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Gun Dogs Don’t Quarantine

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Homeschool is finally over and things are starting to open back up in the Omaha area.  The dogs and kids kept us plenty busy during the time that I’ve been away from the blog.  One of my cousins is a vegan cooking blogger (I know, it seems odd) and she was recently writing about how she has stopped apologizing for taking time away from her blog and not posting for a long time.  Writing and blogging takes time and energy, so when stuff is hitting the fan it goes to the back burner.  We are all healthy here and have just been staying home as much as possible.

A couple of brief shoutouts.  My “A” litter turned ten years old at the end of April.  I keep in touch with Whiskey out in Nevada and Winston in Colorado and they are both in good health.  Their mama Sue is sixteen years old and still hanging around a farmyard in rural central South Dakota.  Their sire Sam was killed in an ATV accident at his retirement home in Kentucky several years ago.

Congratulations to Bluestem Winchester “Chester” and owner Sal in New York on his NAVHDA Utility Prize I and being our first pup to qualify for NAVHDA Invitational.  He is from our “C” litter between Sam and Mae.  Mae recently passed at the age of fourteen at my brother’s house in Valentine, Nebraska.

Training

Luckily dog training is a pretty remote practice, so Charles has been able to continue to work with Ruth on whatever her next hunt testing steps may be.  Either AKC Senior Hunter or NAVHDA Utility Test.

He has also been doing obedience training around the house with the dogs.  This is a big help to me since I am still trying to get my youngest boy through online hunter’s safety and the older one through online driver’s education.

I don’t have photos from all of the training that he has been doing, but here are some field shots.  Obi is signed up to do his NAVHDA Natural Ability Test in August and seems ready to go.

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Obi on the run at six months

I feel so blessed that we got out to Wyoming in January to pick up Obi before all of this COVID-19 business got crazy.

Here’s Ruth and Charles working on backing or honoring with a dog dummy.  Backing or honoring is where there is a dog already on point (symbolized by the dummy) and the other dog has to come in and point behind the dog who is already pointing.  Some dogs naturally back but most need to be trained so that they don’t go past the dog who is already pointing and “steal the point”.

When Ruth does the process correctly, Charles launches the pigeon from the trap and shoots the bird, then she is allowed to retrieve it.

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Backing dummy on left, Charles center, Ruth on the right

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Charles shoots the bird

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Ruth brings back the retrieve of the pigeon

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Charles walking in on the bird while Ruth is pointing

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Ruth with another retrieve

Allie

Ruth’s sister Allie came up from Oklahoma in March where her original home wasn’t able to care for her any longer.  We worked with her for a couple of months to evaluate where she was with socialization and training.  We determined that she should be spayed and placed in an active companion home.  Although she has a great nose and point, her retrieve needed full force fetch training and she is too tall to be a breeding female.  I really didn’t want to have someone travel to come and pick her up, even though I know that I could have found a home quickly if I had put it on the internet.  By a stroke of luck, when I went to have her bloodwork done for her spay, I found out that one of my vets was looking for a dog to trail run with her.  So Allie is now home with Dr. Tucker.

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Allie on left and Ruth, right after Allie’s arrival

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From front to back, Allie, Obi, Ruth and Fire

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Two sisters: Allie and Ruth

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Allie after a full spring grooming

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Allie with Dr. Tucker, under the portrait of great-grandfather Sam

Having four dogs living in the house full time was not an ideal situation and is actually outside of the city ordinances of where I live had Obi been over 18 months old.  But luckily it was all resolved before we were in conflict with the law.  I really want to be here for my pups, but I cannot guarantee that I will always be in a position where I have the time or space to take one back.  But I will always help them find a new home if need be.

Other news

Charles got his first turkey.  He will be our fourth of July feast.

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Charles and a nice tom turkey

That is pretty much all of the news for now unless you want to hear about my battle with plantar fasciitis and how I’m having to re-tool all of my hunting footwear and pants.  I don’t think that is blog-worthy just yet, maybe when I get it all figured out and am successful back in the field.

Speaking of the field, countdown to about three months left before season.  I’ve been out of commission for the most part with health issues for two seasons now, so I’m itching to get back after it.

I’ll also sit down another day and write about our breeding plans for next year.  It would help if we had them all finalized too.

But good luck to everyone out there training and getting ready for summer and fall tests.  This plague really put the brakes on so many people’s testing schedules and our National Specialty has been cancelled this year.

Stay safe and healthy.

