Home

First breeding of year complete!

1 Comment

To reserve a puppy from one of our spring 2012 litters, please call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net

We are pleased to announce that our first breeding of the year is complete between our 3 year old male, Sam, and our new 5 year old female, Mae.  Sue was anticipated to come into season first, but Mae surprised us.  Mae and Sam bred from January 9-11, therefore pups are expected March 13-15.  Hey game birds, “Beware of the Ides of March!”, new hunting puppies will be here!

Hunting photos of Sam can be found on our “About Us” page (I have yet to load this season’s, but they can be found on the individual blog posts containing the hunting tales on bluestemkennels.com [pre-10/01/2011] and versatilehunter.com [10/01/2011-present]).  His pedigree is a link at the bottom of the “About Us” page.

Mae came into our home on December 3, 2011 from That’s My Point Kennels in Wheatland, ND where she had successfully whelped and nursed 3 previous litters and was known as “Aspen” http://www.tmpkennels.com/ As you can see from the previous owner’s website, she was raised with young children.   At the age of one, she successfully scored a Prize II on her Natural Ability Test from the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA).

Mae's Natural Ability Test Results

Her AKC/NAVHDA pedigrees also spoke of her potential for us.  Her sire, Marquis Georgeous George hails from French import blood and the prestigious Herrenhausen kennel.  Barbara Young of Herrenhausen is an AKC and International Conformation Judge, therefore she knows and breeds good dogs.  The dam, Full of Grace, is out of the famed Fireside blood.  Fireside’s Spontaneous Combustion won 3rd place in the sporting group at Westminster last year and was the first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon ever to place at WKC.

Mae's AKC Pedigree

The hunt testing results and the strong conformation background in the pedigree drew me to “Aspen”.  She was the Butcher family’s companion in the home and field, therefore even though I was nervous about bringing a new member into our pack, I thought that these things put together boded well for “Aspen” being a good match for us and our breeding program.

I made the following YouTube video this morning of all my dogs running in the yard, just as a visual reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSb7jdZXPz8

Mae has thrived in our home and in the field.  Not even a week after bringing her home, we had her out on planted hen pheasants for training:

(Click on any of the photos to see a larger version)

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae working the field on December 9, 2011

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

One of Mae's points 12/09/2011

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Another point on 12/09/2011

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walks into Mae's point

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae retrieves on 12/09/2011

After our first training day with planted birds in a controlled environment, we felt comfortable enough to use Mae to assist in guiding at Pheasant Haven right before Christmas.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sam (front) and Mae (back) with the hunters on 12/22/2011

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sam, myself and Mae guided a hunt on 12/23/2011 also

The afternoon following the December 23rd preserve hunt, we were on the road for the Sandhills where we busted up some cattails with the whole gang, Mae included, on Christmas Eve:

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae on the left, with the rest of the pack, Charles, and the Christmas Eve Sandhills pheasant

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Charles and all four dogs on the dunes

We spent a couple of hours on Christmas Day chasing grouse with Mae and the rest of the pack, but didn’t find any.  We’ll be back for them in September!

Our last outing was on January 2nd with some chukar and quail from a game farm that we had never used before and wanted to try out.  It is important for newer dogs to get individual training attention when they are usually braced (in pairs) or ran as a pack.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

One of Mae's points on 01/02/2012

Charles shoots one of the chukars over Mae on 01/02/2012

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walking into one of Mae's points 01/02/2012

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Closeup of Mae's point that Charles was walking into

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Double chukar flush over Mae and Charles 01/02/2012

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae had more than one retrieve on 01/02/2012, but this was the only photo that turned out well

Even though we’ve only had Mae a limited time, we are confident in her ability to produce quality puppies for our kennel and contribute to our development of the breed.

I will close with a picture of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed’s founder Edward Korthals.  This was taken in 1891 when he was presented the German Kaiser’s award for breeding.  I use this photograph as guide for the dogs that I will continue working to create.  Mae fits into this perfectly.

