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Welcome I and J Litters!!

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Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12 were a busy time for Aaron and I!  Velma (De Jac Pine’s Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah) had 8 pups on Wednesday: 5 males, 3 females.  One of the males was odd and was lost a week later.  So, the surviving litter is 4 males, 3 females.  BB (Bourg-Royal’s CB Bluestem) had 11 puppies: 10 females and 1 male.  That brings the total between the two litters to 5 males and 14 females.  At this time, all of the puppies are spoken for.

Velma x Ben (pedigrees and health information is on the About Our Dogs page)

Velma and Ben's litter when they were first born

Velma and Ben’s litter while they were being whelped

Velma's puppies at 1 week old

Velma’s puppies at 1 week old

Avery and Josie giving Velma's puppies some love

Avery and Josie giving Velma’s puppies some love

Mama Velma

Mama Velma

BB x Sam (pedigrees and health information is on the About Our Dogs page)

BB and Sam's puppies first born

BB and Sam’s puppies first born

BB and Sam's pups at 1 week old

BB and Sam’s pups at 1 week old

Caleb giving BB's puppies some love

Caleb giving BB’s puppies some love

Mama BB

Mama BB

Here are a couple of videos that we took of the litters during their first week of life: 

Pupdate

Here are some birthday shots from 3-year-old TracHer in North Dakota that belongs to Susan and Tom.

TracHer 3 years old by the creek

TracHer 3 years old by the creek

TracHer retrieves a squirrel

TracHer retrieves a squirrel

In closure

The puppies will be two weeks old mid-week.  Velma and her puppies will move over to our house on Friday for the duration of the puppy period, so it will be a fun puppy land!  I will try to get an update posted on Sunday.  Catch you then!

Final countdown to puppies!!

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Greetings to my loyal readers and let me apologize for my extended absence.  It is show choir season for our daughter, plus mid-terms for me both as a HS English teacher (for this semester, at least) and in my last semester at graduate school.

I am excited to announce that both females were successfully bred.  BB is pregnant with Sam’s pups and Velma is pregnant with Ben’s.  We will be keeping a male out of Ben and Velma.  Ben is a pup out of our first breeding pair of Sue and Sam, so we are super happy to bring Sue’s blood into the future.  Velma is out of De Jac Pine Kennels in WI, who also breed outstanding hunting dogs.  Check out the “About Our Dogs” page if you would like to look at additional pedigree or health info.  We have an additional 16 reservations on top of our keeping a puppy, so I am not accepting any further reservations until the pups are born.  We should know within the next 3 weeks.

Here are some shots of pregnant BB:

Pregnant BB in the living room.

Pregnant BB in the living room.

Pregnant BB outside.

Pregnant BB outside.

Here is a video of pregnant Velma.  I just got word now that Charles is home from today’s NAVHDA training that Aaron (Velma’s owner) texted him that her temp dropped today to 99.  So, it should be within the next 24-48 hours that pups are coming or on the ground.  

We are all ready to go for the next stage here.  BB is in the house when we are here or in the whelping area when we are not.  Since it is nice out and we are home, she gets to spend time in her outdoor kennel today.  I expect that we are still 2 weeks out on BB.

The whelping area

The whelping area

Here is a shot of Fire (1 yr old from our “G” litter of Sam x BB) with Charles at today’s NAVHDA training session with our Heartland NAVHDA Chapter.  Word has it that there were 5 griffs there today!  Photo by our 10 year-old son, Conrad.

Fire and Charles working on "whoa" today.

Fire and Charles working on “whoa” today.

Pupdates

Happy Birthdays to all of our litters this spring!  I am terrible about keeping up with who dropped when.  Here is a shot of Whiskey (far right) from our “A” litter between Sam and Sue in 2010.  I can’t believe that we have been at this for 5 years now!  What an amazing adventure, full of new knowledge and fun.  Whiskey lives in Nevada with his human peeps Pete, Deborah, and Andi.  Here he is with his rainbow coalition of Basco the old griff, Tucker the baby Golden Retriever, and Ruger the lab.

Friends and our Whiskey.

Friends and our Whiskey.