Fire’s Results

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I had Fire x-rayed a week ago today and there were no puppies.  Although we were disappointed, with the social distancing and travel guidelines in place currently this is the best year for it to happen.  It is easy to second guess myself about timing and wonder what went wrong. I will probably start using progesterone testing in some instances to target ovulation better.  I’ve had big litters on one accidental tie, then to have no puppies with two ties…I guess it just wasn’t meant to be this year.  Especially where I have future owners traveling from high infection areas and one who is even under voluntary quarantine due to being at an exposure site.  Omaha itself is a bit of a hotspot and we have none of our tourist attractions open or restaurants available for dine-in.

So we just keep training and hunting and testing and planning for 2021 litters.

I am also homeschooling my two boys right now and this week I am on my own designing curriculum.  Next week we should have some assistance from the district, but it will still be a lot of me.  I hope to get on the website and fix my old entries so people aren’t confused about puppies, but it will take some time.

Everyone stay safe and healthy.

Waiting for puppies and first birds

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If you would like to be placed on my contact list in the event that I have puppies available from this litter, feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com.  I am confident that they are all currently reserved, but in the event of folk possibly backing out, I like to have a contact list to reach out to for additional interest.

Any day now for Fire going into labor, any hour actually.  I suspect that it is an average sized litter of four to eight puppies.  It doesn’t look like fourteen, but it looks like more than three.  I can feel them and see them, she is starting to get milk in her teats, so once they start making their way into the outside world I will keep my Facebook page up to the moment as much as possible.

Pregnant Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pregnant Fire

You can see in the photo where she is starting to pull the fur out around her teats.  Some people shave them, but the puppies will take care of it on their own.

If you are on my list, do not panic if we don’t have your number of puppies.  Some folks want a specific gender or will decide at the last minute that the timing isn’t right for them.  Once they are whelped, it will take some time for me to get that all sorted out so just bear with me please.

This will be the seventeenth litter that I have whelped.  Even so, I am still anxious and excited.

First Birds for Obi

Charles has been working with all of the dogs on daily obedience exercises and getting Obi ready for his NAVHDA Natural Ability test.  We are talking about possibly doing it early, with a late spring test or a summer/fall test.  He has caught on to the drag track game.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Retrieve

“Obi” sixteen week old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy retrieves a quail

While the dog is with a handler out of sight, we pull some feathers out of a dead quail and lay them in a pile, then drag the dead quail and hide it.  Then the handler brings the pup out of hiding to the feather pile and they track and retrieve the bird.

We also took Obi out with some live planted quail and the starter pistol.  This is not his first exposure to loud noises, we’ve been banging pots and pans since we got him and then shooting a kids cap gun while he’s playing after that.  He caught on to the excitement of flying birds very quickly.

First Flush - Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (2)

“First Flush” sixteen week old “Obi” Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

On the homefront, we think that we have pretty much conquered housebreaking.  He has chewed up a few things, but that happens with every puppy that we raise.  He sleeps through the night in his crate.  His favorite things to do are play-fight with Ruth and jump on Caleb (we are working on the “stay down”).  He is in good health at 25 lbs. and gets his rabies shot on April 1st, then look out world!  I look forward to taking him on walks in the Old Market (Omaha’s downtown entertainment district) and Charles can take him to NAVHDA training days with other owners and dogs.

That’s all of the dog news for now, but keep an eye on Facebook for when the puppies are being born.  And send up some doggie prayers for a safe and successful whelping.

Belated Valentine’s Day Greetings!

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As a native of Valentine, Nebraska I feel guilty for wishing you a belated Happy Valentine’s Day!  I was room parent for my son’s 5th grade class and I sent out Valentines instead of Christmas cards this year, so it was a busy week.

About two weeks ago my grandmother passed away, so saying goodbye to my last living grandparent has also taken time away from the business of dogs.  This picture was taken after a pheasant hunt in Cherry County, Nebraska near a former town called Simeon in 1940.  My grandmother Hope is second from the left with the big smile, my great-grandmother Gertrude is on the far right.

1940 Pheasant Hunt Simeon

1940 Cherry County Pheasant Hunt

Fire’s Pregnancy

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Four Weeks Pregnant

Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I at four weeks gestation

Right at four weeks there is still not much to see of the pregnancy, but you can just start to tell that they are getting bigger.  Fire is normally pretty thin, but at this point she is fatter than Ruth who naturally carries more weight, so I’m feeling confident that the breeding “took”.  I expect puppies around the 10th of March.

Obi Update

Wyo Oakley Pedigree_NEW

Wyo Quigley Pedigree_NEW

These are Obi’s dam and sire pedigrees with notes on them as to why I picked this puppy.  When I reference Sam, BB and Mae, those are some of my foundation dogs.  Some places I wrote the breeder’s name or the kennel name if it isn’t in the dog’s name.  It was an accidental litter, so the dam is young.  These are hunting dogs with no titles or health clearances.  I wanted to take a gamble on these pedigrees since I have lots of money on two male puppies whose parents had all of the bling who never panned out.  My first two Griffons were out of the same situation and were fantastic hunters who put out litters of healthy hunting pups.

