Monday, January 31, 2011

Backyard Training Resumes

My two pups, Ruby (top) and Cap (bottom), have resumed training in the back pasture.  These shots were taken this week on pen raised quail.  Ruby is 10 mos. in the pictures and Cap is 9 mos. You can see the have the intensity.  Their quartering and objective work is top notch for that age, too.  Ruby is such a joy to hunt over- she's so biddable and she's a thinker- not a slow, plodding Brit at all.  Cap is all boy at this point.  Intense on point, bold on the hunt and, yet, he constantly checks for me, too.  Not much to complain about yet.  We'll see how they pan out. By my September Sharpie and Hun hunt in Montana, I think I should have two more pretty good dogs......

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On the way to Pheasant Fest 2011 in Omaha, NE

If you are in the area, come on out and join the fun!  I will be a part of the Quail hunting seminar sponsored by Rancho Carocal, a wild bird hunting, Orvis endorsed resort in Mexico. Look me up and let's swap some lies about bird dogs and bird hunting.....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If I wanted to Maximize my hunting year (in US).....

Where would I start, on what bird, and where would I finish up?  Any Ideas?

Monday, January 24, 2011

So, there I am kicked back and resting the dogs and I happen to look out at the stock tank..

wait a minute, I think, that bird looks familiar!

Blues Feeding
I'd just pulled up by a stock tank next to the dirt road along which I was hunting.  My plan was to rest my puppy and put out for the last cast of the day.  It was about an hour before dark, and we'd been hunting pretty steady all day.  Cap, son of Ace, was doing a good job at pointing and tracking Blue Quail in New Mexico. For an eight month old Brittany, I was impressed with his maturity.  Even with boots on, he was quick- constantly checking new objectives and keeping track of me as he was doing it.  We picked up about a mile down the road and I wanted to hunt around this tank before we packed up and headed back to Artesia and the motel.  The dogs were resting comfortably in the Jones Trailer and I had my feet up and head back fixing to snooze away.  I watched with half-closed eyes and suddenly thought, "Wait a minute!"

Blues on Stock Tank
Single Bird Heading out after the Boys, "Hey, Guys!  Wait up!"
You've got to know the rest of the story.....

About 3 minutes after the last picture was taken, I sneaked out of the truck, eased my pup out of the kennel and made a large arc around the tank, intending to intercept the covey.  My pup hunted well, pointed empty bushes three times, moved out and back in to me.  I saw the fresh tracks and we made another long, arcing cast, hoping to get outside the fleeing birds.  (At this point, they knew we were there and on their tail, and those little buzz bombs can really hiaco out of there when they turn on the jets!)  Long story short, we never got so much as a flush.  That's bird hunting.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some Pictures from New Mexico

Randy and Cap

Randy moving in on a point on Blues (Ace)
Bad Bird Dog on Point
(Hey, You gotta have some fun!)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Short Clip of Ruby on Point NM 2011

This is typical of the terrain and flora on the region.  In this video, we were only a few minutes behind the birds and Ruby was pointing "old scent" .  She's a good little bird dog- and a keeper!

Today We Head For Mearns Quail Country

Robert at Sunset

Robert and Bea at Sunset

Yesterday ended well, with a very nice covey of Blues pointed and  several birds harvested.  Singles are hard to find after the flush.  I guess with the "airwash" and the very dry, dusty conditions, the birds are invisible to scent for a while after the flush.  Today, we are heading to higher elevations to hunt for Mearns Quail.  If we are successful, Ace will have harvested three species of quail (Bobwhite, Blue and Mearns) on this trip- all in New Mexico.  I would think if we headed over closer to Arizona, we would be able to find Gambels Quail, also.  But, alas, duty calls (not to mention my beautiful, loving and understanding wife). 

P.S.- My GPS with the topo and ownership maps loaded for NM, is absolutely invaluable!  I think I've sold at least two systems on just this trip.  The future is exciting for this technology! With nano-technology and battery technology advancing as they are, I would hope to see a smaller, lighter unit with greater range and longer life.  (Well, eventually, the dog will have an implanted chip.)  Also, I have a few suggestions for the improvements to the Garmin Astro handheld.  (For example, I would like to set an individual alert tone to each collar.  I would know aurally, which dog is on point, that way.)  Between Garmin and Tritronics and the rest, I hope the competition makes it happen sooner rather than later.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lunch Break in the Desert

We stopped for lunch and cooked up some quail.  Then we let the dogs run around a little to loosen them up. These are Robert's two setter pups- aren't they beautiful?

A Dog in His Element

What?  Let's Go!

Never tell me these dogs think this is a chore!  Top photo is Ace coming in from a cast and the bottom photo is Ace's pup, Cap, doing his normal thing.  He is really coming along.  We are getting closer to the point, flush, shoot, retrieve sequence.  Today, the birds got up 30 yards out from his point- they run like the wind! All initial indications are he will make a bird dog.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hunting the Desert

Checking Dog Location

The little Pixie was found on "point"

This country is wide open, for sure, but it doesn't take long to  see that a dog can disappear in a flash!  My Garmin tracker is an incredible tool out here.  AND, in addition, I just downloaded all the public and private lands in the entire state into it.  It is very convenient to drive along and know the status and ownership of the adjacent property!  Click here to see the website to obtain free and paid maps- the one I downloaded was a paid map with free, lifetime updates, but there are many free maps with great information (topos, etc). 