Jimmy and Sandy shared this picture of Zoey, from our last litter between Sue and Sam 2 years ago.  It was our E litter.  Great job guys on the deer track in Oklahoma!

Jimmy and Zoey the deer tracker

Jimmy and Zoey the deer tracker

I suspect that I’ll be blogging again sooner rather than later.  Thinking happy thoughts to Velma and Aaron for a successful whelping.  Aaron has whelped German Shorthaired Pointers and Labrador Retrievers before, so I’m sure that he is ready for this.  I’ll keep you posted as soon as I have news.  Spring has arrived in Nebraska within the last couple of days, so it is a good time for us to bring babies into the world.  My cattle rancher friends have been at it for the past month with cold weather, so I’m glad that we’ve eeked out of that for puppy season.

Having puppies satisfies my mothering instinct since I’m done having human babies.  It is nice to have another mother carry the load.  What good-natured beasts to give us such delightful young to bring into this precious gun dog lifestyle.  Long live the griff!

Valentine’s Day Greetings!!

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Official Valentine of Valentine, Nebraska 2015

Official Valentine of Valentine, Nebraska 2015

It would be near blasphemy if I did not wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, since I am a native of Valentine, Nebraska!  Sorry that I’ve been absent on the blog, my schedule has been extremely hectic.  I was supervising a high school debate tournament on the last day of hunting season and it rained/snowed all day, so Charles didn’t go out into the slop.

Last night there was a raccoon on the prowl in the woods behind the house, so the dogs were in full frantic mode outside and I brought them in for the night.  It was a good chance to check BB out.  Not that I don’t spend time with her outdoors, but when we’re out there she is always on the move so I don’t get a good opportunity to analyze her behavior.  At this point in a dog pregnancy they don’t show much, so watching behavior is the best way to figure it out.  She is pudgy and whereas before she would play with Fire and Sam, she wants nothing to do with them now.  She is also very food and bone protective, which she isn’t normally.  I’m very confident that pups will be arriving in March.  Right now I have 16 reservations and am not taking any more.

As far as Velma goes, she has a stockier build to begin with so Aaron isn’t sure.  We will keep watching her and hope for the best.

My brother has been sending over pictures of retired mama Mae.  She is enjoying her retirement in Valentine with her Siberian Husky friend, Whisper.

Nap time for Whisper and Mae

Nap time for Whisper and Mae

Whisper and Mae hanging out at the hobo shack.

Whisper and Mae hanging out in the yard.

Pupdates

Susan in North Dakota has been out cross country skiing with 3 year old TracHer from our 2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae.  Zephyr is also a griff, but not from us.

TracHer, Zephyr, and Susan enjoying the snow.

TracHer, Zephyr, and Susan enjoying the snow.

Matt had TracHer’s sister Josie, from our 2013 “F” Litter of Sam and Mae’s out enjoying some snow time too up in South Dakota.

Josie snow profile

Josie snow profile

Josie's snow run

Josie’s snow run

Jimmy in Oklahoma takes 2 year old Zoey, from our 2012 “E” Litter of Sam and Sue’s, out into the oil fields with him.  Here she is begging the trucks for treats.

Zoey scoping out the trucks for snacks

Zoey scoping for snacks

Kaylee in Missouri put together a cute birthday card for Fire’s sister, Willow.  They are both now 1 year old, from our 2014 “G” Litter from Sam and BB.

Willow is 1!

Willow is 1!

Thanks to everyone for keeping me updated on their pups, it is always fun to look at the great photos and read the stories.  If you’ve left a message for me and I haven’t called you back, I will do so tomorrow.  Today is an official holiday for me, so I don’t want to disturb anyone.  I will check back in a few weeks with some belly pics of BB.  If you are looking to get a hold of us right now, the best way is by e-mail at bluestemkennels@cox.net.  The school district asked me to fill in full time this semester in high school English and debate, plus I’m doing my last semester of grad school and helping with the Griffonnier magazine.  It is super busy and I’m looking forward to the summer.  Talk at you in a couple of weeks.

Happy Valentine’s Day from your official representative of The Heart City, Valentine, Nebraska!