I’m going to write something here about health clearances that isn’t a popular opinion.  Health clearances only cover that one dog.  The dog’s siblings could be expressing genetic health problems that you’d never know about.  It isn’t testing the dog’s genetic background, it is just testing the health of that one dog.  Additionally, there isn’t a health test to clear a dog for things like muscular tears, bitches who don’t lactate or can’t birth naturally, and bad temperaments.  So much really relies on the quality of the breeder and pedigree.  I know that my dogs are healthy because we hunt the heck out of them and they thrive.  If they had a heart or thyroid issue, it would show itself on its own and I’d stop breeding the dog immediately.  Anyway, that is my soapbox about the cult of health testing.  If the dog is a housepet who breeds, I can see how it would help sell puppies and seem very important.  But I don’t think it is the be all and end all of of evaluating dogs.

Obi is thirteen weeks old, he’s had his second round of shots, weighs about 22 lbs. and is being a typically slow Griff in housebreaking.  We are about 75% there, but we average about one accident per day.  He knows how to fetch, comes to his name, has done well with loud noise conditioning, is a total gentleman in the crate (not one accident ever!), uses his nose, points things he find interesting and is just a fun, spoiled Griff puppy!!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy

Obi in the pack pile

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy (2)

It took about two weeks for Fire to accept Obi

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Obi brought me a leaf

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How Obi enjoys our nightly anime watching with our boys

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Caleb with Obi hiking in the woods behing our house

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Crate

Obi learned the command “box up” from the big girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppy Pointing Wing

The silly old wing on a string is good for a sight point

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A cedar waxwing ran into our living room window and died, so it became a training dummy

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Obi’s first walk at our dog training wildlife management area

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Caleb, Charles and the dogs

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Obi falls behind at the end of the long walk like a normal little pup

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Obi eyeballs a bouncing tennis ball.

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Obi fetching the tennis ball.

I am really excited to watch this pup develop and turn out as a great hunting dog and eventually once he proves himself, stud for our program.

End of hunting season

Charles made it out a couple of more times after wild birds and he saw some, but none came home with him and the dogs.  We did go out on January 20th for another European tower shoot with Ruth.  It was in the single digits, so I’m dressed up in my walking sleeping bag.

Charity Upchurch and Ruth Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charity in her insulated camo with Ruth

Charles Upchurch European Tower Shoot

Charles bundled up to gun

Ruth Retrieve Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Ruth retrieving a hen pheasant (legal at a preserve) that Charles shot.

It’s time for me to move on to returning emails and making phone calls to my prospective owners.  We are in the last throes of winter and soon spring and puppies will be here.  Hang in there and stay warm everyone!

 

Nebraska’s Late Hunting Season Surprises

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We’ve had a mating with two ties on Thursday and Friday of last week between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire” and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief”, so we’ll be expecting the arrival of puppies sometime between March 8 and 13, for homegoings eight weeks later around May 3 through 9.  This is all my calculations at this point and subject to change once the pups are actually whelped.  I currently have ten reservations with deposits, but feel free to e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be on our backup contact list in the event that a potential new owner drops out or if we have more puppies that I have reservations.

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part I

On a tip from a good friend we headed north a couple of weeks ago to make an attempt at pheasants and quail, and were pleasantly surprised.  There was 4-5 inches of hardpack snow throughout the fields with butt-deep drifts in places and the cover was pretty thick to begin with, so it was not easy walking.  Our first field we walked for a good half hour, seeing hundreds of pheasant tracks in the snow, but put up nothing.  Then we saw a couple of roosters get up way out of range and the dogs started pointing hens like mad.  There was one point of Ruth’s where she had the hen pinned on one side and I walked towards her nose and the hen almost hit me in the face when it flushed.  We probably got up seven hens in that field, but no roosters in range.

The second spot that we stopped at, a covey of quail got up in the wide open about 15 yards into the push, but I had no shot since they were all around Charles and he was uphill from me.  He took a quail out of the bunch and I’m pretty sure it was Fire on the retrieve.  We worked our way another 75 yards and there was this scrubby ditch full of plum thickets and gnarly burr oaks.  He got on one side, I was on the other and the dogs were really birdy as we pushed down it.  Charles said, “They’re both on point!” in a loud whisper.  Two or three roosters get up, Charles takes down one right by me, I unloaded both barrels on one flying at the edge of range and four more go soaring by me totally within range (of course my gun is empty and I can only watch), while a few more boil out of the shrubs going away from us.  I seriously think that there were nine roosters in that group and it was the biggest bunch that I have ever seen in my life in Nebraska.  Ruth picked up the rooster for Charles and we finished the circle on that field, seeing nothing else.

