Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

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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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Big Day

This has been a big week for us. On Monday the vets X-rays showed that Dee's leg had healed nicely from his trauma and surgeries. So Tuesday morning Dee was one of the dogs chosen for the first hunt. As Mike unloaded him from the kennel I'm not sure which one of them was more excited.

Dee ran and hunted as if he had never been injured. It was a beautiful thing to see the 2 French boys out there together causing terror for pheasants.

We got into some pheasants and later some quail so we returned to the Open Range content to relax and reflect on a good day. But when we returned there was a message waiting for Mike that his daughter had developed complications and was going to have an emergency C-section that evening. Several anxious hours later the good news came through that Mom and baby were both doing well - Mike was a grandfather!!! The next morning we were hooked up and on the road at dark-thirty, headed the 7 hours to the hospital over by Kansas City.
Mike and his beautiful daughter, Taylor

Christian was born a month premature so for precaution he is spending a little time in an incubator but the beautiful little boy is healthy and sound.

We will visit again this morning and then head back to the other end of the state because Saturday is opening day and we managed to score impossible to get tix to the Longspur Chapter of Pheasants Forever banquet. Never a dull day!

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Homesteads and hunters

I know there has been a gap in my posting but internet service is often absent or too poor to post. Not to mention that hunting leaves me very tired by evening and I have a hard time staying awake long enough! We are hunting in Nebraska while waiting for Kansas to open on Nov 10th. Although we are only 20-30 miles north of some of the KS places we will hunt, the habitat is a bit different, with less overall cover available but we are still getting into birds. There are also a lot of hunters which comes as a shock after Montana where we never came across another bird hunter. Twice already here in NE, we have had hunters who were either bold or rude enough as to actually enter a unit where they saw us hunting. Both times it appeared that they were hoping that perhaps birds would flush ahead of us and fly into the edge where they entered. Rude and disconcerting.

But one of the things that is similar between KS and NE and that fascinates me is the number of abandoned houses in the country. This is so foreign to this New Englander where a vacant house is rare and residents value and preserve old houses. Here on the prairie, populations have been declining for more than 70 years as machinery reduced the laborers needed for farming. The people who do remain here overwhelmingly want to live in the small towns and not out in the country. So there are empty and abandoned houses scattered every few miles in every direction. Some appear to be old original farmsteads, long abandoned, but others are much more recent. Sometimes the only evidence that there was a farmstead is a windbreak row of trees, now protecting only the remaining outbuildings. I have photographed a few to share and think about how proud the original owners must have been of these places and wonder where the families have gone.

What a beauty this one must have been. (click on any photo to enlarge)

This big home is pretty far gone but the many outbuildings are still good.

There is usually nothing around these homesteads for miles and miles. Well, except maybe bunches of these guys. ;-)

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