Monday, October 31, 2011

It's a great time when my lovely wife wants to come up and see what I do on these hunting trips! We had a good day today and the weather even cooperated with lows in the 30's and highs in the 60's, little wind. Tomorrow, however, is supposed to be brutal- windy and possible snow, sleet and highs 40 or less.
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Sunday, October 30, 2011

North Dakota

Lots of birds up here, even though they are saying the bird numbers are down 60%.
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Tritronics Classic 70 G3 EXP- It don't wurk good wit' no antenna, Bubba!

For some reason, the antenna on my Tritronics Classic 70 G3 EXP disappeared.  I admit it had been some time since I checked the security of the antenna.  WARNING!  When you are in the field, it is a bad time to lose an antenna, with no back up. My options at this point are: I can order one from Tritronics and get it 2 days later or drive to Bismarck (240 mile roundtrip) to purchase another one.  Two mistakes I made: one is not checking the security of any antenna I have, pre-hunt or every day.  Second, I should have extra antennas on board for the eventually of loss or damage to one.  Actually, I did have an extra....last year in MN, I sat on a rock and heard a "crunch".  It was the antenna on the TT which had been dangling from a secure holder on my belt!  Oops! But, I had a backup antenna in the truck and all was well. Do you think I would order another set?  Of course not.....   I have double backup antennas for my Garmin... and today I will get another Tritronics antenna at Scheels, in Bismarck, when I go to get my wife at the airport.  Dude, it's cheap insurance.  Do not go in the field with out extras of everything- any part that can break, wear out, or get lost..
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Randy and Ace in ND with limit of Pheasant

Another great day. The pups are hunting like experienced dogs and  Ace is his usual business-as-usual self.  The weather is perfect with lows in the 20's and highs in 50's.  Tomorrow, my wife shows up to monitor the situation!  I sure do hope the weather stays good and we get in to plenty of birds- the pressure! 

Georgia Boy Limits in North Dakota

We worked hard all morning and finally hit the jackpot. Lots of birds and some great dog work from my top dog! It was the "perfect storm" of all the variables coming together- weather, birds and experienced dog. Bobby is one fantastic shot, too. There weren't too many of the ditch chickens that flew out from under his gun. Pretty much, when I saw a rooster get up in front of him, I mentally was putting it in the vest already. 

North Dakota and chasing Pheasant

That's Bobby Ferris (top picture) and Ace and me in the lower picture. This was the first day on the ground in Southwest North Dakota. the birds were hit very hard by the Spring weather- wet and cold. Estimates are a 60% die off. That's is probably true, based on what we are seeing. However, the birds are still available, with a good dog or two. It took us most of the day to harvest our 6 roosters, and we are seeing a lot of young birds from a second hatch. One very pleasant surprise (for a dog man) is the hunting performance of one of my young dogs, Cap! What a joy to watch and hunt over. He's bold, quick and thorough. When he points, it is intense and staunch. He listens and I can see the wheels turning as he looks for cover and thinks things through. I used to worry that he was too quick on the draw, that he was too bold. Now, even at 16 months, I see a little thread of thoughtfulness in him. If his development is parallel to his half-brother, Bandit, he will develop in to a wonderful bird dog. My wife would like me to say that Cap is HER dog and I am only borrowing him. I must admit he is the only dog that will "sit for a treat" in my kennels (WW III almost came about when I saw her asking him to sit with the house dogs for a bone!). Obviously, he isn't hurt by that at all- perhaps he's even more attuned to me because of it.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

American Made Ford Hunt Truck

Next pic at 300,000 miles!
40 degrees and rain. Can't wait to put a dog on the ground!  Not long now- maybe 2 hours.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On the road again

The very best time to drive in Atlanta.  By the time the sun comes up, I will be close to Nashville.

Roosters, let me introduce Ace, Cap, Ruby and mister A. H. Fox.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mr. Rooster and I have a date!

Two young dogs and one experienced campaigner and I will tackle however many birds are left in the SW North Dakota wheat fields.  Reports vary from, "More than I've ever seen!" to "Walked all day and moved 2 roosters." I suspect I'll find the middle ground.  My pups are ready for the running demons- they've been on Sharptails, Huns and Ruffs the past year.  These birds won't mess them up now.  I would like to just watch their faces when the big rooster comes out of the grass, but dropping the thing is more important right now.  Travel day tomorrow and Wednesday.  By sunrise Thursday, Mountain Time, you can mentally watch me turn a pair of Brits loose, shoulder the old 20 ga. and step off in to the grass for another adventure with my buddies.......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The $200 Shotgun

The Old Ball and Chain
Her First Quail on a Covey Rise

We have a little family secret down here.  And since this is just between us, I'll share it. 

It seems that sometime in the distant past, I may, or may not, have mentioned to my wife, that although I do have several shotguns they are all inexpensive.  In fact, the story goes, none of my guns cost more than $200, so she says I told her.  While neither confirming nor denying said statement was made, I do admit I was guilty for allowing the misunderstanding to exist.  Over the years, as shotguns were acquired, I assured my lovely bride that I would never pay more for them than the usual amount.  And, so, life blissfully carried on.   Until the fateful day, in my barn, during a field trial.  It was cold and raining so several of my bird dog friends were warming themselves by the fire and talking about all things bird hunting.  BJ joined us for a bit. She usually holds her own in these meetings regaling the audience with stories of my adventures with my various dogs.  Laughter and good natured ribbing was the name of the game, with everyone chipping in to tell an anecdote about their favorite dog or hunt.  Conversation got around to shotguns and who just bought what, the various makes and models and quality thereof.  Finally, someone happened to spy the gun I'd set aside as I came in from my brace and asked if that was the old A.H.Fox and why would I use it in such bad weather.  I explained I did like to shoot the gun, and I would probably spend quite a while cleaning and oiling after the day was over.  Another friend opined that he would never allow a gun like that to get wet, and so on.  I happened to glance at my wife and noticed a puzzled look on her face.  Warning flags shot up all over (Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!).  Uh, oh!  But then, BJ smiled and announced that it was no big deal, since "..none of Randy's guns cost more than $200 anyway.".   (At this point in the tale, you could hear the wind blowing dust in the empty street and the hawk screech high overhead.)  Mouths opened, jaws dropped and men froze in place.  After a long, quiet moment....... "Absolutely! Yes! Uh huh! Yep, that's right, BJ!" was heard throughout the barn.  Then, slowly, the laughter started and I heard several of my "friends" explaining to BJ the book value of a few of my $200 guns. It was generally acknowledged that I was dog meat for the rest of the year, I would never see the Dakotas, Montana, Minnesota, Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, or New Mexico again (or, at least, during my natural lifetime)! She laughed and enjoyed my discomfort for a while and then gracefully bowed out to head back to the house.  Always a class act, she gave me big kiss and said she needed to get going.  "It's a long drive to Atlanta, honey, and you don't mind if I do a little shopping, do you? Oh, and I promise not to get anything that costs more than $200!  Honest!"

There is a lesson in there, somewhere, but I just don't see it.......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A few wrap-up photos from the MT/MN Hunt

That's Cap and me in the top two photos.  The top one celebrates his first Hungarian Partridge- notice it was taken after the sun set- during the gloaming.  The flash really set off the Wing Works reflective straps.  The second shot is  getting ready to go to the MN grouse woods- a whole 'nother set of parameters for little Cap.  Last is Terry and some Ruffs they harvested after a good day in MN last week.  I, personally, didn't see that many birds, but pictures don't lie (at least these don't).