So at that point we were getting up on 11 AM, I’d already marched over five miles in the snow after not having hunted all season.  I had been so focused on swimming to train for my lifeguard test that I hadn’t been hiking or hunting.  Let me tell you that swimming and hiking/hunting do not use the same muscles at all.  Deciding to pick up hunting again at the end of the season was not optimal and I need to make sure to get after it right away in September if I want to have any success next year.

Charity Upchurch hunting

Charity with her skunked face on

The next spot that we hit was right by a busy road and I didn’t see any really scrubby parts of it, so I was like, “Nah, I’ll sit this one out for the next one.”  Charles worked his way over the hill for about 30 minutes and as he and Ruth were working their way back, I started taking pictures.  It was cold and I had taken my coat off, so I just snapped a few and jumped back into the truck.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon On Point

Charles walking in to Ruth on point on two roosters

It wasn’t two minutes later that two shots rang out and I saw the last pheasant go down.  Charles shot a double!  Once I talked to him about what happened I found out the Ruth retrieved the first one, which was hit hard, then dropped it because she wanted to go after the second one which wasn’t hit as hard.  They lost track of the first bird but Ruth was able to retrieve the second one to hand.  I saw that they were struggling to find the first bird since they had lost their place, so I let Fire out and she and I went to where they had taken the first shot and found the bird.  Charles had a limit of roosters and a quail by noon.  It was a long drive home and we had gotten up very early, so we called it a day.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Pheasant and Quail

Charles with a limit of roosters and a quail, along with Ruth and Fire

Although Charles had completed his Nebraska Upland Slam on his trip with his buddies out to the southwest, he didn’t have the photographic evidence to submit it.  So this was the photo that got him to finish the Nebraska Upland Slam for the season.

Charles Upchurch upland slam

Welcome Obi, Part I

Over the weekend we headed out to Wyoming to pick up our new male pup Obi.  In my next post I’ll take apart his pedigree to show you why I picked him for the next candidate for our stud dog.  Today I’ll just show you pictures.

Things you see in Wyoming:

Wyoming sign

The official welcome sign

Wyoming Welcome

The real welcome sign

Wyoming Vedauwoo

Someday I will hike in the Vedauwoo, but this weekend was probably my twentieth drive-by.

Traveling with Obi photos:

Bluestem Kennels Obi in car

On my lap

Bluestem Kennels Obi in crate

In the crate

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon bath

Charity giving Obi a bath at the hotel.  Photo by Charles

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons hotel

Ruth welcoming Obi into the pack at the hotel

Charles Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Obi rolling down the road on Charles’s lap

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part II

On our way home from picking up Obi in Wyoming, Charles hit one spot for pheasants.  The weather was blowing in on Sunday, so we didn’t have much time.  We passed on the first spot that we drove by since it didn’t look right, but the second one that we pulled up to had all of the things that a pheasant would like in the cold.  A windbreak to the north, harvested corn on one side, baled hay on the other side and plenty of thick and tall grass cover in the sizeable field.  I wish that I had been running a video camera as I watched him walk away, because about 20 yards into his walk a beautiful rooster flushed and he took it down.  He only broke its wing and it was still running but Ruth got in there and snatched it up.

Nebraska Pheasant Hunt

They had a second rooster flush wild on the far side of the field but come back into the thick of the middle since it really had no place to go and it was starting to flurry a bit.  Both of the dogs locked up in a patch of old sunflowers and he was able to bring a second rooster home.

With the weather getting nasty, it was time to take a photo and get back on the road home.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Nebraska Pheasant

A couple of southern Nebraska roosters for Charles and the girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon First Pheasant Eight Weeks

Obi got to see his first rooster

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Eight Weeks

Obi and I ran around in the ditch while they were hunting

Welcome Obi, Part II

Bluestem Kennels Obi and Caleb

Caleb is glad to have a new pal

Obi at the vet

Obi meeting everyone at the vet

End of hunting season

The end of January marks the end of hunting season in Nebraska.  I have had a lot of distractions the last couple of years but plan to get back into the field with renewed vigor in September.  I think that Charles might get out a couple of more times and we’re going out to another European tower shoot on Monday, with me handling and Charles shooting.  Practicing shooting at the tower shoots and over the summer with his sporting clays and skeet makes all of the difference for him.  Hunting wild pheasants in Nebraska is tough and you have to be able to hit since there are not gobs of birds.

