Friday, January 29, 2010

Another Great Product

Hunting: Columbia Ptarmigan II Parka

My sense is that most folks following this blog are experienced hunters.  There may be some out there looking for some advice or ideas about the sport.  For them, I recommend items I am using or have used.  This jacket is new to me, but I really like it.  Lots of orange, big pockets and wind and rain resistance.  I'm even shown in some photos here in the thing. Generally, I look for wool sweaters, viyella (wool and cotton blend) shirts and turtlenecks and stuff like that.  I'm pretty much off the synthetics for most uses, just through personal experience.  One other critical item is gloves. Orvis has a pair made of deerskin, unlined and about $48.  They last about 3 years of hard hunting.

See pictures above for both products in use.....

Horseback Trial

Well, this ought to be an interesting event!  Tomorrow, my good friend invited me to be his "scout" for a horseback trial his Brittany is running.  The horse thing doesn't bother me much- I'm no Lone Ranger, but I think I can manage to stay in the saddle.  The problem is the weather tomorrow- high in the 30's and rain.  Then later it will get bad...

So, I'll be Tonto for an hour or two.  Actually, BJ and I have pondered, many a time, going up to Grand Junction, TN to ride in the gallery one weekday.  This little excursion may disabuse me of that notion- or not.  We'll see.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Good Reading

Read this book.  Amazingly, when I got into it, I realized he and I hunt the same areas.  I, too, am back to being a Brittany man, after years of setters.  I am close to the one to two month oddessy, being only held back by an outdated allegience to work.   Perhaps next year. This is a good one. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to the Field Trial World

A tough time of year for me and the dogs!  The hunting is done.....and now we need to get back in to the NSTRA game.  Ace is ready and so is his son, Bandit.  We are arranging for some practice birds to get them dialed in to the pen raised bird thing and also to work the obedience required in field trials, but neglected or ignored in the field. I really enjoy a day at the grounds with like-minded men and women, but, I gotta say, don't give me the choice between a day in the field or a week of field trialing.  You know where I'll be.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cool Stuff For Reading and Wearing (Recommended)

A Comfortable Range - When I started reading this book, I knew exactly what this guy felt. Then, I thought it was too lightweight. After finishing it, I realize he captured the essence of the concern a dog man has for his buddy. It's a tremendous responsibility to take care of an animal that thinks of you as a god. (Dog spelled backwards.)

A good read.

After Action Report

We had a good week in New Mexico.  Specific areas to be unnamed, however, the Sand Dunes area of NM in the South East corner of the state is where we hunted.  Some lessons learned from our one week and also from the other years I've hunted here follow:

1.) Put dog boots on your dog every day.  Once they hurt their feet, you are playing catch up for the rest of the trip.  My favorites are the Lewis Boot. They are not cheap, but they are excellent insurance that you will have a dog's nose helping you hunt blue quail.  Depending on the dogs you have, you may have just cut your trip short.  When you are out of dog, you are done.
2.) Carry a lot more water than you think is necessary.  Same warning about the dogs.  They drink a lot.  I use my hat as a bowl, but on cold days that can be problematic.  The big chain pet stores carry collapsible bowls that fit in to your vest, and that works great.  We stop and buy boxes of plastic water bottles for the dogs and never carry less than two each. Water is critical. I also put my water bucket next to the truck and leave it there when we make our cast.  The dogs learn that and know they can get water there, if I'm too boneheaded to give them enough. 
3.) Shoot the right shell.  I shoot at 20 ga. double with high brass 6's.  (Yeah, I know "high brass" don't mean nothin', but you know what I mean!)  These are tough birds and a far cry from those pen-raised quail you work your dogs on.  7 1/2's won't cut it here and these birds will run like a pheasant with a broken wing, if you just wound them.  Don't feed the foxes- kill them dead with 6's. 
4.) Wear the right clothes.  You will walk through sand, cactus, wind, sandspurs, mesquite thorns, heat, cold, wind, sun, glare, wind, rain and wind.  Up top, most bird hunters have their favorite vest or jacket etc.  Pants can be critical here.  The first time you get a cactus slap on your knee, you'll know what I mean.  Protect your legs.  I took my favorite Cabela's briar buster pants and they didn't do the job- stuff went right through them.  I ended up back with the old standby- jeans and chaps.  My recommendation is to go with the best and don't scrimp to save a penny- get Filson Double Tin chaps.  They are nuclear protection against everything, they are very comfortable (trust me on this one- they will form themselves to you) and they last- I've had mine since 1993 (with a few patches from barbed wire). I also have Double Tin Pants, but don't wear them much, anymore- I gravitated to the jeans and chaps thing.
5.)  Buy and use a Garmin Astro.  Listen, I know all about training gun dogs and trial dogs and yard dogs.  And I know what a perfect bird dog is supposed to do.  If you are a purist and hunt your dog with no locating device, I admire you.  I, too, dislike the beepers and cowbells, the whistles and horns and all that distraction.  The Astro cuts all that down to zero.  You can finally hear and enjoy where you are.  On that 300 yd. cast your dog makes, if you want to, you can watch him and see him turn back to you. If he strikes a covey in the coulee over the hill, you can head over there without the angst of not knowing where he is, as well as not having a beeper push the birds out of the area.  (Yes,these birds will vacate the premises, post haste, when you turn that beeper on.)  Another feature, I really like is the download feature that lets you put the tracks into your computer at the end of the day.  For example, it showed me where we missed a spot in our coverage of an area- when we hit it the next day, we found 3 coveys! Ease your mind- enjoy your trip more- get the Astro.

