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Posts Tagged ‘Al Gadoury’

And then, there was thawing out in Alabama at Dream Ranch.

And then, there was thawing out in Alabama at Dream Ranch.

It’s all over but the shouting. If one shouts at the end of bird season, that is.

Several thousand road miles, a lot of new friends, some new country and a ton of birds … tired dogs and a bunch of oil changes in unfamiliar towns. Every day was an adventure and gratifying in its own way (after all, it was hunting). While you’re reading about some of my peak experiences, re-live your own.

A pair of doubles on Huns in Montana with 6X Outfitters’ Al Gadoury. The dynamic is markedly different when you hunt without TV cameras. Both good, but different. Considering how I shot, I kinda wish there was a crew there.

Passing on the only ringneck anyone saw on opening day at a nearby wildlife refuge because I mis-read the regulations. Aaagh!

Hunting generally northward while a stranger hunted generally southward – toward me. When it turned out to be a training/hunting buddy, all was well in the world … again.

Hunting what can only be described as an American Serengeti at South Dakota’s Warne Ranches. Waves of birds rising from the grass, and on camera!

A chance – after 25 years – to share a field with my dogs’ veterinarian, and have both Manny and Buddy make epic retrieves across fields and raging creeks.

The coldest night I’ve ever spent in chukar country, minus 12 degrees. Warm enough during the day to enjoy, along with bighorns and a great friend. And the realization that for 72 hours we hadn’t heard a train, plane, truck or other hunter.

Horseback hunting with some great kids and their mom, out west for the first time. The wonder of the wide open spaces was clear on their faces. Introducing them to our sport was incredible.

Anyway, you get the idea. Now, what about yours?

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Oh yeah …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, getting the good stuff up top: This was yesterday’s bag for Buddy, Manny and me. Al Gadoury of 6X Outfitters, who you know from his appearances on the show, led me – for fun – to some very fun hunting near Lewistown, Montana.  Thanks Al!

Al’s setters and Lab Bella worked hard, as did my guys, in increasingly high temperatures. Some nice surprises in strong coveys of Huns, and almost a dozen single and double flushes of sharptails within range of Al. Oh yeah, he limited on roosters too, with most of the sharpies within range falling to his classic side-by-side.

A good time was had by all. Hope your season is going as well. Where will the Aliner park next? Watch this space!

What a place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Somewhere in Montana …

After a long day in Post Falls, including giving back some of Cabela’s sponsorship dollars at their store, Manny, Buddy and I headed east. Skirting Lake Couer d’Alene, we continued on Interstate 90 until well past dark – racing to a date with 6X Outfitters’ Al Gadoury and some Montana ringnecks.

It was a civilized “Kamp,” as you can see. Can you guess where the Aliner is tonight?

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After a night of epic thunder and lightning and an epic example of restaurant arrogance  (Grand Hotel, Big Timber, Montana), we were ready for a return to adrenaline rush and scenic beauty. Do you know that feeling? Let’s get on with it!

Instead, we were greeted by low-lying, dank fog. The moisture lingered, soaking pants, socks and dogs but keeping temperatures cooler, longer,until the sun broke through and remained the rest of the day.

[Man, nor hunters, do not live by bread alone. But we broke bread in some spectacular places, including this one. Did it bring us luck?]

The Montana icons had been summoned, either by Hollywood or pure unadulterated luck: Cattle framed by rugged mountains, buckaroo (actually, buckarette) and border collie performing as if to a script. One recalcitrant bull briefly challenged us as we opened then shut (quickly and with furtive backward glances) a wire gate across our road.

Oh yeah, the hunting: big sky? Sure. Big fields, absolutely! This was the Hun-rich shorter cover we’d not gotten to earlier. But it was lunchtime before we saw a bird. Not for lack of trying. We ran most dogs through square miles of territory, hope piled on hope as Buddy, Biscuit and Ellie all promising partridge while delivering meadowlarks.

Another drive, more gates, and the slot machine called Montana started paying out. A small covey here, pair there, and every once in a while a sharptail adding spice to the prairie stew.

Manny’s moment: After enough birds to make a TV show interesting, guide Al Gadoury offered a return to a familiar patch to showcase 23-week-old Manny’s budding instincts. A sharpie passed overhead as we geared up … a portent? Manny ambled and streaked alternately through known sharptail habitat, locking into a beautiful, leg-up point. As we neared, we saw his little puppy head threaded between the bottom two strands of a barbed-wire fence along the county road.

Trepidation soon absented itself, as we decided nothing good could come of a shot across the road, or unidentified critter that might spray or inject nasty quills.

