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Posts Tagged ‘hunting equipment’

I have a confession to make. I am not a gun geek. To me, they are tools. I live for bird dogs, so if it’s history, heritage, performance or aesthetics, that’s where I make the emotional and financial investment.

That said, guns are an integral part of my chasing-after-dogs-and-birds life. If after a tail-stiffening point, I don’t shoot a cackling pheasant as it towers skyward, I’m disappointed and my dogs are devastated. Guns are the ticket to a wild ride that gets better every day.

Shotguns become currency in my world, and while not at the level of Bill Gates, I am lucky enough to be able to give some away in hopes of cultivating the love of hunting in others. My first “real” gun went to a down-on-his-luck printing press operator whose only firearm had finally shaken to pieces. When we next talked hunting, his downcast eyes said it all: it was over for him. I hope he’s still jump-shooting ducks off that river we both love, with the shotgun that had gathered dust in my safe.

My brother was a reluctant co-star on one of my TV show episodes and at the end of that day, I gifted him the over-under he’d borrowed. Thousands of sporting clays rounds, my first pheasant, and two loyal dogs were like deep scratches on the stock of that sleek American-made beauty … memories that will never be erased. We will reunite next fall in the field, is my promise to my brother and that shotgun.

At a shooting clinic, a young high schooler was missing more than hitting, surprising for a “natural,” as I’d been told. She was trying hard to learn from a master, shoot better and represent her school proudly, but was hampered by an ill-fitting and malfunctioning shotgun. I lost sleep that night, thinking about her long soul-searching drive home, the after-action report to her coach and teammates, and her slackened hopes for competition in the coming school year.

I sent her one of mine. An elegant Italian over-under that deserved better than I could ever offer. Intricate engraving, the lines of a sports car, I hope it served her well; asked her to pay it forward when she got her next one and give it away – again.

Shotguns from television sponsors have become prizes in my ongoing effort to recruit newcomers to our sport. Often, they’re lent to youngsters on their first hunt. Each helped tell a story, about mothers and sons, rekindled childhood memories, of brothers and friends, teens and middle-aged beginners. I’m hoping those firearms are helping create life-long hunters and conservationists – who then recruit their own new hunters.

I have visitation rights to the only shotgun that I might regret having given away: a Spanish side-by-side that served me well for almost a decade. Functional like a Ford F-150, no bells or whistles it was built by craftsman to be “workmanlike.” I carried it up countless draws in chukar country, dinged it chasing quail, Huns, pheasants and ducks. It suffered indignity after indignity, including a failed attempt to learn to shoot left-handed when a friend and I bent the stock.

Light and whippy, it was the gun I learned to really shoot with, one lesson tallied 1,000 rounds in a day. I hit more than I missed that day, and was indebted to that sublime example of Basque metalworking for many birds pointed, then retrieved, by four different dogs.

But I’d moved on, was using “better” guns by the time my hunting buddy asked about it while we caught our breath on a desolate mountain top. Sure, it was in the truck. It was the third string on that hunt, should my two “good” guns fail. The look in his eye, the longing he had for a gun that had been his companion as much as mine in those scabby hills, well, that said it all. And he was left-handed.

Twice a season, we meet again on some scabby piece of the West. I re-acquaint myself with that example of simple elegance, usually as the gun, me, and my friend are huffing and puffing up another volcanic slope in pursuit of chukars. He shoots it much better than I ever did, which I guess is proof it is now in the hands of its rightful owner.

Taking good care of my guns, even if they’re only a means to an end, makes sense. They are then ready, willing, and able to serve their higher purpose: helping others in their own pursuit of birds and beautiful places in the company of good friends and family.

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My first product review is now available for your consideration. If you hate cold feet in the morning, you’ll love this addition to Ultimate Upland Checklist. Go here.

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Scott B. called with a question I’ve had a LOT of personal experience with: dog boots. This topic has generated more frustration among more hunters than almost any other (besides over/under vs. side-by-side).

At the top lie chukars, and rough going for barefoot dogs

Whether it’s cactus or lava rock, sand burrs or goatheads, our pooches’ paws sometimes need a little help if we’re going to hunt more than a day or two in a row. If not, the risk of a foot injury immobilizing your hunting companion is just too high. Besides the cost, I’ve found most dog boots fall off and get lost, or wear out in the course of a day of chukar hunting. I’ll offer my own solution in a minute, but if you insist on using boots, here are some suggestions:

Augment whatever attachment scheme the manufacturer provides. Many hunters will duct-tape the top of the boots to their dog’s leg … just be careful not to wrap too tight and impede blood circulation. To avoid the inevitable howls when removing the duct tape, some guys will put a turn or two of Vet Wrap on the dog’s leg first, and wrap the duct tape on that.

