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Posts Tagged ‘versatile hunting dogs’

The desired result.

What a weekend. Some news, I can’t share quite yet. But some I can:

1. The weather here has returned to spring-like, snow melting in rivulets at the low spot on each trail, and blessed daylight lasting longer every afternoon. I had to carry water today on our training runs.

2. It appears Manny and Buddy have worked through their dominance issue. We ran together in the glorious sunshine three times, finally getting up to the high spots I’ve been unable to climb when cutting the run times in half to rotate dogs. Not a speck of aggression … in fact, almost a return to Manny’s puppy-like curiosity at his great-uncle’s actions. Grateful thanks to breeder/trainer Jeff Funke and behaviorist Ed Bailey for counsel.

3. Watched Rick and Ronnie Smith’s “Silent Command” DVD and I am most happy with the initial results I’m seeing.

If you know the NAVHDA Utility Test, you know a dog must be steady to wing, shot, and fall. (A recent sad story from Illinois drove home the advantage of a dog that doesn’t bolt at the shot. Add the basalt cliffs we hunt for chukars to the test requirement and I’m a believer.) Getting Manny there after two seasons of chasing on TV will be a challenge.

But the half-hitch Rick and Ronnie espouse may as well be attached to a magic wand. Unlike the Smith’s neck-oriented “point of contact” for going with or coming to you (as they say), it is put to the flank for standing still – “whoa.” You may as well have nailed my dogs’ paws to the whoa table for as much movement as they demonstrated. I got a little cocky and hitched both dogs in a point-honor scenario and the magic rope solidified each without an inkling of temptation to dishonor the bracemate. This was also true on retrieves … each dog watched calmly as the other brought a pigeon to hand, and vice-versa.

I know better than to draw too many conclusions from a weekend of experimentation. But so far, thumbs up.

PS: Got to meet Dad/Uncle Delmar Smith at Pheasant Fest and had a good time reminiscing about the rodeo world, of all things. While we rightfully revere Delmar for his dog training insights, he may have become more famous with his recent National Public Radio appearance where he was noted for his work as a rodeo “gateman,” the guy who opens gate and sends calves out to their ropin’ destiny.

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We'll see, won't we?

I was issued a hall pass for the day before Christmas Eve … are you jealous yet? Just one day, so close to home was the number-one criterion. Someplace undiscovered was my second priority. Hmmmm. Tough list already.

A chance glimpse at one of the dozens of maps lying around the shop sealed the deal: a famous steelhead river beckoned … well-known for its aquatic denizens, its side draws and finger canyons might hold valley quail and chukars. And this time of year, if I encounter anyone it’ll be a lonely, shivering steelheader not a bird hunter.

I’ll be celebrating, in a way. Not only is it the day before we quaff eggnog and finish decorating the tree. It’s just one day removed from the winter solstice. The longest night of the year, followed by the shortest day.

Our hunter ancestors feared the dark, long nights. We who live in homes, not caves, merely tolerate the inconveniences. But we revel in the longer days, even if the sun only gives us one more minute of its presence each day, even if those days portend the end of hunting season, even if in one way summer has started.

A lump of coal in my stocking couldn’t spoil this Christmas gift.

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Thought you should be among the first to hear the great news … a press release that went out today:

Scott Linden’s Wingshooting USA television series launches Dec. 26 on the Pursuit Channel, starting a two-year strategic alliance that will include programming and promotion activities on the air, in social media and other venues for both parties. The show will air year-round on Pursuit, which is available at the basic tier on both Dish Network and DirecTV to 38 million households. Wingshooting USA will air Fridays 7 p.m., Tuesdays, 7:30 a.m. and Mondays 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Pursuit becomes the fifth network to pick up the series, the fourth to carry it year-round.

“We are thrilled at Wingshooting USA coming aboard the Pursuit Channel. With Pursuit’s outstanding distribution model coupled with Wingshooting USA’s premium content, I am confident that we together will be able to reach the vast majority of the 6 million wing shooting hunters across the country,” Pursuit Channel’s CEO Rusty Faulk said. In addition, Faulk also mentions that “Even though the wingshooting community is relatively small, it’s a very important segment of the outdoor demographic. We sincerely appreciate the opportunity to work closely with Scott to grow the wingshooting segment of the outdoors”.

Entering its fourth season in 2012, Wingshooting USA is the official series of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Major sponsors include TruckVault, Cabela’s, Happy Jack, Filson, Kent Cartridge, Fausti shotguns, Ugly Dog Hunting Co., Tri-Tronics, State of South Dakota and Numa eyewear. Voted “favorite upland series” two years running in a national survey, the award-winning show is now available to over 200 million homes every week.

Pursuit was founded by Rusty Faulk and Merrill Sport in 2008. It is the most widely-distributed pure hunting and fishing network in the U.S, offering almost 100 programs from producers including Cabela’s, Mossy Oak, Hank Parker and Al Lindner.

