Sunday, September 30, 2012

Last day Montana

It was a good one. The tired, old legs are ready for a rest. A 12 hour drive is just the thing to recuperate. Next is quail and chukar in Idaho.

We tried new areas today and the birds were scarce. They hunker down in the heat just like us and we knew they were there. Next time we'll get them.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rough weather for the dogs!

But we are letting them hunt. Plenty of water shade and breaks make it bearable to them.

The ubiquitous American Cafe

There's one in every town. They serve whatever you want, as long as it's on the menu. The waitress is fast and the coffee is hot and plentiful. There's a table just for "the boys" and conversation floats around weather, prices and "them "&$*holes in Washinton". Beats the franchise any day.

Another hot one.

We hunted along a creek in the morning but found no birds. 3 hours of hard hunting by Bandit (on tailgate and pointed by tree) produced one bird sitting up in that tree. After a long nap, I put Ruby and Ace on the ground. We found a nice covey with Ruby backing Ace.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The best Montana day....

It was just an awesome day. I will do a better write up later, right now I'm so tired I can't even lift my legs. The pictures say it all. That is my two-year-old pup, Cap, and a Pudelpointer, Raz. They were awesome!

History? Year?

Pretty cool old stuff just sitting by the road. Any antique car buffs know what this is? I do know this farm was homesteaded in 1910.

It sure is hard work having a good time.

This happens every time. After a few days of driving, we hit the ground hard and hunt from can to can't. Then, about the second day, legs start hurting, feet start hurting, and, for a fleeting moment, you wonder whether you can do this all day. That moment of self-doubt passes. And it is day after day of 0530 breakfast and 10 PM getting to bed. Tonight is no exception so here are a few pictures and I'm off to bed. It was 86° here today. We made three three-hour casts. We had points and retrieves on Sharptailed grouse and Hungarian partridge. Ruby hunted the heat of the day on a 2 1/2 to 3 hour cast. And she did a spectacular job. Ace did a great job also, and I guess he's feeling the heat like me. He jumped in the backseat laid down and was out like a light.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First day buffoonery

After all the preparation, and all the careful planning, the time finally arrives. You aren't in that groove yet. Collars are misplaced, whistles are not to be found, "Why can I only find three dog boots?" We have all been there and luckily it gets better.

Our first day found us in an area we hunted many times before. Bob, and his Spinone, Sophie, came along with me and Glen's pup, Bandit. We struck out that morning in an area that was absolutely wonderful for the last two years. Ace and Ruby were resting after a three-hour non-productive cast in the heat.

10 minutes after I turned Bandit loose, he found a water barrel with a dead skunk in it. By the time I arrived, he was happily swimming and drinking. That was some nasty water. I got him out right away and gave him some freshwater. Dogs!

We walked about 3 miles with the dogs working hard in 80° heat, when they both got very birdy in the alfalfa field. A few minutes later, they started coming up. They came out of the alfalfa, out of the tops of the trees, and out of the shaded ditches. It was really nice.

Someone asked me about the dirt roads up here. Yep, we got them.

bird dogs and bird hunting
bird dogs and bird hunting
bird dogs and bird hunting
bird dogs and bird hunting

Dinner thanks to some fine bird dogs

And barely adequate shooting!

Randy free range grilled grouse with a hint of Cajun and malt beverage carefully prepared over domestically drilled natural gas.

Backroad Fun

As we made our way, in a leisurely fashion, across South Dakota and into Montana, we found museums, herds of bison and just plain beauty.

The leaves are changing up here now as we pass through the mountainside.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Morning Glory

The Missouri River at sunrise today. View from the office window.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shopping at the mall.

Part of the reason I like to come up here so much is the stores. Where else can you find Scheels and Cabelas. What a rush to go through the door of either of those stores. Hundreds of shotguns and rifles, new and used, and any shotgun shell you can think of. The old diesel just will not pass one by.

On the road again!

