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The TV weather guy said hot and dry, but we know how trustworthy television folk are. We woke to cold fog, thick as any on a vampire movie set.

But Bob Tinker was undeterred, loading horses and dogs into his trailer for a long drive in the general direction of the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands. By the time we pulled through the barbed-wire gate onto a vast, unbroken prairie, a bright yellow ball was rising from behind the eastern ridge. Problem one, gone. This episode of Wingshooting USA will be pretty, if nothing else.

Here’s a behind-the-camera glimpse of how this rodeo works. In this case, I’m running the camera and take all the blame for the shakiness! Amber is after a small covey, Bob wrangles horses, I try to stay on the horse while shooting some video. Tad and Lynn run “real” cameras on the ground:

Problem two: staying in the saddle while following big-running setters. With help from wrangler and fellow hunter Amber Funk, I was up and ready – in theory. But I could use both hands to death-grip my saddle and reins, unlike Tad Newberry and Lynn Berland, who toted high definition video cameras. (My wife, a former competitive rider, still gets the same advice from me when she heads for the barn: “stay on top!”)

The sea of grasses was rich in life, from tiny blooms to sharptail grouse that held surprisingly well for our stampede. The drill went like this: point-tumble off horse-pull shotgun from scabbard and load as you scramble toward the bird. Once in a while, everything went according to plan and a bird fell to earth. (more…)

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Okay, we can finally spill the beans on the upcoming season of Wingshooting USA. I hope you have lots of DVR space, and plenty to eat and drink while you watch – there is a lot in store!

Starting October 1 and every Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, you can watch the show on VERSUS. In January, you can also watch on the Pursuit Channel Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. If you’re stuck in the seventies and watching via digital “rabbit ears” on your local TV station, check for AMGTV Sundays 1 p.m. or TUFF TV Saturdays 10 a.m. or 4:30 p.m.

Bring plenty of ammo and dog food – we’ve got an incredible lineup of destinations: Idaho pheasants, Montana huns, North and South Dakota sharpies and pheasants … California pheasants and quail, Oregon valley quail and pheasants and more!

In addition to the hunting, Wingshooting USA is loaded with fun, educational and motivational feature segments:

– “Buddy & Me” sponsored by TruckVault is our continuing adventure as my wirehair and I learn how to teach and learn from each other. Watch sample here:

– TriTronics “Young Hunters Afield”  encourages families to get outside together, rewarding those who send photos of kids with their dogs with a chance at a TriTronics e-collar. Watch here:

– Native Performance Dog Food’s “Conservation Showcase” raises funds for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. Learn how you can help, here:

– ZoomDog’s BuddyCam provides a fascinating look (literally) at a dog’s perspective in the field and at home. Watch here:

– And carrying on our tradition, the National Shooting Sports Foundation offers parents  and children a chance to win a hunting trip on the show with me in their “Take YOUR kid hunting” sweepstakes.” 

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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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