A few pics from our New Year’s Day walk:

Other random things

I am going to start the process of monetizing the blog and my YouTube videos.  I have the raw footage to make a grooming video, but it is going to take me at least four hours to edit and I need to figure out a compensation structure for my creations.  I want to keep my puppy prices in the affordable range so that real hunting families can adopt them.  But expect to see changes coming to the blog and our YouTube channel in the future.

I’ll make sure to keep you posted about the end of the hunting season and the beginning of our “Q” Litter of puppies.  Yes, that means that this is my 17th litter.  Who would have guessed that ten years later it would turn into this!

Stay warm.

Breeding Season: here with the new year!

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Please feel free to e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on the contact list in the event that Fire has more puppies than I have taken reservations.  I currently have ten reservations for our Spring 2020 litter, but have had litter sizes up to 13-14 puppies in the past, so there may be an opportunity to get a pup from us this spring.

Charles Upchurch and Fire

Charles and Fire in Southwest Nebraska a couple of weeks ago.  Photo by Aaron Wimmer

One of my Christmas presents this year is that Fire’s heat cycle started on Christmas Day, so now it is countdown to ovulation and breeding sometime after the new year.  Luckily, Chief is just a twenty minute drive down the road so I can continue avoiding the reproduction vet and progesterone testing another year and just let my stud and dam tell me when it is time to get this done.  That has puppies being whelped in March and going home in May, just as I had wished for!  Send us some positive breeding vibes, I just got word that a top female in the breed reabsorbed her litter halfway through gestation and is very ill.  This process is not without risks and I feel incredibly lucky that everything has gone smoothly over the last ten years of breeding here.

Kyle and Chief

Kyle and Chief hanging out

A New Home for Ally

My second Griffmas miracle was one of Ruth’s sisters down in Oklahoma easily finding a new home.  I had originally thought to take her back, but there is just too much craziness around here as it is for me to take the time to retrain a dog right now.  Prior to putting it out to the general public, I asked my friends Jimmy and Sandi if they knew anyone who would want her.  They have Zoey, which is from my “E” litter in the way back, which was my last litter with Sam and Sue.  Come to find out, they had been thinking of adding to the dog family.  Ally went home with them yesterday, what a blessing for us all!  I can’t thank Jimmy and Sandi enough for helping me with this.  I want to make sure that my pups are all in happy homes throughout their lives and if anyone ever needs to re-home one of them due to life situation changes, I am here to help with the process.

Ally

Ally headed to her new home.  Photo by Jimmy Clark.

Southwest Nebraska Pheasant and Quail

Charles and Fire had a great trip to Southwest Nebraska with private land access at the beginning of December.  They had plenty of success, but when you send a guy out with his buddies on a hunting trip, the photography is pretty scarce.  The first day that he was out, I got a text at the end of the day saying that he’d had success and of course I asked for a photo.  This is what I got:

Cleaning Birds

Standing around the dumpster cleaning birds

That is never going to make it into Grey’s Sporting Journal, but I guess it is true to life.  At least a few days later he tried to clean the dumpster photo a bit (but still not up to artistic standards):

Birds

A lineup of roosters and quail on the dumpster

Finally someone must have heard my silent internal screams of angst and got a halfway decent action photo.

Charles Upchurch and Fire Action

Charles and Fire looking for birds.  Photo by Aaron Wimmer.

Fun was had by all, he got to eat bierocs (homemade runzas) and sauerkraut pizza (I guess it is good), get some good dog work in and spend time with some downhome rural Nebraskans.

The story about Fire from this trip that I hear over and over again is that there was one instance where she was retrieving a quail and totally locked solid on point on a hen pheasant.  It is always cool to see the instincts kick in like that.

European Tower Shoot

When you see the influenza maps of the US and Nebraska is in red, you had better believe it.  I have gotten sick more times this year than I have in a decade.  Guess we’ll be getting flu shots next year.  I was totally sick at the European Tower Shoot, but I went and handled Ruth anyway.  It was cool to watch her do 15 retrieves in a day.  It was our first time doing one and the way they work is that there are stations in a circle, sort of like a skeet range.  Except the circle is a few acres and is filled in with cedar trees in the middle so that people don’t shoot each other.  The birds are released from a high tower in the middle so that they fly over the trees and you shoot them.  Don’t tell PETA.  There were probably 75 pen raised birds who gave their lives for the sport that day.  It was a noble cause.

Charity Upchurch and Ruth European Shoot

Charity and Ruth in the shooting station

Charles Upchurch European Shoot

Charles in his European-style garb

Black Pheasant and Ruth

Ruth retrieving a black pheasant

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

The traditional ringneck rooster retrieved by Ruth

That photo of Ruth and the ringneck is probably one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken in awhile.  I like the colors of the pheasant and the one eye of the dog.

