Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our Kansas Season: Part I, So Far

It is hard to believe that we are already 5 weeks into the Kansas bird season.  It has been a good one with dogs and birds yet a bit unusual since in the early weeks I was pretty much homebound with the new puppies.  So until very recently Mike has had to hunt alone much of the time and when he and the dogs get home I enjoy sitting and hearing his stories of the day: the habitat, dog work, birds, and adventures.  The following is a sampling of those hunts.  Oh, and he has recently started carrying the pocket camera so I can better "see" the stories.

Our opening day was a mix of fun and fright.  We took Tweed, Storm and Jazz out to a favorite cover.  They found 3 nice coveys of quail, the dogs got feathers in their mouth and I broke in my new 28 ga shotgun.  I love carrying that little gun.  But about halfway through the hunt it was obvious that Tweed was feeling poorly so we returned to the truck and went to the vet.  She rebounded well after that day but it was only days later that we discovered she had a tumor and we lost her.  I will treasure that last hunt with her and wish I had taken more photos that day.

The next day, Sunday, I stayed home with Tweed and Mike went out alone, taking Jack and DW.  As he pulled into the cover a quail flew past the truck: a Judas bird.   As Mike and the dogs stepped away from the truck quail started flushing up from the grass like popcorn.  By 10:00 they had found 3 coveys and Mike had 5 birds in the bag: the "L" word was out there....Limit.  The "L" word is a joke between us and a couple of good friends: talking about Limits is a jinx so it's referred to as "L".   He ended up with 2 roosters in addition to 7 quail: the "L" was elusive that day but they had a heck of a lot of fun regardless.

If Mike had dropped the quail that Jack is pointing in this photo, he would have had his limit of 8 quail for the day.

Bobwhite quail are often referred to as Gentleman Bob but they sure don't play by the rules.   It might surprise some to hear how far they will sometimes run.  One day as they worked singles, Belle trailed a bird almost 200 yards, only to spin around and begin trailing back.  Sure enough, the bird had tried to pull a fast one on her but she pinned it back almost where the covey had originally flushed.  

Bobs will also often be found in the nastiest brush and cover possible.  Dogs on point sometimes cannot be seen until a second dog winds them and backs them as they pass.  One day Jack pointed birds buried in downed trees.  Mike bulldozed his way into the brush to flush the birds.  When he shot, the bird dropped on the far side of the draw and Mike watched as Jack climbed up and over downed trees and brush and then climbed back with the bird in his mouth.  Mike looked around for DW and discovered he had been on point a bit up the draw.  The targeted bird sailed over the beaver pond and DW manuered downed trees and swam across the pond to find the bird and return it to hand.  So much for gentlemen!  That same day Jack went on point out in a field with fairly short grass.   After crawling under a taut new fence  - and tearing his brand new vest - Mike looked up to see Jack still on point.  He walked in and was pleasantly surprised by the flush of about 20 prairie chickens!  A special treat, especially for so far into the season.  Mike dropped one and wished his second barrel was working as he would have had an easy chance at a double but had to just watch them fly off.

                    Look closely to find two dogs on point in the photos above and below

Hunts to be continued in next post........

Monday, December 21, 2015

Puppies are 4 weeks old

Just a quick update on Sally's puppies.  They are 4 weeks old now, plump and beautiful and getting sassy.  We have just one male puppy available at this time to a good hunting companion home.

A few pics:



Friday, November 20, 2015

The Circle of Life with Bird Dogs: Joy and Heartbreak

The circle of life has brought both joy and heartbreak to Mike and me this week.  On Weds sweet Sally delivered 10 puppies from a highly anticipated breeding and all are doing well.  That same day, my beloved Tweed (Sally's mother) underwent emergency surgery for a tumor on her spleen.  She the finest care at KState Vet U but complications developed and yesterday we lost her.  Mike and I are devastated.  Everyone who knows me know that Tweed was my constant companion, the soft pillow I cried into during hard times, and my pride and joy.  She leaves behind a legacy of many fine bird dogs and was loved by all who knew her.  Our hearts and home feel empty.....

                                                                                             Sally and her day-old puppies 

Tweed with 3 of her daughters, photo taken in the Open Range in Montana this October

Tweed on grouse, her favorite bird

Tweed this past Saturday, opening day here in Kansas, honoring a point by her daughter Storm.  Tweed was always a class act.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The North Woods

Years ago I read a quote that a good hobby is one through which you meet interesting people, involves travel and feeds a passion.  Bird dogs sure have done that for me.  The passion still burns strong after several decades and I cannot imagine my life ever being without bird dogs.  We travel thousands of miles a year from coast to coast for hunting or breeding purposes.  And so many of the wonderful, interesting people in my life entered through either hunting or bird dogs. So when we had an invitation from another setter owner to spend some time in the north woods hunting ruffed grouse we just had to go.  This end of the day scene could be anywhere-bird-USA but took place mid-state Minnesota with our new friend.

The bird covers were beautiful and rich with the smells and colors of October.  Tye entrusted us with some gorgeous bird covers, it's easy to see why he is in that area most every weekend in autumn.

The birds were spooky but between our dogs and Tye's we saw some nice dog work.

 Having been traveling and hunting for 6 weeks we were pretty road weary.  The enthusiasm of Tye and his friends - including Alicia who was 5 months pregnant yet out there gunning - was refreshing and we shared good meals and talk of dogs and birds.  Homemade goodies from Tye's wife were much welcomed and were gobbled as we pulled out of MN and headed home to KS.  Our trip to MN left us with new friends and memories of the colors and wonder of the north woods.

