coca-Cola tower in Atlanta, GA), and a dessert consisting of Pecan Pie (pecans from from Milner, GA) and ice cream made from contented Georgia cows.  Or, as my neighbor likes to put it, "Dude, we're having grilled deer meat and turkey with Coke and Pecan Pie!" 

Instinct Shooting

I'm not a bad shot. In fact, I do OK in field trials and hunting all the species (except, of course, Ruffed Grouse, where I have about a 1-5 kill ratio).  I know of a guy who teaches "Instinct Shooting" and swears he can have me nailing them spot-on in one day.  His name is James Rutland.  He's a great guy and I think he can do what he says he can do.  In fact, I'm scheduled to see him December 6 for the lesson.  I know, personally, of a young lady who does NOT shoot and she just graduated from his class.  After she shot a Tums tablet out of the air with a BB gun, she went to the 20 ga. she just bought and shot clay pigeons for the first time, very successfully.  I'd give a number but I don't know what it is.  I do know she missed only 5 (out of how many, I don't know).  

Check out the website (He's near Ft. Benning, GA and they love him!)  James Rutland

Monday, November 15, 2010

This Makes a Bird Dog Man Happy

Cap, my 6 mos. old pup, out of Ace, locked down on a Quail!
There is a time in the life of a new pup when it comes down to "It's time to put him on a bird and see what he does.".  Two days ago, I put a quail out in the grass for him and check-corded him downwind of the bird. He was mildly interested, sort of got a little birdy and I whoaed him just downwind of the quail and held him there. i reached in front and picked up the bird by the legs.  Of course, it flapped and feathers flew and we let it fly off while I praised him and let him sniff all the feathers and the scent from the bird..  He went nuts!  Jumping and barking and twisting- I knew then I had a good one. Yesterday, I hid another quail and eased him in downwind, again.  This time, as he got the scent, I whoaed him again- and he locked down.  Again, I let the bird make a lot of noise and motion and fly off.  Today, we did it again.  This time I didn't need to whoa him.  He locked up tight as you see him above.  I just told him "Bird, bird" and walked around him.  He stood there long enough for my wife to go back to the truck and retrieve my phone to take this picture (maybe 2 full minutes).  I reached in, flushed the bird, and we watched it fly.  Then we check-corded back to the barn and pen.  I can't wait to see him tomorrow.....I wonder if he'll be up to hunting in NM in January?  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Field Trial Video

Alabama field Trial Video (Click This!)

I took a short video of the field trial yesterday in Alabama.  We left that one with our tail between our legs.  I was very pleased with the way Ace hunted and covered the ground, but he refused to back (again) and his obedience was a little slack.  So, today, we had a little "Come to Jesus meeting" right here in the back pasture as I reiterated the rules about obedience and backing.  He can do it all, but after all the bird hunting we've done this year, he needed a little brushing up.

Trialing

Ace waiting for the start! 
We are deep in to the field trial mode now and having a great time.  I run National Shoot to Retrieve field trials, when I am not hunting.  It's a good time with good friends all united by the common bond of working with your bird dog.  Many who field trial don't have the time to get away for the hunt, or the money (although field trialing can cost some, too), or the knowledge of how to do it.  Look up a local trial (NSTRA is all over the country) and try it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't leave home without it!

I've written about this previously and I'm a big believer in the capabilities of this unit.  I paid for the tracking feature, also, which allows my wife and friends to follow me as it sends an update every 10 minutes for 24 hours.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Old Ball and Chain and Yard Dogs.

You gotta love a woman that loves your dogs. I think that's written somewhere.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Last Day

Walking the Grouse Woods  (click to see video)

We had a good run over the last few weeks.  We shot Pheasant, Ruffed Grouse and Spruce Grouse.  We went through the first blizzard of the year in North Dakota.  My 7 month old Brittany, Ruby, is darn near broke after 4 weeks out of the last 7 hunting.  We met a lot of new people and reacquainted ourselves with old friends. We saw a lot of beautiful country and hunted new territory in Minnesota.  All in all, I'd have to say it was successful in every respect.  Tomorrow, we turn the old diesel south and head back to the farm....field trials coming up for the next month or so.....

