The forecast showed too-warm days for a couple weeks straight so we decided to take a couple days off from hunting and go visiting as well as to see a part of the state we had not before seen. We went up to Plentywood in the northeast corner of the state and met up with friends new and old. Folks who spend their whole bird season camped in the same campground in town and hunt the areas around there. It was a pleasure to meet for the first time a couple of fellows that we 'knew' through the online hunting board and see their dogs, including one who has the same number of dogs that we do which somehow gave me a small sense that we are not crazy, well, at least we're not alone in that. Driving around always gives us the chance to see the countryside and get a feel for the land.
The combines were rolling, so we can all have our daily bread
About that time my new point&shoot pocket camera disappeared so there is a gap where I did not take any photos while hunting. (the camera was later found buried at the bottom of the glove compartment) We headed back to our favorite area where we camp remotely. We usually dry camp on state or federal ground and stay in one spot for up to a week before we have to head into town for supplies and water and then relocate. The Open Range (OR) has a fresh water tank that holds an impressive 85 gallons and with additional water jugs for the dogs we have learned how to stretch our water for a week without feeling deprived. The OR has been a remarkable rig, we have hauled and parked it in places that most would not think to take a 30' trailer. We have camped in it in temps from single digits up to 99 degrees. After long days of hunting, we cook dinner, feed dogs and as dark falls around us, it feels quite luxurious to drag our tired selves onto our queen sized memory foam bed.
On my August trip to New England, I had brought back a 2 yr old setter that I had bred who belongs to wonderful friends in Vermont. Dixie was to spend a month with Mike and I, we would introduce this grouse dog to prairie birds and condition her for the grouse season back home. Her owner would then come out to join us for a week. Warren had planned to by a new truck this fall so instead of driving out/back by himself he bought a truck in Denver, flew into there to get it and then drove up to MT to meet us. His maiden voyage in it unfortunately was dinged by a large rock that flew up into his windshield, smashing a handball sized dent in it and I'm sure making his heart skip a few beats. But he arrived at our little campsite safely and happily took a beer to steady his hand after greeting his beloved dog. We had a wonderful week, although on some days the weather made the hunting challenging. With Warren making for a second gunner, I was able to carry my DSLR and take photos all week which was a lot of fun for me.
Dixie got to see lots of the sharptail cousins to her favorite ruffed grouse
A few shots I took of Warren walking in on points during the week.
DW and Storm down hard on a bird that was right in front of where Warren is in this photo
Jack and Storm on point out in a cut wheat field
The dogs really stretch their range when out on the prairie which means gunners often have to do some walking to get to the point. You can click on photos to enlarge them to see the dogs.
In this photo, DW was on point about 300 yards out in the upper right, Storm backed him 100 yards back to the left, and Jack then came in and backed Storm, Warren is walking in from the left. I put arrows to show how far away and small the dogs look out there!
The white dot in the center is a setter on point
After a very full week of birds, wind, giant steaks, beer...and more beer, it was time for Warren to head back to Vermont.
Not long after, Mike turned to me and said that he was ready to go home. We had originally planned to stay until the opening of pheasant season, but the dogs had been pointing so many phez all along that it seemed almost an afterthought to put some of them in the freezer. So after 40 days on the road we packed it in and headed east and south. It did feel good to pull up to the home gates.
I still have quite a few photos I would like to share so it looks like I will have to write another post soon. Thank you for reading along!