“N” Litter 4 Weeks

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The “N” Litter is about 4.5 weeks old now and if the weather would cooperate, they would be ready to move into the outdoor kennel.  It looks like it will be Wednesday when they can finally go out.  Right now they are eating Diamond puppy kibble mixed with soft food.  In another week or so I will cut the soft food altogether and just do dry kibble.

All of these puppies are spoken for and I have five deposits for Fire’s litter due at the end of March.  I have decided to wait until Fire whelps before doing any more interviews.  I prefer to sell puppies that I have rather than betting on puppies that I don’t have yet.  I don’t do X-rays or ultrasounds because that is just more dragging the female around and it really isn’t necessary.  What comes out is what comes out.  So I appreciate everyone’s patience who has submitted an application and we’ll see where we stand in a few weeks.

These guys have their eyes wide open, are walking around well and are almost climbing out of the whelping box.  They love to chew on each other and run around.  Here is the YouTube video for this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6KcR4CxRPQ&t=28s 

Here are a few still shots of the litter, I will get individual updated photos next time:






Here comes spring, I am looking forward to more daylight in the evenings to spend time in the yard with the dogs.

The same weekend that these guys start to go home, Charles and our son Conrad will go to Wisconsin to pick up a new male pup from Stonyridge Kennels.  We are excited and hope that the little guy turns out to be everything that we hope for him and help to influence our future breedings.

Enjoy the coming of the light tonight and I’ll check back in soon.

“N” Litter 2018 at Three Weeks

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All of these puppies are spoken for and I have taken sufficient interest for my second litter of 2018 as well.  Thank you to everyone for your vote of confidence as a breeder.  If you have sent in an application or have e-mailed about receiving one (or with any other questions for that matter), I will be in touch soon when I clean out the inbox (P.S. I am back in school the rest of this week and will be working on kennel correspondence over the weekend and into next week).

I am taking today to get through learning the video camera system on my DSLR and the video editing features of Windows 10 Photos.  It took a few hours, but I finally figured out how to get it all done to some modicum of decency.  Here is the YouTube video of the puppies at three weeks old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJngbnzMXqc

I took individual photos of nine puppies today!  How fun!  They are all growing nicely and outgrew the kiddie pool in the living room, plus the weather has been improving, so they are back in the whelping box until it gets warm enough for them to move outside in a couple of weeks.  They will also start on puppy mush food this week.  I don’t actually call the puppies by these names.  They will be called by the collective “puppies” along with the clanging of food pans very soon.

Reminder to the future owners (I will also be sending an email tomorrow or responding to what I have), these puppies turn 8 weeks old on Wednesday, April 4th, so I’d like to have them picked up by Sunday, April 8th.  These photos hardly capture the personality of these puppies, so although you may have a preference for a particular puppy and we do our best to have it all turn out the way that everyone wants it to, the final placement decisions rest with me right after the six week birthday of the pups.  In eight years, I haven’t had a placement complaint, so I’ll take that as a compliment.  But we’ll talk as we get closer and as the puppies grow and show more individuality.

It finally feels like spring and it was 55 degrees out when took these pictures out on the back patio.  I have just enough time to get these photos uploaded and labeled with names, then I have to get supper on, then get ready for a choir concert.

Here are the boys of the “N” Litter 2018, Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II x Bourg-Royal CB Bluestem JH, NA I UT III:

Norman, male, back


Norman, male, face


Nicholas, male, back


Nicholas, male, face


Noah, male, back


Noah, male, face


Newman, male, back


Newman, male, face


The girls of the “N” Litter 2018:

Namaste, female, back


Namaste, female, face


Nichole, female, back


Nichole, female, face


Nefertiti, female, back


Nefertiti, female, face


Nellie, female, back


Nellie, female, face


Nettie, female, back


Nettie, female, face


I will try to keep the blog updated with new photos every week now that they have their eyes open, they will sure change quickly!  Enjoy the video and photos, until next week!

