Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Barn Room

Most of us have some place we keep all our bird hunting stuff. Mine is in the barn. When we bought this place, a huge pole barn made for the beef cattle he raised on this place came with it. I had a pad poured and, while they were re-modeling the inside of the house, I built a barn room with the idea of storing all my hunting and trialing gear. Not fancy, I have power and heat, through a fireplace and a propane wall heater, and I have AC with a wall mounted unit I salvaged from and old rental house. It suits my needs. I have all my electronic training gear plugged in and hunting clothing hung up. The old refrigerator holds drinks and frozen birds for training. A couple of recycled couches and lots of hanging NSTRA trophies complete the "outdoor" look (as my wife would say).

One big consideration I discovered is mice. They really like to make hunting gear into a nest for more little mice. One time, I pulled on a foul weather top I retained from the Navy and a mouse ran up my arm and out the sleeve! My wife still laughs at the time I "squealed like a girl"...not that I did, but I let her have her fun. To combat them, I put traps out and even, very carefully, place rat poison in places I'm positive dogs will not reach. (This worries me. Be careful about it!) About every 3 years, I need to re-treat the room to keep the little critters in check.

Where is your "barn room"?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Take a New Guy Hunting!

If our sport, or better yet, passion, is to grow and be available for generations to come, we need to introduce young people to the sport.  We need to inspire and encourage them to be the good stewards we try to be.  The principles of fair chase, gentlemanly conduct in the field, the idea of "the horse, the saddle, the man" for a priority of actions- all these must be taught.  These principles are not normal or common in many parts of the country and world, unfortunately. 

Ace and Daisy Pointed, Rhys looking for Woodcock

I've always maintained I can tell a lot about a man (or woman) and whether I really want to maintain a relationship (professional or sporting) after bird hunting with them for a few hours.  All the baloney is stripped away and one can see the real person pretty quickly when chasing a bird dog through heavy cover or over a wheat field, etc. 
Shlepping through Woodcock Cover

The best way to instill those values is to take the younger folks out with you and let them see YOU model the good behavior.  Along the way, you will be amazed at the opportunities you will have to talk about everything under the sun.  A great way to pass down some important learning and influence the follow on generation.....

Ace Pointing Woodcock- bird is just visible!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ruff Tough Kennels

A great solution. They are much better than Airline crates. More internal room and they have optional hardware to lock them together. The gates open either direction and the have an option to have the gates on both ends. Shown is the Intermediate size (not Medium) and is plenty big for dogs up to 50#. They say larger dogs can use this size. They have a nice video on the website. Roughtuff Kennels.

Merry Christmas!

Thank you, my friends! Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Slipped His Collar....

AZ on Gambels- What a tough dog!
Bo and Me, ND, many years ago

Jeff, my vet, came to the tailgate while I held the old man in my lap, not unlike the picture above. Not a whole lot needed to be said as he slid the needle in the vein.  That was probably a good thing, since right about then my allergies seemed to kick in and my 62 year old eyes started to water a bit. Jeff said something I missed, patted my shoulder and left me to ponder the blue sky, bright sun, and left-over leaves on the oaks. Back in the barn, I let all the dogs sniff Bo, and then took him to the cemetery out in B Field and put him with Ruby, Rocket, Peaches, Gritz, Duke, Charcoal and Shuga. Getting to be quite a pack out there! 

Well, I don't have much in the way of wisdom and the older I get, the less I tolerate flowery words that say what simple ones will.  He was a tough, smart, bird hunting fool and a survivor.  He should have been dead a few times in his colorful career, but showed up alive and grateful days later. He was not handsome, but won anyway.  He wasn't a fighter, but had game. He was my 'go-to' dog for 10 years.  He was my buddy.

Maybe now I can finish his story.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Gettin' Time, Bird Dog.

I left the kennels a few hours ago. Not in the best of moods, I wondered why? I know myself well enough to know that I, occasionally, will be testy about something not evident; something I heard, saw, or experienced in the last day of two. I've been reading Mike Gaddis' book "Jenny Willow" and thought maybe that had done it. Bob Bertram recommended the book to me and I connected pretty quickly to it. I told him I was tired of reading books where the dog dies, e.g., Old Yeller style and he assured me that was not the case here. He was technically correct. I'm sure he's still laughing! But, no, the power of the book rests in the connections made between the reader and Ben Willow while he ponders his new dog, Jenny, and his life spent focused on chasing Ruffs in the West Virginia Mountains. While it is a powerful book, it was not the root cause of my unease.

No, I came to realize, it was my old Setter, Bo. He was whelped in 1999, won the QU National Championship in 2001, and a NSTRA Championship soon after. Hunting every species of bird I could get him near, he covered the country with me. Some birds he mastered, some he worked with yeoman persistence, but all of them were pointed with a quivering intensity that rarely came up dry. Old Bo is 14 and, like Ben Willow said, it's the rear end, the motor that drives the machine, that gives out. He's past having a hard time getting up. He's real close to not being able to get up. He's not in pain, I don't think, but he's very close to not being able to get in his heated dog house, or make it to the food bowl, or relieve himself. He's pretty much blind and deaf. And he's ready to go. "Turn me loose, Boss!" he says when I scratch him behind the ear.

Yes. I guess I should.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Keeping the Dogs Tuned Up and Ready

I like the National Shoot to Retrieve (NSTRA) format for field trials.  It seems to keep my dogs tuned up and ready for the field.  Here is a little video I shot over the last weekend.....oh, by the way, my little Ruby placed on Saturday and Cap was #2 High Point Dog for the day, as well.  Enjoy....

Here's another website that may interest you:   This is the website for the local Georgia Region of NSTRA.