I hear that you’re into dogs…

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My last graduate school class of my program is a full day Saturday class, it just happens to fall on every Saturday this semester that I’m not coaching a high school debate tournament.  We were working our way through introductions in the room and word had gotten around to me that there was a fellow dog person present.  I went up to her and said, “I hear that you’re into dogs, so am I!”  One of our classmates, who I’ve had classes with in the past turned to me and said, “That’s one of the greatest introductions that I’ve ever heard!”  Of course, the fellow dog lady and I launched into all sorts of chatter about where we are in our breeding programs and gossiping about what is going on in our respective breeds.  She is a Boston Terrier girl, which is one of the two small dogs I’ve ever thought about (the other being a Jagdterrier).  But I’ll be a one-breed dog owner for the foreseeable future.

But that really has nothing to do with the task at hand, which is updating you on the end of hunting season and the beginning of puppy season.  This Saturday the 31st is the last day of hunting season in Nebraska, and of course I will be at a debate tournament.  But Charles and Matt are planning on hitting the fields.  They had great success last weekend just south of Auburn, Nebraska on some private land full of quail.  They said that they saw numerous coveys and probably 40-60 birds in total.  The harvest shows a successful hunt.

Charles and Matt's harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Charles and Matt’s harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Breeding Update

Although I had thought that I’d missed Sam and BB’s breeding while we were in Valentine for Christmas, last week told us otherwise.  If Sam wasn’t having his way, he was howling and barking at BB 24/7.  We had to bring in Sam at night in order to not disturb the neighbors.  So that puts us at pups being born toward the end of March if Mother Nature smiles upon us.

Aaron also brought Velma over this week to see what the interactions between she and Sam were like.  Ben has been kenneled with her since before Christmas and all of the signs seemed to be correct for her being bred.  Velma was looking chubs when she was here and she had absolutely no interest in letting Sam get with her.  So, we’re going to assume that the deed is done and keep an eye on her for possible March pups as well.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Here’s just a random photo of Caleb with BB and Sam.  He is my dog boy and loves spending time with them.

BB, Caleb, and Sam

BB, Caleb, and Sam

I have caught up on my e-mails, but am a bit behind on returning phone calls.  Right now, e-mail is the best way to get a hold of me with my erratic schedule.  I will return phone calls as I can, but I also know that I take down messages sometimes, then the kids get into my office playing around and carry away my papers.  So, if you haven’t heard from me, please e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net for the best response.

Pupdate

Fire’s sister Bella got out for her first hunt recently.  Here’s the word from Gil:

Bella’s first bird hunt was a success!  Even more impressive considering the tough conditions. The wind was blowing 25 mph, gusting to 35 mph!  Nothing was flushing. Everything was running. She also found plenty of dead/un-retrieved birds.

 This sweetheart is a bit of a late bloomer, but seems the training and bloodline kicked into gear.(@ Pheasant Bonanza)

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Thanks to Gil for the update and thanks to you all for continuing to check up on us even though I’ve gotten a bit sketchy on posting with my new duties.  The school district asked me to teach 10th grade English full time and coach the high school debate team this semester, so it is crazy!  It might just be for the semester, or it might turn into a permanent thing.  The district has to cut 5 million from the budget next year, so there is a possibility the position could be eliminated.

Charles and the kids are stepping up around the house and kennel to make sure that everything we need to do is done.  I might drift off for a bit on the blog between now and when the puppies are born, but make no mistake about it, the puppies will be well tended to.  My school is only 5 minutes from the house and I will be running back and forth during plan periods and lunch once the puppies are born.

I will certainly let you know about the hunt next weekend and a few weeks after that when and if the females are showing signs of pregnancy.  At this point, I am not taking any more reservations this year until I know what the puppy count is.  I won’t start thinking about next year until these (hopeful) puppies go home.

I can feel spring in the air and the snow geese are traveling north.  Enjoy the extra daylight and send good puppy vibes our way!