Welcome “N” Litter 2018

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All of these puppies are currently spoken for with deposits.   Email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to request an application for our second litter of 2018.

We are expecting a second litter at the end of March to go home at the end of May.  I have several applications to review and to set up phone interviews with.  If you have submitted an application, please be patient with me in getting those processed and phone calls scheduled.  I already have two deposits on this litter with one more on the way, so I have room for probably 5-7 spots, but we won’t know until Mother Nature gives us those puppies.

“N” Litter 2018

At 4 AM on Wednesday, Feburary 7th, I heard a howl from the whelping area and I arrived to find BB with one pup in the box already cleaned up and one just delivered that she was working on.  Over the next twelve hours, we ended up with twelve live births.  One pup faded quickly and didn’t make it to having their tails and dew claws done on Thursday.  I took eleven to the vet on Thursday, but two faded in the night (as predicted by the vet, they were weak and did not have the ability to suckle) and by Friday morning we had nine healthy, vigorous puppies left: five females and four males.  That is the nature of whelping a large litter, there are always a few fade-outs in the first couple of days and I’ve grown to accept that sad part of the process over the last eight years that I’ve been breeding.

BB the day before she whelped.


The view from the whelping box.


Here are the photos from going to the vet of BB and the pups immediately after their visit I took a video of them in the laundry basket at the vet that is on my Facebook page Bluestem Kennels ~ Wirehaired Pointing Griffons


Here they are settled in on February 10th, right before I left for New York City to attend the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.


And finally, the photos that I took today at nine days old.


My handheld camcorder died over the last year, but my new DSLR has video capabilities.  It is just a matter of me figuring it out here over the next few days and I’ll get to posting some new YouTube videos.  Folks have asked about individual photos and I won’t take those until their eyes open at two to two-and-a-half weeks old.

I will post weekly updates until the puppies go home at 8 weeks old.  This litter will go home starting Wednesday, April 4th at the earliest, with most of them going home the weekend of April 7th and 8th.

An update about the Westminster Kennel Club dog show will be forthcoming as I prepare an article for the Griffonnier, the magazine of the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association.  I currently serve as co-editor of the magazine and we were nominated for the 2017 Dog Writers of America Association Breed Club Magazine award.  If you would like to become a member to receive a copy of our quarterly publication celebrating all things Griffon, join online at https://www.awpga.com/membership

Congratulations to all of the WKC winners and to all of the future owners of these great pups!  I’ll be back with a new post as soon as possible.

Hunting and Breeding, oh my!

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If you are interested in being considered for a puppy from one of our two litters that we are breeding this year, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com and I will send you over a questionnaire.  I had over 100 initial contacts to sort through to start with and having more inquiries coming in daily, I needed a way to narrow the search for owners down.  For those of you who have already responded with a completed questionnaire, I will begin sorting through those tomorrow and send you an e-mail receipt that I have received you questionnaire and am processing it. (I need to make the questionnaire an online form that submits through the website, but I’m my own website admin and not there yet).

BB was first bred by Chief on December 12, so that has puppies being whelped the second week of February and going home sometime at the beginning/mid-April.  Fire has now been bred by Chief, with first tie being January 19th.  They had another tie this morning, so we are still in the midst.  Fire’s pups will be born mid to late March and go home mid to late May, if all goes as planned.

If all goes as planned and as it has gone in the past, I could have 20-25 puppies this season.  That number could be lower, just depending on what Mother Nature decides to give me this year.  It might only be 10 between the two litters.  We just don’t know until we get there.  I do ask for your continued patience as I am not only a dog breeder, but also a mom of three whose husband travels for business frequently, the co-editor of the AWPGA magazine, a substitute middle and high school teacher, a youth wrestling coach and a show choir stage mom.

I may not be super accessible, but I breed great dogs!!

BB preg 2018

Pregnant BB having her breakfast today.

Speaking of which, we’ve had some good hunts recently.  Back at the beginning of the month Matt and Charles went out with Fire.  The only bird on the day was Matt with a single quail.


