Busy Spring News

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I apologize for my absence from the blog and social media in general. Organizing the trophies for the Eastern Regional Specialty Dog Show in York, Pennsylvania has taken up so much time. Not only did I have to figure out all of the placements for three shows, but then I had to figure out the budget for each placement and order a prize. I think that I’m getting closer to the end of the process. The trophies are all hunting dog items, so where I’ve written for hunting dog catalogs and have just been a bird dog junk junkie for 15 years it was actually fun to shop for the items. I was able to give business to all of the major players: Cabela’s, Orvis, Filson, Gun Dog Supply, Lion Country Supply and Ugly Dog Hunting. Those are all unpaid shout outs and they all had something unique to contribute to the cause.

If you are in the area and are interested in attending the field day, shows and hunt tests, there is still a bit of time to get signed up. You can hang out at the show and hunt tests without registering, you have to register for the field day if you want to attend. Here is the official link for everything on the AWPGA website: https://www.awpga.com/2023-eastern-regional-specialty.html?fbclid=IwAR033mOiXX-XiL6OPJn4xiZJYNeRTyoUns6W4kUXN9M4nAWs1FmKcxpPkVM

So here is the basic schedule: Thursday is the Field Day at York Pointer and Setter Club, Friday is ALL DAY of dog shows: Sweeps, Supported Entry and Regional Specialty. For those of you new to dog shows, what will happen is that the classes of the first show run, then we go through best of breed for that show. Then we go to the second show where the same thing happens, you go through the classes, the best of each class is awarded, then it goes to best of breed. We do it a third time for the Regional Specialty. It will be a very exciting day to see many old friends, but also stressful and chaotic with so much going on. I have never helped with that many shows all in one day, they are usually spread out over multiple days. This whole schedule is intense, since we are doing double/double AKC hunt tests Saturday and Sunday.

Due to the intensity of the schedule for the performance events and the fact that it is St. Patrick’s Day that Friday night, there is no banquet scheduled. Those of us who are running dogs Saturday morning in the hunt tests have to be at the field ready to go by 7:30 AM, so we’ll need to start moving in the morning around 5:30 AM. We’ll probably get some dinner groups together at the show for Friday night just by word-of-mouth and those of us who have to be up early the following day will be done by 9 PM.

I am running our young dogs Duke and Sally in AKC Senior Hunter at the York Pointer and Setter Club. Since it is a double/double, I’ll be doing four runs a day (two runs a day with two dogs) for a total of eight runs. There will be lunch available to purchase at the hunt tests both Saturday and Sunday. Once again, there are no formal dinner plans and we’ll just bunch up and figure things out during the day.

In the event that you are looking for me at the shows or the hunt tests, here are some pictures of me. I am usually behind the camera instead of in front of it. I have a blaze orange knee length dress that I am planning on wearing to the shows, so I should be easy to spot.

Breeding Update

As of right now, I have eleven reservations with deposit for my Fall 2023 litter between Obi and Ruth. As my deposits are fully refundable until the pups are three weeks old, these numbers can change rapidly depending on peoples’ life situations. I have frequently had four or five folks defer to the following year in those first three weeks. Obi and Ruth will be having their last litter before Ruth’s retirement in the Spring of 2024, so should there not be enough pups in the Fall of 2023 the reservations can roll over. We’ll also be breeding Sally and Duke in Spring 2024. Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to express interest in the litters. I know that I have a few emails sitting in my inbox needing responses, so if one of those is yours from the last few days, I will be getting to them this afternoon (I also had to get my tax information to my accountant this week, so I’m sort of on brain fry mode, sorry).

As far as the specific breeding schedule for the fall, Ruth had her winter heat cycle at the end of January. So that means if my experience from the past is correct, her summer cycle will be at the end of July. Pups would then be born at the end of September and go home around Thanksgiving. That is all guesstimation from past experience and Mother Nature is in control.

