Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gear that WORKS!

I evaluate gear and have two new, short youtube videos describing the WingWorks Vest and Turtleskin Snake Chaps.  There is no polish here- just a bird hunter telling it like it is.

WingWorks Vest video

Turtleskin Snake Chaps

Monday, September 26, 2011

Next Trip- Pheasant in North Dakota and South Dakota

This is Ace with the limit of three roosters in North Dakota.  For the past, lets see, 15 years at least, I've been hunting North Dakota for pheasant.  While they don't have the statewide name that South Dakota has, where I've been going has at least the number of birds!  Over the years, I've gravitated to the area around Mott and Hettinger.  The public land is plentiful and the birds are like rats.  My friends up there constantly complain about the broken headlights and windshields from these colorful ditch-chickens.  Numbers up or numbers down, it makes no difference.  For some reason, this corner of North Dakota holds the birds.  Now, I do not hunt line abreast with a lab walking in front of me.  I  use pointing dogs and usually just little old me working a field.  I do just fine.  The PLOTS land in the area is great!  Most of the private land is posted and you must ask permission to hunt.  There is a lot of fee hunting in the area, so a sweet little area will probably be off limits- unless it is PLOTS (Private Land Open to Sportsmen).  Housing may be a problem now, too.  since the discovery of the Baaken oil field under this part of North Dakota, Montana and Canada (Google it), there is a housing shortage- be sure to call ahead to motels.  Good luck!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hunt Wrap-Up

I finally made it home after 1 1/2 days on the road. Funny, how it seems so much shorter going than coming. Even after stopping at the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI (on I-94), it was still an ordeal. Part of the problem was knowing I was going back in to eighty and ninety degree heat! Since the third day in Montana, the weather was perfect- low humidity and cool temps. In Minnesota, the high overcast and cool temps made for perfect scenting and easy walking.

In retrospect, Montana was great fun and a lot of work. I don't shy away from walking as far as needed to find birds, and MT put that attitude to the test. I never did calculate the total distance walked, but it was pretty close to ten miles per day- perhaps much more than that. An interesting note: I did use my Astro to track my dog's running distance and noted they usually cover five times the distance that I walk. No wonder they are lean and mean by the end of a two week jaunt!

The top picture is of me and Ace. The bottom is of Bob and three of his four dogs- a Spinone, Sophie, Pudelpointer, Razz, and Gordon Setter, Tink. Not shown is his GWP "Ug".

Minnesota was beautiful. The people are absolutely friendly and the grouse woods are vast and flat. Unfortunately, we didn't find a whole lot of birds. The cover was still on the trees, so, when the dogs pointed a bird not right on the trail, it was very hard to get close enough to the dog quickly to get a shot! Many times, I would be pushing through alder and aspen only to hear the flush and see a brown blur through the trees.

All in all, it was a very successful trip. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The dogs got worked on all manner of game birds and the pups had several points and retrieves. No one got hurt or shot or lost or aggravated. I am thankful that I have the health and opportunity to do this.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Main Dog "Ace" and a Sharptail Grouse

This kind of says it all.
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Minnesota Grouse Woods

We are hunting the Superior National Forest near Hoyt Lakes, MN. Scenes above show typical cover and the bottom pic is typical food, plus greens. We are getting only 6+ flushes per day and it's taking walking 10 miles per day to get those. If I wasn't in shape before I got here, I am now. The dogs are worn out and skinny from 12 straight days of hunting. It's tough to keep the dogs' weight up with all the running they do, but they are on double rations, plus a little wet food, too. Ruby, my young pup, is downright skinny. Today was the last day and we are heading back tomorrow. I'm looking for a stop in Osseo, WI to get my wife a pie at Norsk Nook! She said I could go hunting all I wanted, but if I'm anywhere near the Norske Nook, Osseo, WI, I'd bette come home with one of theor world famous, home cooked pies! Awesome.