Matt, Fire and Charles with a quail.

After that round of snow melted and before we got pummeled with these two rounds of Arctic air and snow these past few weeks, there was one day of 50 degree weather.  The roads were a little muddy, but I went for it.

Me Jan 2018

Starting off a good hunt in the Missouri River valley.

BB, Chief and I worked our way diagonally across this area.  When we got to the far corner, Chief went on solid point in a clump of grass.  I kicked up a rooster and knocked it down on the second shot.  Chief was right on him and brought me the bird.

Chief pheas Jan 2018

Good boy Chief

BB went on the lam down the river a ways, but Chief and I got on to a covey of quail not thirty yards away from the rooster.  There were probably twenty total that got up in three flushes, which made it confusing for Chief when I knocked one down out of the first flush.  I finally reined BB back in and she got right to finding the bird.

BB Quail Jan 2018

Good girl BB on the quail retrieve

We stumbled around some more looking for that covey of quail, but it was getting late, muddy and dangerous.  I was tripping over logs covered by grass and the wind was picking up and bringing a storm in.  And it was almost time to get the kids from school.  So as I was pulling back and trying to get the dogs out of there BB located the covey again and busted them up out of range.  Later on our way back, Chief went way out on after a rooster.  I was just in way too big of a hurry to get out of there and I had done what I had set out to do.

Me2 Jan 2018

A selfie with Chief, BB, a rooster and a quail.

Just this past Saturday, Charles and our ten month-old pup Ruth went out and knocked down five quail and a rabbit.  She has been a little slow with her wild bird retrieving consistency (which is very common when training a pup), but Charles said that she retrieved these with no hesitation and brought them to hand.

Ruth Quail Jan 2018

Ruth, a cottontail rabbit and five bobwhite quail.

We’re down to a week left in hunting season and Charles is talking about taking some time off from work to get some more time in the field.  I need to work on lining up new puppy owners (hang in there guys!) and getting ready to go partake of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City in a few weeks as a spectator!  Thanks for checking in and I’ll keep you all up to date on the happenings.



Breeding Season Update

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Please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the contact list for winter 2017 breedings for spring 2018 pups.

We had our first tie between Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” and Bourg-Royal CB Bluestem JH, NA I UT III “BB” on December 12th.  A successful breeding would have puppies whelped around February 9-16 and going home around April 6-13 or so.

I am still running behind on responding to e-mails, so please be patient with me.  I will respond individually to e-mails that I have currently that have not been responded to, then send out a mass e-mail and post to social media when I am ready to start interviewing and taking deposits.  I’m just not there right now with preparations for holiday travel, so it will be between Christmas and the first of the year when I’ll be fully operational with the kennel correspondence.

I have been busy with our youngest son’s wrestling team and working on the Hunting Issue of the Griffonnier, the magazine of the American Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Association.  As most of you know, I co-edit the magazine with my friend Amy Caswell-O’Clair of Soonipi Point Griffons in New Hampshire. Last week the Griffonnier was named a finalist in the Dog Writers Association of America contest for breed club magazines.  The winner was Chronicle of the Dog by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, but it was a great honor to be named as a finalist.


So I’ve been watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on television since I was a girl in rural Nebraska.  I always wondered who those people were with those fancy show dogs and wanted to go to NYC to the show.  It is pretty neat to be able to call many of those fancy dog show people in the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed my friends.  The DWAA banquet is during WKC and since I’ve always looked for an excuse to go, we are going.  My daughter has the weekend open from show choir competitions and will be accompanying me.

I have never been to a benched show and this is the best.  A benched show is where one of the exhibitors of each breed has to be on display at all times.  So you get to walk through the exhibition halls and look at all of the AKC breeds up close.  Saturday night is the banquet, Sunday is open to enjoy the sights of NYC (I think we are going to see “Rent” on Broadway hopefully), then Monday and Tuesday are the shows.  I still need to finalize all of our travel plans, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list thing and I’m just going to suck it up in the pocketbook and go.  I will be sure to report back on the goings on.

