Posts Tagged ‘dog blog’

What does a guy do after two weeks on the road hunting in front of television cameras? Um, well, it was opening weekend of chukar and valley quail season, so take a wild guess.

Manny carries the torch: every dog I've owned has posed with this ridge in the background.

Despite viruses (two out of three of us), sweltering weather, traffic jams and honey-do’s, we convened in the usual place for the usual activities. The upshot? Challenging. Fewer birds, scattered from valley floors to rocky peaks and everywhere in between. Young birds (multiple hatches, we hoped) seemed to dematerialize  after vigorous chases. Dry beds where creeks usually provide life-giving fluid to animals great and small. 

The view from chukar camp

Birds flew – virtually always away from me, but Dave and Mike got shots. As the sun climbed, so did we … into the lava rock that seemed to hold vestigial heat from it’s original source. We heard chukars, flew many at a distance, ultimately earning a few long and desperate shots.

The next day, more of the same, Buddy and Manny racing in a doggie pas de deux, sometimes in unison, other times mirror images on opposite sides of the draw. As Mike and I wheezed up a slope Buddy locked solid, uphill from a flat boulder a football field’s length away. We hightailed it, still slower than the rattled nerves of a trio of partridges. They skirted the ridge. We followed, sidehilling over shale and sloppy soil. We flew that bunch twice more, me taking a couple Hail Mary shots to no effect.  

Mystery bug - anyone know what this new one (for us) is called?

When both dogs sought the scant shade of boulders every time we slowed, I knew it was time to head for camp and the creek, and call it a day.  A small rattlesnake reminded me how warm and early it was in the season, standing (slithering?) his ground as I directed dogs away and left him to his quest for a den.

The small pool in the stream was a welcome sight to all parties, dogs slurping and splashing in relief and joy – their human, too.

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Cold, drizzly weather kyboshed our first day in Mott, North Dakota, a return engagement to Tailfeather Inn. We were, in effect, doing exactly what you would in the same place at the same time: freelancing. But after eight days on the road, we savored a late morning and mellow day of laundry, football and downtime.

We did have a slight advantage in that our host Mark Wiegand had opened the lodge early so we could find sharptails in a ringneck-centric town. He and friends Kurt and John had scouted and researched some starting points for our quest and they deserve an “A” for their work. By next morning, we were primed for the hunt and the weather was friendly.

Joining our mob was Joe Exum, my friend and owner of Happy Jack dog products company. Joe wanted a true western hunt for wild birds and he was not disappointed. Just ask his knees.

This season we’re airing an episode titled “Laid back longtails,” shot at Tailfeather Inn last year. It’s an apt description for the relaxed approach to hunting near Mott. Make some calls, stop some trucks, drive some two-track, and poof, you’re in sharptail territory. North Dakota has a lot of walk-in private land (called PLOTS in this state) that makes it easy for visiting hunters to find some space, and we took good advantage. (more…)

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Okay, we can finally spill the beans on the upcoming season of Wingshooting USA. I hope you have lots of DVR space, and plenty to eat and drink while you watch – there is a lot in store!

Starting October 1 and every Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, you can watch the show on VERSUS. In January, you can also watch on the Pursuit Channel Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. If you’re stuck in the seventies and watching via digital “rabbit ears” on your local TV station, check for AMGTV Sundays 1 p.m. or TUFF TV Saturdays 10 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.

Bring plenty of ammo and dog food – we’ve got an incredible lineup of destinations: Idaho pheasants, Montana huns, North and South Dakota sharpies and pheasants … California pheasants and quail, Oregon valley quail and pheasants and more!

In addition to the hunting, Wingshooting USA is loaded with fun, educational and motivational feature segments:

– “Buddy & Me” sponsored by TruckVault is our continuing adventure as my wirehair and I learn how to teach and learn from each other. Watch sample here:

– TriTronics “Young Hunters Afield”  encourages families to get outside together, rewarding those who send photos of kids with their dogs with a chance at a TriTronics e-collar. Watch here:

– Native Performance Dog Food’s “Conservation Showcase” raises funds for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Learn how you can help, here:

– ZoomDog’s BuddyCam provides a fascinating look (literally) at a dog’s perspective in the field and at home. Watch here:

– And carrying on our tradition, the National Shooting Sports Foundation offers parents  and children a chance to win a hunting trip on the show with me in their “Take YOUR kid hunting” sweepstakes.” 

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Manny's dad, Three Devils Speak Thunder, call name Leon

So, just about ready to head for Nampa, Idaho to pick up Buddy’s protege’ and nephew! My magazine column’s readers chimed in on name suggestions and I wanted to thank all of them – and you – for your ideas. Here is the result:

Kennel name: Three Devils

From the “L-3” litter: Linden’s

Best suggestion favored by my wife: Wingman … “Manny” will be his call name.

I’ll keep you posted!

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In Denver last weekend you wondered aloud why we hunt. Why anyone would work so hard and so long for a few bits of protein. I thought about that while hunting chukars today. Thanks for the motivation – everyone should go through this exercise periodically, taking stock of why they wander the ridgelines and prairies. Other hunters may have their own reasons, but here are some of mine: 

Oh yeah, and then there's the scenery

It starts, and ends, with the mystery and magic of a dog at work, centuries of genetics and instinct in a furry, panting, slobbering package … the manic excitement of that first 15 minutes out of the truck, trembling, intense points, the way at the end of the day he lays his head on my lap as we drive home. A hunter knows where the term “dog tired” came from. Dog and man, hunting, speak a language others don’t understand, and both of us are better off from our time together. There’s tiny towns like Fields, Oregon, population 9, opening its arms and hearts to me. Rural America is alive and well if you know where to look. Hunting places are full of honest, kind, helpful, hard-working people and we are lucky to share their world if only for a few days. 

There’s the chance to spend time with the only person from college worth spending time with. Sure, it’s just an excuse and we could do the same on the golf course or in Vegas … or could we? Sharing a wild place puts things in perspective. There is no posturing, there are no walls, literally and figuratively. Knowing you’re in a place where humans aren’t at the top of the (more…)

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Welcome behind the scenes again. As I’ve noted before, making a television show is not all beer and skittles. You don’t simply show up, go hunting, then send the tape to a network. There are a lot of steps between booking a hunting trip and lounging on the couch in your skivvies watching the show on TV.

One of the most onerous tasks we face is reviewing all the raw footage, culling the bad from the good and ultimately interpreting it for you. While I love every part of a hunt and so do you when you’re in the field, viewers would reach for the remote after more than a few seconds of us walking through a field watching dogs on a fruitless search for absent birds. (more…)

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Besides time with friends, training together has other benefits for you and your dog

Besides time with friends, training together has other benefits for you and your dog

How often do you train with others? The saying goes “many hands make quick work,” but it’s not just about productivity. Often, the payoffs are more subtle, but just as valuable.

Everyone has a story or two: about hunting spots they’re willing to share, pedigrees and reading between their lines … even if it’s just a tip on a piece of gear you can’t live without (okay, several pieces).

But there’s more. Watching other dogs work, you think of your own. Pitching in, your on-the-ground observations take on added relevance. Do you see your own dog in others?

In medical school, so they say, the best way to learn is to teach. And while we may not be “teaching” when we trade chores like planting birds, the lessons are there for the taking.

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