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Late Season Pheasant Hunt

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It isn’t very often that we get to enjoy a pheasant hunt in well-established native tallgrass prairie in Southeastern Nebraska.  We’re not the only ones.  In the 1960’s 140,000 hunters bagged about 1.4 million pheasants annually in Nebraska.  These days, the annual count is around 50,000 hunters and 200,000 birds (Hendee, Omaha World-Herald, 01/23/11).  Speaking to other Nebraska hunters this year from across the state, pheasant numbers this year have been up from recent years past, but obviously nowhere near the level of the mid-20th century.

Our hunt last Saturday was in some amazing habitat on private ground east of Lincoln.  It was a cold, windless winter morning, ideal for keeping the roosters held tight in the thick grass.  The air was moist and slightly foggy, perfect scenting conditions for the dogs.

The SE Nebraska combination of windbreaks, crop fields and a smattering of prairie.

Nate, the landowner, begins working the fields

Sam and Charles make their way through the big bluestem

We headed east, away from the farmstead, pushing through some thick cover towards a small cattle feedlot.  As we neared the break between the prairie ground and the feedlot, Nate saw a flock of hens flush to the north.  I saw one rooster fly into a windbreak at least 40 yards out, then Charles and I both saw another rooster spook way out of range.  I’ll admit that we were all probably a little too chatty about what we had already seen and not focused on keeping quiet for any other roosters nearby.

The guys thought they had seen a rooster land to the south in a bit of a marshy area, so we pivoted as we came to the feedlot and began to work our way through some tough swamp weeds.

Busting through some weeds

Walking down a waterway

Sam running on the left, Sue visibly pregnant on the right

As we worked our way back west out of the swampy area and into the grassland, the dogs both started acting birdy: retracing their paths with their noses to the ground, Sam sneaking lower to the ground, Sue holding her head high, circling and searching.  Finally, Sam’s beeper collar starts to make the loud, sharp beep, telling us that he’s on point.  Charles walks right in for a close flush and takes the rooster.

Stay focused! The rooster takes the impact, but unfortunately my auto-focus thought I was taking a picture of that piece of grass

Sam presents the gift

The rooster!

We continued to push southward into the corner of the property, then made our way west, working a treeline on our way.

Checking back in: that’s pregnant Sue on the left with the frosty face

Following the take of the rooster, we worked the field for another hour or so, with no further sightings of pheasant.

Arriving back to the farm

The pose: Nate with Sue, Charles, Sam and the rooster

 

Guiding at Pheasant Haven January 9th

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The snow began to fall on Sunday morning, but it wasn’t enough to deter the hunters of Pheasant Haven Hunting Acres in Elk City, Nebraska (www.pheasanthavenlodge.com).  Charles and the dogs guided their third hunt on the preserve, with myself on hand as co-handler of the dogs, guide assistant and photographer.

We began the day running both Sam and Sue, which led to some very fast shooting and more retrieves than we could keep up with at times.  There were points where we had to stop to let the dogs catch up on picking up the shot pheasants on the ground.

Charles takes a retrieve from Sue while looking out for Sam working a bird

Sam on retrieve

Sue happily checks back in

We stopped around 11 for a lunch of pheasant breast and mushroom stew, then went back out with Sam for a second sweep of the property.

Walking the fields at Pheasant Haven

Sam brings in a rooster

Sam on point

Hunter walks in on Sam’s point

Sam gives Charles another perfect retrieve

The hunters, 24 pheasant, Sam and Charles

Your reporter in the field, posing with the birds

In 2011 litter news, Sam and Sue completed breeding at Christmas and she is showing obvious signs of pregnancy.  We anticipate whelping towards the end of February.  The puppy application is ready and has been sent out to the 30+ individuals expressing interest, with more calling and e-mailing every day.  I am excited to raise these pups and get them into some excellent hunting homes!

 

Puppy Update: Gauge in Wyoming

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Trying to get back into the groove with being a stay-at-home mom again and hope to get on a better schedule with posting on the blog.  I have so many things that I want to write about, but the time gets away from me!