Charles has been taking our son Conrad into the pheasant field lately here and there and getting home late in the dark, so we haven’t had any good photo ops.

Bluestem Winchester SH, NA I “Chester” is looking good while getting it done in New York, owned by Sal Licata and photographed by Jerry Imprevento.


There are some other great photos of our pups out there getting their hunt done on social media that I should share, but right now I need to get back into Christmas preparations.  Just wanted to send a mass update as to our current status.  Thank you for your patience and Merry Christmas!!

Mid-season Update

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I apologize for falling behind on e-mails yet again.  When we haven’t been traveling together for hunting, Charles has been on the road for work, then I had to get the most recent issue for the AWPGA magazine out the door, so dog writing fell by the wayside.  I am going to focus on getting caught up by the 1st of December (our next magazine deadline), so look to hear from me soon.

We are planning two litters for Spring 2018 with Chief as stud, with BB and Fire.  It looks like BB is going to come in to season first within the next month or two.  Fire will be somewhere in there too.  I am not yet taking deposits but am establishing a contact list for when breeding occurs.  If you would like to be on my contact list for Spring 2018, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

Sandhills Duck Opener

There was a lot of water in the Sandhills of Nebraska this year, which lets the ducks really spread out across the prairie.  And it was archery antelope and deer, which brings increased traffic in the area, spooking them off.

We started the opener in our usual spot, bouncing across the prairie from pothole to pothole.  Parking the truck a dune or two over from the pond, then sneaking in on it.  The morning was already getting on by the time we made it out there, so the pothole sneak was fruitless.  The beaver-dammed creek has always been a sure thing so that is where we headed.

About a half-an-hour into it, I spotted a small flock of teal up ahead at a wide spot in the creek.  We had Chief, Fire and Ruth on the ground.  Charles grabbed Chief’s collar and crouched down, Fire was on “heel” and Ruth was just tagging along not sure what was up.  Right as we go to do the jump, an 80s Suburban comes bouncing over the road that Charles was walking on, on the opposite side of the creek from me, right in his line of fire.

Charles and I both groaned and stood up, but the ducks didn’t move.  I could see where if I just ran down this hill and angled myself next to the flock of ducks, that I’d have a shot in front of the Suburban that would be clear (they had stopped when they saw what was happening).  So I sprinted down the little knob and ran right up next to those silly teal, who finally flushed and I was able to take one down.  Pretty sure that Fire got that retrieve, but honestly it was tough directing traffic there with a truck passing through.

There were three teal in that group and it just so happened that on our way back down the creek Charles was able to harvest them with Fire and Chief on retrieve.  The dogs and Charles also walked one of his favorite spots for snipe.  Snipe in the Sandhills like it where it is flat and wet.  Tiny ponds with fen-like surroundings.  I can’t hit snipe to save my life, so I spared my hearing in that scenario.

Probably the highlight of the day was that we harvested our first male prairie chicken since I took one in 2011.


Charity’s male prairie chicken 2011

Prairie chickens like to hang out on the fringe of the valley and the dunes, where it is flat or slightly sloping (whereas the sharptailed grouse like high and choppy dunes, like I’ve talked about before).

Charles had a nice mixed bag of ducks, snipe and a male prairie chicken that day and I had my lone teal, my first duck of the season.


Prairie Chicken 2017

Charles’s male prairie chicken

On Sunday we went out again, but this time to a huge pond complex.  There are probably 20 little tiny ponds interconnected with swamp in this 80 acre area.  I was dropped in with Chief on the north end and Charles drove the truck to the south end.

Chief and I bumped a couple of mallards way out of range in the middle of a bigger pond.  I have yet to shoot a mallard, they are so smart to try and jump hunt.  They must have good vision and better wits than the teal.  We worked our way around, careful to avoid any spots of quick mud (I’ve walked out of a field sock-footed after getting my boots stuck in quick mud, it is not a joke).  A hunter actually almost died in quick mud in Nebraska within the last couple of years but just by chance a game warden was there to save him.