But by the time we turned for the trucks, the pup had bumped, pointed, stopped-to-flush and otherwise discovered at least a half dozen sharptails, even delivering many of them to (close to) hand. Good boy!

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Vast, expansive vistas of the most well-managed prairie I’ve ever seen. That was the setting for our first Montana hunt for Hungarian partridge. Six crates meant we’d have plenty of dog power, Al Gadoury’s setters defining the strategy: run far and fast for wild-ass birds that probably haven’t seen a dog or gunner yet this season.

Knee high grass and alfalfa flourished emerald green at the corner of Jones and Moonshine roads northeast of Big Timber. Someone out here has a sense of humor! But was it the diminutive imports that scattered when Al’s setter Ellie cat-danced into a point? Nope, native sharptailed grouse erupted from the low cover, startling us both, but not enough to distract Al’s side-by-side from its intended target.

[Here’s a taste of the country we hunted.]

We rotated dogs and drove miles over unbroken ground all day, finding sharpies in both the tall stuff and the skinny shortgrass prairies. More like late-season birds, they flushed wild and ran out from under points. But enough came close, and a few held for statuesque points by Al’s setters. One obviously suicidal grouse virtually eliminated himself from the gene pool, hooking back toward director Tad Newberry’s camera and my only decent shot all day. You know it was a “gimme” shot when your camera guy can do the retrieve without moving a single step!

Our Hun hunt finally materialized late in the day with a picture-perfect point and a double by Al, who simply does not miss when he shoulders his beautiful shotgun.

Manny’s moment: Sea Biscuit the setter locked solid and skylined on a low ridge among the alfalfa. Manny bounced, puppy-like, from upwind and settled into a very pretty honor of Biscuit’s point. You’ll see it next year on Wingshooting USA.

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[Before you read on, help out your favorite cause by voting NOW at these sites:

www.wingshootingusa.org … Take one of your kids hunting on the show next season. Click on the “Win a Shot on the Show” icon.

www.blackswingandclay.com… Cash for your conservation group, Cabela’s gear for you! Click on the “Hot Dog” icon.

www.nativedogfood.com … a TON of food for a hunting dog rescue club. Click on the “”Win a Ton” icon in the upper left corner.]

NEAR HILGER, MONTANA: Even rotating dogs every hour, we were concerned. Temperatures hovered near 90 degrees by 2 p.m., and we were burning through the water (pardon the pun). Most, of course, was going into and onto the dogs.

We were making one of next season’s episodes for Wingshooting USA, and my first sage grouse hunt began auspiciously, sighting a small flock as it fled our trucks. Whatever you’ve heard about them, know that they love to run, fly, run, fly, then repeat. The best news? Most flights were a few hundred yards and we could mark them for another stalk.

Here’s a sampling of – truly – “Big Sky” country … from our sky cam, and my audio field report, too:

Al Gadoury’s English Setters had seen it all before, maintaining their distance and approaching scent cones with delicate steps. Up a draw carpeted by snowberry, one dog locked up and we approached as cautiously as she had. One (more…)

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Okay fellow members of Upland Nation … the first leg of the Awesome Upland Road Trip 2.0 is locked and loaded. The planning, your suggestions, and a bit of logic have come together into a very exciting first go-round. You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re headed for places you’ve never been? How about returning to hunt with friends? Or the anticipation of hunting birds you’ve only read about? 

Watch for the rig on the Awesome Upland Road Trip 2.0

Watch for the rig on the Awesome Upland Road Trip 2.0 ... coffee's always on in the galley

That’s one of my goals this season, and this part of our multi-leg trip moves the needle in the right direction. I still have room for a couple stops along the way, but here’s how it’s shaping up so far for the third week of September:

– Cooke Canyon Hunt Club near Ellensburg, Washington is our first port of call. We did a couple shows years ago with Doug Burnette when he was guiding for Cooke Canyon. Now, he and Alice are running the place! A skillful dog trainer/handler, Doug is a joy to share a field with, and everyone will learn something on this stop. I will never forget the ultimate compliment after flushing a bird for Doug: “Good duckin’, Scott.”

– Flying B Ranch near Kamiah, Idaho is our second stop, where we’ll chase chukars in the hills above Lawyer Creek. When our legs give out, we will limp downhill to the lush fields and draws closer to this world-class lodge and try to scare up some ringnecks. I’ve hunted Flying B just once and not on TV or for radio, so this will be fun!

– The grand finale should prove educational and help fill out my life list. Near Lewistown, Montana, we’ll pursue (more…)

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