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 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.