Chief and I are sort of out on a peninsula of dry land in the middle of this swamp and I see a rustle on the far side water in the shade about 60 yards away.  I think that it might be a couple of ducks.  We work our way over as close as we could get, since it was still another 30 or so yards across the pond.  A group of about 30 teal get up, big flush all at once.  A rattle off a salvo, nothing.  I crouch down as they circle me, reload, shoot again.  Nothing.  So we sit a little longer, I’m holding Chief’s collar because these teal are still wanting to come back through in tiny groups.  Finally on a group of three I drop one.  On the other side of the pond.

Chief is still young and we are not heavy duck hunters.  This is a blind retrieve.  I’m giving him the “find the bird” command and I’m praying that I can find enough sort of dry ground to work my way closer to the downed duck.  I carefully pick my way to the general vicinity where I think that the duck is and I’m able to safely get within 15 feet of it.  I put in a light “swatter” round and shoot the water next to the duck.  Chief goes in, retrieves it and brings it right to me.  That is a good feeling.  I know it isn’t a NAVHDA UT I duck search, but dammit, I got my duck, right?

I was happy with my one teal and Charles texted me that he’d worked the rest of the area over with no luck, so we decided to move on.  There is a similar network of ponds that we have named after the local conservation officer, since he always seems to visit us there.  It is a single point of entry, so Charles and I end up hunting fairly close to each other here.  The problem for me is that then he has all of the dog power and it isn’t even worth it for me to shoot anything, because it will take forever to get a retrieve.

Charles really cleaned up at “Frank Miller’s Spot”.  It appears to be three hen mallards, but it could be two hen mallards and a teal.  I can’t quite tell from the photo and don’t recall.


It was a fun two days of hunting the Sandhills, I never get tired of its beauty and bounty.  There has been so much water that as you can see, the hills still had green in them.

The following week in North Dakota was quite different.

North Dakota 2017

The forecasts were grim, but we wanted to see North Dakota for ourselves.  The funniest thing is that if I have to give up hunting in North Dakota to keep up with my boys in school, it won’t be the hunting that I miss the most.  I really enjoy observing life in rural North Dakota.  It is similar to Nebraska, but I guess I find it more fascinating since I’m not a part of it.  I enjoy watching the comings and goings of the townspeople, seeing the same shopkeepers over and over again, checking out the non-local hunters, and just seeing the general condition of that ecosystem.

It was super serendipitous to meet fellow Griffon breeder John Posthuma of Stonyridge Griffons in Wisconsin at the gas station up there.  He started asking Charles and I about our dogs, then he said to me, “Hey, I recognize you from Facebook.”

We are slated to get a male pup from this spring.  Everything was already in motion and there we were, at the same gas station in North Dakota at the same time.  It was cool that we got to chat in person and each of us took the time to show off our dogs to the other.


After we settled in for the evening, we hit up our usual first evening spot with no success.  The first thing that happened on our first morning was that the dogs fuzzed a raccoon.  In about 4 feet of water.  It climbed on Ruth’s back and could have drowned her.  It was a complete mess and very frustrating, that is all that I’m going to say about that.  Everyone got out of it with scratches, including the raccoon.

That was foreshadowing of the next two days.  Everything had been hayed or grazed or planted and was just brown and dry as a bone.  Not a stitch of habitat to be found.  We bumped a rooster or two out of range those first two days, but not hardly anything at all.  Finally on the third day we moved into a different area, where our friend and co-breeder Aaron normally hunts.  And of course the first great solid point (from Chief) with an in-range flush is my shot.  But by that point I was so skeptical about finding birds that I wasn’t even taking his point seriously, I thought it was a mouse.  Well it was a nice big rooster and I missed.

