Posts Tagged ‘Sporting Clays’

Would you subject this little guy to 200 rounds as his introduction to gunshots?

Does it make sense to haul a four-month old springer pup to the sporting clays range? Recently, I was followed most of the morning by two “hunters” who seemed to be turning a beautiful dog into a whimpering, gun-shy puddle of canine misery. She cowered and whined in the corner of a crate lashed (not so securely) to the back end of a golf cart, while her master enjoyed a day of sport with a friend … each station appeared to be a lesson in terror, at least to this observer.

What dolts.

Back in the day, many folks thought this was a sound (pardon the pun) strategy … flood the poor thing’s ears with the sound of hunting, and it would become inured to the bangs and booms and soon transform into the ultimate bird-finding machine, afraid of nothing, including shotgun blasts. As I understand it, many of those dogs ended up “living on a farm,” as the euphemism goes.

Okay, at some point in a young dog’s upbringing, exposure to several up-close shots is part of the strategy. But a first-time experience? To 200 rounds (two hunters, 100 targets each)?

I was shooting with acquaintances, not good friends, on a new course where I don’t know the operators well. So I kept my thoughts to myself. But I wanted to give them a piece of my mind (you might suggest I can’t afford that.)

What would you have done?

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Taking a break between training sessions - the start of a memorable day

Progress on Manny’s force-fetch training under blue skies, with a big mug of espresso-strength coffee on the fence post. This is gonna be good, I thought. What a weekend. And, by guacamole-and-merlot time, it was.

In fact, it only got better as the clouds built to a muddled gray mass, heavy with rain. Here’s how:

The new Fausti DEA SL 20 ga. had languished unshot in the safe since arrival, mocking my office work. The imagined laughter finally shamed me into a couple calls, a frantic search for ammo and batteries for my electronic earplugs. Central Oregon Sporting Clays was the destination, Spence Tabor’s labor of love that has exceeded shooters’ expectations in all respects.

I chose to walk alone, the beautiful desert course winding among dense junipers. The sandy soil reflected last night’s critter traffic, and for a bit mine were the only shots. By the third station I was dialing in the DEA, and actually hitting targets consistently. It’s a lithe, light and stylish gun, all of 5-1/2 pounds. While it takes work to hit the long crossers, instinctive shots through small windows between lava rock and juniper limbs are its forte. The wood and case-coloring are stunning as it settles comfortably into the gun rack at each station, and I’m again struck by the aesthetic sense of Italians … so organic, so elegant, yet practical in every respect.

I was gobsmacked at the variety of targets Tabor has wrought from rock, sand, and gnarled junipers. A featureless desert, it’s not: cliffs, knobs, twists and turns in the topography make for a creative course that measures up to many “professional” courses the big boys compete on.

The first shots not from my Fausti came from several stations over and as I walked toward the pair of shooters, I was hailed by one, a member of our training club. Pleasant Surprise #3. We shot the bulk of the course together, enjoying an easy camaraderie that comes when scores aren’t kept.

Drops started at the second-to-last station, tumbling in earnest onto sandy soil, making miniature dust clouds. We were squeezing the last targets out of our shot card when the deluge let loose. Another lucky break in a day full of them.

Settling up in the office, I was invited on a quick walk to the house where a box full of day-old field-bred cocker spaniels became the icing on a cake full of what the Cajuns call “lagniappe,” little extras that when totaled, will be recalled with a sigh many times in the days to come.

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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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Yours truly actually "working" at SHOT ... you'll hear this interview on my radio show.

Yours truly actually "working" at SHOT ... you'll hear this interview on my radio show.

(ORLANDO) SHOT Show updates … What innovation there was in our universe was in the highest-tech segment of our world, dog training collars. Translation: ho-hum of a show in many respects. But here are some more notable exceptions:

Dogtra introduced their “RR Deluxe,” a remote bird-launcher release system that has a loudspeaker mimicking both duck call and beep sounds. It interfaces with their pheasant and quail launchers, and uses a standard, codable transmitter that allows you to chain up to 16 launchers if your wife will let you buy them and you can figure out how to code them all! 

The duck call feature is particularly intriguing for added “realism” for retriever trainers. The beeper is described by Dogtra as helping you locate the launcher system in heavy cover (helpful, especially when you’re trying to locate your dog at the same time). I’d like to see uplanders served by a pheasant cackle on version 1.1, or better yet, the last launch of the day featuring a comely synthesized female voice announcing the start of happy hour.

If you live the shotgun lifestyle, you might visit www.shotgunlife.com, a new site creators are describing as in the “Best Gun” category. You’ll find articles (many very long), some product information, and at least a nod to women shooters, so pour yourself a half-skinny-soy-no foam latte’ extra caffeine and take a look.

SportDog is touting their new SportHunter 1825, a slimmer-profile receiver and transmitter system that offers up to 16 stimulus levels (requires a few button pushes – ask your texting-savvy kid to help) and (thank you) vibration AND tone through the collar receiver. Both should come in handy for creative dog trainers. They’ve also built a new “docking” system for charging batteries. No word on whether or not you can combine tone and vibration to perform the drum and guitar solos in the surf tune “Wipeout.”

There’s a black version and a camo version, both are waterproof,  and can be adapted to handle up to three dogs using SportDog’s “Add-A-Dog” (a great title for a spouses’ worst nightmare)  collars.

Next stop on the Awesome Upland Road Trip: Reno, Nevada and the Safari Club International convention, next week. How about for you? Where would you wear a new pair of Irish Setter boots? Tell me in the comments section and you might win a free pair!

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Scholastic Clay Target Program shooter Casey Jones of Jarrell, Texas, is the top “Viewers’ Choice” vote-getter to date, as TV series Clay Target Shootout readies an encore season for broadcast in October.

Producer Scott Linden’s award-winning series is the only program focusing on sporting clays and skeet. Linden has moved the show to Pursuit Channel and Fox Sports NW starting Thursday, Oct. 2.

An SCTP member is featured in each episode, and one show pits four SCTP competitors against each other. Each shoots for their chosen charity and a la’ “American Idol,” viewers vote for their favorite shooter/charity at the National Sporting Clays Association website, www.mynsca.com. Over six thousand voters logged in during the show’s abbreviated first run on another network in January; voting will continue through the end of the year.

Broadcast information follows (all times Eastern):

– Pursuit Channel (DirecTV Ch. 611) Sun. midnight & 3 p.m., Thurs. 10 a.m.

– Fox Sports (DirecTV Ch. 651 & Dish Network Ch. 426) part of “Early Morning Outdoors” Sun. 8:30 a.m.

Pre-production of the show’s second season is underway with broadcast slated for October, 2009. Find more information at https://scottlindenoutdoors.com/clay-target-shootout/

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