Amazing bird dog work from Sweden….

From the website
From the website

I didn’t know English Pointers spoke Swedish. But this orange-and-white female does (hahaha).

Check out these videos to see how much control this guy has over his dogs. He’s running up to four at once: Britta the Pointer plus a trio of Drahthaars. The relationship between them and the trainer is amazing to see. Find out more about the trainer and his dogs here.

The Problem with Upland Hunting, from Feather and Fin…

Lynn Bogue Hunt grouse painting, coming up at Copley Fine Art Auctions
What will become of upland hunting? Painting by Lynn Bogue Hunt

Here’s a real interesting post from over at Fin and Feather. I think our biggest problem is habitat: Finding wild birds, and places to hunt them, is getting harder across the US. As this trend continues, what will become of our sport? Please read this entire post and then let me know what you think.

The Problem with Upland Hunting

Spencer Knibbe, Fin and Feather

Is upland hunting headed towards extinction?

Running a website that focuses on upland hunting and fly fishing has been a unique study in the similarities, traditions, and differences between the two industries.

Fly fishing is an exciting and rapidly growing space. The industry and its participants have done a tremendous job in positioning  and continuously evolving the sport – as indicated by the passionate media presence, healthy gear market, dynamic newcomer outreach efforts, and impactful conservation initiatives.

In stark contrast, the upland hunting industry is characterized by growing obscurity, stodginess, and a general sense of decline…particularly in the world of ruffed grouse hunting which is a mere fraction of what it was in the days of Burton Spiller’s storied coverts. Upland continues to be left behind while the hunting industry as a whole is experiencing an uptick in participation rates….

Read the entire piece now

Last day: not really a good one…

Migrating woodcover love this cover
Migrating woodcock love this cover

I love maps, and back before the web, I had a Maine Delorme map filled with hunting and fishing spots.  I still use one like it today- stained with coffee spills, creased like old hunting boots, and speckled with colored dots I used to mark brook trout pools and bird covers – but I supplement it with satellite images on my iPad. When I have them with me, ones give me quick directions to a spot, the other lets fly above the trees and scout covers far from a road. But when I forget both at home, neither one is very helpful.

    Migrating woodcock love this cover
Migrating woodcock love this cover

That’s what happened today. Our hopes were up when we left the house. Instead of the hard winds and heavy rain we were supposed to have, the sky was overcast with just enough of a breeze to puff a flag. Puck and I thought we could pound some ground before things turned bad.

But after 45 minute of driving to get where I wanted to hunt, and about hour trying to find a certain spot, the weather turned from just overcast to overcast with drizzle, and then to black sky with down pour. Then the wind kicked in enough to make the 50′ pines on the roadside sway. So much for hunting. We turned around and headed for home.

What do you think -- coyote?
What do you think — coyote?

The weather did let up some on the way back, so we hit a little spot that migrating woodcock like to bunch into. I think most of the flight birds have moved through now, but we did find a straggler. Puck stuck him with a rock solid point, and the bird flushed up and ahead of me. A flash of umber, a peet-peet-peet, the bird rising up like tossed softball – an easy shot for once. But I let him go and wished him luck. Perhaps we’ll run into him on his journeys back through come spring.

So tomorrow we pack our bags and head back down to Boston, and on to an exciting new chapter in my live: Puck living with me and my wife full time. Check back to see how it goes…

Today’s report: still great weather, connected on 2 grouse…

A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s...
A good day. M & F grouse. Gun is a 16g Heym O/U, from the 1920s…

Another good day in the field . Puck and I headed out just after lunch and spend almost 2 hours checking out a new cover. I spotted the cover yesterday and thought it might be productive. Turns out it was. We moved 3 grouse and 6-7 woodcock. I shot a lot, but only brought down 2 birds – both ruffies.

Puck continues to impress me with her energy. She charged into each day like a dog 1/2 her age. She tired and a bit stiff at night, but by the AM she much better and anxious to get back in the field.