Korthals and his prize specimens

To reserve a puppy from one of our spring 2012 litters, please call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net

A New Year’s Training Day

2 Comments

Sunday afternoon we ventured to Country Lane Game Breeders in Dwight, Nebraska  and picked up some quail and chukar partridge.  It was a longer drive than we usually take to buy training birds, but it took us down some Nebraska highways that we haven’t been down before.

Monday morning we set out with our two oldest children, 10 year-old Cordelia and 7 year-old Conrad, to plant some birds and get some one-on-one work with 10 month-old “BB” and 5 year old (but just finished her first month with us) “Mae”.

(Author’s Note: Please click on any of the photos to see a larger version)

Conrad and Cordelia were troopers on a cold, windy day

Charles takes down a quail in front of BB

BB retrieves the quail

Charles takes the retrieve from BB

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walks into BB pointing a chukar

Charles takes aim

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

BB retrieves the chukar

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae on point

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walks in for the flush and shoots the chukar

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae on retrieve

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walking into Mae's point from the side

Closeup of the same point by Mae

A surprise double flush (see the second bird getting up behind Charles?)!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Mae bringing in the retrieve

We started at the field around 10 AM and the kids lasted on the march (without a lunch even) until 1:30 PM.  Charles and Mae stayed out another hour after we returned to the truck and picked up some more birds out of the woods.  Monday night we dined on chukar/quail chili and Tuesday night was chukar/quail pot pie.  Important work for the dogs and delicious meals to boot!

Charles is talking about taking Sue and Sam back to our training field this weekend to clean up the escapees, but other than that we are looking forward to a slow weekend around the house after the holidays and before the last push of wild bird hunting in Nebraska for the season, ending January 31st.

Late Season Update

Leave a comment

BB

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

BB in the snow

Now nine months old, BB has been getting plenty of wild bird exposure this season with the pack, but last week it was time to finish her solo training.  When hunting in the pack setting, it is difficult for her to get a chance to retrieve with the older, more experienced dogs present.  We planted a couple of hen pheasants for her to practice on at the local dog training wildlife management area.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles walks into BB’s first point of the day

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

BB looking good on retrieve

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

A stylish point from BB

hen pheasant

On the flush

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

BB looking intense on retrieve

BB has done a fabulous job maturing into a hunting animal quickly.  The most important part of successfully raising a hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppy is giving them the exposure they need to tap into their natural instincts.  BB has had plenty of practice at home with basic obedience and yard work on fetching dokkens, but the majority of her hunt training has been simple exposure to situations with plenty of bird action.

Soon we will be introducing her to working as a guide dog in the hunting preserve setting, which will be an exciting addition to her experience in the field.

Sue and Sam

Our flagship working dogs have been very busy at the preserve guiding hunts.  Charles has been doing all of the guide work up with me assisting, but the volume of weekday hunts has reached a point to where I will now be taking care of the weekday guiding duties.

November 24, 2011

November 25, 2011

December 1, 2011

Morning, December 10, 2011

Afternoon, December 10, 2011

December 11, 2011

Mae

Mae (AKC/NAVHDA Little Lady Aspen) is a five year old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon who now lives in our home and kennel.  She has definitely become a member of the pack and family!  I will provide more information on Mae’s background and training in a future post.  Welcome to Bluestem Kennels, Mae!

Mae on the move

Upcoming Events

Charles is invited to hunt some private land in Southeastern Nebraska this Saturday and currently the plan is for Sam and BB to work the fields that day.  The week before Christmas, Charity and the dogs are on call at the preserve to guide a few hunts and Christmas weekend will be a Sandhills wild bird all-pack hunt.  That takes us into the last month of wild bird hunting in Nebraska, with our season closing goals being to fill at least one (each hunter gets 3 annually) of our Eastern Nebraska Prairie Chicken tags and to bag some quail.  We’ll be guiding during preserve season until March 31st, so the game isn’t up for us just yet.

We anticipate Sue coming into her breeding season sometime in February, so a few weeks into her pregnancy she’ll be taken out of the hunting circuit and it will be time for BB to step in.  Plenty to look forward to in the coming months!

