Good gun alert: 28g Gamba Principessa SxS …

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Here’s what I call a can’t-go-wrong double. It’s a Renato Gamba Principessa 28 gauge built on a rugged Anson & Deeley action. It weighs six pounds and it looks pretty much new. Price — a very reasonable $1599.

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Renato Gamba is Italian maker better known in the US for their Daytona OU target guns than their SxS game guns. I’ve seen a few of their boxlock SxSs. Each one has been a nice double, and I’m sure this one would be a great upland gun.

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock
Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS Boxlock

Renato Gamba ~ Principessa ~ 28 Gauge SxS BoxlockExcellent condition overall. Price: $1,599.99 
Manufacturer: Circa: 1981
Caliber: 28 Gauge
Chambers: 2 3/4″
Metal Condition: Excellent
Wood Condition: Excellent
Bore Condition: Excellent
Barrels: 26″ Blued Steel with Tapered Rib
Triggers: Single Non-Selective Trigger
Stock: Checkered Deluxe Walnut Straight Grip Butt Stock
Stock Dimensions:
DAC: 1 1/2″, DAH: 1 3/4″, Cast off: 3/8″, LOP: 13 1/4
Fore End: Checkered Walnut Semi-Splinter Fore Arm
Butt Pad: Leather Covered Butt Pad
Weight: 6 lbs.
Sights: Single Bead
Chokes: Fixed: Modified & Improved Cylinder

You’ve got to go to Maine’s Chandler Lake Camps…

One Maine's finest sporting camps. 6hrs from Boston in the North Maine Woods
One Maine’s finest sporting camps. 6hrs from Boston in the North Maine Woods

Roughing it is for suckers. I know of that, now.

I’m not used to nice accommodations, and on past hunting trips I’ve curled up with my Pointers to stay warm, eaten Beefaroni out of the can, and gagged while using outhouses ranker than rest-area porta pottys.

This year I wanted something better. So I headed Chandler Lake Camps in the North Maine Woods.

Chandler's: A 5-Pointer experience
Chandler’s: A 5-Pointer experience

The North Maine Woods are 4-6 hours from Boston, 3Xs the size of Rhode Island, and more populated with moose than people. Once you’re in them, a dirt-road empire rolls out before you in every which way.. It’s lorded over by logging trucks, crisscrossed with brook trout streams, and spotted everywhere with grouse and woodcock cover.

Some success after after a few days at Chandler's
Some success after after a few days at Chandler’s

Chandler Lake Camps is an outpost of comfort and graciousness amongst all of this. Built in 1902, it was an abandoned family retreat when current owners Jason and Sherry Bouchard bought in the ’90s. With hard work and grit, they rescued it from decades of neglect and turned it into one of Maine’s finest sporting camps.

For uplanders, Chandlers is a place to get into lots of birds, whether you do it by hiring one of the camp’s Registered Maine Guides or by grabbing a Delorme map book and asking Jason to highlight some likely looking spots like I did.

Lexi, Sky and I averaged 2-3 birds an hour — solid numbers considering it was our first time in the area. We hunted overgrown logging roads and shot into the woods to explore deep pockets of birdy-looking cover and the furthest cover we hit was only 15 miles away from the camp.

Guest cabin at Chandler
Guest cabin at Chandler

On top of great bird hunting, Chandler Lake Camps also has great accommodations. Guests are treated to their own hand-peeled, spruce log cabins, each with a wood stove, electric lights, complete indoor facilities and charging outlets for things like remote collars and GPSs.

Meals are served in the main lodge, and everyone eats together around a large, wooden table. Breakfast is to order, lunches packed for you, and dinner family style. There’s a different menu each night, and everything is homemade in the lodge’s kitchen–even the bread and bagels.

And while Chandler Lake Camps is far away from civilization, it does have internet connection to the outside world. So anyone who needs to stay in touch with home or work can check in.