Here’s what Sean has to say about Gauge a.k.a Male 2.1 from the 2010 litter ( I’ll post a picture to go with it as soon as I receive one):

“I have been training Gauge with Wolters training methods, and it has been absolutely wonderful and incredibly fun!  After getting the basic commands down, retrieving and pointing commands went very well.  This is the first dog I have personally trained for bird hunting, so I was a little nervous with how things would go, but Gauge made the process great!  I was shocked at how much of a “natural” he was in training!  The first true test came three weeks ago.  We have a local bird farm outside of town that many hunters use for dog training purposes.  After contacting the owner, we scheduled our first “hunt” with the idea of focusing on training purposes for Gauge.  Starting with Chukkars because of their smaller stature, Gauge did great in tracking down all three birds, holding three beautiful points, and flushing the bird on command.  Retrieves didn’t quite go as planned, but I think that was more a product of actually dealing with a live bird.  Gauge would actually release for the retrieve and then point the dead bird.  Pretty funny actually!  All in all, it was a GREAT day that I couldn’t have been more excited about.

Gauge’s first real hunt came the first Sunday of November in Glendo, WY.  Every Sunday in November they host a free youth hunt in the area, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to work with Gauge exclusively while my 16 year-old brother-in-law did the shooting.  Gauge did wonderful.  He tracked down and pointed several pheasants on the day, and even retrieved well.  This past Sunday, we participated in the 2nd youth hunt, and Gauge was even better than the week before!  He pointed and flushed 7 birds (due to an “off” shooting day by my bro-in-law), and actually chased down and caught a pheasant after a flush and chase that lasted roughly 20-30 seconds.  He was an absolute stud this past Sunday, and I’m greatly looking forward to 2 more youth hunts this month, as well as 3 scheduled hunts of my own in the next few months.  Most hunters in this area use retrievers, so for them to see a pointer in action has been not only neat for them, but has made me very proud.  I was very skeptical when reading Wolters’ take on hunting a dog as soon as 6 months of age, but have no doubt in my mind that with consistent, constructive training, it is not as farfetched as it may sound!”

Thanks, Sean!!

Puppy Update: Whiskey and Cold Ducks

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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pete, Whiskey and some Nevada ducks

Looks like Pete and Whiskey (Alpha Male 2010 litter) had another great hunt!!  According to Pete, “We are wet and cold but Whiskey put the hurt on the ducks today several water retrieves in nasty conditions and even dove after a cripple (I need to shoot better).”

 

Puppy Update: a Griffon named Griffen in RI

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Sorry for the blog neglect, I’ve been fighting off the seasonal illnesses.  I did receive a great update from Stephen in Rhode Island about the pup he called “Griffen”, known as Male 2.2 of my 2010 litter.  Here’s what he had to say:

“Griffen is doing great. He is a very happy and active 6 month old. I have been training him all summer for hunting season, he is very smart and catches on quickly. I take him in the woods as much as possible he loves it. Only been out hunting a couple of times so far this season, he did well for a young dog. Here are a few pictures of him. I will send you more during hunting season .”

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Griffen (Male 2.2 2010 litter) at 6 months

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Griffen in the forests of Rhode Island

For the breeding being a complete outcross, I am very happy with the uniformity of the three pups that I have seen recent photographs of.  There are photos forthcoming from Sean and Amber in Wyoming that I am also very excited to see.  I hope that the owners keep the updates coming!

Charles did get a nice buck out in the Sandhills and went out for deer again here in Eastern Nebraska this weekend, but didn’t see anything that met his liking.  He was more excited to flush up a woodcock on his hunt yesterday than anything else.   Our freezer is near capacity anyway, so I was not upset.  He was going to head out for birds today, but decided to stick around the house for a change.

Give thanks for our hunting heritage!

 

Nebraska Pheasant Opener

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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue retrieved the lone pheasant of the morning

The morning of Saturday, October 30th was spent by Charles and the dogs on the Brinkman farm in Johnson County, Nebraska.  Mid-morning, Sam pointed this rooster, it flushed and Charles shot it.  The bird came down between the two dogs and began to run.  Fortunately, Sue was there to cut his run very short, about 5 yards.  She made a good retrieve  in thick cover.

All but two of the birds sighted that morning were hens, with nine pheasants seen in total.  I thought that sounded like a good number, but Charles considered it down from previous years.  They also got into a couple of coveys of quail, both pointed but none bagged.  Last winter was a rough one for quail.  Charles and the landowner’s son were both concerned about working the quail over and hope to let the quail population recover adequately before they focus on hunting them.

All in all the hunt was considered a success.  Every bird that was put up was worked by the dogs and flushed in range.  An accomplishment when hunting wild pheasant.

Thank you to our friend, Marvin Brinkman, for hosting the hunt and providing the picture!