Change of Seasons

I have some sad news to report.  Charles also took Zoro on the trip to Southwest Nebraska and it did not go well for him.  He collapsed in the field and we had to say goodbye.  We are not sure if it was an environmental poison or congenital defect, but something attacked his liver according to the tests.  It was the hardest on little Caleb, who loved Zoro very much.  We had high hopes for him and he leaves a hole in our breeding program.  Rest in Peace, Zoro.

RIP Stonyridge Zoro

Caleb and Zoro

Yet hope springs eternal and a new breeder has a male pup ready for us in a couple of weeks.  As of today, I want to register him as “Kenobi My Only Hope” and have the call name “Obi”, but we’ll see.  We want Caleb to name him.

The pedigree could not complement our breeding program any better.  He is the great-great grandson of “Mae” AKC/NAVHDA Little Lady Aspen, who is the mother of two senior hunters from our kennel.  The pup is also the grandson of a sibling of our foundation stud Sam’s sire.  He is also related to our foundation bitches Sue and BB.  I’ll post the pedigrees and show everything off in detail once he is in our anxious hands!

This will be our third attempt in the last five years at securing an outside stud dog.  We will have close to $10,000 wrapped up in having a stud of our own when all is said and done.  So when people wonder where the puppy money goes…yeah, it goes fast.  But we are passionate about continuing to improve this breed.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Pup

In the words of Princess Leia, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!”

Happy New Year everyone, and new decade depending on who you talk to.  Let’s make it a great one for the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed.  In the last few years, we’ve become the second most registered dog in NAVHDA behind the German Shorthaired Pointer.  Make these quality dogs, not just quantity.

 

Busy with Big Game

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Pheasant season here in Nebraska has been off to a slow start for us, with many of our usual haunts still underwater.  Charles has put an antelope and a deer in the freezer and he’s on the road again in search of another trophy mule deer buck in the Sandhills.

I have an idea of a few spots that I want to hit that aren’t underwater over the next few weeks, but I’m primarily focused on two boys in winter sports: one wrestles and the other one just started swim team. So the dogs and I spend an hour at the dog park a few days a week.  Here are some random fun shots of them (if you click on them, you can make them bigger).  It is good to get them out and socialized with other dogs and people.

I’ve had some questions asked by folks on the list for pups next year of when Fire is expected to come into season.  The earliest is around Christmas but it can be as late as Valentine’s Day.  So I’d say pups would be whelped between February and April and go home between April and June.  But those are all just guesses and we’ll have to wait for Mother Nature to tell me what is up.  I will let everyone know as soon as I know, I have yet to miss a breeding in the ten years that I’ve been doing this, so I’m feeling confident in my abilities to get this done.

We had our second female pup get an advanced hunting title recently (Bluestem Blooming Sunflower SH was our first female AKC Senior Hunter pup a few years back).  Bluestem TracHer out of our 2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae earned her AKC Senior Hunter over the fall.  Congratulations to Susan and Tom up in North Dakota for all of your hard work over the years to make this happen!

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Bluestem TracHer SH

That’s all for now, hopefully we’ll get you some bird photos before Thanksgiving!

Fall’s Abundance

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We are planning a litter of pups for Spring 2020 between Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” and Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”.  The reservation list is currently full, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be placed on the contact list for in the event there are additional puppies.

Ruth (Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I) won’t be bred until 2021, but we received her OFA Hip scan and it came back “Good”.

Ruth OFA

Currently the plan for 2021 would repeat my surprise breeding from last year, using Stonyridge Zoro as the stud.  His sire, Stonyridge Otis “Cooper”, is now VC Stonyridge Otis, NA II UT I.  For those of you who don’t speak hunt test alphabet, the “VC” stands for NAVHDA Versatile Champion, meaning that he passed the 2019 NAVHDA Invitational Test, the highest level test in the club.  In order to qualify for that, he recieved a Prize I on his Utility Test, the highest level in the adult hunting test.  The NA II means that he got a Prize II on his Natural Ability test, which needs to be completed by the age of sixteen months.  NAVHDA offers three open tests: the Natural Ability test, the Utility Preparatory Test and the Utility Test.  Each test has three levels of scoring with I being the highest and III being a pass.  The best way to learn about these tests is by attending a NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic near you.

General Dog Health Information Update

A few things that come up in conversation with my fellow dog breeders online that I feel like I should pass along.  This was a bad year for outdoor fungi and algae with dogs.  Blastomycosis (dirt fungi) and blue-green algae ravaged the country and had a big impact on hunting dogs training this year, with many deaths occurring.  Especially with first year pups, keep an eye on vomiting and lethargy and make sure to take it seriously and go to the vet.  The dog can be saved if steps are taken immediately.