6.) Call the DNR and get an update of the quail forecast and best areas.  Glean every bit of information you can from them.  Call the DNR game biologist in the area you want to hunt, ask him if he is a bird hunter (if not, be respectful and call another one), call the Chamber of Commerce and ask about local bird hunting celebrities (small towns know these things).  In short, get as much info as you can before you ever set foot in the area.  I have plenty of time to waste- you probably don't.  Do your homework.
7.) Gloves- wear them, even when it's hot outside.  Boots- DO NOT scrimp on good boots.  You ain't hunting in running shoes here, my good friend.
8.)  This trip was hard work.  The dogs got tired and a few are limping due to my ignorance (see dog boots, above).  We found 4-6 coveys per day and walked 6-10 miles per day.  The dogs ran 20-30 miles per day (as per the Garmin- cool, huh?).  In a good year, that number of coveys will be 15+.  This isn't one of those years. Glen, shown above, was on his initial trip and I'm glad he saw this type of hunt.  He will forevermore appreciate a good quail day with 10+ coveys. 

Note:  I'm telling you my personal experience with products I use.  Some good, some bad.   If you disagree with my assessment, I certainly can understand that I might have missed something.  Email me or send a comment. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yesterday was a little warm for bird hunting, about 60 degrees.  Around here, some locals won't hunt over 60 for fear of snakes.  We decided to continue, but would knock off if it got any warmer. It was a great decision since the dog work was outstanding and we got into an area of little pressure and lots of birds- Porky Flats, it's now called.  Glen's little Brit, Daisy, really put the boys to shame!  She found several coveys and singles.  It seems like just as soon as we would finish on one bird, we'd hear her beeper again!  All the dogs need a good day to show off- her's was yesterday.

Possible snow today in the area.  That would be super for us.  The increased humidity and ability to discern new tracks will help us find good areas.  This is our last day and we'll be heading out after today's hunt.  We hope to make it a little ways down the road to ease the driving on Saturday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Porky Flats

This is one hard working dog.  We named this area Porky Flats, for the porcupines we've been finding up here.  It was warm today, and when I found this puddle near an old roundup pen, I called Ace over for a siesta.  The boots were necessary for the sand spurs and cactus around the area. 

Ace, Daisy (the mama), and Bandit (the son) have the poor single Blue Quail mostly surrounded. 

Here we are taking a break in the cast for the day. 

THE best breakfast in Carlsbad NM

But only if you want fast, good and cheap (err, less expensive, I mean.).

Porcupine Day

We found the "Porcupine Flats" when Bo took off and I found him locked down on a covey. Yesterday we went back and had shooting all day. Three, at least, porcupines inhabit the area, and all were pointed by various dogs. Ace came back with quills in the side of his face after he leapt a shrub and encountered a big, mad Daddy Porcupine. The neat thing is that he considered it an inconvenience to stop and get them pulled out- he's a tough sucker. Lots of birds in this area- about 10 square miles- so we'll hit it again today.
We even had an oil field worker stop us and say "Hey, there's a huge covey hangs out over there!". He was right.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Honey Hole

Every once in a while, just when you think the situation has gone to hell in a handbasket, it turns out to be a really good thing.  Today, I put Bo on the ground and started walking through the grass and sage, talking to my hunting partners.  Casually, Bo starts out in a straight line and just keeps going!  I watch him go out of sight over a hill, and then he's gone.  I tell my buddies to wait at the truck and I take out after the old guy.  I didn't want a repeat of 2 years ago, when Bo was gone for 5 days!  He stayed 700 yds ahead of me for 2 miles and finally went on point, so I could catch him.  I was so mad, I would have givien him away on the spot!  But I walked in front of him and a huge covey got up and I dropped 2 birds.  Then, on the way back to the truck, we got up 2 more coveys.  I couldn't get back too fast.  I yelled to the guys, we found a honey hole- let's go! It was a sweet spot covered with quail tracks.  Thank you, Bo!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Random Pics of Hunt


Place B1- Bo and Daisy. Lots of tracks no birds.

