Posts Tagged ‘Pheasant Bonanza’

Noted dog photographer Nancy Anisfield was also there, chronicling our work for Upland Almanac and Versatile Hunting Dog magazines. This is one of her shots.

If you watched Cast & Blast and What the Dogs Taught Me on that other network back in the day, you might remember Duke. He is the shorthair that arrived one night, hunted with us the next day, and impressed me with his stoicism and the way he blossomed in that one single Montana day.

Since then, I’ve been curious about his home, line, and the breeders at Pheasant Bonanza who did such a great job with him.

Starting this Monday, watch his relatives work the fields Duke was trained in, and enjoy the hunt! Details on where to watch, here.

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Duke's old home, source of many strong shorthairs

Years ago I told you the story of Duke, a young shorthair that arrived at Eagle Nest Lodge just a day or two before we did. His stoic, patient demeanor in the kennel intrigued me. I asked manager John Shirley if we could take him the next morning on a Hungarian partridge hunt.

The show we made was one of my favorites: inspiring, moving, and encouraging. If only every young dog could watch it when he arrives at his “forever home!” Duke started tentatively, whether it was new surroundings, the crowd associated with making a TV show, or simply trying to figure out who the boss was, I don’t know. But by the end of the day, he was pointing, retrieving, and showing signs of the confident dog he ultimately became. John assures me he’s a one man dog, working well, but only for him.

Impressed and touched by Duke’s growth in that one day, I promised myself I’d visit Pheasant Bonanza, the Nebraska kennel and hunting operation where Duke had been bred and trained. And this fall, I finally got there.

My first stop at a new place is usually the kennel. It was populated by a half-dozen Duke lookalikes … an elegant, elongated, solid-colored head being the giveaway they were cousins of my former Montana hunting partner. Like their distant relative, they rested calmly in their runs, exhibiting a worldly demeanor.

Tad sets up a shot at Pheasant Bonanza. Note the lush cover.

The next day, we brought two along. They did not disappoint. Thick cover was no obstacle to these smallish, graceful dogs. Rather than bull their way through head-high grass, they glided between the clumps, pointing and backing each other like pro’s. They danced among the small trees, footfalls delicate. If only their guest was a better shooter, they could have demonstrated more often their skillful retrieving abilities.

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The whole crowd ... Trent probably hit this one!

We came to honor Duke, a young shorthair we’d hunted with years ago in Montana. Duke impressed me with his metamorphosis over one day’s hunt: from new kid in the kennel, insecure and unsure of whom to work, for to a confident young dog.

Duke’s distant cousins hunted with us today, Gabby and Cricket coursing the deep grass and heavy cover that makes Pheasant Bonanza such an awesome hunting destination. Thanks to Frosty our guide, and Trent Leichleitner the manager at this beautiful spot. Yes, Nebraska is scenic, rolling hills and hardwood bottoms full of fall colors.

The shooting, thanks to Trent was spot-on. He was kind enough to give me partial credit onĀ  pheasants that obviously fell to his shot string. Beyond that, highlights included Buddy’s points and a couple pretty good retrieves, and Manny, after two days of skunking finally found a ringneck and made a solid point. A track and a flush, and … yours truly got a few pellets into a bird that flew into standing corn. Risky, but I sent him for the retrieve and got it. Ditto for another nice point, which Trent and I both dropped inside 20 yards … and another nice retrieve. I didn’t want to, but when Manny appropriated the head, I didn’t argue. Would you?

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Seatbelts fastened, itinerary finalized and we are good to go! Here’s this year’s Wingshooting USA/Awesome Upland Road Trip. Follow along here – I’ll be filing regular reports from the road once we take off in mid-October. We start in Nebo, Illinois and end near Casper, Wyoming.

Want to join us? Go here and find out how!

Click on any of the pushpins for more information on the trip, and check back for news.

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