Located southwest of Ashland, ME,
Located southwest of Ashland, ME,
An access point to the North Maine Woods. Dirt roads, moose & grouse cover lie ahead.
An access point to the North Maine Woods. Dirt roads, moose & grouse cover lie ahead.
Sunset at Chandler Lake Camps
Sunset at Chandler Lake Camps
Sky's first grouse of 2017, at Chandler Lake Camps
Sky’s first grouse of 2017, at Chandler Lake Camps
View from the front porch at Chandler Lake Camps
View from the front porch at Chandler Lake Camps
Guest cabin at Chandler
Guest cabin at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Boathouse at Chandler Lake Camps
Boathouse at Chandler Lake Camps
Deck off main lodge at Chandler Lake Camps
Deck off main lodge at Chandler Lake Camps
Classic wood cabins at Chandler
Classic wood cabins at Chandler

Buy this gun! 20 gauge Beretta 686 Onyx OU, 2-bbl set …

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set

Here’s one of the finest double-barrel shotguns you’re going to find. These Beretta 686s handle like OUs costing many times more. They’re also reliable, easy to fix, and with this kind of Onyx finish, just plain sexy. For grouse, woodcock, and quail, they’re just about ideal.

With two set of barrels, 26.5″ and 29.5″, and a price tag of just $1699.99, this one is extra special. That’s why I’m saying someone needs to buy this gun. If someone else doesn’t snatch it up soon, I just might be the one to do it.

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 Gauge Over Under 2 Barrel SetThis is a very nice Beretta 686 Onyx 2 barrel set. The pictured barrels are 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue, both have vent ribs. The walnut stock and matching forearm are a nice grade of wood with a small hairline crack on the left side of the forearm. All in all a very nice shotgun at a very nice price.  Price: $1699.99
Caliber: 20 Gauge.

Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set
Beretta 686 Onyx 20 gauge Over Under 2 Barrel Set

Chambers: 2 3/4 and 3 inch Over/Under with ejectors.
Metal Condition: Excellent.
Wood Condition: Very good with a small crack on the left side of the forearm.
Bore Condition: All are bright and shiny.
Barrels: 26.5 inch matte black and the second set are 29.5 inch blue.
Triggers: Single silver color.
Stock: Nice mid-grade walut with a checkered pistol grip.
Stock Dimensions:
15 inch LOP
Fore End: Matching checkered walnut with finger grooves.
Butt Pad: Replacement black rubber butt pad.
Weight: 6 Lbs 3 Oz with the 26.5 inch barrels.
Sights: Vent ribs with single front beads.
Chokes: Screw in, comes with 9 total chokes.
Extras: Comes with the second barrel and extra chokes.

The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

Grouse counting is a game-management technique used on grouse moors across the UK. This beautiful video explains how it works. But the best part of seeing how the dogs point and work the field.

The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

The Untold Story - Grouse Counting
The Untold Story – Grouse Counting

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

Good gun alert: 20 gauge John MacNab Highlander OU…

John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun
John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun

The second I saw this OU, I thought “buy it”. It’s easy to see why. Overall it looks pretty much new. On top of that, the color case hardening is gorgeous, the wood is understated but elegant, and the round-knob grip is very well done. And the gun grouse engraved on it and 29″ bbls – very cool. Honestly, if it’s as good as it looks, I don’t know how you could go wrong with this double.

John MacNab is (or was) a British company founded by gunsmith Patrick Keen. I’m not sure if they’re still around (or if he’s still in trade). A decade of so ago, MacNab was having OUs made for them in Italy by one of the Rizzinis and Sabatti. (Here’s a review of one of their sporting-clays models.)

John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun
John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun

Regardless of the maker, the MacNabs I’ve seen have been built on the same trigger-plate OU design used on almost all the lower-priced Italian over unders (except for Beretta). It’s a reliable design that has been around for decades. So for the most part it has had all the kinks worked out of it.

John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under ShotgunMade in Italy. Price: $1,599.99
Caliber: 20 Gauge
Chambers: 3 Inch
Metal Condition: Excellent
Wood Condition: Excellent
Bore Condition: Excellent
Barrels: 29 Inch

John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun
John MacNab Highlander 20 Gauge Over Under Shotgun

Triggers: Single
Stock: Walnut
Stock Dimensions:
14 1/2 Inch LOP
Butt Pad: Checker wood
Weight: 6 Lbs 5 Oz
Sights: Bead
Chokes: Cly/Mod

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

Auction alert: 20 gauge Webley & Scott M700, 28″ bbls, nearly new…

WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28" bbls
WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28″ bbls

Here’s a chance to get a great SxS at a great price. This 20 gauge Webley & Scott Model 700 SxS is on Gunbroker.com now, and it’s being sold without a reserve. The listing ends on 7/26/2016 @ 5:16 PM.