We are home now and happy to be relaxing a bit before the Kansas bird hunting season opens on Nov 14.  The dogs are happy to be romping around their yard.  Sally is definitely pregnant with puppies due Thanksgiving week so we will soon be prepping the whelping box....the same box in which she herself was born just a few years ago.  The calendar pages keep turning yet they look so familiar......

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Montana 2015 Wrap Up

We are now in Minnesota, having left Montana a couple of days ago. We had a lot of fun during pheasant season there. We don't go up to the area of the state where the phez are released, instead we get a kick out of scratching down what a friend has nicknamed "badland pheasants." These areas may/may not have phez but they also still hold sharpies and Huns so when the dogs go on point you're never sure what they have.

This is our "Buck Dog" cover. Yeah, this grouse hunter has gotten prairie-hunting Mike naming covers along with me. Lol

Storm had a rooster on this point.

Belle trailing a rooster. She turns 2 in Dec and this fall it was pretty exciting to see her show some pretty advanced ability in trailing and pinning running birds like groups of Huns.

Mike was walking the high edge of this coulee, I was covering the bottom. Tweed was backing Storm (hidden in the brush) who was pointing Huns.

From a couple of hundred yards back had seen Jack drop down into the draw and not come back out. When we saw DW stop on a back near that spot we knew Jack was on point.

Jack was hard to see from my side of the draw.

When we walked in two roosters flushed and we each dropped one. Sort of a couples double? Lol. Storm was happy to do the retrieve on one, the boys got the other.

Jazz is our youngest dog, just a year, but she gave us some very nice bird work. And man, can that little dog go! We had been concerned that we would have trouble seeing her because she is so small but it turns out that her black head is pretty easy to see in all but the tallest of grasses there.

Right now we are boondocking not far from where we will be meeting a friend and doing some hunting for ruffs. I'm looking forward to hunting the woods but love the prairie too and feel blessed to be able to do both.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Every Dog Has It's Day

"I wouldn't take $5000 for that dog."   That and a smile on Mike's face met me as he and Fr Brit, Belle, returned from their morning hunt.   We had headed in separate directions earlier this morning, me with our youngest Fr Brit, Jazz, and Mike with Belle.  I had taken the little tri-color up through a draw to do some training on the sharpies I expected to find and we had enjoyed a good hunt, accomplishing some training goals along the way.  While Jazz relaxed on the sofa, Mike shared the details of his hunt.

Belle had stolen the day with some outstanding bird work on Huns.  I really need to get Mike to carry a camera but without pics to see I listened to his report of how she had nailed coveys of Huns and singles and even better, how she had put on a trailing show to remember.  Huns can run like perhaps no other gamebird and she was able to trail them over and around the hills of their escape, slowing down and stalking as she got close.  Last year we knew she was going to be special but we had also been prepared if this year she had shown us the "terrible twos."  Instead she just keeps getting better and better.  You go girl.

As usual, we are camped out on the prairie near where we hunt.  In fact, this morning we walked out the door of the OR to our respective hunts.  I took this photo from a small hill this morning looking back - the OR is a tiny dot in the pic.

We have come into town this afternoon to get some phone and internet service and get caught up on some correspondence.   We are treating ourselves to burgers and a beer at our favorite bar and grill  A parting photo is one I took yesterday.  After hunting for miles, it is always a welcome sight to come over a hill and see the truck not far away.  Happy hunting all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First the good.  We spent several days visiting with Lisa and Cliff Weiss of October Setters in Idaho. These folks are dedicated ryman-type hunters and breeders and over the years I have known very few breeders as knowledgeable as they.  We were fortunate to breed our Sally to their beautiful Heath and hopefully we will be welcoming puppies in late November.

               Sally                                                                                     Heath

Lisa graciously invited us to join her in hunting sage grouse while we were there and even took us to one of her "honey holes.",  It was a long, bumpy drive from her house to an area flanked by snow-capped mountains: a real treat.
                                                                       Lisa and "Doc"

Indeed it was a honey hole - we saw more sage hens in those two days than we will probably ever see again.  Mike had bought a tag and I charged up my camera.  We got to see some of Lisa's wonderful dogs work as well as let our pack stretch their legs after the 20 hours drive from KS to ID.  Mike was able to gun a sage hen over his Fr Brit boys.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The area pictured above was also responsible for The Bad.  Within the first half-hour of hunting for our whole season, Mike tripped over sage brush and fell.  Which is not uncommon when walking in such terrain.  But this time he fell on his gun and cracked the stock.  It can be repaired and we do have a back-up gun along with us but it was definitely sad.

With the breedings done it was time to head to Montana.  But first Mike decided to figure out why the gas furnace on the RV wasn't working.  There was frost each night and know that it will be even colder before we return to home.  He took it apart and found a mud wasp colony the size of Manhattan was the problem.  Doing some McGyver-like problem solving he had it cleaned out and working well in not much time at all.  We had a somewhat leisurely drive of about 8 hours ahead of us to eastern Montana where we hunt. But about 4 hours into the drive we heard a loud "bang" and said ohoh.  Although the truck and RV were handling steady as could be, a pretty-new tire on the RV had blown up.  Without a safe area to work on it along the busy highway we instead limped the 4 miles to the next exit.

                                                                      The Ugly

Mike changed the tire and discovered that the tire had also damaged the gas lines in that area of the RV.   It can all be repaired but without a working refrigerator or stove and very warm temps outside, we caved in and pulled into a full service RV campground, something we rarely do.  Tomorrow we will get the necessary repairs and be on our way.

But tonight, we will hold hands and say our prayers of thanks for getting through today safely.