Let’s go wild quail hunting in Texas ….

Quail Coalition
Quail Coalition

Here’s something I’m dying to do, and with quail numbers up, I think it’s time for me to head west and check it out. I’ve never hunted quail — wild or pen raised. From this video, the experience looks awesome. The video was produced by the Quail Coalition. They did a great job.

My kick ass Diamond Deluxe dog box …

Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box

As I was downloading some pics over the weekend, and I came across these ones of the aluminum Diamond Deluxe dog box I picked up last October.

Back when I just had Puck and then Lexi, I kept my dog in a crate in the extended-cab part of my pickup. But when I added Sky, I needed to come up with a better way to do things.

This box has proven to be a safe, secure way to transport my two pointers. It has lockable top storage, cross ventilation in the back, insulated holes, and lockable doors. The holes are wide and deep, and both of my girls can fit in one with ease. So now I have room for two more dogs.

Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box
Custom 2-hole Diamond Deluxe Dog Box

Pictures from fall, 2016 …

I was going through some pictures this weekend, and I came across these ones I took last fall. Hope you like them.

Lexi pointing a grouse, fall, 2016
Lexi pointing a grouse, fall, 2016
Enjoying the view, Fall, 2016
Enjoying the view, Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Wildflower in an Alder cover, fall, 2016
Wildflower in an Alder cover, fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
Fall, 2016
This tire has been there a while. Fall, 2016
This tire has been there a while. Fall, 2016

Partridge Country, a video from Dangerous Cow Publishing …

Dangerous Cow Publishing is an interesting outfit. It looks like they’re media/branding company committed to promoting hunting, conservation, and sustainable practices. They caught my eye because of the cool videos they produce and post online. The one you see here is a great example of their work. Check it out — if you’re into upland hunting, you’ll enjoy it.
PARTRIDGE COUNTRY- A NORTHWOODS HUNTING VIDEO “Partridge Country is a cultural exploration of the traditions of Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock hunting in northern New England without the use of dogs.”

Partridge Country from Dangerous Cow Publishing on Vimeo.

PARTRIDGE COUNTRY- A NORTHWOODS HUNTING VIDEO from Dangerous Cow Publishing
PARTRIDGE COUNTRY- A NORTHWOODS HUNTING VIDEO from Dangerous Cow Publishing

Sad new for gunmaking: Westley Richard’s Simon Clode passes away …

Simon Clode (right) with professional hunter Robin Hurt. Pic from The Explora.
Simon Clode (right) with professional hunter Robin Hurt. Pic from The Explora.

Wow – I can’t believe this: Westley Richard’s Simon Clode had passed away. My condolences to his family. You can read his obit on Westley Richard’s The Explora blog here.

I ran into Simon a few times, the last one at the 2016 Safari Club Show in Vegas. He was sort of the Steve Jobs of the British gun trade – a real visionary.

I have tremendous respect for what he accomplished. He built great guns and a great brand. He brought a new generation of craftsmen into the biz and gave work to the existing ones. He was also spread the word about British guns to shooters around the world.

From marketing to gun making, he knew what he was doing. People like him are rare. I hope Westley Richards has someone in line to take over with the same drive and feel for the future.

Let’s get this season going…

 

Best time of year
Best time of year

October’s here — finally. And even though Maine’s state biologists predict a mediocre grouse season and the foliage colors are sure to be muted, I’m looking forward to the fall.

I’ll be hunting the last two weeks of the month for sure, and then any other days & weekends I can fit in.

After a disappointing 2015, I’m shifting away from central Maine. There are birds there, but I’m having a harder time finding them. I also have less free time to look for them, too. And when you have limited time to hunt, one birdless day’s is a big deal — and not something I want to experience again.

Anyway, here are some pics of hunts and memories from seasons past. I hope you enjoy them.

A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s...
A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s…
Poplars in the AM sun
Poplars in the AM sun
Puck pointing a grouse at the objective
Success! Puck pointing a grouse at the objective.
Pure Puck
Pure Puck
Point! Now what do you do?
Puck, back in her prime

Uplander. A quick video about what it’s all about…

Pheasant o2008 Pheasant opener in South Dakotapener in South Dakota
2008 Pheasant opener in South Dakota
A breeder I used to know was a blunt SOB. Within 30 minutes of our first meeting he cut me off mid sentence and said this: “Someday you’ll grow up and be done with that.”