Grouse crop. Both birds were full of the same green stuff and the buds.
Grouse crop. Both birds were full of the same green stuff and the buds.

Tomorrow will be out last day in this part of Maine. We’re going to pull out and try some covers further south, and then head over to Caratunk for Friday. I hope the rain holds off the next couple of days. Enjoy the pics.


BTW: be sure to blow up the pics of the feathers. It’s pretty cool what you can see.


Breast feathers on a grouse
Breast feathers on a grouse
Feathers on the back of a grouse
Feathers on the back of a grouse
"ruff" feathers around grouse's neck. Where the name "Ruffed" grouse comes from.
“ruff” feathers around grouse’s neck. Where the name “Ruffed” grouse comes from.
Back feathers on a grouse
Back feathers on a grouse

Yesterday’s report: The birds won again…

Strangest point ever - Puck, on a rock, pointing a running grouse.
Strangest point ever on a running grouse

Pick and I made it out yesterday for a couple hours today. The weather was just about perfect for bird hunting: Sunny, temps in the upper 30s after a real hard frost during the night, and just a touch of wind.

We hit two spots and found birds in both. In all, around 3 grouse and 4 woodcock. My shooting stunk, though. So all those birds are still out there, waiting or another day. Enjoy the pics and video.

Too bad fishing season is closed.
Too bad fishing season is closed.
A small cut. It may look bad, but it's really future grouse cover. Those slender trees are poplars, and they're take over and bring in the birds.
A small cut. It may look bad, but it’s really future grouse cover. Those slender trees are poplars, and they’re take over and bring in the birds.
Classic big-woods Maine cover. I walk the road, Puck works the edges.
Classic big-woods Maine cover. I walk the road, Puck works the edges.
More big woods cover. This is an old skidder trail.
More big woods cover. This is an old skidder trail.
Thick fat on a fresh woodcock.
Thick fat on a fresh woodcock.

First report: Woodcock hunting in Love & Hate….

Road into Love & Hate
Road into Love & Hate

Puck and I just got back from a couple hours of hunting. We hit a big woodcock spot up the road. I call it the Love/Hate cover – you love the looks of it and hate it when you’re in it.

It’s a punishing spot, loaded with nasty tangles, gagging on alders, and loaded with walls of spruces and shotgun-barrel thick poplars. It’s uphill, too. I fell a bunch on my butt a couple times, got poked in the left eye so hard it made me wonder if I still had a left eye, and cursed about every other minute.

Love & Hate. Puck's straight ahead - 178 yards. Go...
Love & Hate. Puck’s straight ahead – 178 yards. Go…

But the birds are always in it. We moved 3 woodcock and 1 grouse in a little over an hour. I shot one woodcock, but never found it. Puck did a half retrieve, dropped it, and then ran off to find another bird.

I looked for it until Puck went on point — again. I looked down at my Astro and it said she was 178 yards out. I marked the bird, and ran off. Not a fun run getting to her, and I couldn’t believe the energy she had. She ran like she was 6, not a decade +1.

We’re going back out this afternoon. The weather was cold & snowing this AM, so the birds should come out this afternoon to grab some sun, gravel, and food for the cold night we’re going to have.

Bigelow Mountain range...
Bigelow Mountain range…
Arnold's Expedition to Quebec passed through this area...
Arnold’s Expedition to Quebec passed through this area…
Puck taking a well deservd nap. Rest up.
Puck taking a well deservd nap. Rest up.
Poplars in the AM sun
Poplars in the AM sun

Five dos and don’ts of bird dog development…

Puppies are a lot like kids: When you’re raising them, there are things you want to do and things you want to avoid. Writer, trainer, and gun-dog lover Betsy Danielson covered five in those points in her latest post at If you have a pup that you would like to turn into a hunting machine, I suggest you check it out now.

