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.

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: 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

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

Woodcock in the snow…

Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow

Lexi and I headed out last Friday afternoon to see if we could find some woodcock. The little guys are migrating north now, and I’ve heard they’re as far up Massachusetts and even into Maine.

We had had warm weather most of last week with a couple days in the 60s,  but on Thursday temps dropped and then on Friday a snowstorm rolled in. By the time Lexi and I reached the cover we were going to check out, a couple inches of snow had fallen.

Woodock are ground feeders and worms make up most their diet. So these birds need to find clear areas of frost-free ground to eat. In these pics, you can see how a couple woodcock found this type of cover in a wet seep. They were waddling around in the snow, feeding. The holes and from their beaks, probing into the soft ground for earthworms.

Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow
Woodcock in the snow

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”.

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!

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.

Welcome to the best time of the year …

Fall 2013 Season Preview
Fall 2015 Season Preview

Today is the second day of fall – and one day into the best time of the year. Here’s a bit of what I’m looking forward to: Fresh apples, pumpkins, poplar leaves shimmering like gold coins, wool jackets — and of course — bird hunting.

Maine & NH’s grouse season opens in October 1, and the woodcock should start moving through northern New England after Columbus Day. I’ll be in Maine for two weeks this year, and I’m hoping for a great season. Lexi is ready to go, and I’ve heard the bird numbers are looking good.

Fall 2013 Season Preview
Fall 2015 Season Preview
Fall brook trout
Fall brook trout
Fall colors
Fall colors
Fall 2013 Season Preview
Fall 2015 Season Preview
Fall 2013 Season Preview
Fall 2015 Season Preview

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.

Take a dream trip to Wales with Delaney & Sons …

The Harding Shoot with Delaney & Sons, traditional shooting in Wales, tailored for Americans
The Harding Shoot with Delaney & Sons, traditional shooting in Wales, tailored for Americans

Being a sucker for history, double barrel shotguns, and all things tweedy, I’ve always wanted to shoot in the UK. If I had the time, I would definitely join Delaney & Sons this fall in Wales for their 2015 Harding Shoot.

Established in 1999, The Harding Shoot runs from November 15th to November 21st. It is based in the majestic hills of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales, and guests stay in the quaint town of Crickhowell, Wales, at the historic Dragon Inn.

Last fall, Sean Delaney and his wife, Liz, took over the shoot from its originator. Their goal “… is to provide like minded American hunters with hassle-free access to traditional, high quality driven  shooting — without pretense —  for a reasonable price.”

The 2015 Harding Shoot is an all-inclusive affair and accommodations, ground transport, gun hire, ammunition, visitor’s permits, and food are all included. The price: $8,500.

To join the 2015 Harding Shoot, call 717-919-5317 for more info.

Here’s more about the Harding Shoot, from Sean Delaney:

“For our trip, all you need to do is show up at Heathrow on Sunday, and the rest is sorted from there.  We provide nice vintage boxlocks, with the odd sidelock thrown in, as well as modern over unders if that is someone’s preference. If someone wants to bring their own guns, that is fine as well.  Cartridges, food, lodging, etc. are all included. Tips to the individual estate keeper and alcohol at night are not included. The food is great, but there are no black tie dinners at castles.

The locals in the town we stay in, Crickhowell, know that we are coming and stop in throughout the week to say hello. If you go in a shop, the proprietor will likely say, “I heard the Americans were coming this week, how’s the sport been?”.

As far as the hunting is concerned, we are trying to drive home the point that driven shooting is a team endeavor, and a lot of people work very hard to present high birds to the guns. The head keeper, beaters, dog handlers and pickers up act in coordination with the guns to bring the bag home to be processed and sent to market. On many estates, the shoot lunch is a lavish affair held in a shoot lodge, but the beaters, handlers, and pickers up eat a boxed lunch in the parking lot. We have a much more egalitarian (American?) set up, inasmuch as well all eat together in a barn or an outbuilding. I think that this is a great way to really immerse the hunters in the tradition of the sport.

The other thing that we provide is hunting diversity. First, we hunt five estates over five days.  The larger estates could entertain a team for a whole week, but ours are generally smaller.  One of the shoots is almost entirely private; they only let one day a year, to us.  We get to see different terrain and meet different people every day. Second, we provide diversity of species. Every shoot in the UK has pheasants, and many have partridge as well.  But we add duck and woodcock to the bag, which is fairly unique.”

It’s been a hell of a week….

Woodcock lost in Brooklyn, from
Woodcock lost in Brooklyn

So it’s been a long week here at Dogs & Doubles. The company I work for won a big award, so I’ve been out crazy, pulling together a ton of marketing materials to promote the win.  On top of that, it’s still cold here, and even though it’s officially spring, it’s snowing out right now. Oh well.

On a more positive note, a friend send me a link to this picture. This woodcock was found in Brooklyn. Looks like he got lost on his way north. A good samaritan found the little guy stunned in the street and released the little bird in a local park. I hope he found his bearings and is heading this way.

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