Dead Tree- Patch and Daisy. Lots of tracks. One flush. No bagged.

North Honey- Ace and Bandit. Lots of tracks and 1 bird.

Temp 52. Wind N at 5-10.

Hard Year this Year in NM

This is Bo, Ace and me.  It's a hard year this year in NM.  Road hunters will likely have no to very little luck.  We are finding birds by choosing likely habitat around drilling locations and/or water and then putting out and walking loops around the area.  Yesterday's 7 coveys took us hunting from sunrise to sunset. 
Mary Kay Cosmetics Redpresentative, Kirsten Schultz

My daughter sells this now.  Hey, want to be beautiful?  Click the link above.....

Sunday, January 10, 2010


7 coveys today. A marked increase over yesterday. Actually, we may have worked 9 separate coveys. All the dogs are sore with sand spurs. Looks like we'll need to boot them tomorrow. Will sleep well tonight.

THE Best Bird Cleaning Tool.

Bar none. I used it myself. Lots of power and usefUl features.

Patch gets the Blues

Great point and a fine retrieve. Patch looked super on his first wild bird. What a gentleman to compliment the shooter, as well!!  This dog has a lot of class.  The guy is really working hard to do the correct thing, but this is a harsh environment out here with sand spurs, dry, cold, cactus, etc.  The sand is hard on the pads, too.  But Patch is looking very good and getting the idea.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Glen and the 2 Boys.

Glen and Bandit (left) and Daisy, Bandit's mom.  All of them rookies at NM hunting, but they are catching on fast! 

The Intrepid Hunters

In birds all day.......but none near the roads. Just like work but a lot more fun. The birds are surely down, but it's still a great pale to hunt.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

West Texas Prime Quail Land

Another Tank of Diesel

Drill here- drill now! This Jones trailer has seen the country. We are leaving Sweetwater, TX. Will be on birds ny 10 am.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Hello Texas!

I'm loving the Flying J! I go out of my way now to find 'em for lunch and dinner.

It just so happens that this particular FJ was the one I hit to re-fuel and turn around to head back to NM a few years ago. I was on my way home after losing Bo 5 days previously. Poor BJ called me that a hunter found Bo and he was fine. I was on the Louisiana state line. I hit the exit, pumped the old F-250 full of diesel and put the spurs to the old boy. I couldn't get back there fast enough.

Fond memories of the Flying J.

This message has been sent using the picture and Video service from Verizon Wireless!

To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

Note: To play video messages sent to email, Quicktime@ 6.5 or higher is required.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heading Out

Truck's packed with way too much stuff! The 6-hole Jones trailer is loaded, too.  I look like the Klampetts heading to Beverly Hills, for crying out loud.  But, you know, I will not suffer through leaving anything home, that's for sure.  Of course, we are getting an ice storm right now, and I need to drive back roads to Columbus to pick up my buddy in the morning!  But, hey, that's what makes it fun.  I told poor BJ that I'll put chains on, if I have to.  This train is leaving the station at 0400.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Mexico Blues next on the Agenda

We are leaving out on Friday the 8th for a week or so in NM.  Tons of public land and no hunters to speak of- this is a diamond in the rough!  This will be my third season hunting the area.  As I like to do, the first time I hunted there, I used a local guide (Tim Bartlett- 575-631-7375) to show me the techniques used in the local area. That was a tremendous resource and cut my learning curve down a lot. 

As you suspect, the bird population is highly dependent on the weather in the spring and summer months.  This year, they are calling it a poor year, but with local hot spots.  My friends in the area are finding 5-16 coveys of blues per day.  Where I come from, that’s a good day.  To be on the ground with my dogs and busting up 5,6 or 7 coveys, I’m a happy camper!  Well, I’m pretty OK with far fewer than that, but I like to see the action as much as the next guy. 

I’ll keep the blog updated as I go along.  Cell and Net signals are few and far between in the region around Hobbs, we’ll see how it goes.  Here they are close

That’s one “locked down” Brittany- Ace.  “Here they are, Boss!”

A Nice Retrieve on Pheasant