The Early Development of Bird Dogs, by Betsy Danielson

“My husband, Jerry Kolter, and I run Northwoods Bird Dogs, a pointing dog breeding and training business.

We’ve found that there are five factors vital to early development of puppies. Some of these practices help foster a good attitude that will make them a better dog in general. Others actually begin the very earliest stages of training—even before the puppy is aware it’s being trained. The five factor are…”

Read the entire piece now.

Mistakes – man, I’ve made plenty…

Steady with Style
Steady with Style

In training dogs, and in life, I’ve messed up a bunch. Fortunately, my English Pointer doesn’t hold grudges, and I’ve always had the chance to pick up and start over again.

In the latest post on Martha Greenlee’s excellent blog Steady with Style, she goes into overcoming the mistakes you’ll when you’re training and working your bird dog. As always, I recommend reading all of her piece:

“Anyone that trains a dog makes mistakes. Some mistakes are bigger than others and sometimes you do harm that cannot be undone. Living with your mistakes is part of becoming a good dog trainer.

Bill West began a seminar in Arizona by telling the audience he had made more mistakes than everyone there combined. It was Bill’s way of saying that making mistakes was part of dog training, and the more dogs you trained, the more mistakes you made. Unfortunately, the fear of making mistakes may hold amateur trainers back. Some are afraid to use too much e-collar while others let their dogs get away with bad behaviors because they are afraid to fix them. Often, both situations create more problems. To quote Maurice Lindley, “If you aren’t making a few mistakes, you aren’t training hard enough.”

I encourage you to read the entire post here.

From Steady with Style: Turning the Corner…


Puck Pointing
Puck Pointing

Steady with Style is one of my favorite dog-training blogs. Author Martha Greenlee has been working with bird dogs for years, and her experience shows in every one of her posts. This latest one is a good example of what I mean. I went through this same process with Puck. If you have a bird dog, I’m sure you will, too:

“Recently, I was talking to Maurice Lindley about a dog I was teaching to be steady-to-wing-and-shot.

“I think Chalk has turned the corner,” I said.

“What did he do to make you think that,” Maurice asked.

“He’s calmer,” I replied.
“Good,” he said. “A calm dog is what you look for. A fresh-broke dog should go from bug-eyed and intense to calm and composed in the presents of game. If you watch a young dog on point, every fiber and nerve is on high alert and poised to pounce. Then, as more training takes place, you notice the dog’s composure changes when he is pointing. He becomes more confident in his job and confident that you know your job too. The intensity is still there but something has changed. To me the dog just looks different…”

Read the entire post here.

A look at the old days of bird dog training…

I just came across these videos over at Craig Koshyk’s Pointing Dogs blog and I wanted to share them here.

This first one shows some late summer training sessions, probably in Saskatchewan. The dogs look like pointers and setters, plus a nice cocker spaniel and springer spaniel. Check out the how reluctant that first setter is to point, and the low tail & body position when the dogs are on point. Also, check out the cover and the nice setter/pointer team at the end.

This video is from Scotland. Check out the size of the kennel operation, the quality of the facility, and how the trainer exercises all his dogs. You don’t see that kind of stuff today.


Guy De La Valdene and his dog…

From Making Game: An Essay On Woodcock:

Chet Reneson's "Northern Birds"
Chet Reneson's "Northern Birds"

“That evening I was lonely and I caught a condition the French call vin triste (“sad wine”). I returned to my motel room, packed, and told my dog that we were in the wrong line of work. Her eyes were like pats of butter and radiated a lifetime of trust. How could she know that someday she would be too old to hunt and that soon after she would die? All she knew was that she loved me at that together we had nudged dun-colored skies into fanfare of wings, whimpered and cut ourselves on talus faces, lost ourselves in sweltering bogs, and found birds where there should have been none. We understood each other better than most men understand god. More important, we hoped that when autumn came, the birds would fly.” pgs. 78-79