Finally late that afternoon we found a spot that was full of them and Charles and the dogs were able to take out a limit.  But it was a struggle.  I kept missing and called it a day.  The following day pretty much went the same, going from spot to spot and trying to suss a few roosters out of the cattails here and there.  I think that I finally now have just gotten the last of the grass awn bits and pokey things out of the skin of my legs.  It was warm out and I wore light pants.  Big mistake.  My legs were just red and full of teenie tiny thorns for a week after.

But we didn’t go home totally skunked, the weather was lovely and it is always nice to get away in the great outdoors.


A North Dakota pheasant limit for Charles, Chief and Fire


A couple of roosters and a sharptailed grouse rounded out the trip

Nebraska Pheasant

Charles took Conrad out for the youth pheasant weekend and although Conrad was not able to connect on a shot, Fire was able to find two cripples.  We suspect that they were probably birds that had been disabled during shipment before being planted by the Nebraska Game and Parks.  But Conrad got to ring their necks instead of a coyote eating them, so I suppose that at least a kid got to learn about the trials of life out of it.

Conrad and Charles hunting

Conrad pheasants

They will head back out the weekend after Thanksgiving to try to bring home some more roosters.  I will probably wait until a weekday in December and then take one of the dogs out by myself just for the fun of it.

We’ve also been distracted by deer season.  Charles made his annual trek to the Sandhills for rifle season, but he passed on all of the deer that he saw since he considers it a trophy hunt.  He got our meat deer the following weekend down here along the Platte River with Conrad in tow.  An little one-antler will taste just fine.

Conrad deer



Ruth (Chief x Fire) is up around nine months old now and is really turning out to be a nice dog.  Lots of prey drive, a good point, lots of stamina and endurance, and great family companion.  I look forward to her hunt testing this spring.  Right now she is getting her adult coat, so I try to brush her out every couple of weeks to avoid shedding.

Ruth Rug

Ruth Smile

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for in life, but right now lots of time to hunt is not something that I have.  I would like to get out for pheasants and quail at least one or two more times this year, but we just have to see.  Right now my youngest has wrestling and my oldest has varsity show and concert choirs.  And my middle needs to get his act together in school (luckily he doesn’t read this, and he is working on school, but it takes some time to manage).

I will keep watching the dogs and see how Chief’s interest in the girls goes and keep you all posted.  Until then, keep on hunting and give thanks for everything that this great land of ours has to offer.

Opening Weekend 2017

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Breeding Plans Reminder

At this time we do not have any puppies available or retiring dogs.  We are planning two litters for breeding between December and February, puppies whelped between February and April, then going home April through June.  I am fully anticipate the two females heat cycles will cooperate, but due to travel constraints, I will not breed after March 1st.

At this time I am only gathering a contact list for when breeding occurs, then again when pregnancy is confirmed four weeks later.  I will most likely start taking applications and deposits once pregnancy is confirmed, which will most likely be between January and March.

To be placed on the contact list, simply email bluestemkennels@gmail.com with whatever basic introduction email you see fit.  All of the other information about the breeding and the kennel is on the pages linked in the top brown navigation bar.

Opening Weekend 2017: Nebraska Sandhills

As we arrived in the Sandhills Friday evening, the first thing that we noticed was that the sunset looked different.  The sky was hazy and the sun itself became a bold red orb as it descended.  The smoke from the Montana wildfires had arrived and stayed with us the whole weekend.  By the time we arrived in Valentine, we could smell forest fire in the air as we exited the vehicle.

Opener 2017 Sun

We weren’t out super early, but early enough to beat the heat.  A truck from Minnesota with a dog box in the back was parked near our usual spot, plus there were cows and calves in there, we just decided to skip it and look for some new territory.  We figure that if we scout enough now while we are younger, then we’ll be able to continue to hunt with success in that area when we are old.  We have a good eye for sharptailed grouse habitat after 20 years of hunting them in the Sandhills.

High and choppy.  Lots of sumac, poison ivy and sunflowers.

