Posts Tagged ‘Irish Setter’

ALONG LAWYER’S CREEK near Kamiah, Idaho: This desert rat was in heaven: three gun dogs, a cottonwood-lined creek and plenty of shade. Do you know the feeling? A change of scenery, fresh perspective, everything seems brand new and full of potential. All participants were cooler by a large measure than during our last hunt at Flying B Ranch, a blistering chukar expedition called on account of heat at 9 a.m. [Watch the very raw sky-cam footage, above.]

The ringnecks that dwelled among the thorns and cattails of this valley knew their neighborhood well, testing the dogs’ noses and hunters’ shooting abilities. Often more like a ruffed grouse hunt with brush-busting and tangle-inducing vines and branches, there were times when your shot was pointed at a white neck ring and nothing else in the shadows of chokecherry and cottonwood.

Guide Rich Coe’s dogs were trained to handle the bird flushing when needed, and they were needed often. Maybe you don’t like the idea (can you say porcupine?), but it was most appreciated by this bruised and battered, scratched and skinned-up hunter. Finding footing and swinging room for safe shots (two camera operators in tow) was tough enough without having to boost every bird from it’s hidey-hole.

And boost we did, flying a lot of birds, shooting at some, and hitting a few. One memorable flush ultimately yielded four roosters; we gawked instead of getting close enough for a shot, thinking each was the last to fly. (Count to four real slow … that’s how it played out.)

The jungle-like cover took its toll, as did the jinking and juking pheasants. But plenty of birds ended up headed for the table of a deserving family somewhere in the Kamiah metropolitan region.

Thanks sponsors: Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl, Irish Setter, TriTronics and NSFF/www.wingshootingusa.org. Leave a comment, you might win a pair of Irish Setter boots!

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Fueled up? Yes. Dog in truck? Uh huh. Ammo purchased? Yep (ouch!). Must be time for the second leg of the Awesome Upland Road Trip. We’ll be making TV shows across the West, for next season’s Wingshooting USA.

New friends and old, some fresh scenery, and lots of birds are some of the highlights of this trip, which starts at Double Barrel Ranch near Spokane, Wash. Ron Olmstead is a sensitive dog trainer and great host and this is a repeat visit (we made some Cast & Blast episodes there about five years ago). Strong dog work (except when Buddy’s on the ground) is a given on the rolling hills and coulees of eastern Washington

From Spokane we vector toward Havre, Montana and a new outfit, Sage Safaris … interesting concept for an upland hunting operation. Sara and Jake have outfitted their place a la’ luxury African safari camps – floored tents, real beds, wood stoves, etc. Should be interesting.

Dog is my co-pilot: Buddy always wears his seat belt.

Dog is my co-pilot: Buddy always wears his seat belt.

From Montana we head to beautiful downtown Mott, North Dakota. It’s been on my list since a friend here in town bought a place there just for pheasant hunting. We’ll be just down the road from Larry (there aren’t that many in Mott), at Tailfeather Inn, and hunting ringnecks and a few sharptails on nearby farms. Tailfeather promises an interesting stay: part of it is a restored convent (no smart remarks you former altar boys). Looks like the bird numbers are strong in this part of North Dakota, so we are pumped! Thanks to everyone at North Dakota’s tourism department for logistical support, especially Mark Zimmerman.

Then, it’s back to my favorite state, South Dakota. Ever had this thought? If there was a Nordstrom nearby, I’d try convincing my wife to move there! I’m hunting near Aberdeen, where I’ll help out at the Camp Gilbert Celebrity Hunt there, raising money for that great operation that supports kids with diabetes.

If they’re not sick of me and the crew after the celeb hunt, we will hunt the area for a couple more days, basing out of Rivett Refuge Preserve. Trees, water, sounds like a good time.

And in what’s becoming an Awesome Upland Road Trip tradition, we conclude again at Ravenwood Lodge near Topeka, Kansas. Ken and Bev Corbet run a beautiful place, full of history and incredible habitat. It’s like a tailor-made hunting amusement park, with a little of everything plus sporting clays! Want a preview? Go here and see some snaps and a report from last year.