Social Media Info

I am not going to be on TikTok. I downloaded the app and started looking at videos one day and the very next day the financial information stored in my phone was compromised. I caught it before my bank did since I was looking for it. So no TikTok for me.

Instagram is a lot of ads. Also, the AI censors hunting photos from hashtags. So if I have dead birds and a gun in my pictures, it gets wiped from the hashtag almost instantly. I am going to use it sparingly. Once I start backing up old hunting photos again this summer, I will get those posted. I will try to be more active on it, but like I say, I am a bit salty about the censorship. The two pups from the “R” Litter are very active on there under the accounts @griffons.griffon and @thelifeandtimesofbeatricebriar. The first one follows Chase Wiley with his family here in the Charlotte suburbs, the second follows Beatrice Briar as a Kentucky ultramarathon trail dog with her veterinarian dog dad.

Even though this blog/website is thirteen years old and my photo galleries are pretty sketchy with their organization (I will fix it this summer), this is my primary tool. I have to use my English degree skills somewhere. I am not good at little tidbits of information spread out through days and weeks. I have to sit down and write you an essay. I also like Facebook since it is full of Boomers and Gen X, those are my people. My page there is old and has a lot of followers, so I’ll just keep riding that until we are all in the nursing home I guess. I do not have anyone else with login access to this blog. I do not have a “last post” written and in storage anywhere. The thought of doing estate planning on this website does not appeal to me and I’m just not there yet. So hopefully the construction dumptrucks of the Carolinas continue to avoid hitting me.

YouTube is what I use to make videos of puppies anymore. I would love to do grooming and training videos someday, but I need to figure out the whole Patreon racket so that I get paid for views. And although I have the hardware to do video content, I also need to invest in Adobe Creative Cloud software, specifically the Premier Pro video editor, to do my art the way that I want it to look. And then I need to train myself on it. So hopefully more YouTube content will be rolling in the next year or so (weekly low budget puppy videos will continue as normal without change for now).

South Carolina Woodcock

Charles and Obi wrapped up the woodcock season at the end of January with one in the bag. I have to be honest, as much as I love the Carolinas, Charles is dying to get back to Nebraska at some point. The hunting here is not what he wants. I’m in love with the Carolinas and am determined to stay here. Although we have a piece of raw land way out in Western Nebraska, we’re talking about having a second home close to our kids in Omaha so that he can go out and hunt, he can work remotely and access the airport if needed. Both of us moving back and forth as needed. We are at least a year away from that possibility with two kids in college right now, but that is in our minds pretty seriously. Send us good intentions for the manifestation of that dream.

Oh, but the woodcock with Obi! Here it is:

Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon South Carolina
The trusty SKB 12 gauge, Obi and the woodcock from the end of January. Photo by Charles.

Fire in Retirement

I loved seeing this picture of Fire (now “Bella”) on the right, enjoying her retirement life moving between Arizona and Minnesota with one of our old pals from Pheasants Forever in Nebraska. Out getting in on some wild quail action in Arizona with her GSP buddy. Thank you Ron for giving her a great retirement home. She is the mother of our current females, Ruth and Sally.

Fire/Bella on right enjoying her retirement with some Arizona quail.

Well the day is getting on and it is time to wrap up the blogging. I have a gobzillion dog hunting items to unbox sitting in my entryway! Spring is really springing here and I hope it makes it out to the frozen wasteland in North Central Nebraska and South Central South Dakota. They are in a top 10 snowiest year on record and folks are pretty miserable about it. Keep our beef cattle ranchers in your prayers as they are having a tough start to calving season.

Good luck to everyone with spring pups and doing training/testing. Talk at you again soon with the update from Pennsylvania.

Puppies on the way and first South Carolina harvest

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We are expecting our “R” litter from Obi and Ruth in the next week or two. I currently have 18 reservations with deposit. The largest litter of Griffs registered in recent times is 16 puppies, so I assume that I have homes for this bunch. If you are interested in waiting until our Fall 2022 litter, email bluestemkennels@gmail.com. Once the spring litter is two weeks old, I should know where my fall list stands.