Grain-free diets.  Just don’t.  Or if you do, it’s at your own risk.  The FDA has started the research to back up the numerous cases of dialated cardiomyopathy that veterinarians are seeing in otherwise healthy young dogs.

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Three Dog Day: Fire, Ruth (on top) and Zoro

Dead Bird Photos? Yes or No.

Scott Linden of the TV Show Wingshooting USA posed the question on his social media recently of whether or not dead bird photos are necessary or appropriate.  For people who operate hunting dog kennels they are mandatory.  We have to put birds in front of our breeding stock and our clients need to see that it is happening.  Right now, I am just not able to get away to get into the field to take live action hunting photos.  The time that I do get into the field, I want to spend hunting right now.  Once the boys are older, I will have more time for field photography, but for right now we have to settle for the dead bird photos.  So dead bird photos?  YES.

Snipe and Rail Hunt

Charles took Zoro just down southwest of where we live to a spot where we can reliably get into rail and snipe.  The birds are not much larger than your average tweety bird, so it is good pointing practice for the dog to get used to stopping on very little scent.  It is also a good way to work on preventing “hard mouth”, since the bird is very small and the dog has to hold it gently to bring it to hand.

We normally get into sora rail, which have the yellow triangular beak, but this year was the first time that we’ve taken any Virginia Rail.  They have the more reddish hooked beaks.

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Zoro and his snipe, with long beaks on left, and rails on right

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From left: three sora rail, four Virginia Rail, and six snipe

No Dogs Allowed: Sandhills Antelope 2019

Charles spent four days this week hunting antelope out in the Nebraska Sandhills.  He passed on some small bucks and settled on a doe.  We already have antelope horns on the wall, so the trophy pressure was not there.  He got to see lots of wildlife and some dumb grouse hunters (hint: sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens are not in the trees).

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The smaller antelope bucks that he passed on.

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The gun perspective, he likes to belly crawl in close

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His classic gun and big game photo

Sandhills Ducks and Grouse

Yesterday he finally got out with the dogs and chased some birds around.  It sounds like Ruth had an adventure with one of those ducks going down still alive and swimming under a muskrat mound to get away.  But she was able to dive down to grab it.  I wish that I had been there to see it, I always love to watch the dog work a duck retrieve like that. (Somebody didn’t wash the antelope blood out of the truck bed, sorry about that.  Gross.)

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Ruth with two mallard hens and two snipe

Fire and Charles did get into some more grouse and prairie chickens but with Fire being a little out of practice, there were a few slow points with wild flushes and birds flushing on the edge of range.  But a prairie chicken in the bag is better than nothing.

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It sounds like that he is out again this morning, so there may be additional photos to tack on to this post as the day progresses.  He drives back home tomorrow and then we wait for pheasant season to open up here.

My favorite pheasant spot is along the river and is probably going to be flooded out this year, so I’m most likely going to be working my way south and west of here looking for quail and pheasant while the kids are in school.

Happy hunting for those of you out in the fields this fall.  We are truly blessed to have well-managed public lands available to us all around the country.  I hope to see more of them in the future once the boys are grown, but for now I’ll just get out when and where I can and watch everyone else get the rest of it done on social media.

 

Opening Weekend 2019

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For those of you who are on the reservation list for 2020 Spring Puppies from dam Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”, we are going to use Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” as the stud.  His information is on the “About Our Dogs” page of the website.  Let me know if you have questions.

If you would like to be on the contact list in the event that we have additional puppies available, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

In other random kennel news, I took Ruth in for her OFA hip x-rays and the vet said everything looked good, so now it is just a matter of getting the certificate back from OFA to see what rating they give her hips.

Sandhills Upland Opener

Our usual luxury accommodations in town are currently occupied by other family members, so we decided to camp at the lake over the weekend.  With all of the moisture this year we were happy that the sandburrs were still pretty moist, but the mosquitos were sure thick.  The boys and I focused on things like swimming, shooting 22 rifle, kayaking, making s’mores (and just making meals in general), and my favorite part — stargazing.

Brenda Allison - Sandhills Stars

The night sky of the Nebraska Sandhills, photo by Brenda Allison

 

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Sunset over the lake, no filter.  By Charity Upchurch

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Not listed on AirBnB!

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Fifteen year-old Conrad has become a good kayaker,

 

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Ten year-old Caleb had fun with the .22.  Both of the boys did, we ran out of ammo.

