Firelight Bird Dogs

Firelight Bird Dogs

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Turkeys and Pointing Dogs

Some folks are surprised to learn that during the fall/winter season here in Kansas, you can use dogs to hunt turkeys.  We don't go out specifically looking for turkeys but there are usually a couple of days each fall that we do encounter turkeys while quail or pheasant hunting and Mike usually gets a turkey or two for the freezer and table.  There is a lot of meat on a turkey, especially compared to our favorite little bobwhites, so getting one is always a welcome bonus.

Once in a while we like to take just a single dog out since it allows you some good time with that dog plus the opportunity to see how the dog does all on it's own.  So one day in late November shortly after the setter puppies were born, Mike took Fr Brit Belle out for a solo hunt and they headed to an area with good tall grass and quail habitat.  Shortly after starting out Mike saw Belle getting birdy and at the same time he saw several turkeys flush out ahead and fly off into the tall grass.  Belle disappeared into the tall grass and Mike found her on point, facing across a small draw.  As he walked in, turkeys began to flush from in front as the always composed Belle stood and watched.   The turkeys however were so flustered that one gobbler made a fatal mistake and flew back toward Mike.  As it passed, he dropped it clean and dead with his 28 ga sxs.  He has found that if you shoot them just under their wing that they drop dead.  I have seen him do it before and it is quite surprising to see such a large bird drop stone cold dead from the air.  

Mike tagged the 20 lb bird and placed it at the fence at the edge of the field to pick up on the way back to the truck.  They continued forward and before long Belle was again on point.  Only this time it was a nice sized covey of quail that flushed up - gotta love Kansas!  Mike zeroed in on one but thought he had missed it but a few minutes later grinned as Belle came back down the draw with the bird in her mouth.   They continued up the draw in hopes of finding some quail singles to work.  But when Belle went on point at the end of the draw it was a turkey that flushed close by.  Again the 28 showed that it is to be taken seriously and the second bird dropped.  Belle went on to point 4 more turkeys that morning but Mike had to pass them up since he had only 2 tags.  One of the things we love about Belle is that so many (most?) dogs lose their cool when they get into a bunch of turkeys but not her, she remained as cool as a cucumber on every one of those turkeys, as if it was an everyday experience.

I greeted them when they pulled up the drive and Mike said "only 3 birds today."  But then he pulled out 2 big turkeys and one little quail.   A memorable day.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Next Generation, Setters

Compared to some folks who hunt a lot or breed litters, we keep a fairly limited number of dogs.  That is for a reason, well, several reasons actually.  The primary reason is that it is very important for us to be able to give each dog the amount of time and attention that they deserve.  Between the two of us we spend a lot of time with our dogs and we get to know them as companions and as well as bird dogs.  They add a great deal of pleasure and interest to our lives, I cannot imagine not having them.  

Being part of our smallish pack means that we have ample opportunity to know and evaluate the qualities that each dog offers, and some qualities may not be those that many bird dog breeders talk about.  We want a dog that: gets along well with other dogs; is friendly with people; likes to travel; is affectionate but not needy; is obedient; and is easy to be around.  Add to this our eye for proper conformation for the breed and our high expectations for a complete hunting companion and you can see why we limit the number of dogs in our "pack."  

So we try to space out when we keep a puppy so they have ample time to, well, be a puppy.  I keep a setter puppy every 3 -4 years.  Well, this litter has been extra exciting for me because it's time to keep a puppy!  This has been a tough litter to choose from, the quality was deep and any of the pups would likely 'make the cut' with us.  But we had to make our choice at some point, so here goes: 

Without further ado, let me introduce Kate:

And her brother, Flint.  That's right, two puppies!  

Mike loves the boy dogs and encouraged me to keep a male in addition to the female I wanted.  We will raise and hunt both puppies all year long.  This time next year we will decide whether to keep Flint or to let him go as a started dog for which we often get requests.

Watching young dogs starting out in the field is one of my favorite parts of hunting.  These guys will start out either in the grouse woods or Montana plains, as our schedule will dictate.  So much to forward to!