The first spot that we stopped at, we picked the usual terrain of dunefield-valley-dunefield.  I knew that I had the weaker set of dunes, but I marched across them anyway with Chief.  Didn’t see a thing.  Towards the end of the push, I could see down in the valley a good windmill up against the opposite set of dunes.  It even appeared that there was standing water next to the tank.  Chief and I slowly made our way over there, as he had found a smaller pothole to swim around, cool off and drink from on our way.  I was about 20 yards from the bank of the windmill pond, when I see a flock of about 10 teal float away from my approach.  I touched my gun and my vest.  All I have are lead shells.  Shit.

I texted Charles about the teal and that I was walking the couple of miles down the flat valley to the truck, going to drive it down, swap out vests for the one loaded with steel, then jump the pond.

It was a bad jump.  Chief is not fully broken to heel, so he ran out on the beach too soon.  I came at the tiny pond from a different angle than I originally had and it just wasn’t a good angle (coming up to the top of a dune, shooting down at the pond, I really hate shooting down).  They were at the outer edge of range when they got up, and away they went unscathed.  But it was good to see a nice group of them so early in the season.  We also saw a number of flights of them high up and moving south.

Charles, Ruth and Fire saw one group in the set of dunes behind the windmill.  Charles dropped two out of it and by that time, it was getting hot.  I walked a little longer hoping to do clean-up in the dunes that he was covering and ended up with a dove in one shot on an away.  I hesitated to shoot, wanting to save the action for the grouse, but I ended up taking it anyway.  Good thing that I did, because it was the only bird that I’d take the whole weekend.

It just got too hot.  It was getting up on noon and it was just unbearable.  I had covered 10 miles with zero grouse.  We took up a different strategy.  Jump hunting windmills and ponds on his own without the dogs, but there in case he needed clean-up.  Charles took a few doves this way and even managed to get a blue-winged teal.

It was getting on with the day by the time we were rolling out of there with as hot as it was.  I asked Charles if he wanted me to take a photo of the dogs and the birds and him.  The answer was a resounding, “No.”  So we went back to town and made tacos and watched the Husker football game.

Opener 2017 1

Day 1: Notice the haze on the horizon

Day Two: Or How to Make Charity Yell at You

Explicit Warning: Adult Language to follow…

On day two, we once again tried a new spot.  But we had no less than THREE trucks drive in on us.  I mean, I am excited to see people out hunting, but don’t follow people and stop in their spots, like a few hundred yards away from them.  Not in the Sandhills, there is plenty of room for everyone.  The first two pickups stopped when we turned off of the highway, saw where we were going and following directly behind us in.  So we turned around.  They stopped and tried to chat us up.  We were like, you’re crowding us, we are leaving.  So we turned and took off in another direction.

We stopped where we finally figured on starting out.  Charles, Ruth and Fire were going to head farther out to where Chief couldn’t see them while we were hunting.  So I was sitting on the tailgate, finishing my coffee and hanging out with Chief while he still sat in the dog box.  I heard voices.

“Are you fucking kidding me?!?” I yelled.

I turned and looked towards the windmill down the hill where they were parked.  Our bright red pickup was in plain sight of them, it wasn’t like we were hiding.  I opened the backseat door of the truck, grabbed my vest and put it on, pulled out my shotgun, loaded it, snapped it shut, then let my 70-pound male dog out of the box.

“You had better go in the other fucking direction!!” I screamed as I thrust my index finger in the air, pointing them in the other direction.

I turned and marched up the hill behind me, with Chief out in front.  When I turned to look back at them, all five of the men were walking off in their hunting line in the other direction, no dogs, just like I had told them to.

It wasn’t too long before I saw my first single grouse.  It was on the edge of range when it got up on the far side of a far dune.  I took a couple of shots at it, but missed, then walked in pursuit.

I once again came up on a single and it was totally in range, perfect shot, it turned its white little football belly toward me and I shouldered the shotgun.  But due to the lay of the land, Chief was on another little hill and the grouse flushed in the valley below.  As he stood there on point, the back of his head was in my field of vision when I lined up the bead.  No shot.  I had to pull through and try to get him going away, but I missed.