Hunting season ends, breeding season begins…

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It has been absolutely arctic around here.  We stayed close to family and did not venture out for grouse, pheasant, or Canadian geese while we were in Valentine.  It was very cold outside and several of us were sick with colds.  It has stayed cold down here in Bellevue, so nobody has been out anywhere except for the yard.  But the good news is that while we were hunkered down in Valentine, we think that Sam and BB got the job done.  So, fingers crossed, BB is about 3 weeks along.  Velma has just become fertile and is with Ben down in Springfield, Nebraska.  They will stay together for two more weeks and see what happens.  So if Mother Nature smiles upon us, puppies in March.

Yet if you call or e-mail me, I’m going to refer you to another breeder.  I currently have 16 reservations with deposit on file and just have no idea how successful these litters will be.  We’ll just keep our fingers crossed and wait and see.

The dogs have been coming in the house quite a big with the cold temps, but I didn’t get the camera out until we were outside today.

Caleb let himself into the kennel with BB and Sam while Charles and Conrad were shooting archery.

Caleb let himself into the kennel with BB and Sam while Charles and Conrad were shooting archery.

IMG_5056

Conrad getting his archery practice in!

BB and Fire on a tear in the woods

BB and Fire on a tear in the woods

Fire on a lope, you can still see the shaved patch on her abdomen.

Fire on a lope, you can still see the shaved patch on her abdomen.

Fire and Caleb

Fire and Caleb

BB, Sam, and Fire

BB, Sam, and Fire

Sam

Sam Profile

Fire Running

Fire Running

BB heading in

BB heading in

Sam

Sam Eyes

Sam looks on while BB and Fire battle in the yard

Sam looks on while BB and Fire battle in the yard

Pupdates: Christmas Cards 2014

It’s funny that both of the cards that I received from puppy owners were from the “C” litter of 2012 of Sam and Mae.  Not that I can say anything about Christmas cards, I just don’t send them anymore.  I figure I send everyone a card everytime I write up a blog post, right?  Some cute photos of Chester from Long Island, New York came in Sal’s Christmas card:

Happy Chester

Happy Chester

Running Chester

Running Chester

Peaceful Chester

Peaceful Chester

A cute card from the owners of his sister, TracHer, far right, up in North Dakota.  Susan in read with Zephyr, also a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (but not from us).  Tom with Max the baby German Wirehaired Pointer and TracHer.

Susan Card_NEW

We hope that everyone had a great holiday season and is ready to tackle the New Year ahead.  Charles is talking about one more hunt before the Jan 31 close of season, but I’m out of time.  I will keep everyone posted with breeding season, please join NAVHDA and the AWPGA, and stay warm!

Late Season and the Holidays

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My most favorite holiday quote this year is: “Christmas, when Christians and atheists can put aside their differences to celebrate paganism”.  I know that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” is popular, but the reality is that the early Christian church adopted the holiday to co-opt the previous pagan celebrations of the solstice.  Christmas was actually banned by the Puritans in early America due to its origins and up until the mid-19th century when Charles Dickens and Washington Irving wrote their Christmas tales, it was a holiday for mischief and drunken debauchery.  That is actually a good lead in for what I’m about to tell you, since knowing about literature, history, and culture is a big part of who I am.

After my youngest child, Caleb, who is now five, was born, I stayed home full time and started this kennel.  As Caleb has grown older, I’ve continued working on my master’s degree and substitute teaching for the local school district.  Well, as of a couple of weeks ago, the school district asked me to teach sophomore English full time this semester and coach the varsity debate team.  It is not a permanent thing yet, but it is a trial run for all involved to possibly make it so.  If you enjoy reading what I am up to in general, here is the blog that I’m setting up for students to keep up on assignments and for me to just make notes as to what it is that I’m doing: http://mrsupchurchenglish.wordpress.com/

Since I’ve found out about this new assignment, I’ve really been focused on getting ready for the semester and have fallen behind on my kennel phone calls and e-mails.  I plan on being caught up by early next week.  The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed is everywhere in the press right now and the reputable breeders are not in a position to keep up with the demand.  I know that I could move to a farm and have 20 or more dogs and have puppies all of the time and make a living, but as much as I love dogs and hunting, it is really only one part of my life.  That is the situation with the majority of the breeders in this breed.  We are not set up for the demand that we are getting and I don’t think that most of us are willing to change our lives to do so.  So be patient with us, please.