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Good boy!

A little drizzle didn’t dampen my hopes on a recent visit to DK Wildlife Ranch near Sweet Home, Ore.  I’d learned about the place at last year’s Gun Dog Expo, we’d hit it off, and as a public service to my reader friends, I thought an inspection visit was in order. Might as well bring a shotgun and a couple dogs, huh?

The sheer canyon walls, tall timbers, and sylvan setting may have been unusual for an upland bird hunt. But once you get your head around that, it’s a challenging and deliciously different experience. A small streambed held the first ringneck, strutting along the bank until Buddy pinned him next to a brush pile. The big, brash rooster almost sneered at us before lighting out for parts unknown … or so he thought.

Splash! Bird down and soon delivered to hand by my seven-year-old wire, who barely slowed as he started hunting again … a “drive-by” retrieve!

Birds sheltered in the clumps of scotch broom, stream courses and thick web of down timber and grasses … you and your dog had better bring your “A” game to DK if you want to brag on the way home. One cagey ditch parrot skulked along the base of a ridge, once spotted he ducked into a blackberry patch. Smug, I sent year-old Manny downwind, expecting a staunch point. Instead, the pup dropped his nose to the ground and snuffled a couple hundred yards, finally producing that rooster in a cackle and boom. Yes, he was rewarded with a retrieve I let him savor for a couple minutes before asking for the bird as Manny stood by my side.

DK Wildlife hunts are full of surprises: pockets of level grassy cover, enough trees to challenge any shooter, and nice touches like sheltered benches along the way, and a lofty perch at the end of one field with a commanding view of the country. It’s a laid-back walk in the woods if you want. Pick up the pace, and your legs will feel it at the end of a day wrestling with the tall and tangled cover.

A miniature prairie in the Cascade foothills

A rustic A-framed shelter is where you start and end your hunt, crackling fire accompanying the storytelling and excuses for bad shooting. There’s a small clay target course for those who need a warm-up (and who doesn’t?), and no need to adjust your style or personality to someone else’s hunting … the place is all yours.

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From a "Buddy & Me" segment.

My Wingshooting USA television series kicks off its third season the week of Sept. 26 on five networks, including NBC Sports. I hope you’ll watch.

Highlights include the first hunt for my German Wirehair puppy Manny, a horseback hunt in South Dakota, and an Idaho hunt with the viewer who won the show’s “Take Your Kid Hunting” sweepstakes. The upland industry’s widest-ranging conservation and public service initiative also kicks off with the first broadcast.

You know as I do, it’s all about the dogs, so elite canine athletes and fast-paced hunting action are the primary focus of the program, with locations ranging from North Dakota to Oregon. Species include ringneck pheasants, sharptail grouse, chukars and prairie chickens. The fan favorite “Buddy & Me” segment returns with hunting, training and shooting tips dispensed by Linden’s older (and wiser) wirehair Buddy.

The debut episode also launches our public service effort, “TruckVault Cares … about conservation, canines & kids.” The viral, interactive and broadcast effort raises funds and awareness for six groups: Ruffed Grouse Society, International Hunter Education Association, AKC Canine Health Foundation, Scholastic Clay Target Program, North American Grouse Partnership and a nationwide coalition of hunting dog rescue clubs.

Win a trip to be on the show, too. We’re hunting on horseback for chukars at one of my favorite places. Enter here.

Show sponsors include the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s WingshootingUSA.org hunting promotion initiative; TruckVault secure vehicle storage systems; Happy Jack Inc. dog health products; Kent Cartridge; Fausti Shotguns; Ugly Dog Hunting Co.; Filson apparel; South Dakota Tourism and Watertown, SD; PreferredLodges.com; and Tri-Tronics electronic training collars.

In addition to NBC Sports (formerly VERSUS), the award-winning program airs on Sportsman Channel, AMG-TV, TUFF-TV and Legacy Television. Days and times vary by network; detailed program information and a preview episode are available here.

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Scooby sez ... take me too!

Photo from Aliner showing the extensive testing they are putting my new rig through, just to make sure it will be the toughest, most practical bird hunting trailer on (and off) the road. The volunteer test dog is obviously not Buddy or Manny, but he does work cheap!

Please note: No dogs were harmed in the building of this trailer!

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Quick reminder: Wingshooting USA apparel sponsor Filson is hosting my “Bird Hunting Boot Camp” (an extended, two-hour version) Sat. July 23 at their Seattle store. And this one is FREE. But you need to register in advance at rsvp@filson.com, so get on it ASAP. Last year was standing-room only and everyone had a great time. Starts at noon.

This year, I’m bringing Buddy as my teaching partner, so come on down and meet the real star of Wingshooting USA. Bring dog biscuits … and a treat for Buddy too. Get more information here.

Buddy sez ... come to Seattle!

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