So again, we walked.  We saw two more singles way out of range and flushing to areas far, far away as they caught the breeze moving across the high dunes.

Opener 2017 2

Again, the haze on the horizon

It was getting up on late afternoon and starting to be very hot.  Chief and I made our way back to the truck.  I picked some sage for drying, for incense.  The rancher came through and we talked about cattle and hunting.  Eventually Charles, Ruth and Fire made it back in before too long.  They had seen a couple of nice coveys of grouse and had taken a bird out of each one, for a total of two birds.


Charles, Fire and Ruth coming back in


Charles, Fire and Ruth with two sharptailed grouse

It was only noon, but it was time to head back to town for some time with the kids at the lake.  I wanted to leave the dogs at my mom’s house, but Charles decided that he wanted to take Ruth and BB.

The Quill is Mighter Than the Sword

It was a fabulous day, we started out at the lake around 4 PM in the scorching 100 degree heat, so it was nice and hot to swim, but cooled down a bit into the evening.  It was nearing the end of the evening, the sun was going down, and my daughter Cordelia was on the beach and asked me to grab the lip balm out of my purse.  So I headed back to the truck.  The two dogs followed.

Not ten feet behind the tailgate of the pickup, I heard BB fuzzing into something in the bushes.  A few yelps here and there from the pup.  I hollered at them to come out, I wasn’t going to wade into that.  They didn’t come out.  I spent a few minutes yelling, but still just snarling in response.  I was in my bathing suit.  I grabbed my clothes out of the truck, threw them on, then walked down the beach to try to call them from the other side of the bushes.

Out came Ruth first, pawing at her face.  Then BB.  I walked them back to camp.  BB stuck her head on the sand and just stood there as we pulled all of the quills out of Ruth’s face and mouth.  She was manageable between Charles, who pulled out quills with the leatherman, our friend Buck held the front end and I held the back end.  She wasn’t so bad, she was smart enough to stand back.

BB was horrible.  Obviously, she had been clamped on the porcupine for awhile.  We gave it a valiant effort, with flashlights and headlamps, but there was no way that she was going to let us around her lips or in her mouth.  We were able to get around her eyes, her shoulder and her upper cheek.  Pulling the ones from the inside of her nose was a bloody affair.  Again and again we tried to go for the mouth.  It was not going to work.  The quills covered the roof of her mouth and were in her tongue.  Luckily our friend Buck had the local vet’s number in his phone (I forget sometimes that I don’t have internet access everywhere!).  So he called and we got the emergency number for Dr. Joe Butler.

As we rumbled our way over the dunes on our way to town from the lake in the dark, the moon was red with smoke.  A blood moon?

I’m just going to copy what I wrote on my Facebook page the next morning:

BB says, “Thank you!” to Dr. Joe Butler and staff for showing up at 9 PM last night to pull thousands of porcupine quills out of her head, mouth and tongue under anesthesia. There is no way that we could have done that on our own. And I thank them for not only doing it, but for 1/3 of the price of the emergency vet in Omaha. Butlers have been taking care of my dogs for as long as I can remember. Thank the Lord for them!

BB post-quill

BB moping around in grandma’s backyard after a night at the vet

I just now went and checked on her and gave her the antibiotic and anti-inflammatory that Dr. Butler prescribed.  I was surprised that she wanted to leave her kennel and roam around the yard a bit.  I gave her canned food last night and she didn’t have any problems with eating.  She should recover with no problems.

When you get to be our age with multiple kids and dogs, you learn to cope in crisis.  Oh here we go, it’s another dramatic emergency.  But the biggest lesson for us on this trip is that if you are traveling to a particular area, make sure to have emergency veterinary contact information.  You never know when it can be the difference between you having a pet or not.  Or spending thousands of dollars to get something treated back in the city the next day, or a few hundred having it resolved immediately.

We’ll be back in the Sandhills in a month for the opening weekend of duck season.  I believe that what we have up next is early teal and snipe in southeast Nebraska at the end of September.  I’ll be back on the blog then.





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