Next trip is end of Oct to ND for pheasant!
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Grouse 3- Me 0

Secret Minnesota Grouse Trail

Every year, it's the same thing.  For the first few days, those wiley grouse kick my butt.  Ace, Ruby and Cap all did a marvelous job.  Ruby pointed 3 birds.  On the third find, the bird got up and flew directly away from me high and down the trail.  I calmly lifted the gun, while mentally putting the bird in my game bag- and missed!  I was tempted to start a little "Navy talk" right there.  But I resisted (remembering PSR) and gave Ruby a lttle love on the trail.  The other two finds, the birds got up too far out for shots.  You look out boys!  We'll be back tomorrow.  And we'll be ready!

Last Day Photos

A herd of horses comes over to see what bird hunting is all about. Cotton, a young pointer, is getting in to her stride on Sharpies. Bob and his Pudelpointer, Raz, put one in the bag. Bob and his Spanone, Sophie, and Gordon Setter, Tink, after a successful cast. We saw, among the group, many different breeds of dogs. There was no way anyone could pick a "best" breed. To my mind, and I'm a hard core Brittany man, that Spinone did one fine job and would be the dog of the day!
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wow! Honeyhole!

Five covies huns, five covies sharptails, 20 pheasant and some darn fine dogwork marked this perfect day!  My puppies are handling the birds with not only technical correctness,  but also a type of grace. I can read them so much better now. I know when Ruby's tails starts that little wag, you may as well cock the gun.  And when Cap starts and stops a.few times with his head high and moving back and forth, he'll be locking down in a matter of seconds.  And Ace was his usual typically outstanding self.  When my pups get 24 hunting trips under them (as Ace does) I hope they have the attitude, intelligence and class he has.

On to Minnesota and Ruffled Grouse.

Friday, September 16, 2011

PSR- Live for the day!

PSR, it's what we all strive for.  Point, Shoot, Retrieve.  As I was on a 3 hour cast today, with my pup Cap, I got to pondering that.  Point, Shoot, Retrieve- all the rest is details.  I suppose you could write a book about each event and we all know the "devil is in the details", but PSR is really what it is all about.  Do you ever get dissatisfied after a hunt?   I find myself thinking of the finds we had throughout the day and critiquing my dogs and even myself. If I'm not careful, I will start getting too critical and then it becomes a competition.  I laughed coming in yesterday when I realized I'd worked myself up and what was a really nice day in the field, I was turning in to a disaster! "Hey", I reminded myself, "you are hunting and living your dream.  Get your head together and enjoy your dogs and blue sky and your friends, for crying out loud!"  I laugh as I remember how I really had to jerk my own chain!  If you are like me, start every day with the realization it may your last day behind a dog.  Enjoy it!!  Also, like I tell my hunting  friends, "Try to be the man your dog thinks you are!"  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ruby and Me

Ruby is new to the Priarie. She's doing so well. Today, she pointed and held 2 large coveys of sharps. Then, whule we were resting about to doze off, my Garmin alerted that she was on point! I looked up and she was on the side of a grass hill, locked down tight on (what we learned later) what was another covey of Sharps. She's a great little dog!
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Cap on Point and Retrieve

Here's my guy on his first successful day. I called the ball and chain and told her that her puppy was now a dog. She said, "Guess again, Captain!" Well, perhaps not.
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The Youngsters Team Up

Cap in front and Ruby backing him in Montana! Wow, that's why I drove 1700 miles. These dogs are getting good work and this is not too hard on them. The terrain is just steep enough to work them hard, but flat enough to let them "get their legs under them". Today, we saw Sharptail Grouse, Hungarian Partridge, Dove and turkey. This is a bird hunter's dream up here.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cap's First Wild Bird Retrieve

He looked like a million bucks bringing that bird back to me!
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Introducing Flyboy Ace's Delta Captain (Cap)- Bird Dog

Today, Cap put it all together and really showed his stuff! After a fine point on a covey of eight, he held solid while I dropped one bird and sent him on the "fetch". Two good retrieves later and three more finds and he became a DOG. So proud of the little guy! He is an Ace mini-me, which pretty well answers the question about breeding Ace again in the Spring. (To Ruby)
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It Pays to Have the Right Friends

