Gosh, I miss them. My girls at training camp…

Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Lexi at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I spend a LOT of time with my dogs–most of my time, really. I work from home, and so Lexi and Sky are my constant companions: A run in early am, in the office together all day, a walk in the PM, repeat.

But not this July and August. Both girls went to Wild Apple Kennel at the end of June for summer training, and they’ll be there through this month.

I’m counting down the days.

Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018
Sky at Wild Apple Kennels, summer 2018

I don’t care about no stinkin’ ribbons. Until I think we might win one…

Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH
Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial, Stark, NH

Only one thing sucks more than planted quail: cold, wet, planted quail.

In the best conditions, planted quail prefer running to flushing. When these birds are cold and wet, they’re as likely to fly as a frog or groundhog.

And cold, wet planted quail, plus a handful of well-trained bird dogs, is what Lexi and I faced off against at the Northern NH Bird Dog Club 2018 Annual Trial.

This trial ran from April 27-29. We were in Sunday’s Amateur Shooting Dog stake. It was a cold, cloudy day. Rain shifted back-and-forth from drizzling to pouring.

 

Lexi was in the third brace (there were only 4 in the entire stake). She had a great run, stayed in the pocket the whole time, handled perfectly, and, as you can see in the videos, the didn’t let those lousy quail throw her off her game (or make her break point). By the time we finished the course, I thought for sure we would be taking home a yellow ribbon.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. While I was disappointed, Lexi didn’t mind. She just had fun chasing birds.

Personality and my two Pointers …

Lexi, always sweet and loving
Lexi, always sweet and loving

I was some pictures of yesterday, and I fired off a few shots of my girls. These two pics do a great job of capturing who they are and what sets them apart.

Lexi and Sky are Elhew-bred Pointers out of Superior Pointers in Bayfield, WI. They share a father, and Lexi is the elder by about two years now.

Sky, always a rascal
Sky, always the mischievous rascal

The pure joy of Pointers …

Can't catch me, Sky chasing Lexi
Can’t catch me, Sky chasing Lexi

My first bird dog was a Brittany spaniel. He knew a bit more about bird huntign than I did, but together, we still had almost no idea what we were doing.

Years later, I was getting back into bird hunting and dogs and I was interested in a Springer. An ad in Pointing Dogs Journal led me to visit with a breeder near me who had some Pointers. We took a few of them out for a run and I was hooked. They were they most incredible dogs I had ever seen.

Looking back on that day, I realize it was the Pointer’s athleticism that thrilled and excited me. Watching then run and leap is an impressive experience. I took these photos at a local beach. It was a low-tide sunrise–something I try to always take advantage of–and Lexi, Sky, and I had a great morning.

 

Lift off
Lift off
Dog smile!
Dog smile!
Every which way
Every which way
Poise
Poise

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

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

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.

Lexi’s awesome summer finishes with a big win …

Lexi, back home again with me.
Lexi, back home again, and right back in my lap.

I’m not a big fan of the summer. Heat and humidity are my Kryptonites, so by the middle of June I’ve had enough of  it. Lexi was up at  Wild Apple Kennel in Dummer, NH, from end of May to last week. Her absence made the summer feel even longer. I work from home, and it was a lonely home without her. But enough of my bitchin’.

Here’s the good part:

At the New England Bird Dog Club’s Labor Day Weekend Trial, Lexi won Sunday’s Open Restricted Derby Competition. I’m super proud of her – – and very thankful for the great job that trainer Craig Doherty did with her.

This was Lexi’s third time in a field trial. Her first time was on August 29, and her second was on the Saturday before her win. So she’s 1 for 3. Not bad.

So am I psyched for October? You bet. It’s going to be an awesome fall. More to come on that.

BTW: Derby stakes are for dogs 6-24months of age and no more than 2 years of age. A “restricted” derby is for dogs that have not already placed in a derby stake.

Latest Lexi …

I was up in northern NH last weekend visiting Lexi. She’s about 1/2 through her summer training program, and she’s just starting to get out in the woods to chase wild birds. She turning int great bird dog — very easy handling and a real strong bird finder.