Happy Holidays and Happy Hunting from Bluestem Kennels!

A Day for BB

Leave a comment

Saturday brought us BB’s first solo wild bird adventure in the field, on a snipe hunt with Charles.  It is good for the six month old pup to run with the older dogs to learn the ways of the game, but it is essential that she also be allowed to hunt independently.

As there has been a warm spell up in the northern area of the flyway, the migrating snipe were not yet noticed, just the resident population that we last hunted at our snipe swamp in Southeastern Nebraska.  Charles and BB put up several snipe, but he passed on many shots since the birds start out flying so low to the ground, it is often a risk to the dog.  He also didn’t want to shoot birds on the edge of range, as he wanted an easy “hunt dead” for BB, so that she would not get discouraged.

BB has mastered the art of the search, knows bird scent, gets birdy and points.  Right now we are still working on the retrieve with real birds, as she will mark the bird and pick it up, but not yet bring to hand reliably.  She will retrieve a dummy or dokken to hand without fail in the yard, heck, she’ll even retrieve our 2 1/2 year old’s stuffed animals when he throws them with the fetch command.  It is all just part of the process that we’d like for her to work through naturally within the next few months of hunting, knowing that with her griffon instincts she will put the pieces of the yard training and the field work together in due time.

BB's first wild bird after a long day in the snipe swamp

Reflections on Snipe Hunting

2 Comments

Sam, Charles, Sue and BB with 4 snipe, a teal and 2 doves

The habitat of the snipe is nothing that I had ever expected.  As we wandered our way down the path through the cattails, I kept my eyes sharp, looking for the zig-zag flight of the long-billed swamp bird.  Yet my vigilance was wasted in those areas of dense swamp cover and we eventually wandered into a 20 acre flat, recently grazed by cattle.

“This is where it gets interesting,” Charles warned.  We split up to cover opposite sides of a small creek that ended in a cattail marsh.  I mistakenly headed once again into dense cover, thinking that the sneaky birds would tuck themselves into the reeds.  I was sinking quickly into the mud and got my rubber boots stuck, just in time for an incoming snipe, who landed in the distant short grass.  I was able to extract myself from the mud and we walked towards where we saw the bird land.  He jumped up way out of range, but it became obvious that we were dealing with a resident population, as they did not want to leave their 20 acres.

We worked over the creek half of the plot, spotting a few more snipe getting up out of range.  Our favorite technique for birds that won’t hold tight is to tire them out, flush, then follow, flush, then follow, until they are too tired to be overly flighty.  There was no luck to be had in that half of the small territory, so we headed towards the area where the flushed birds landed.

In a spot that we had covered, next to the tiny creek in tightly grazed grass an unexpected snipe popped up with its classic, “screeee, thwicka, thwicka, thwicka”.  Aside from its larger size, the call of a fleeing snipe is the one sure way to tell it apart from a killdeer.  The chosen path of the snipe is frightening for the hunter, as it begins by flying very close to the ground, at the same height of the dogs and sometimes right among them.

The bird flew clear of the dogs and Charles made the shot, with Sue on retrieve.  Right after that, a dove flew by me in range and I watched it go, choosing to focus on trying to get my first snipe.  Another shot was fired from my husband’s gun and he took down the dove, with Sue doing another great job on tracking the small bird to deliver to her master.

Our walk continued towards a small pond, where all heck broke loose.  Charles quickly bagged another snipe in the flat next to the pond and while he was busy with Sam’s retrieve, the crazy swamp creatures were zig-zagging all around above my head.  I missed several shots on snipe, while a couple of teal busted out of the pond.  Charles was lucky to be close enough to the pond to take one of the teal, which landed in the water still alive.  The injured teal made its way towards the cattails on the edge of the bank in an attempt to hide from the encroaching dogs, but Sam was able to snatch it out of the water.

