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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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