Watch for the rig, give a honk or stop by and say hello! And safe travels on your own Awesome Upland Road Trip. Let the dog ride up front.

[Thanks to road trip sponsors National Shooting Sports Foundation and www.wingshootingusa.org, TriTronics, Irish Setter and Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl.] Speaking of which, leave a comment and you might win a pair of Irish Setter boots and hunting jacket!

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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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LEAVING ELLENSBURG, Wash.: What does it mean when the clearest shot you have all day at a chukar is punctuated by a bee sting on your arm as you’re swinging on the bird?

I guess it could have been worse: I hit the bird, we got a beautiful retrieve, and camera operators Tad Newberry and Lynn Berland both got their shots. The swelling hasn’t gone down, but I’m not worried … yet … about the arm. And memories of the rest of the morning should keep me distracted.

Cooke Canyon Hunt Club is nestled in the hills along the edge of the valley that contains (most years) the Yakima River. Excellent hosts Doug and Alice Burnette were kind enough to invites us back and I was glad to accept. Doug’s dog training skills once again ensured an enjoyable and educational hunt on preserve chukars and pheasants as well as a few wild birds.

Weather was hot and dry, portending a short day and careful scrutiny of the dogs’ every move toward shade or water. True to form and certainly justifiable, jaegermeister Doug called it a day the moment one pointer laid down in the puddle of shadow surrounding a bitterbrush. It was hot.

Before that, we watched English Setters, Pointers, a shorthair and even Buddy track, stalk, point, relocate on, and retrieve (usually) some of the wiliest preserve birds I’ve encountered. Case in point: setter Jasper (royal stud dog and ruler of the Cooke Canyon kennel – and house) slams a point along an irrigation canal. The “back” by shorthair Elsa is upwind, until we figure the bird had already ran/waded up the ditch beyond both. A couple relocates including one point in the water capped a long chase and flown bird that fell to Doug’s gun.

Thanks to everyone in Ellensburg for your hospitality!

PS: ever wondered what a dog really sees in the field? Here’s some raw footage from our new high-def “Buddy cam.”

PPS: The Irish Setter giveaway is back, so leave a comment – even just a plea to be selected – and you could win a pair as well as a new hunting jacket.

Thanks to all the Awesome Upland Road Trip sponsors: TriTronics, Black’s Wing & Clay Waterfowl directory, National Shooting Sports Foundation and www.wingshootingusa.org, and Irish Setter.

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How do you get from where you are, to here?

How do you get from where you are, to here?

Just the opposite of what I long for: here I sit drinking bad coffee in a gigantic shopping mall, awaiting She Who Must Be Obeyed (nod to Rumpole). But maybe you have the same rationale … every day spent doing your spouse’s bidding is redeemable for one more day in the field.

With the first leg of the Wingshooting USA Awesome Upland Road Trip just about a week away, it’s a worthwhile investment. Points scored, husbandly duty fulfilled. It doesn’t negate the noisy, brat-filled monument to consumerism, overrun with of posers (white rappers in Beaverton, Ore.? Fashionistas of all shapes and sizes … many who should try harder to avoid spandex.) But there is a slight glimmer from the light at the end of the long, Muzak-drenched  tunnel.

As MLK put it, “keep your eyes on the prize,” and it’s easier to do when the remaining calendar pages turn quickly toward fall. Is it because you’re in a location that is the polar opposite of gold-tinged fields and the tinkle of dog bells? The contrast is notable: the only plant life in sanitized containers, leaves dusted daily, recirculating the exhalations of multitudes. Not a swatch of real camo, but plenty of the “urban” type, and too many males in designer suits instead of briar pants and sweaty hats.

Anyway, the prize is within sight … cackling roosters, rigid tails at 12 o’clock, dog slobber, the pungent and distinctive nose-bite of spent shells … but you know that, don’t you? You’ve been consulting the calendar, too, calling hunting friends and asking about bird populations. You’ve paid the $15 for a box of good shells, and promised yourself to make every shot count.

What else takes your mind from shopping to shooting? What keeps you sane during the “work day?” Where are YOU headed? Now’s the time to share and possibly win a pair of Irish Setter boots. Make your comment, and you’re entered in the random drawing. See you in the coverts, soon.

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