Scott M700s are the Timex watches of SxS, and this one is ready to take whatever licking you can give it. It’s built on Anson & Deeley-style boxlock actions, one of the finest shotgun designs ever created, and it looks unused and all original.

WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28" bbls
WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28″ bbls

WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28″ bbls: Up for auction is a beautiful Webley & Scott model 700 side x side shotgun. This is a 20 gauge with 28″ inch ejector barrels that are choked IC and Mod. The LOP is 14 3/4 and the DAH is 1 3/4. This gun is very light and has fantastic balance. The gun is in excellent condition with all original finish. This is a 1960’s vintage gun that is very high quality and very hard to find. You will not be disappointed with this fine shotgun.

WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28" bbls
WEBLEY & SCOTT Model 700 BLE, 20ga, 28″ bbls

Auction alert: 28g Ruger Red Label, 28″ bbls, No Reserve….

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997

Here’s another one of these awesome OUs. These doubles are magic wands in the grouse woods. Most of the ones I see have pretty poor wood — but not this one. The 28″ barrels and straight grip are also hard to find.

This over-under is on Gunbroker.com now with No Reserve. The listing ends 7/24/2016 @ 9:18 PM.

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997: This is an early gRed Label in a hard to find configuration. It comes with an english stock, 28″ barrels, 2 1/2″ drop and a 14 1/4″ LOP. Gun is about as nice as it gets. It comes with a very nice leather case with accessories and wooden cleaning rod as seen. Comes with 5 choke tubes.

Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28" bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997
Ruger Red Label 28g, 28″ bbls, Straigh English Grip, 1997

The pointer sisters: An update…

Time flies, and as it does, our little puppy is getting bigger! Here are some more recent pics of Lexi & Sky.

Sky, one of our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky, one of our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky, one of our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky, one of our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Lexi, one our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Lexi, one our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky & Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky & Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky & Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Sky & Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers
Lexi, our Pointer out of Superior Pointers

Auction alert: 16g Parker DHE SxS on a O frame…

16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame

Here’s one of the holy grails of grouse hunting. This 16 gauge Parker DHE was made on a O-sized frame. Add in its 26″ barrels, and I bet you have a shotgun that weighs 6.5lbs or even less.

Unlike VH- or GH-grades, DH-grade Parkers were strictly custom-ordered guns. Like all Parker shotguns, they came in a variety of barrel lengths and stock styles, and the guns were available on different sized actions. Sixteens were offered on three: Twos, the standard actions for 12gs, Ones, the standard actions for 16gs, and Zeroes, the standard action for 20 gauges.

16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame

So a 16 gauge Parker on an O-sized action essentially a 16g on a 20g frame. This makes these gun especially light, and that’s what makes grouse hunters covet them so much.

This 16g DHE is being offered at No Reserve on Gunbroker.com now, and the auction ends 3/24/2016 9:33:14 AM ET.

Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun: Early 1911 16 Gauge 26″ Barrels All Correct and All Original Strong Original Blue on Barrels Small 0 Frame Action Beautiful Original Stock Finnish and Skeleton Butt Sharp Engraving.

16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame
16g Parker Brothers DHE SXS Double Barrel Shotgun, O Frame

 

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.

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.

 

A few good points about Pointers …

Pointing a Spring Woodcock
Puck pointing a spring woodcock, many years ago

I never set out to be a Pointer guy. Back before I got Puck (my first pointer), I had never even seen one, except for in books and magazines. Then one day I was flipping through an issue of the Pointing Dog Journal, and I noticed an add from a Pointer breeder near me.

This was Autumn Memory Kennels in Bolton, MA. Ten months after my first visit there, Puck was mine. Today, I can’t imagine owning any other breed of pointing dog.

In The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs, you can read a bit more about what makes pointers such great dogs.

Lexi's perfect point. This was the woodcock I flushed.
Lexi’s pointing a woodcock the other day.

“Perhaps no other breed of bird dog has had more selective breeding based solely on their performance in the field than pointers. Even so, pointers are also excellent hunting companions and house pets.

In addition to our English setters, Jerry and I always have owned pointers. We’ve bred, trained, competed and lived with them for more than 20 years and are now producing our fifth generation.”

Read all of The pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs now.

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!
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