My puppy, "Cap", and his first Spruce Grouse

St Louis River

St. Louis River, St. Louis County, MN
And it's in St. Louis County, MN! I know one can fly fish this river. I often wonder about stopping a grouse hunt just long enough to "wet a hook" in a stream like this.
We got skunked yesterday! Only one flush- and that was ear-high about 2 feet from said ear! By the time I recovered from the startle, the gray devil was laughing and winding his way to the clubhouse. Grouse hunting!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Minnesota Grouse Habitat

video

Bo and Randy with 2 Spruce Grouse and 1 Ruffed Grouse
One worn out old dog and the two Spruce Grouse he pointed.  I'm having them mounted for my den.  Old Bo really did a good job on these birds.  We had a 2 hour cast and took it fairly easy.  He found a sunny spot for a snooze at the end of the walk. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Minnesota Guide

Meet Roxanne! She's a bird hunter, no doubt! And she has a fine young Wirehair (Jetta). We had a nice walk this morning with 10 flushes and 2 in the bag (with Dennis, it was 15 flushes and 4 in the bag), with retrieves by both Ace and Jetta. Perfect weather and a good population of birds makes for a great hunt.

Pheasant Opportunity

"Hey, boss, I know there's another one out there!"
As I was departing North Dakota, I talked to the outfitter who arranged the land for me to hunt.  I do pay a trespass fee per day to hunt more land than I can walk.  In addition, there are thousands of acres of Private land open to hunters (PLOTS) in this area with great habitat.  As I wrote before, the birds are so plentiful all the hunting until now has produced a negligible reduction in numbers- I have the video to prove it.  There are vast fields of sunflowers and corn sill standing, and when those come down thousands of roosters will be looking for CRP and shelter, so the hunt-able numbers will climb even more. Most of this guy's land has ditches, CRP or treelines for shelter for the birds. His customer numbers are way down this year for whatever reason- the economy?- and he has many days in November available.  I stayed in a motel and just hunted the land, but he may have lodging available, depending on the dates.  All at a reasonable fee, in my opinion.  I can feel confident in recommending this outfit since I have had good results over the years.  (Disclaimer: You may have to walk a long ways and get tired.  You may have to actually spend a lot of time in the field every day.  You may get cold.  You may get hot.  You may get sunburned, windburned, sore feet, tired legs, hungry.  You may miss birds.  Your dogs may act stupid.  YOU may act stupid.  You will have a good time.  That's why they call it hunting.)

Rockin' Rooster Outfitters- 701-209-0220/ 701-209-0170- Jim

Minnesota Grouse Country

Randy and Ace in Minnesota Grouse Country
Talk about beautiful habitat!  Although "the score does not reflect the closeness of the game" (Randy and Ace-0, Birds- 7), we had a blast!  Our guide knows the area and introduced us to some local hunters, too. The trails are numerous, the leaves are down and the birds are here.  Today, we hope to get our feet on the ground and harvest a few thunder chickens.

Ace had an issue with range, as I knew he would.  By the end of the day, however, he was hunting much closer for me and I think that will carry over to today and the rest of the week.  Can't wait!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Hunt. Different Bird.

After an easy day's drive, we made it to the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.  I thought Wisconsin was way up there!  This is Ruffed Grouse country- exceptional. My local guide hunts with a 2 year old Wirehair and invited me through my friend, Glen (she is a relative of his).  She has been grouse hunting these trails  with her dog and having a great time- shooting birds and letting her dog help her do it.  It sounds to me like she's already got this thing down.  As any grouse hunter will tell you, "If you are putting them in the bag, you are doing it right!"

Ruffed Grouse are the absolute KING of game birds.  To my mind, they are the most difficult to hunt- for the hunter and the dog!  They are widely acknowledged to be the tastiest wild bird on the table, as well.  A good grouse dog is a rarity.  He has to have an exceptional nose, hunt relatively close, lock up on the faintest scent and be a deliberate and thoughtful dog.  I've seen a few and I even owned one many years ago.

Today, will be a proverbial "goat rope" with my dogs.  They've been hunting wide open land, searching for a bird that runs.  250 yard casts were not unheard of by my Ace dog.  Now, I'm asking them to do the opposite- hunt close and very carefully.  Rarely can a dog make that adjustment on their own and it may take a half-day to get them calmed down. But, I sense victory in the wind.  I wonder if this motel has a grill.....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What a day!

I guess the birds needed to feed after being holed up for 2 days with the bad weather. They are all over the roads and ditches and feeding in the wheat fields.

Ace and I hunted some tree rows alongside a wheat field. Public land. I didn't expect much until he locked up! It was a rooster- and a clean kill. After the retrieve, I took a look at him and he had a load of porcupine quills in his face! Poor guy never slowed down and I don't know how long he had them. It could have been 20 minutes. He's one tough, bird hunting son-of-a-gun, that's for sure.

Staying in Mott ND to hunt?