The link is:  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cap makes a long cast

Cap Worn-out!

He actually did quite well.  Running through hundreds of acres of sunflowers, ragweed, shin oak and other stuff for a few hours is bird dog heaven!  Cap did it with the best of them.  He 1.) chased deer, 2.) chased a rabbit that gave him some lip, 3.) almost caught a truck that was  driving down a nearby road, 4.) chased about 100 che-che birds all over SE New Mexico.  No wonder he's a little tired! 

First Full Day Yielded Some Fruit

Tough Day in the Desert!
Ruby 11 Months
With an entire day to roam my favorite spots, I took advantage and hit the most promising.  Last year, these were all dry holes, but the year before they were spectacular. Everything bird hunting out here depends on the weather- most particularly moisture.  In a year with good bird populations, the rain was the right amount at the right time.  It looked like the specific area I was hunting got at least a little of that rain.  We found and pointed 8 coveys over the day- now, that's not the 30 covey days my quail hunting friends claim while hunting in Texas in a good year.  But, it's good enough for me and my dogs.  It keeps us busy finding and thinking and shooting and scheming.  It makes for an awesome day.  Ruby, above, had a particularly good day for a pup under a year.  She pointed a nice covey (they flushed wild before I could get there) and then she pointed two doubles on the way to where the covey landed.  More important is the way she worked and handled!  It stirs my bird dog man soul to see a young dog make that transition from dog food processor to real live bird dog.  She's there.  Welcome to the club Flyboys Ruby Deux!

Monday, January 10, 2011

This is my puppy, Cap, out of Ace, locked on his first covey of Blues! I think he's got the attitude!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Day in the Field in New Mexico

Cap has 8 birds nailed!
Ruby Pointed on Blues

Great day today.  We hit the ground about 1200.  And, after the usual peeing and running crazy, the dogs went to work..  We found tracks and roosts, but only one small covey rise.  We'll have better luck tomorrow!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Another 0400 Departure

Thirty minutes at 0400 is much easier than thirty minutes more driving at 2100. New Mexico, here I come!  Look out birds, Ruby and Cap are comin' for you!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Omaha January 28-30. Pheasant Fest 2011. Quail Hunting Presentation!

Page 1 Brochure Pheasant Fest 2011

Page 2 Brochure Pheasant Fest 2011

You Get What You Pay For: The Jones Trailer

My Outfit (in New Mexico)
When I retired from the airline business in 2005, I decided it was time to upgrade my ride- actually, my dogs' ride.  For many years, I looked like the Klampetts on the way to "Californy" as I pulled out of the driveway to head north or west. Dog boxes, food containers, luggage, etc., were stacked up in the back of the truck.  It was workable, but it wasn't the most elegant solution to the problem, by any means. I researched trailers, talked to friends, inspected, poked, inquired and did web searches for six months.  Finally, I settled on Jones Trailers out of Woodson, TX.  Don't get me wrong- they don't give these things away.  They are darn proud of them, actually. I told the Ball and Chain I'd be gone for a few days and rode on out there to pick one up.  My six-holer (Lone Star Model-shown above) was waiting for me.  Since then, I've pulled it on a lot of hunting trips confident my dogs were warm and protected, enclosed in stainless steel comfort.  By the way, I added a fan and battery, but it came with all the neat stuff the others charge to add on- make sure you "compare apples to apples", as they say.  

Recently, I damaged a fender and I've been pondering how to fix it.  I figured I'd have to either, (a) use the existing bent one, or (b) send for a new one and rivet it on.  Just on a whim, I called Jones and talked to John.  He, in his Texas drawl, allowed as how that was about a 45 minute fix, and "Why don't you stop by on your way to New Mexico, and we'll fix that fender for you right here?  We're only 50 miles north of I-40."  Dude, that's customer service.  I'm just sayin'......

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Off to Blue Quail Country

NM Blue Quail

The word from NM is: There are birds, but they will force you to hunt them, if that makes sense.   A few years ago, I think you could take off on a compass heading and find a covey within a quarter mile- any compass heading.  There were that many birds.  This year may be marginally better than last year, which was not a great year, for bird numbers.  Reports vary from hunters working the area, to a friend of mine who hunts out there a lot.  Reports say only one covey per day- others say 2 coveys in 3 hours (good sized coveys, too).  I guess the picture coming into focus is one of long casts and lots of walking between action.  Sounds good to me......

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Rating the Dog Den 2

Ace in Dog Den 2
OK, I finally have enough experience putting these things together to have some advice.   All these are MINOR gripes! First, I don't care what the instructions say: those are NOT self-tapping screws (you only use 4 of them per box).  I don't know what they make the shell out of but it's probably space shuttle plastic.  Save yourself some time and drill a pilot hole.  I spent 20 minutes on a 1 minute job (attaching the latches to hold the roof down).  Second, the wood screw they give you (2 long wood screws per house) is weak.  I had some external wood screws that worked great.  Third, I got nothin'........these are easy to put together (including the heated model), the instructions are easy to understand.  AND, my dogs jumped right in and are very comfortable.  My old dog (Bo)  gave his heated model the "mule lookin' at a new gate" look and pouted for an hour or so, but he climbed in, too.  

My recommendation:  They are Cadillacs.  Get them.

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