If you like to read about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons and versatile hunting dogs in general, you need to join two organizations.  The AWPGA is the AKC breed club for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.  We put out a nice magazine called the Griffonnier every quarter, so be sure to join to receive it (since I’m the co-editor).  Here is the link where to join the AWPGA: http://awpga.com/membership.  The other organization you need to join is NAVHDA, they put out a great magazine by the name of Versatile Hunting Dog every month http://www.navhda.org/membership-chapters. I have met some really amazing people and lifelong friends through both of these organizations and hope that you take the time to join them.

Recent Hunts

A couple of Thursdays ago, I went out on my own during the day to see if I could find any ducks or pheasants.  I found them both, but didn’t bag any.  The first place that I stopped was a private pond along the south bank of the Platte River that we have access to.  There were 3 mallards on the far side of the pond that got up upon my arrival.  As I was making my way towards the river, I was so focused on the edge of the pond for any singles that I totally missed the huge flock that flew right over my head coming off of the river.

The Platte River, about 1 mile west of the confluence with the Missouri River

The Platte River, about 1 mile west of the confluence with the Missouri River

Sam and I loaded back up into the truck and headed down to a wildlife management area where we know that there are pheasants.  Sam and BB managed to find about 30 hens and about 7 roosters, but I think I only took one shot.  I was having more fun watching the dogs and the birds than I was worried about shooting.

Charles, Matt, and Conrad went out Sunday for a little bit with Fire and Sam.  It was Fire’s first time out after her accident and she did just fine.  Here’s a picture of Conrad and the rooster, along with some duck decoys that they found.

Conrad, rooster, and decoys.

Conrad, rooster, and decoys.

I took this picture of Caleb and Fire that evening, they were not interested in the end of “The Sound of Music” and fell asleep instead.

Caleb and Fire having a snooze

Caleb and Fire having a snooze

Pupdates

Susan sent me a funny video of training: Zephyr is the lighter colored griff, TracHer is the darker griff (from our 2012 “C” Litter from Sam and Mae), and Max is a German Wirehaired Pointer puppy.

Fire’s sister “Willow” (from our 2014 “G” Litter of Sam and BB) and Kaylee got into some gadwalls a month or so ago and I forgot to share the pictures!  Kaylee is a middle schooler in Missouri and I love that she is into hunting!!

Willow, Kaylee, and a gadwall duck

Willow, Kaylee, and a gadwall duck

Willow and her ducks

Willow and her ducks

Another angle on Willow and the ducks

Another angle on Willow and the ducks

There are hunting plans for us following the Christmas festivities, so I’ll get one last hunt in before I turn my life over to school.  So happy Festivus/Saturnalia/Winter Solstice/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Christmas, or if you celebrate nothing just enjoy life as you normally do.  For this Christian, it is time to pack some bags and wrap some presents.  But not without one more story.

Today the kids and I went out to lunch at the best family diner in Omaha, Petrow’s.  We were on our way back to Bellevue, driving in the rain down I-80, when I spotted what I thought was a teenage girl walking down the shoulder.  I stopped and picked the person up, since people get killed far too often on that road.  Come to find out, it was a woman who had gotten into a fight with her boyfriend and he had thrown her out of the vehicle, into the mud, in the rain, on the side of the interstate in the middle of Omaha.  She was so thankful that the kids and I stopped and picked her up.  We had nothing better to do, so we just drove her the 20 miles home to Plattsmouth.  That was the best Christmas lesson I could have given to my kids.  It can be a cold world, we have to help people out when we have a chance.  And in the words of Tiny Tim:

god-bless-us-every-one

Trial by Fire

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Breeding Season Update

According to my calculations and based on physical changes, I suspect that BB should come into heat within the next month or so.  We are also keeping an eye on Velma over at Aaron’s house.  I am going to hold off on taking any additional deposits/reservations at this time, but will keep you posted if things change.