In Texas, a lot of professional guides will do the same with short lengths of inner tubes – motorcycle seems about the right diameter. Cheaper, the foot still “breathes,” and you’re not as mad when they fall off in the puckerbrush. tape the “toe” up if you like, many leave it open so grit falls out with each step.

Here in the volcanic Northwest, we’ve gone completely over to duct tape alone. Dozens of boots per roll, and the price is right. Be very CAREFUL about wrapping – loose is better than tight. Tear off a foot or so of tape, and place your dog’s foot in the middle (sticky side up). Slowly and carefully (not too tight), spiral each end in alternating wraps around the foot (a couple layers), then up the leg a few inches. Kinda like a bandage. If your dog is the strong sensitive type, you can put a baby sock on first, so the tape sticks mainly to that.

It’s not pretty, but it works as well as Cordura, leather and rubber, and the price is right. And when Fido comes back with a bare paw, you’re out a few cents and a couple minutes of re-application, not a pile of dollars.

PS: If you know of a really, really, great dog boot, let me know. I’d love to find one that works!

PPS: Starting to get a lot of requests for the Blaze Buddy Bandana – see here for details on this great safety item for your dog and fundraiser for a good cause. And if you haven’t downloaded the newly-updated Ultimate Upland Checklist, do it now and make sure your season is hassle-free!

Safe hunting,

Scott

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Sweeeeeet. Or should I say “dolce?”

That’s what everyone said down at the Nosler Shooter’s Pro Shop when I took delivery on the next item to trick my

The Fausti sisters ... grazie!

truck, a Fausti Stefano DEA SL 20 ga. side by side. In a nutshell, this gun is a very clear reflection of the Fausti sisters: Giovanna, Barbara and Elena … lithe and elegant.

Well-balanced and light at 5-1/2 pounds, it’s a perfect chukar gun, if I’m willing to risk it. Case-colored receiver with gold accents (for maximum TV exposure!), the wood has lots of horizontal grain, then a stunning series of vertical striations that capture the eye long after you’ve put it in the case. I’ll be hunting with this gun on the show starting in the fall and you’ll see it on Wingshooting USA as soon as September. Then, stay tuned and learn how to win it … once I’ve broken it in, that is. I promise to be careful.

Get more information and specs here. (By the way, “DEA” is Italian for “goddess.” And this gun handles like one.)

Leave it to the Italians to make the case as stylish as the gun – streamlined and very Euro. Here are a few photos.

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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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E-collar, check. Dog, check. The rest is up to you. It will be worth your while!

Can you improve the Ultimate Upland Checklist version 2.0? Do you want to win great stuff, including a TriTronics Sport Jr. collar? 

Have you got some cool ideas for stuff you take that we should too? An improvement on gear that should be in everyone’s vest? Go here, and get the details, and get ready to win!

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An interesting inquiry I received recently … 

Hello Again Scott, 

I wish to ask you a question.  My wife and I seem to have differed in a matter of Dog training.    The matter pertains to the usage of an E-collar.  She feel that usage of the E-collar should not begin until the puppy has reached the age of 6 months.  (i.e. the vet feels it may be to heavy and add undo stress to the young dogs neck.  Myself I agree with the trainers of Native Dog Food.  Please hear me out.  They do not specify a usage time or date from a puppies birth date.  They do however recommend a puppies training begin at a young age.  12 to 14 weeks for a bird dog.  Also it should be 

At what age does amperage become appropriate?

used for the reinforcement of positive behavior.   So I lean towards the introduction of the E-collar around the same time.  Do you have an opinion?  We decided to go with your choice of E-collar.  And understandably so after a small amount of research we knew you were leading us to a quality product.  Now when would you begin using the E-collar in a puppies training regiment.  Do you mind letting us know?
 
Thank you my friend
~*~`Jerry` &` Chris ~*~ 

And my response … 

Thanks for your question. First, know that I am NOT a trainer … just a guy who loves dogs and carefully observes what makes them tick, and hopefully learns some more! My feelings on the question:
 
Stay away from e-collars for many, many months … the physical toll on a pup’s neck is a good reason . Also, I agree training starts the day you bring pup home … whether you know it or not, formal or otherwise. That’s a good thing. But no puppy will have a clear understanding of commands at a young age, thus can’t be corrected with an e-collar. The idea of the collar is to reinforce commands a dog already understands well.
 
The better puppy training tools in my humble opinion, are: praise in all its forms dispensed liberally, reasonable expectations about what a very young animal can learn and how fast, an enclosed yard, leash and check cord, and judicious use of repetition. Most professionals would probably recommend NO e-collar for many months if not longer!
 
A couple axioms from those smarter than me:
 
Never give a command you can’t enforce.
 
Never give your dog an opportunity to do things the wrong way. Don’t set up your dog for failure.
 
Good luck. 

Scott 

How about you readers? Comments?

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