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Posts Tagged ‘upland hunting’

Buddy on point at Ravenwood. Gun at the ready?

Elusive bobwhite quail flummox Buddy and his Pointer friends at Ravenwood Lodge. So what’s new? Lots of flushes and some wacky shots punctuate this visit I made to hunt with my friend Ken Corbet. Enjoy it by going here.

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The casino sign said “all you can eat buffet,” but the banquet didn’t end there. Clear Creek Sports Club near Corning, California, offers its own unlimited menu of bird hunting options. For decades I’d been driving past the sere rolling hills for which the casino is named, tempted to stop and explore the undulating terrain, explore the grasslands that looked virtually unchanged since the land was granted to some Mexican bureaucrat by the king of Spain hundreds of years ago for meritorious service.  

This was my chance. 

Brad Henman was kind enough to tolerate my dogs instead of the polished shorthairs he favors. That is testament to the hospitable treatment you’ll receive at Clear Creek. He’s a second generation outfitter who has hand-crafted a hunter’s treasure-trove of gullies, open fields, creekbeds, grasslands, CRP, and water features that will delight – and vex – anyone who loves the pursuit of ringneck pheasants … and doesn’t mind being humbled on occasion. 

Some rough footage from the hunt:

Unaccompanied by his uncle Buddy, six-month-old Manny was tentative in the first field … hunting close and moving cautiously, until his first whiff of pheasant, when the light came on and stayed bright the rest of the day. A few prancing steps and his first point was steady and classic: right leg tucked tight to his chest, tail as high as any pointer’s, just shorter.

A close shot was followed by sheer instinct: Manny was carrying the bird toward me before he realized it was time to play keepaway. He had more important tasks at paw anyhow. Another bird was somewhere upwind, tempting this puppy and his awakening nose. Unlike all those compulsive gamblers just up the road, we ended up winners, feasting on scenery, camaraderie and colorful, hard-flying birds.

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We are OFF. And I don’t mean mentally. The Awesome Upland Road Trip version 2.0 is under way. A bit of a high school reunion atmosphere in Portland, Ore., as director Tad Newberry and camera operator Lynn Berland convened at the airport, piled in luggage and gear, and everyone met Manny.

Where else for lunch on a trip like this, than the Pheasant Grill in Arlington, Ore.? And yes, I’ve shot some nearby but there are now more chukar in the area than the long-tailed birds. (Factoid: Arlington is where Tonight Show bandleader Doc Severinson was born. He was by far the coolest dude to come out of this Columbia River port town.)

The promise of new country is always part of the discussion during the first-day’s drive and we were not disappointed with Little Creek Shooting Preserve near Peck, Idaho. Sonny Hairston and his family have carved a little piece of hunting heaven out of steep canyon walls and rolling benches planted with the thickest cover I’ve encountered.

This is Manny’s first road trip – and beyond a few practice pigeons, his first bird contacts. I am stoked! He shows so much promise, has so much doggy street smarts and is such an indefatigable little guy; if only I don’t bugger the process he should be a cracking-good bird dog.

Okay, okay, just to when your appetite here is a behind-the-scenes clip from our first hunt, featuring contest winners Bernie Moore and Jim James doing the gunning:

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So, what’s new? A LOT … 

Wingshooting USA captured a “Telly” award last week. It’s sorta the Emmy of cable programming. Edited by Tad Newberry (as they all are), it told the story of a mother-daughter team of English Pointers hunting Hungarian partridge among the coulees and prairies of Central Montana. You can watch it here. It is  Episode # 2. I am especially honored, as the 31st annual Telly Awards attracted more than 13,000 entries. Wingshooting USA was the only upland hunting series honored in the “TV Sports” category, which included entries from Nike, Golf Channel, Warren Miller Entertainment, and Bank of America. 

Sidney starred with her daughter in the award-winning episode of Wingshooting USA

 

Why the title? Here’s a capsule description: Montana’s big sky country is the setting for big-running Pointers after Hungarian partridge on the prairies. The mother-daughter dog team scales rocky ledges and sweeps through coulees to produce these elusive imports for the guns. The hunt comes full circle in a number of ways: we start and end at a yard of round hay bales … acquaintances become friends by the end of the hunt … and mother dog shows daughter a thing or two about hunting! 

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I have just been named a contributing editor at Versatile Hunting Dog magazine … bestowing what little dogology “wisdom” I have … you can be sure each column will be brief. Most of the revelations came from the 150-plus dogs I’ve hunted with on TV … believe me, I couldn’t come up with these ideas without their help! If you’re not a member of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association, you should be. Join here. 

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Finally, I’ve just signed a design consulting contract with dog gear manufacturer Spindrift … and will be putting in my two cents’ worth on bird-dog equipment based mainly on my pet peeves about bird-dog equipment! Manny and Buddy are already hard at work field testing product #1 … watch this space! And if you have suggestions for better stuff you’d like to see manufactured, let me know!

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Okay, I’m back from nine relaxing days in the sun, rain, humidity and assorted drinks with too much fruit in them. But it wasn’t all fun in the sun. We got a lot of exercise. So rather than the usual “what I did on my vacation” essay, here’s your quiz on my trip. Watch the video then answer these questions:

Where are we?

What kind of dogs are these?

What are they doing?

Why are they so quiet?

Why did it rain every time I set foot outdoors?

The most creative (and somewhat accurate) answers will earn Blaze Buddy Bandannas, so plant your answers in the comment section!

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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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As the song goes, what a long (but not strange) trip it’s been. Your suggestions, “wish lists,” ideas and comments have helped make this TV series educational, motivational, and (I hope) entertaining. Editor/director Tad Newberry deserves much of the credit for polishing the raw material and making it “sing.” I hope you agree in each episode, he’s taken a day’s hunt and accurately condensed it to a few minutes … no easy task. He has really distilled a day in the field down to its essence.

See for yourself:

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