Here are some updated photos of Ruth sporting her very pregnant belly. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much!

Pregnant Ruth running in the yard
Ruth side profile
Another belly shot (a little fuzzy phone pic)
Pregnant Ruth running in the snow (I circled her so you can see her)

Now it is just a matter of waiting for puppies to arrive! We just finished our whelping box setup this morning. It will be so nice to have them in a bedroom in the house instead of the heated garage. That way I have a bed right next to the whelping box in case of all-night puppies!

Ready for puppies!

This will probably be my last blog post until after puppies arrive. As they are being whelped, I will keep my Facebook page up-to-date. Then I will contact folks who have reservations once we are done whelping and I’ve had some rest. Finally, I will make a post here to the website.

First South Carolina Woodcock!

Charles is getting Sally ready for her UPT in May up at the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter in New York. This is the NAVHDA chapter nearest to Charles’s hometown of Newburgh and he thought it would be fun to get up there to run some tests. He will also be re-testing Obi in UT to see if he can get a Prize I.

In the meantime he is trying to figure out the hunting game in these parts and he and Sally had success this weekend. They only saw one woodcock pop out of a cane swamp on some public land and they were able to put it in the bag. Charles is pretty sure that this is his first woodcock and it was Sally’s first wild bird.

Sally’s South Carolina Woodcock
Our South Carolina Woodcock

I was really excited to hold a bagged woodcock, as I’ve only flushed them in the Missouri River Valley back in Nebraska while out exercising dogs maybe three or four times. I’d only ever seen photos of them up close. Their feathers are much more colorful than a snipe and their bodies are stubbier.

Here’s a random photo of Sally training in the yard with Charles back in November that I just noticed in my files.

Charles and Sally doing yard work

Here’s another random photo of Obi bringing me a stick the other day when I had my good camera out.

Obi with a stick in the driveway

Having snow on the ground in South Carolina is pretty fun and we are so glad that it isn’t day after day with feet of snow piling up like it was back in Nebraska. I think it will be all melted by tomorrow. But for now I will throw on my boots and go muck around in it with the dogs.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for the latest on the puppies whelping and keep us in your thoughts and prayers for good health.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes

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Into the Wilderness

I am not good at getting to church, but I made it up to church last night (random, yes, but I promise that this thread is going to tie back into hunting, so hang with me).  When I go, it’s to St. John’s Catholic Church on the Creighton University campus, where I did my undergraduate studies.  The Jesuits are amazing men of God and intellect, and always seem to know what to say when I need to hear it.  Last night, Fr. Roc O’Conner S.J. was at the pulpit and he is absolutely one of my favorites; not only does he know liturgy and scholarship, but is also a talented singer and songwriter.  In the homily he said, “Wilderness is a place for teaching and learning about God.  Do not worry about what there is to eat or drink, for God provides.”

After traveling 4000 miles through the western US over the previous 2 weeks and with hunting season just around the corner, that just floored me.  Charles and I have this bad habit of underpreparedness.  Like we’ll see game from the truck and be like, “oh, we’ll just chase that group over there, it is just over that hill, we won’t be gone for long” and not bring water.  Then 2 hours later we’re staggering back to the truck dying of thirst.