Fire’s Trial

Fire chased a deer into the neighbor’s property the morning of the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  There was no yelp, crying, blood, or change in behavior immediately.  About 6 PM in the evening, she had her tail between her legs and was snuggling up to me funny as I was watching the news on the living room couch.  I started checking her over and there was a huge tear about 4 inches long and two inches wide on the right side of her abdomen.  It was a skin tear only, luckily no muscles or arteries were punctured.  I immediately loaded her up for the 24 hour emergency vet clinic across town.  An hour later they had her stitched up with drain tubes in each end of the tear.

Fire at the emergency vet

Fire at the emergency vet

We treated it with oral antibiotics and I cleaned the wound area with hydrogen peroxide 2-4 times per day.  A week after the procedure, the drain tubes were removed, then the stitches were removed on Monday.  As you can see based on the condition of the cone in the photo below, she became used to it quickly and learned to use it as a weapon.  We were rammed in the calves multiple times per day with it and she almost pushed me down the stairs with it a couple of times.

Fire getting ready to have her cone removed.

Fire getting ready to have her cone removed.

After it happened, we thought it would be the end of Fire’s hunting season for sure.  We will evaluate the situation when we get to Valentine, but since the cover on the dunes is not thick like it is down here, I think she’ll be fine to join us looking for grouse around Christmas.  Charles saw good numbers while he was hunting deer in November.  If we don’t get any at Christmas, it will be our first hunting season ever without bagging any sharptailed grouse.  Let’s hope that it doesn’t happen!

Fire taking it easy after having her stitches removed.

Fire taking it easy after having her stitches removed.

Thanksgiving Pheasants

Charles, his friend Matt, and our son Conrad managed to get out for some pheasants the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I stayed home to get stuff done around the house and work on the AWPGA magazine.  Matt and Charles each brought home two roosters from public land in southeastern Nebraska.

10 year-old Conrad and the Thanksgiving roosters.

10 year-old Conrad and the Thanksgiving roosters.

AWPGA Membership

It is that time of year for members to renew their membership and we’d love new members who hunt with griffs!  Charles and I are on the field committee, which is working promote more hunting and hunt testing within the breed.  Then once you are a member, you can also consider attending the National Specialty and related events in Des Moines, Iowa on September 3-7, 2015.  The membership application is now available online: http://awpga.com/membership

Pupdates

Matt and Josie up in South Dakota have been chasing roosters too, and have also been practicing having her swim in the Missouri River.  Josie is from our 2014 “H” Litter between Sam and Mae.

Josie along the Missouri

Josie along the Missouri

Josie on the lookout

Josie on the lookout

Josie out in the frost

Josie out in the frost

I think I should hit up the North Dakota Department of Tourism for sponsorship with as many great photos I’m getting out of there.  Just kidding.  It is a great place to send pups home to, plus we love to hunt up there ourselves!

Josie’s brother, Duncan, is at it again with Ernie and his gang.

Ernie and Duncan with another mess of roosters.

Ernie and Duncan with another mess of roosters.

Ernie also put together another fun video of pheasant hunting for us all to be jealous of:

In other news of North Dakota, Susan, TracHer and the gang are still knocking them down.  TracHer is from our “C” Litter in 2012 from Sam and Mae.

Another cool pic, TracHer is up with Tom on the top step.

Another cool pic, TracHer is up with Tom on the top step.

TracHer retrieving a rooster in the snow.

TracHer retrieving a rooster in the snow.

Zoey down in Oklahoma has been helping Jimmy with the harvest down there.  She is from our 2013 “E” Litter between Sam and Sue.

Zoey up on the tractor.

Zoey up on the tractor.

I’m not quite sure why my pictures are so small this week, they made some changes to WordPress that I’m still working out.  Charles is down in Texas for the rest of the week for work, so I’m going to try and get out on my own tomorrow to do some hunting.  I’d like to jump a pond that we have access to along the Missouri River, then make my way down south a bit to chase some pheasants.

I have done nothing for Christmas yet (and a part of me wishes I could boycott it altogether).  Tradition is a force to be reckoned with, and I’m looking forward to seeing my family back home in a couple of weeks.  And then of course, there’s that last shot at grouse for the year…

I’ll check back in before the holiday and let you know how my hunt went.

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