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 bumpedĀ  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.


Fishing trip, 2011…

My annual trip to the West Branch of the Penobscot River ended last Sunday. We hit the river for landlocked salmon and then struck out to the ponds and streams for brook trout.

A beast of a brookie
A beast of a brookie

This year was another great time: great fishing, good times, plenty of grub and beer. It rained hard on us, but it always does. The black flies were extra vicious. Over the course of the week, my head and neck must have fed a couple of thousand of them. They didn’t even thank me.

The biggest landlocked salmon I caught was 17″, taken on a size 16 dry, 4 weight rod. I’ve caught bigger salmon, but this one put up the best fight I’ve ever had. The fish plus the river added up to a lot of pull.

The monster brookie is the biggest one I’ve ever landed. This pig was about 20″, probably 3-4lbs (we let her go, so I don’t know for sure). She took a size #14 caddis off the surface. I was fishing a 5 weight and I almost wet myself when I saw how big she was. For everyone who’s wants to ask where I caught her, here’s a hint: somewhere between Millinocket and Fort Kent.

Here’s is the album of pics from my trip. Enjoy.