North Dakota: Day 2

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Well, folks I’m going to make this one short and sweet, just like my phone conversation with Charles tonight.  The kids were fighting, the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes and I was trying to cook supper.   I’ll give you the pictures for now and wait to take dictation of the stories when Charles returns.

I know that he got a limit of pheasant today and he met a cool German fellow (like actually from the country of Germany, not just Kraut-American like me) and his German Shorthair Pointer.  There is a whole story about meeting this chap, but we’ll have to wait for it until he gets home.  So, enjoy the pictures for now and we’ll get the scoop later.  (I need to complain to the photographer, we need some pics of the dogs)

Pheasant, duck and grouse

The game bag thus far

A German Shorthair Pointer with a real German:)

Alpha Male 2010 “Whiskey” and Huns

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The dog news just keeps pouring in tonight!  Just got a great shot of 2010 litter alpha male “Whiskey” and Pete out in Nevada who got into some Hungarian Partridge over the weekend.  Great job guys!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Pete and Whiskey with their Hungarian Partridge

We’ll be out visiting my grandparents near Yosemite, California the summer of 2011 and I hope we get a chance to swing by to visit Pete.  I really want to have a good look at Whiskey.  It excites me to see the rough sagebrush country that he has to work in and his coat doesn’t show any signs of wear and tear.  Weak coated dogs would have balding or bare patches on the shins of their front legs, but I see no sign of that here.  His head furnishings are beautiful.  I am very excited for what Sue and Sam have produced and absolutely ecstatic about the great job Pete is doing with the dog.

North Dakota: Day 1

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When I talked to Charles on the phone at 5 PM and he told me about his success in the field, I told him to take the picture before the sun went down.  Somewhere in North Dakota, hanging from a tree in the dark are two gadwall ducks and a sharptail grouse.

A little too late for a good shot...

He called while I was cooking supper and he knew not to call back and interrupt the premiere of “Sherlock” on Masterpiece Mystery, so I don’t have the details of the hunt.  The full text of his e-mail about the birds was as follows:

“Not bad for a short afternoon hunt.  1 sharptail and 2 gadwalls.  A double on the ducks.  Skeet pays off again.”

If you are not familiar with gadwalls, here’s the page on the Ducks Unlimited website describing them: http://www.ducks.org/news/1069/duckofthemonthgadwal.html

We’ll see what they come across tomorrow!

Pupdate, Litter 2010: Alpha Male “Whiskey”

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The pups will be six months old on the 30th and our good buddy, Pete, out in Nevada gave us an update on Spring 2010 litter’s alpha male without us even asking.  I will be getting e-mails out to my other owners over the weekend to try and get other pictures and updates, but this is enough to make a dog mama proud!  Thanks, Pete!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Whiskey’s first water retrieve at 6 months

“A little update on Whiskey.  Chukar opener was on the 9th and was one of the most disappointing in years. I only harvested 9 birds in three days. Whiskey was outstanding. It rained all week and birds were scattered and if it weren’t for the dog I would have come out of that hunt with no Chukar. We retrieved every bird that I shot and a half dozen for one of my hunting partners that didn’t have a dog. All birds that Whiskey  recovered for my hunting partner where done on scent alone. We got into the Quail on Sunday and Whiskey was hunting with two older very accomplished dogs and my 6 month old pup performed like it was his 5th season.

Last weekend was Nevada waterfowl  opener and since the Chukar hunting was so bad I decided to give the Ducks a try. I have had Whiskey in the water several times retrieving dummies but he has never even seen a duck before Saturday. After only hunting for a few minutes Saturday morning I dumped a pair of huge mallards at first Whiskey was not crazy about retrieving something that almost outweighed him but after dragging the first pair of ducks back to me by the wing he was hooked on Duck hunting. Sorry for the lack of pictures, like a big dummy I left my camera at home for the chukar opener and only had my blackberry for duck. I promise better pics in the future. Whiskey is doing great on all of his verbal and e collar commands and is picking up hand signals very fast. We are still working on holding point, he is creeping on birds but for 6 months old I am amazed on how well he is doing. On the home front Whiskey is a terrific companion and one of the funniest personalities I have ever seen in a dog.

Whiskey is making me look like a genius.  Just get these dogs on birds,  teach them commands, and socialize them properly and 90% of the battle is won. There is so much potential with these dogs, I was kinda dreading this hunting season, breaking in a new dog but I can’t wait until Friday when I throw all of my stuff in my truck and get him hunting again (5 weeks in a row now). Pheasant season opens in November.”

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Whiskey’s first duck hunt — he looks like Sam Jr. to me!

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