I have my copilot watching diligently. With a full tank of diesel, and a belly full of three egg omelette. We are headed up through the heart of Illinois. Through towns called Mount Zion, Elwin and Decatur. This area was settled by French-Canadians brought in by the railroad building a line from Chicago to Mobile. Huge coal seams were discovered underneath the flatland here. This area is known for a coal mining disaster in 1930. Now, it's all about the corn and beans.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Time.

Sage Grouse, MT, 2011
Cap and Me on Valley Quail
Tomorrow, the old F-250 heads North. With stops in Illinois to pick up one of the hunting party, and another stop somewhere short, I should be chasing Sharptails and Huns Monday in Montana.  This year, I have the advantage of using my Glen Bahde Truck Vault (a one-of-a-kind at this point, since Glen hasn't finished his, yet.)  to store my guns, ammo and a mess of other stuff that gets hauled around the country every trip. Taking my three dogs (Ace, Ruby, Cap) and Glen's dog, Bandit, I won't need my Jones trailer this trip.  Since diesel is $4/gallon, that seemed a prudent decision.  Also, maneuvering around on those two tracks with a trailer, while sporting, can be a pain, occasionally.
My new Glen Bahde truck vault.

All the dogs will ride in crates on top of the truck vault.  It's a nice set up for traveling the back roads.  It seems most the hunters I meet out west have a version of this setup, so there must be something to it.

Monday, September 17, 2012

2012 Georgia Region NSTRA Ironman

Pistol Shoot


Skeet Shooting

Heading out to find birds!

In the heat of summer, no one thinks about running dogs, but when the cool mornings hit, it's on every one's mind.  We get together in September to run the dogs a little, catch up and get mentally ready for the trial year.  Our "Ironman" started way back in 2000 as a way to have fun and spend the day gossiping about bird hunting and trialing and giving new dogs a little taste of trial life.  The events are finding birds, pistol shooting, rifle shooting, skeet fishing and horseshoes.  It takes pretty much all day with 20 to 30 contestants.  Then we have a nice dinner with cooked quail and all the fixin's, thanks to Jimmy Johnson! What a wonderful way to get the year started!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Snake Aversion Training!

Showing Cap the empty cage- Nothing in There, Boy!


After correction on the snake crate- he won't get near!

I've heard so much about snake aversion training that I knew it was necessary, but I was leery about doing it.  Problems with uncertified instructors using poor techniques caused me to hesitate.  I saw this man's ad and looked up his website.  Then, I called him and pretty much grilled him for 30 minutes.  In a nutshell, I am impressed with the system he uses and the theory behind the system.  He knows snakes, venomous and non-venomous!  And, he knows dogs and how they learn.  He puts the two together and you have a great method for teaching your dog to avoid snakes- all snakes! The timing of the stimulation is very important, critical even.  Jason Clark, of Southeast Reptile Rescue, is an expert in snakes. He will stimulate the dog, not when it first gets scent, but when it follows that scent right up to the snake and gets as close as it can.  The dog, as I understand it, associates the actual snake with the correction not merely the scent. It took 10 minutes per dog and my Brits were moving all around the area, a snake scent covered area, until they SAW the snake.  At that point, they backed away or went around the snake by a wide margin! My 2 year-olds only took one correction, at the proper time, and they were believers.  It was not a huge shock, either. It was a 30 on a scale of 100 with a Dogtra system. (Maybe a 3 on a Tritronics?)  The final exam was a Rat Snake on the ground with no crate around it.  All my dogs saw and avoided by a wide margin!  Very nice. He used a Copperhead, a Moccasin and a Timber Rattler in cages and a Rat Snake, uncaged, for the Final Exam.   
I think that with this training, the snake vaccine and a snake bite kit in the truck, we have taken all reasonable steps to avoid and/or mitigate a snake bite problem. I feel somewhat better about hunting Montana next week with the Prairie Rattlers.
Jason charged me $50 per dog. Follow-up sessions are $35 per dog and are recommended by the company annually. Click the link and check them out.  I am glad I took the time.