Terry, one of my hunting patners. He's a North Carolina game biologist and it's so nice to hunt with him. Whenever I have a question about habitat or feed or type of cover, he has the answer- good deal!
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Long Cast and Birds in the Bag

It took 6 miles of walking and lots of watching the dogs work, but we got into 2 large coveys and another smaller covey. Ace did wonderful work and Ruby (shown) did her very best. We harvested several Sharpies. I checked the Garmin Astro and noted the dogs ran over 30 miles on this cast! The terrain was not the easiest, either. I think both the pups will make excellent dogs!
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Weather Cooler

Finally, some relief!  Highs in 60's for next few days and none too soon. Huge difference in dog work. Here we are shown eating grilled sharptails and sage grouse for lunch.

Resting in the Shade

Cap and Ace and me. It was only 0900, but the sun was hot and the wind was dry. We'd seen sharpies, pheasant and turkeys on the cast, so far. My Wing Works vest allows me to carry as much water as possible and yet be able to move and shoot. Cap, in close, is on his first grown-up hunt and is finding it to his liking, I guess. I noticed him cruising the hills not long before this picture. I don't need to worry about his getting out. Ace is an old hand and reminds me of the soldiers that knew when it was time to "take five".
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Sunday, September 11, 2011


Just a little love tap to the chest. Ace was working tall grass near a stock dam and came out of there straight to me.  I saw the green on his chest and knew immediately what happened. It wasn't in his eyes or nose so we finished the cast. He wasn't really all that upset, either. Two years ago, he took a full load right in the snot-locker and that was when I discovered the recipe.  Since then, I never hunt without the ingredients in my truck. What could have been a major disaster was nothing more than a minor inconvenience.  Hydrogen Peroxcide, baking soda and Dawn soap.  Mix in gallon of water and pour on dog. Rinse. Repeat.  Magic!  Most highly recommended for bids hunters!

Too Hot!

I woke up and the temp was 48°!   We hustled to the area and put dogs down right away. By the time we finshed a 4 water  bottle cast, it was 85° and getting hotter. We can't hunt from noon until five. Tomorrow it will start a welcome cool down. By Tuesday, the temps will be in the 60's.  It can't get here fast enough. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011


This is typical of the country we are hunting. 85 now in the shade.  There is very little humidity and the dogs dry out fast.  We went through a flat of water bottles in one morning.  Water is critical for hard running dogs!  Beats working.

Ruby Patiently Waiting

She's patiently waiting her turn. The temps are in the 80's in the afternoon and I'm keeping the work to short casts.  We are finding Sharpies but the Huns have been cut back severely by the hard winter and spring.  For a first morning hunt, the pups did very well. Range was very good and I couldn't ask for more drive and attitude out of either young dog.  Of course, Ace was spot on.  Afternoons may be problematic due to the heat. I saw 2 huge coveys along the road driving in and my first Sharp of the year was harvested by my F-250.

Finally Ready to Put Dogs On the Ground

Every year, the drive gets longer and more arduous. Every year the feeling gets better and better!  Finally, months of work, cutting grass, etc. are behind us. It's time to put some paws on the ground and birds in the bag.

The dogs are fed, watered and ready to go. The big question in everyone's mind is- who's up?  Ace,my main man, is chillaxing in his kennel. He already knows.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Christmas Idea- It's never too early!

A few years ago, my wonderful children had this sketch made for me.  It is displayed proudly on my wall in the den.  My eyes can drift to each dog and remember instantly days in the field.  What a thoughtful gift!  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Finally, a good solution!

Since installing my topper, I wanted to have a 3- holer dog box.  Manufactured dog boxes not only were $800-$1000, but they would take 2-3 weeks to manufacture.  I realized that by installing them in this fashion, I not only kept the dogs secure, but I can offload these boxes and use them at any time for other uses.  I don't need water tight, since they are under the shell.  Now, I have storage underneath, too.  We'll see how this works out. 

I'll never run away again. Promise!