This place is set up for the bird hunter. Clean, warm, bird-cleaning rooms (inside and out) and only $35/night (plus 6.5% tax). This was a pleasant surprise! Make reservations early for next year- the first 2 weeks are filling fast. My recommendation is to come after that anyway. Fewer hunters and just as many birds. I get eager, too, but you won't notice any decline in bird numbers. There are so many here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Nasty Weather

video
Yeah, it's a bad one today.  Yesterday was bad, too, and I found the birds in any thick cover there was, in the lee of the hill.  If it is even just a roll in the land, they will be on the downwind side of that.  The ones I found were bunched together and came up in waves.  I think today is a drive around and look type of day.  I may drive over to Golva, ND and check in on a friend over there.  UGLY!  The good news is that tomorrow, it will back up to 40 deg. and the wind will settle down. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thirty Seven Degrees and 25-40mph winds!

This is really at the limit of my comfort level, but  I didn't come out here to watch TV.  And, my dogs didn't ride 2000 miles to stay in the trailer.  They are saying this is the "Storm of the Century"- they haven't seen winds and power like this for 70 years.  So what, it looks to me like they will be in the windrows and ditches and will hold tight for my pups. 

Video of Ace working yesterday!

Monday, October 25, 2010

She did it!

8 mos.old.   Might possibly keep her.

Small Towns

Standard chamber of Commerce sign for this very pleasant town. Read the small sign over the blue one. I love small towns.....everyone is guessing who the grumps are!

Rain Today

It's always sporting when the rain shows up. These roads can turn into snot-covered cow trails with a heavy mist. Some of the best hunting is off the beaten path, too. Well, farmer friends with big tractors are a good thing......

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cap has a Walkabout

So, I had my limit. All the dogs had run and now it was time for Cap. He's 5 1/2 months old and eager.  We started into the wind, up a fence line, daylight, sunny and him with a tracking collar (just to be safe). We worked along the line may 200 yds when he bumped a big rooster and chased it. I even have a movie of that. He came back and started working 30 yds in front of me- into the wind- perfect!  Then, he went over a rise and I was alone. I checked the Garmin and couldn't believe it! He was 300 yds away and going farther!  At 600 yds I became concerned and at .65 miles I really started blowing the whistle!  Finally, he turned and got 300 yds from me but then he was at 800 yds and moving west. Then 700 yards and moving north.  Finally, he turned again and  headed east, but still 750 yds out. I crested a rise in the wheat field and saw that he was following a ditch- if it was him. My mind started telling me I was following his tracker after he'd been killed by a wolf and the bitch was carrying his body back to the den for the pups. I crested another rise and realized we'd gone in a complete circle back to the truck.  As I got to the trailer, the little butthole leaned out of his open box and woofed at me!  I have never seen any dog run like that- ever!  Wait!  Yes I have.  His daddy, Ace.  When we were here in ND, that bonehead took off and I watched him crest hills on the horizon- I remember now.  Puzzle solved.  It's genetics! 

It doesn't take long....

When experience is on the ground! Go Bo- 12 1/2 years and you still got it!

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Bad Year

Only saw 200 roosters heading to hunt this morning. Looks lean (not!). Biggest problem is keeping windshield intact! Hooah!

Ready to Hunt

With the time  change and my usual get up time of 0500, here I sit on the third cup of Joe at 0449!  It's still blacker than six feet up an elephant's....(sorry, sometimes I slip back into the Navy jargon)......well, it's still dark.  I haven't heard a peep out of the dogs, yet.  I'm almost certain they are awake and listening with an ear cocked at the door of the trailer.

I'm using my Jones trailer this trip, just to make things easier.  With the storage and water and tie outs, it makes taking care of 4-6 dogs quick and easy.  Occasionally, it is tough to maneuver on a two-track in certain portions of the country, but it's worth the effort to give the dogs the comfort and protection of the Jones.  I'm glad I went with the "top of the line".  They ain't cheap (as my daddy used to say), but I don't mind spending for quality.

This is Cap's (Brit/M) first hunt and he's travelling well.  I really want to capture his first encounter with a pheasant  on video.  I bought a small handheld HD video camera to record as much as I can without totally giving my time over to just filming.  As a solo hunter, it's going to be juggling act!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hunting Country

You know you're getting close to hunting country when the local walmart carries dry ice, 3" 20 ga shells and all the men are wearing orange hats! Gotta love the Dakotas!