Close-up of a snipe, with a blue-winged teal in the background

The pond was completely shaken down, so we decided to head back to the creek area we had already covered.  I was in a hurry to cross the watery thread and thought I spotted a muddy area that was dry and vegetated enough to handle my crossing.  Epic fail!  I was immediately sucked thigh deep into the mud, both legs.  Charles was still trying to give me hand signals as to which direction we were going and began to walk off into the distance, so I had to shout him down to come and hold my gun so that I could attempt to remove myself from the gluey muck.  I wiggled and squiggled, but my cheap rubber calf boots were not budging.  My only choice was to leave the boots in the mud and concede defeat to the snipe swamp, pouting my way sock-footed towards the truck.

Defeated by the swamp

Not wanting to wander too far in my socks or ruin Charles’s hunt, I stood on the edge of the 20 acres as he walked back and forth with the dogs, taking two more snipe and one more dove off in the distance.

My adventure ended in the style of a proverbial snipe hunt, as defined in Wikipedia, “…also known as a fool’s errand, a type of practical joke that involves experienced people making fun of credulous newcomers by giving them an impossible or imaginary task.”  Yet I am intrigued by this interesting hunt and unusual habitat.  I will be purchasing some hip boots before I try this again, but am sure to be back and better prepared.

If you are interested in reading more tales of snipe hunting from around the globe, check out Worth Mathewson’s rare book Reflections on Snipe.

BB’s First Hunt: Our Six Month Old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

1 Comment

Saturday morning, Charles and I took BB out to the local dog training wildlife management area to plant some juvenile pheasant, in order to break her to the gun and get her used to quartering in the field.

In place of my usual still camera, I opted for shooting some video this day.  The first video I put together is Charles explaining the equipment that we use for planting birds for dog training purposes and the actual technique of planting the birds:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4vq9krd09A

The second video is Charles and BB actually hunting down the birds.  Over two sessions, there were six birds planted, but only four of them are documented on video.  One of them was a lame flier and didn’t get up high enough for Charles to shoot it.  Another of them must have ran off, as we never located it.  The midday sun was beginning to make things a little uncomfortable, so we opted for heading home instead of pushing BB too hard.

What I enjoyed about watching this process was that in the beginning BB stuck close to Charles and exhibited a lot of puppy play behavior, but by the end of the adventure, she was more concerned about getting out and searching for birds.  She also displayed her natural pointing instinct.   It was also important to keep it fun, so that birds and guns mean dog party.  If someone were to make it a frightening disciplinary training session, it would do more harm than good.

We will need to continue to work on the retrieve piece.  She “marked” the birds, meaning that she went to the bird and sort of sat down with it in front of her, so she’s able to scent/sight track the downed bird, but she wasn’t quite ready to pick them up just yet.  BB will fetch dummies and toys in the yard all day long, so I don’t think it will take too much to get through that next step, but that will be the next thing we will focus on.

Here’s the video of BB’s first hunt, enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di7x2KFzOIQ

Celebrating Freedom!

Leave a comment

This summer is slipping away so quickly!  We had a great time up in the Sandhills over the Fourth of July weekend.  The first two days of the weekend were spent out at Merritt Reservoir swimming and canoeing with the dogs.  (I apologize if some of these photos appear faint, I think my little point and shoot had a dirty lens)

Sam and Sue take a swim

Sam and BB in the water, with Sue on the beach

Charles takes Sam out for some canoe practice

BB is growing, weighing in at 27 lbs at 4 months old

BB takes a swim

Sue follows behind the canoe containing Charles and the kids

My mom talked us into walking in the Fourth of July parade, which was quite the adventure.  The dogs and the older kids did well, but I didn’t pack the stroller and Caleb wasn’t very cooperative.  It was good lead walking and socialization practice for the dogs.

Lining up for the parade

Charles walking the big dogs in Valentine's Fourth of July Parade

I have a busy couple of weeks ahead of me, but I’ll be back with a couple of videos.  I want to have a video of BB doing “fetch” and “sit”, then a second video of me grooming Sam.  I get several hits a day for a grooming post that I wrote about a year ago and I’ve learned some new tricks that I want to share.

Stay cool in these hot days of summer!

Older Entries Newer Entries