We had been talking about pheasant hunting in South Dakota, and I had mentioned the numbers of birds we were killing out there. This was back in ’03, when we were seeing 4-500 pheasants a day on the ground we hunted. Limiting out wasn’t the problem. Limiting out before noon was.

But this arrogant breeder wasn’t impressed. He looked down on anyone who gauged success by the number of bird killed — especially if the birds were wild.

Back then, his attitude pissed me off. I get it now, though.

These days, even though I love to upland hunt, killing birds is far from my top priority. Feathers in hand are nice, and a dead bird every now and then does a lot to keep a bird dog interested in the game. but there’s a lot more that

Even woodcock like visiting New York City…

Woodcock in Bryant Park. Click on image to go to video.
Woodcock in Bryant Park. Click on image to go to video.

Right now, the American Woodcock is migrating back from its wintering grounds in the southern United States. Many of these softball-sized birds will travel 1000+ miles as they return to their breeding grounds, some from Louisiana all the way to Maine and Canada. They make this trip twice a year. Just think about that. Amazing.

This woodcock decided to stop off in New York City during his trip. It was spotted in Bryant Park, a 4-acre enclave of green in the center of growling Manhattan. I wonder what the little bird made of the place? I do hope he made it out of there. I’ve been to Bryant Park, and while I love visiting, I’m alway glad to get back home.

BTW: Click on the image to go to Youtube and watch the video.

Latest Lexi. Some shots from the weekend…

Warmer weather has come early to New England, and Lexi and I have been out taking advantage of it. Here are some shots from the weekend.

Lexi Pointing. Her tail is not showing much confidence.
Lexi Pointing. Her tail is not showing much confidence.
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Lexi Pointing
Saw this truck on my was out of one spot. I think he's a bird hunter.
Saw this truck on my way out of one spot. I think he’s a bird hunter.
Persistence and patience
Persistence and patience
Shagbark Hickory tree
Shagbark Hickory tree
Old rock wall, younger trees
Old rock wall, younger trees

Short films grouse & woodcock hunter are sure to like…

Like grouse hunting? Then you’ll really like these short films. They’re part of the Project Upland Film: Bird Hunting Film Series a ” film initiative to help promote the future of upland bird hunting and the non-profit The Ruffed Grouse Society.” Check them out now.

The Experience: Follow veteran Grouse hunter and New Hampshire native Harry Rowell into the Grouse woods. While Hunting New Hampshire, Harry reflects on his passion for Grouse hunting and the experience as a whole. A humbling short film that will inspire future and current bird hunters alike.

Because They’re Wild: Follow Northeast Regional Director of The Ruffed Grouse Society, Tripp Way into the Grouse Woods. Tripp reflects on his enjoyment of the woods, his passion for the Ruffed Grouse and the precious time spent afield with friends. As a dedicated conservationist and experienced upland hunter Tripp delivers the powerful line of “Its our responsibility to get these folks in the woods”.

The Untold Story: Driven Grouse Shooting…

The amount of money and effort that goes into driven grouse shooting is fascinating. This video gives you a bit of an idea of what it entails and results in. It’s a bit long, but it’s very well done and worth watching. It was produced for the Angus Glens Moorland Group, a collection of rural estates throughout Angus, Scotland.

You can find out more about shooting in that part of the UK in this arcticle from FieldsportsUK: Grouse at Glenogil

Journey to the Northwoods: A great look at grouse hunting …

There’s killing and there’s hunting: One takes a life, the other makes our lives more  meaningful, while giving us the opportunity to show respect and admiration for the game we pursue and the world we all inhabit.

This video does a nice job of capturing hunting and what makes it so special.

Chasing chukars at Addieville …

Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville

Lexi and I made it down to Addieville East Game Farm yesterday to chase some chukars along with some friends of this sight.

Lexi had never seen a chukar. She’s hasn’t done much hunting in fields, either. So I was a little worried about how she would handle things.

She bumped two, but overall, she handled the chukars like a champ. I even has my first retrieve-to-hand from her.

Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville
Lexi at Addieville

Popped! Lexi’s first wild bird …

Lexi checking out her first dead wild bird
Lexi checking out her first dead wild bird

It finally happened: Yesterday, I killed my first wild bird over Lexi.

It was a woodcock, and I shot it after she gave me a nice, solid point. The one I shot turned out to be part of a 3-bird cluster. They were all together in an alder tangle, and after I shot the first birds (it took me two shots), the other birds went up.

Today we hit some other alder covers, but it was real cold last night and everything was frosted up. We hit another spot on higher ground and found several woodcock and a grouse. Lexi did her job, but I didn’t.

We have another week to hunt and the grouse are starting to move, to I hope to kill one of those for her soon.

Some highbush cranberry in one of our spots. Grouse love these.
Some highbush cranberry in one of our spots. Grouse love these.
A frosted over alder cover. The frost drove the woodcock out.
A frosted over alder cover. The frost drove the woodcock out.

 

Elation & frustration. Day 6 of our fall hunting trip …

Fresh woodcock splash in the alder cover
Fresh woodcock splash in the alder cover

So far, it’s been several days of ups and days. We’ve been finding birds, but not many. Some of the woodcock have been holding for points, but the grouse have been flushing wild.I saw these birds flush on their own, so I know Lexi was not pushing them up. I’ve never seen such skittish grouse.

It wasn’t until today that we got into a significant number of woodcock. They were right where they should be this time of year – in an stand of Alders – and in about 30 minutes we put up 12 birds. Lexi had solid points on three of them. I missed them all. On the others, a couple flushed wild and Lexi bumped the rest.

Lexi standing over the splash
Lexi standing over the splash

Bumped birds are one of the frustrations of breaking in a dog, and it’s hard for me to remain calm and patient when I see Lexi pushing birds into the sky. She’s also had her share of long pauses/false points. After a while, these things drive me mad.

I strapped my pointer cam on her so I could get a better look at what she was doing in the woods. The videos below are what we shot. There’s a long and short version. Take a look and let me know your thoughts.

We’ve got ourselves a bird dog …

Lexi's perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.
Lexi’s perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.

You can’t hunt on Sundays in Maine, but you can run a bird dog. So Lexi and I made it out this AM for a little photo safari/training run. Lexi hit birds the first place we stopped, and in about 45 minutes she pointed 2 grouse and 2 woodcock.

I saw the grouse flush wild before I could get all the way to Lexi’s point. The same thing happened with one of the woodcock. I flushed the second woodcock out from under a perfect point. Talk about proud.

I can tell Lexi is still figuring out how to handle these birds, and she may have pressured the first three a bit too much. Compared to how she did yesterday, she’s learning fast. With a little luck, I should kill her first wild bird for her tomorrow.

Enjoy the pics.

Leaping Lexi.
Leaping Lexi.
Brilliant fall red, flashing against the blue sky.
Brilliant fall red, flashing against the blue sky.
Maple leaves.
Maple leaves.
Lookout over a local pond.
Lookout over a local pond.
An old rock wall. The woods behind it were cleared farmland at one time.
An old rock wall. The woods behind it were cleared farmland at one time.
Brilliant fall colors on this tree.
Brilliant fall colors on this tree.
A real old tombstone -- maybe original.
A real old tombstone — maybe original.
Tombstone of a American Revolutionary War veteran
Tombstone of a American Revolutionary War veteran
Crazy looking white pine tree.
Crazy looking white pine tree.
Old meeting building. Classic New England architecture. Check out the details!
Old meeting building. Classic New England architecture. Check out the details!
Nice window!
Nice window!

Finally, our season begins …

Lexi last winter, before the snow
Lexi last winter, before the snow

If you live to hunt grouse & woodcock (like me), the first two weekends of October are horrible teases. I always high hope for them, but I never have an equal amount of luck. For me, the upland season doesn’t really get started until the last two weeks of the month. And today was the first day of those last weeks.

Lexi and I hit a few covers in central Maine today. We found a 7-8 woodcock and, surprisingly, a bunch of grouse — in one spot, 5 in about 15 minutes. Three of those grouse flushed wild out of an apple tree. In this video, you can see moments leading up to the wild flush. Look at that tail! Even though Lexi’s pointing old scent, she’s pretty thrilled. The birds must have been on the ground, and then hopped into the tree when we got close.

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