I took her out for a couple hours and hit a few spots. Lexi moved 3-4 grouse. I only heard the birds. The woods were too thick for me to see a thing. Here’s a quick vid of Lexi plus some pics of what we saw (and a vid of a slithering little guy we came across). Enjoy.

Wild Thistle
Wild Thistle
Wild rasberries
Wild rasberries
The woods were thick with waist-high patches of wild rasberries
The woods were thick with waist-high patches of wild rasberries

Lexi becomes a bird dog…

Me & Lexi
Me & Lexi

Even though our trip to Maine a couple weeks ago produced few birds, it did give Lexi the chance to get out in the woods and start on down the path to becoming a bird dog. Here’s are a few quick videos of her in action.

Overall, she handles well – coming when she’s called, hunting to the front, quartering naturally, and coming around on command. Her range stretched out to 200-300+ yards on some casts, and after she had some solid grouse & woodcock finds her under collar, she started to hunt objectives.

You can see how much fun she’s having in these videos, and how dynamic and electric she is in the field.

We were there. But where were the birds?

Me & Lexi
Me & Lexi

I’m in a funk. My big hunting trip was a couple wees ago and things did not go well – bird wise, anyway. This annual trip is my bird binge for the year, and I put a lot of hope into it. The ways things turned out left me depressed.

I’ve hit the western part of Maine for several seasons now, and in years past, the end of October was prime: the leaves were down, the woodcock flights were in, and the grouse were abundant. This year, the leaves were down, but the birds were hard to find.

Weather may be been the problem. We arrived after two days of heavy winds and flooding rain, and all week the temps were in the upper 50s (instead of the normal 40s). Lexi and I hit covers all over the place – alders, pole poplar, overgrown cuts bordering bogs, etc.

For the first few days, the woodcock were nowhere to be found. Spots where Puck and I used to move 10-20 birds were empty until the end of the week. Then they just had 4-5 flight birds in them. We saw some grouse, but not many. On the last day, we bumped  a covey of six, all sunning and feeding at the edge of a clear cut.

On top of this, one of my favorite spots was overrun by an active logging operation (so much for that), and another was inaccessible due to a bridge being out. Lexi and I struck out to some new spots, but the birds just weren’t there.

Fortunately, Lexi did see some birds — enough to turn the light on in her head and start her on her way to being a hunting dog. She handled beautifully: Quartering naturally, turning on command, and coming when called. After she had a few whiffs of bird in her nose, she was even hunting objectives. With a couple of seasons and a lot of birds under her belt, I’m sure she’s going to be a great dog.

And I did get a chance to do some fishing with my Maine-guide friend Greg Bostater. He knows where to find great fish, as you can see in the pics below.

 

The latest on Lexi. She’s growing fast….

My new English Pointer Lexi is almost 21 weeks old now, and she’s growing fast. She’s up to 20lbs – almost 1/2 of how much she’ll eventually weigh – and her dexterity and coordination is improving. Training wise, she knows her name, and she’s picking up some basic commands: Come, Down, and NO (she hear’s that one a lot). I’ve been working on getting her to turn and quarter on command, too, and she’s picked it up very quickly.

Here are a couple videos of her. I shot this first one last Sunday. This was Lexi’s first time in thick, weedy cover, with limited visibility, and it took her a little while to get used to it.

I shot this next video on Tuesday. This is Lexi’s first visit to the local doggie daycare facility. While Lexi has been exposed to lots of other dogs, she’s seen this many at once. This video was shot within minutes of her being introduced to the pack. Lexi handled the situation very well.

 

Raising a pup right: What are your tips?

Books. Chairs. Cabinet counters. My wife’s toes.

These are all things our new pup Lexi loves to chew on. We’re on day six with her, and so far Lexi is sleeping through the night, and we’re not having any messes in her crate or in the house. The chewing and the nipping is a bit of an issue, but I’m sure it will resolve itself soon.

For all you out there who’ve raised a pup before:  What tips and advice do you have for us? What did you do right? And what do you wish you had done differently? Please let us know.

Lexi loving the sun and clover in the back yard.
Lexi loving the sun and clover in the back yard.
Lexi loving the sun and clover in the back yard.
Lexi loving the sun and clover in the back yard.
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