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.


It’s my opening day…

Puck on point
Puck on point

Birthdays and holidays are nice. But to me, the best day of the year Opening Day. Or I should say “my” opening day. Up in Maine, the ruffed grouse season opens on October 1. I’m rarely in my coverts then. My season starts a few days in, and this year that day is today, October 6th.

Puck and I will be in field looking for birds by the time you read this. My hunting boots will already be muddy, my old 16 gauge Lefever will already have been passed from hand to hand and shoulder to shoulder many times. With some luck I’ll have some empty shells in my pocket and a little extra weight in my game pouch.

Potential, possibility, hope — that’s a new hunting season. Discovering what will be while revisiting what is every year – the rank of wet, rotting earth, the blaze of red maple leaves against the blue sky, the cling, clang, cling of Puck’s bell. Thank God it’s here again….

Seven days until it begins…

October is almost here, and so is the best time of the whole ‘friggin year: hunting season. Here’s a little of what I’m looking forward to:

I hope to be a better shot this year.
I hope to be a better shot this year.
I'm hoping to see lots of grouse
I’m hoping to see lots of grouse
And plenty of Fall colors...
And plenty of Fall colors…
I'm hoping for the sights that make October so special...
I’m hoping for the sights that make October so special…

And that stick haunt me throughout the rest of the year.
And that haunt me throughout the rest of the year.
That Puck finds plenty of birds
That Puck finds plenty of birds
That Puck runs hard
That Puck runs hard
And that we'll have plenty of this to our selves.
And that we’ll have plenty of this to our selves.