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Posts Tagged ‘Red Bank Outfitters’

The cooling weather was welcome; the accompanying clouds less so, if you asked Tad Newberry and Lynn Berland, who were running the cameras for a show we were producing at Red Bank Outfitters near Red Bluff, Calif. Oak leaves crunched underfoot as Manny lead off our lineup of five different dogs. He’d been emboldened by recent successes on pheasants, their rich intoxicating scent lingering in his puppy nostrils. 

The country was close, more a grove of oak trees with short grass understory. Birds would be hunkered in brush piles or grabbing a last bite in the open before dusk settled. Manny coursed through the rough-barked trees, gracefully dancing over fallen logs until drifting to a foot-up, tail-high point at the base of a gnarled trunk.

 

The bird flushed wild, with Manny in hot pursuit. As it fell to earth, still, Manny was slamming on the brakes and opening wide for a mouthful of bobwhite. Amazingly, he trotted toward me bird in mouth and a glint in his eyes. No, he didn’t retrieve to hand, but he didn’t eat it either. (Don’t ask me about a later bird.)  

Puppy point after puppy point solidified the instinct generations of Three Devils Kennel breeding had refined. Host Bo Riley and I traded shots, handler Ric Gould helping steady Manny on many quail that rocketed through the branches, many to live another day but enough falling to Bo’s .410 and even a few to my 20 ga. 

To his dismay, Manny was soon urged into his crate to make room for his uncle Buddy. But his story will have to wait.

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I’ll never be a golfer. My brother Jeff plays the game, but is not over-the-top crazy about the silly game where you hit little white balls into holes while wearing silly clothes. So there was hope for him, which is why he got a shotgun from me for Christmas. 

One of the garden spots on the Awesome Upland Road Trip

Our host at Red Bank Outfitters was supposed to be Brian Riley, the owner. But laryngitis struck and he was now on the injured reserve list. His son Bo stepped in, a young man now, who I’d last seen as he began a successful high school wrestling and football career five years earlier. But a set of circumstances rarer than the blue moon that often appears this time of year dictated another approach: Uncle Buddy the wirehair will hunt with his nephew Manny later today. This morning, I will inaugurate Jeff to the magic of bird hunting. By the end of the day, three different family trees will grow a branch.

 

With Red, a shorthair, doing the pointing and Koby the Lab handling flushing and retrieving chores, I knew Bo and handler Ric Gould would keep us on track and in birds. At Red Bank, the bird of choice is bobwhite quail. Yes, bobs in northern California. Introduced, sure, but tiny brown rockets that would test everyone’s shooting abilities, not just the rookie’s.  

It wasn’t long before our saunter down the old ranch road was interrupted by Red’s first point. Camera operators, handler, guide and the Linden brothers scramble. Safety first, fields of fire defined, a few quick reminders and birds up! A covey rattled through the manzanita bush’s dry leaves, startling everyone … Jeff most of all. He was so dazzled he never even mounted the gun. Remember that feeling?

The day progressed and so did Jeff’s shooting skills. With help from Ric, and not too much nagging from his brother, he was relaxing and overcoming the shock caused by the whirr of bobwhite wings. He also marveled at the dogs, doing what comes so naturally, the magical way their work mesmerizes all of us.

 I was on the other side of a manzanita bush when a small covey rose as one and a shot rang out. The feather cloud drifted downwind into my line of sight and my brother Jeff was officially the newest member of our fraternity.

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