Norske Nook Osseo WI

Best pie and comfort food on the planet. On I-90 east of Minneapolis. I hit this place going to WI and MN for Ruffed Grouse, ND and SD for Pheasant and Huns. It's right at 1000 miles from the farm.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Looking Forward

I am already looking forward to the "Haskell burger" that I am going to get at the Habitat in Frankfort, South Dakota. It is worth the visit!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Safety and the Tracker

Folks, I do take to the field alone. Probably, that is not the optimum thing, and I must admit, I do enjoy a hunting partner on occasion.  For purely safety reasons, hunting alone is not a good idea.  Old men (and women) can step in holes, twist ankles, get slapped in the face with branches, break legs, etc.  I hunt with a FindMeSpot tracker on me at all times.  I convinced my wife, the financier, to get me one for my birthday (conveniently located on September 3) along with the tracking option.  Now, every year, that is my birthday present.  It's my "Help, I've fallen and can't get up!" button. 

I use it for checking in and out every day- it will send messages (email or text) to ten addresses- for marking significant spots and as a backup for getting stuck or, God forbid, seriously hurt.  When you hit the Help Button, those ten addresses get a HELP! notification (it must be pre-written, so have a plan) and a link to a GPS location on Google Maps.  I use this for getting seriously stuck or any other NON-life threatening situation. (Haven't needed it yet- but we have a plan.)  For life threatening problems- hit 911.  That will bypass the ten addresses and go directly to the nearest rescue facility. (I tell folks, if you hit that one, you will hear the chopper blades coming over the hill shortly!) 

All this is worldwide and not dependent on cell coverage.  (Coverage map available.)

I recently upgraded to the newer model and the transition was easy.  New model is smaller with one more mode for comm. 

Get and keep peace of mind.  Carry this tool with you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Next Hunt

 I finally nailed down the dates of my next hunt.  I'll leave out of here 22 Oct and be on the ground in or near Regent, ND the morning of 24 Oct.  Fair warning to the pheasant and Huns- I know where you are!  It will be a little different this year as the old ball and chain will join me for a few days.  I'm really looking forward to it, however.  The bird population is huge, again, and I'm familiar with all the usual hot spots.  I think it will be an enjoyable experience for her....
The Old Ball and Chain

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Update of Garmin Astro

Wow, I had a time, but it was all my fault.  It is true that “garbage in, garbage out” and also, “Read the instructions, Stupid!”. 

I upgraded one of my Garmin GPS collars to check out the new software- as per the instructions (leaving the other one alone- just in case).  It does lock on faster, but I can’t give any input as to saving the battery life, yet.

 So, just after the upgrade, my unit was not picking up the collar.  I tried re-loading the software, cycling on/off, taking outside so it could see the stars, bought it a nice dinner with flowers- everything I could think of.  Still no go. It was now 2330 and I’m normally not up past 2100.  So, I took my two companion animals and hit the rack.  This a.m. I had the inspiration to go the Garmin website/Support/Webupdater and update my handheld.  Did that- no go. My collar is happily blinking away with 3 blinks (the indication that the upgrade was successful in the collar) but it wasn’t talking to my handheld.  I deleted the collar and re-installed it (three times- What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.).  After all this, I decided to LOOK at the collar information displayed on the handheld and noticed that the update rate was………”0”.  Hum, mayhaps that could be a problem?  At the collar window on the handheld, I hit menu/change comm settings and changed the little “zero” to a little “five”.   I could have saved myself hours of fiddling if I’d only read the information in front of me. 

Bottom line: follow the instructions, take your time, brush your teeth, love your momma, and don’t go to bars with loose women. 

Hope this helps. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two Different Terrains; Two different Days

Idaho Chukar Country

Ace and Bandit got 'em Cornered in Montana (Hungarian Partridge)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Montana Sage Grouse

What an incredible country! Hungarian Partridge, Sharptail Grouse, Sage Grouse and Pheasant (season not open yet) all in one area. The terrain is pretty flat and the dangers to dogs are pretty limited to skunks, holes, sticks, porcupines and the usual stuff.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Enough Already!

We had a good last cast, my main dog and I. Nine coveys of Huns in 2 1/2 Hours on the ground, with the occasional Sharptail thrown in. Overcast skies and temps in the 40's with steady wind from the North made for perfect conditions. Ace did his job and I did mine, mostly. He allowed as how he'd keep me around.
After 14 days of hunting, my personal assessment showed I was out of leg, money and dog. Schultz Farm here I come.
Next trip in October- pheasant in ND and SD. This time Cap will be joining me- he'll be 5 mos- assuming Ms. Schultz hasn't spoiled him into a house dog!

