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Manny's dad, Three Devils Speak Thunder, call name Leon

So, just about ready to head for Nampa, Idaho to pick up Buddy’s protege’ and nephew! My magazine column’s readers chimed in on name suggestions and I wanted to thank all of them – and you – for your ideas. Here is the result:

Kennel name: Three Devils

From the “L-3” litter: Linden’s

Best suggestion favored by my wife: Wingman … “Manny” will be his call name.

I’ll keep you posted!

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A better way to haul dummies

Besides re-connecting with so many old friends and road warriors (from John Kirk to the Edwards family to Mike Chausee from Island Lodge), a sportsmen’s show like this is a chance to learn something … or more. You’ve sat in a boring, slow-moving lecture, presentation, or “seminar.” This is just the opposite. While at it’s worst, I’ll consider learning one thing enough to justify the price of admission, more than that is a bonus!

My first day, two things you’ll be interested in were bestowed on this feeble mind:
1. Thanks Tom Herman, owner of Grits the Labrador Retriever, for this insight. How to gauge whether or not you’ve provided enough positive feedback to your dog? The lips have it. Tom suggests a dog is satisfied with your praise (at whatever level) when he licks his lips, and swallows. Tom also says most of us over-praise. Experiment with less, look to the pup’s mouth, and decide whether more is required.
2. You’ve seen and maybe use, that leash-around-the-waist trick. C.J. Kausels and Tom Herman both coupled it with another lead on the collar for “stereo” training. Remember your physics or geometry, and you’ll recall that two points of leverage trump one every time. Try it some time when “heel” is a pain in the uh, heel.
3. Herman also had one groovy time and effort-saving trick. Whether you shoot waterfowl or not, use that dusty duck strap to hang your retrieving bumpers. No extra duffle bag, vest, or belt required.
Thanks, guys. My turn tomorrow – see you all in the Sporting Dog Arena and Hunting/Adventure Theater!

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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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OVERLOOKING LAWYER’S CREEK, IDAHO: It was warming already, “it” being 6:40 a.m. in the wheat stubble west of the Clearwater River near Kamiah, Idaho. Flying B Ranch head guide Rich Coe pre-wet his pointer and shorthair, so I did the same with Buddy and we were off on a quest for chukar partridge.

A fence corner and rock pile produced the first point, but the long-tailed dog broke off and trotted toward us. Buddy locked up in the same vicinity and a bird flew wild. Minutes later, a solid point by the shorthair and the first bird was brought to bag as we gazed downward, panting, a thousand feet into the canyon that holds the Flying B.

TV SHOW LAUNCH UPDATE: Wingshooting USA debuts Sept. 30! Go here for more details.

That first productive point prompted Rich’s question, which I’d hoped would never come on this three-dog hunt: “does your dog back?” The answer of course, is not really, but with some verbal encouragement from his owner and a lot of self-discipline, Buddy began honing his honoring skills. He had plenty of opportunities to practice in the target-rich environment that was the breaks between canyon and cropland. (more…)

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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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Welcome behind the scenes!

There are hundreds of decisions that go into making a good TV show. From the name, to graphics colors, location choices … everything must eventually be clearly defined and set in stone, so to speak. Some are dictated by the networks, others by necessity, some are strategic, and then there’s the fun stuff. This one is definitely in the latter category.

The opening theme sets the tone for the entire episode. It’s gotta sound “organic,” but not corny. High energy, but not head-banging. With luck, it’s a bit of a cue (like that Intel thing) and you sit up and watch when you hear it. Mainly, though, it should be listenable and have a bit of rhythm, conveying the spirit of the sport and the show.

So put on your producer’s blaze orange hat. Time to help pick the official opening title theme song for Wingshooting USA. After listening to dozens of tunes, we’ve narrowed it down to a couple options (the accompanying video is just for giggles – not a final version by any stretch of the imagination). You can help with your comments, and vote in the poll.

Sit back, crank up the volume (give it a minute to download) then help choose the tune you’ll hear every week starting in late September.

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Now, take the poll, and leave your comments below.

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