Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Monday, December 24, 2012

And not a creature was stirring......

Last night we pulled the Open Range down the drive to the cabin on the lake in Maine, where we left 3 months ago. Today Mike got the woodstove going and turned on the water. Tomorrow friends will come over to share Christmas dinner and good tidings. We wish all of our friends and family a Merry Christmas and hope that you are sharing it with loved ones.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another first, this time for Mike

After breeding Tweed down in PA we headed to Vermont where we hope the weather holds long enough for us to get in some ruffed grouse hunting. With all campgrounds closed here in the north, we are parked in the drive of gracious friends and we are taking care of their dogs while they are away to warm islands for vacation. Mike wrote this post following a successful hunt.

Took Jack and Dee out today and hunted a cover that a fellow UJer told me about.

Had 11 flushes, 7 points and 2 shots in a 3 hour hunt.

Dee, my almost 2 year old, pointed and retrieved the bird I shot.

LD suggested that I bell my dogs, the first time I had hunted them with bells and it made a big difference. If I had not belled them, I would have never known they were on point. The cover I hunted was thick with hemlock and that seemed to be where the birds were. One time I heard Dee's bell go silent and I knew he was just a short distance from me, but was in a thicket of hemlock. I busted in there and actually saw the grouse on the ground, but when it flushed, it was too thick for a shot. Jack had a number of nice points including a nice point on a bird that had ran out and he pointed it at about 20 yards. Wide open shot, but a little out of my prairie range.

All in all, it was a very cool hunt and look forward to a few more before the weather gets to bad, or the season closes.

And, oh yeah, it is nice to not have to haul water around for the dogs.



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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mother Nature and Tweed

Mother Nature does things on her own time and schedule and apparently so does Tweed. She has come into heat about a month earlier than I had expected so we have put Kansas in our rear view mirror and as I write this we are enroute to PA to breed her. I am repeating the breeding I did last winter because those pups have been precocious and very successful in the grouse woods this fall. I want one for myself!

Here are a couple of pics of the now-10 month olds. C'mon Tweed, let's do it just one more time.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Friends and ghosts

In recent weeks we have had the pleasure of hunting here in Kansas with friends from Texas, Maine and Vermont. We bird hunters sure are willing to travel to sate our addictions, aren't we?!

A true gentleman, Jess, and his beautiful Drahthaar, I love that breed.

His viszla nailed this covey, check out her color camo!

Taylor came out from Maine and it was a lot of fun helping to get him into his first-ever wild quail and pheasant.

As a young man should, Taylor headed off on his own adventure after learning the ropes and texted us pics like this of his dog on quail.

Warren came from Vermont with his 8 month old puppy (from Tweed) and his seasoned veteran grouse dog. And what the heck, he smoked a double on the elusive prairie chicken the first time we even came across a group of them.

The icing on the cake of Warrens visit for Mike was the contents of his fresh-from-Vermont cooler. Aficionados will understand.

Many fun times for sure, but it has been very sad to find that the dismal reports regarding the effects of the drought on Kansas birds were accurate. This is reported to be the most serious drought here since the 1950's with record strings of 100+ degree days. The drought has been hitting southwest Kansas for 2 years now and this year northwest Kansas was hit hard. Pheasants in the nw were devastated this summer and the lack of birds is the topic of discussion for hunters and residents alike since they rely on hunting tourism as an important part of their economy. Mike has hunted this area for years and has been frustrated and saddened by the phez numbers. In fields where we would find a couple of birds Mike would tell me that normally he would have seen 20-30: in these beautiful grasses I could practically feel the presence of the ghosts of pheasants past. We join the locals in hoping that the drought ends soon.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Venison is on the grill

Mike added some venison to the freezer on opening day, Wednesday, a nice muley buck. Here is his story of the hunt and photos I snapped when he got back.

Opening morning I was not sure I was going to get out of the truck. I had not sighted my rifle in, although it was on the last time I shot it. I was sitting in the truck drinking coffee and glassing when a nice whitetail buck jumped the fence and was standing 30 yards from the truck. He ran off and I watched as he got together with another, larger, buck about a half mile away. Game on! I felt confident that if I could get within 100 yards I could kill one of them. I sneaked down a dry draw and got within 150 and then they disappeared. I moved to a higher spot and started glassing again. I saw the buck that I killed crossing the draw about 300 yards out on a pond dam. He crossed over and appeared to bed down in a cedar thicket. Just then another nice muley started to cross about the same path as the first buck, except on the other side of the pond dam. My plan was to sneak behind the dam and shoot the second buck as he made his way out of the draw. I got into position but no buck. As I stood there, the first buck that bedded down got up and have me a broadside shot at about 75 yards.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving thanks....for the dogs

For the dogs who continue to make our trip full of cheers, jeers and even tears.

Dedicated to my beloved Ditto. I miss you oh so much.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Third first

Today I was pleasantly surprised to add a third new-to-me bird species that I have harvested this season. We had enjoyed a fun morning of hunting bobwhite quail coveys and were walking through a grass field toward the truck when our friend, Taylor, said he thought that Tweed was working birds up ahead of us. We were expecting a pheasant but a prairie chicken flushed up instead and banked off far in front. A few steps later and two more flushed and I dropped one that swung to my right. My first prairie chicken! A short while later Tweed went on point to my right but relocated and as she worked a chicken flushed a distance away and flew toward Mike. I yelled to get his attention and he dropped the bird cleanly with one shot. I must admit that I had already fired and missed that bird striving for a limit of these elusive birds but that one was all his.
Two prairie chickens for us today

Back in Montana, my other firsts were sharptails grouse and Huns. Fun stuff!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teaching old dogs new tricks

People have been asking me how my New England grouse dogs have been adjusting to hunting the wide open spaces in Montana and now Nebraska and Kansas. Mike's answer is simply, "they're birddogs, they know their job.". But I have watched as they have adapted and learned new lessons from new species of birds. Tweed, at age 6, has for several years now been a very successful ruffed grouse dog in the woods with a close working range of 50-75 yards and confident, stylish points on her birds. Out here she is still our closest working dog, typically ranging about 75-100 yards. Interestingly, her young daughter, Storm, who is only in her 2nd year so has less experience in the woods, spends much of her time out at about 200 yards and takes long edges and casts. Both have learned that expanses of tall, thick grass are where the pheasant are here and the many tricks that pheasant play such as running at right angles and behind hunters and dogs. Of particular interest to me has been to see Tweeds style and confidence on point change as she has been at first humbled but then handling new species. I'll share some pics to show what I see. As always, click on photos to enlarge.

Tweed on ruffed grouse last year.

On running phez a couple of weeks ago.

On pheasant yesterday that she pinned hard. Still not the same point as on grouse but much more sure of herself.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Ditto, R.I.P.

It was with a very heavy heart that we said goodbye today to my beloved tri-color setter, Ditto. About a month ago when we were in Montana she developed a serious problem with her spine in the neck area. Despite the help of 3 different vets, a variety of medications and even some acupuncture, her condition worsened to the point that she was completely debilitated. I am heartbroken.

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