Perfect Hunting Day

I've always maintained that the perfect hunting weather is 45 deg with a light mist. Today is that day here in Montana. Only a half day hunt then on the road back to home. The A team goes on the ground today.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

One Worn Out Brittany

While I was walking 4 miles with Ace on a cast today, he RAN 13 miles! (As per my Garmin gps tracker.) And that was one day out of ten. I'm always amazed at what these dogs do every day in the field. (Not to mention holes, briars, sticks, mud, heat, badgers, skunks, porcupines and poor shooting.). Do I pamper my dogs? You'd better believe I do! What amazing animals!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Ruby

She's coming along.  Today, she pointed and held a large covey of Huns.  On the rise, I dropped two, one dead and one not.  She retrieved the dead one and then ran off, while I looked for the wounded one.  To me, for a 6 mos. old dog with no training, that's OK (for now).  About a minute later, she came over the rise with a bird in her mouth!  Possibly a keeper.....

Some Pictures From Montana and Idaho

Climbing for Chukar (that's me higher up!)

Ace and Limit of Huns

The Old Man and the Boy

Ruby and her 3 Huns!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mileage

I just got 19.6 miles per gallon towing a trailer at 75 miles an hour. I love my 7.3 diesel

Good Grouse Cover

Ruby and I hunted this stuff for hours.  No birds.  It sure is thick and has plenty of cover and food.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

High Mountain Grouse Cover

7 Thousand Foot Lunch and Plan Summit

Idaho High Mountain Meadow

Wonderful habitat with sage, berries, cover, Aspen. So far, no birds. Even though it is 74 deg., the dry breeze makes it feel like 73- very nice

Idaho Day Two

Yesterday, Ruby found 4 Ruffed Grouse at 5800' elevation. My list of excuses now covers having my thumb up my *#@. Going from day dreaming to bagging the toughest gamebird on the planet was too much for me- that's for sure! Today, we start out at the base of the mountains for Valley Quail and will move into the hills for grouse. Warm today, but tomorrow should be much better. The dogs are holding up well, pads are good and they are looking a little lean, but eating good. Look out , birds, here I come!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome to Idaho Chukar Country

No place for the unprepared.

The Old Campaigner

Bo's still got it! He pointed and made a fine recovery and retrieve for me on a Hungarian Partridge. I reminisced, as he went about his work, about the thousands of birds and hundreds of locations over the past 12 years he and I have hunted. It was almost enough to get a little bleary-eyed. I am thankful I have the opportunity to be his hunting companion.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ruby Deux

So, I'm trying let my pup, Ruby, make the connection with birds and guns and stuff. Today, before noon, with only her, we found 6 coveys of Huns and a Sharptail Grouse. Towards the end of the cast, she was pointing and really seemed dialed in. No retrieves to this point.

I was walking along an Alfalfa field with a huge drop off alongside it. She pointed in the tall grass and a Sharp erupted from the grass! I dropped it with a load of 7 1/2's and it dropped over the edge into a stand of shrubs and Buffalo Berry. She ran down there and I resigned myself to climbing down a getting the bird. I was scouting a likely route down when Ruby climbed up out of that steep draw with the bird in her mouth. She trotted over to me and presented the bird to hand! Six months and 19 days old.

I guess I'll keep her.

A Double on Sharpies

Ace had them cornered about 250 yards away, down a slope, on the edge of a gully full of buffalo berries and plum thickets. It took me a minute or two to get to him, but he was a classic on point and I knew the birds were there!  I eased up and 15+ birds got up and flew away from me.  I dropped one dead and watched it hit the ground.  Then, I notice another bird struggling with flying and it dropped like a stone.  Two birds on one shot!  Good job, Ace!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun Little Video- Watch out for Critters!

video

What in the World kind of rock is this?

I found this sitting high in a coulee in the grass.  Wierdest thing ever.  It looks like a combination of igneous rocks and a lava layer....huh!  Any rock geniouses out there?

Warm Day Sharpie Hunting

It was a good day, but it got really hot- 86 deg!  Ruby on left and Bandit on right did a good job for me.  Notice the alfalfa fields in the background- in fact, we are kneeling in one, but it's so dry you can't really see it.  The bird numbers are good, but it involves a little more work this year.  We are looking for little gullies with plum thickets and berries and are having good success. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hard-working 2 year old

Bandit (Ace's pup) did really well the morning. Temperature was 70 after 2 hours of hard hilly hunting and we were on our way back to the truck. I looked at the hills off my left and realized they were south-facing. "C'mon, Bandit, let's hit those hills!". We no sooner got halfway up the side when he got birdy and locked up. Great retrieves and points! Wow!

Point! 6 mos. Old!

Ruby Deux

Visual Pollution

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chain Gang in operation

Nothing better for traveling!

Good Motel in Mobridge SD

Clean, comfortable and half the price. Mom and pop motel for bird hunters or travelers.

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