You can see in the background of the picture of Caleb that some unknown soul added an “amenity” to our shared primitive campsite.  They turned a five gallon bucket into a pit toilet by cutting the bottom off of it, creating “teeth” so that you can stick it in the sand, then screwed a toilet seat to the top!.  So all you needed to do was to dig a hole to put it on top of, then you use your shovel to “flush” with the sand pile.  Thank you creative redneck!!

Oh but you wanted to hear about hunting, right?

So after every upland magazine has published an article about the Nebraska Sandhills, every yahoo in the country is out there trying to chase sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens.  Which I am happy for honestly, there was a span of about five years where it looked like we were the only ones out there.  The non-natives stay pretty close to the highway because unless you know the dunes, it is a scary place.  And even for those of us who know it, it can play tricks on you sometimes.  This year the biggest hazard is water on the roads, so even if you have maps and GPS that say that a road is there, it may be closed or flooded.

Charles took Zoro out the first day and ended up with a dove and a sharpie in the bag.

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Charles and Stonyridge Zoro with a sharptailed grouse and a dove

On Monday he took Ruth out and got a limit of three.

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Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I “Ruth” and Charles with a limit of grouse.

The Sunday grouse went in the pot with some marinated chicken and canned vegetables for supper that night.

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Cutting up grouse for the pot.

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Camp food (the grouse is the dark meat)

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Coleman camp kitchen

The three sharpies that came home with us went right on the griddle with some chimichurri sauce on the plate (I forgot to take pictures).  Give them a good marinade and cook them like a medium rare steak for the best flavor.  When I’m at camp, I cook it as stew meat all the way through just to make sure that I’m avoiding food poisoning, since our sanitiation is as good as we can get it, but not up to normal “hot-water-from-the-tap” standards.

Up Next

I am really sucked into youth football right now, but it will be over in time for pheasant and quail season.  I console myself with the fact that I’ve shot plenty of grouse and prairie chickens, and that youth football is only this year and next.

Charles has his sights set on some early teal duck action here locally.  He is going to skip North Dakota again this year until things improve habitat and bird number-wise up there.  He did draw a Sandhills antelope tag, so he’ll be back out there for that and some more birds and ducks hopefully.

Continued success in the fields for everyone and good luck to all of those who are running in fall hunt tests!

Turtle Soup and the end of summer

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My reservation list of ten for Spring 2020 puppies is currently full.  Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on our contact list in the event that a spot opens up on the reservations list or if there are additional puppies when the litter is born.

Where did summer go?  It never seems long enough.  Now it is time for youth football for my youngest son and we just took our oldest to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  My middle son is busy getting through high school and learning to drive.  But the dogs always make their presence known and of course we have to keep them exercised for hunting season.  So here are a few shots from our weekly runs.

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Zoro in the grass

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Zoro on a run

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Ruth taking a break

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Fire on the move

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Fire pointing some old scent (or a really tucked in bird)

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Ruth, Fire and Zoro heading back to the truck

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Zoro, Fire and Ruth watching me clean the bathroom

Our first Utility Prize I pup

Bluestem Winchester SH, NA I is now UT I and qualified for NAVHDA Invitational!  Chester is owned by Sal Licata out in New York and is out of our “C” Litter of 2012 between Sam and Mae.  We couldn’t be more proud, great work!

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Sal and Chester when he earned his AKC SH title

Turtle Soup

Over the summer I found a snapping turtle in a parking lot of one of our local businesses.  I can see why the pioneers like to eat these critters.  They have a lot of meat on them!  Chicken of the swamp.  They taste sort of like alligator, be sure to give it a try if you get a chance.  After I caught it (you need a current fishing license to do this), we let it live in the bottom of a trash can with a pool of water in it under a mulberry tree (he ate bugs and fallen mulberries) for a week to clean himself out.  I dumped out the water and gave him fresh every day.  We then dispatched him using a sharp ax, with one person pulling the tail and shell back while the other used pliers to grab his snout, pull his neck out and chop his head off.  You have to leave them hang in a cool place for about six hours before they stop moving before you can cut them up.  Here is the recipe that we used: https://honest-food.net/turtle-soup-recipe-creole/

Grooming video still in the works

I have the footage for the grooming video but I am going to wait until I have more time this fall/winter to edit it.  I am working with new editing software and I find it extremely frustrating and time consuming.  Please be patient.

Hunting season is here!

Now that we are down to three dogs it is easier for Charles to take over most of the hunting “responsibilities”.  I’m sure that he doesn’t mind.  This weekend is sharptailed grouse and prairie chicken opener in Nebraska.  I might get out for a couple of hours, but I’m going to focus most of my time over the weekend on camping with the boys.  There is still a crazy amount of water out in the Sandhills so it will be interesting to see the places where there are water crossings where there usually aren’t any.

Good luck to everyone heading out into the fields this season!

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