So towards the end of our trip we were hiking up to Liberty Pass (elev 10,450 ft.) at Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness just east of Elko, Nevada.  Well, we hadn’t planned on going to the pass, we were just going to the lake that was a couple of miles up the mountain.  But once we got there, the pass looked so close and we decided that we were there and were going to march the kids to the top.  Well, about a half-mile from the top, little 5 year-old Caleb tripped and fell into the rocks and scraped his arm up good.  We assessed our water supply and decided that he was going to have to suck it up because we didn’t have enough water to rinse it off, plus make it the rest of the way up the mountain and back down.  Additionally, the elevation was kicking his poor little butt and he was complaining of being hungry.  We were making very little progress with his endless protests, when down the mountain came these two 70ish year-old ladies.  They could see that Caleb was having a rough go and stopped to render aid.  They had enough water to rinse his scrape and gave him a bag of trail mix to eat.  I swear that they were angels and we never would have made it without them.  So a big thank you to the two ladies that helped us on July 30.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into the barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?  Matthew, Chapter 6, Verses 25-26

So as we prepare ourselves for the upcoming hunting season, let us remind ourselves that what we seek in the wilderness is a gift from God, and to respect and appreciate all that he provides for us on the land and in the air.

And so if you didn’t make it to church today, you got the Word according to Charity.  And thus ends my sermon.

Liberty Pass at Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains Wilderness, Nevada

Liberty Pass at Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Mountains Wilderness, Nevada

Serious Conditioning

After the trip, I feel like I’m coming into the season in better shape than I have in the last few.  If you’ve been here for awhile, you know that this is a bad habit of mine since I’m somewhat of a professional glutton when I’m not wearing one of my many hats.  But we got some major hiking in over the last couple of weeks and although I would love to start a food and travel blog, that would involve too much work, so you get to hear about it.

Our first hiking stop, and absolutely my worst showing, was at Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is about 25 miles north of Alamosa, Colorado.  It is the least crowded National Park that I’ve ever been to (I’m also a bit of an NP junky).  As I am a native of the Nebraska Sandhills, I figured that I needed to go and see the tallest open sand dunes in North America.  It is a very tall dune range about 15 miles long that sits up next to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (which also look very cool and rugged, but we didn’t have time to tackle them).

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

We arrived late morning, probably around 10:30 AM and it was already starting to warm up.  There was no hiking barefoot as the sand was 100+ degrees in places and true to our bad habit of not being properly prepared, we were all in hiking sandals that filled up with sand every step.  And the sand was loose so that your foot would sink in, and of course being the largest member of the expedition party I had a hell of a time.  The kids and Charles were at the top of the dune yelling at me to finish.  Next time we will be starting out at 6 AM with proper footgear and not such a rigorous agenda (we had to make it to Durango that evening).

Mom finally made it up the dune to get a pic.

Mom finally made it up the dune to get a pic.

(Notice that Charles is carrying my camera, that’s how bad it was.)

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

We were extremely lucky to get tickets to tour Cliff Palace, the largest of the ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, which is about 35 miles west of Durango, Colorado.  It wasn’t a long hike, but it had some very steep stair and ladder climbing involved and our group had a Dutch lady who had to drop out from almost fainting on the first staircase.

Charles spots Caleb on one of the ladders at Cliff Palace

Charles spots Caleb on one of the ladders at Cliff Palace

After leaving Mesa Verde, our next stop was Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which is on the Arizona/Utah border about 25 miles north of Kayenta, Arizona.  This absolutely one of my favorite places on earth.

Sunrise over Monument Valley

Sunrise over Monument Valley

(Photography aside: DO NOT look through your camera when taking pictures of the sun.  It will fry your eyeballs.  I hid behind the blackout curtain of the hotel room and stuck my hand out of the sliding glass door to take this photo.)

Clint Westwood of Monument Valley Safari in front of ancient petroglyphs

Clint Westwood, Navajo Nation Guide for Monument Valley Safari in front of ancient petroglyphs

Going back to my thoughts on people who somehow know what to say when you need to hear it, I am always in awe of what I learn from the First Nations people across the country.  The summer that we got married, Charles and I lived on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota; he worked on a ranch and I wrote for the Sicangu Sun-Times, so we have a strong background in native culture and ceremony.  As most of the visitors to Monument Valley are from Europe and Asia, we received a warm welcome and there was a lot of sharing going on between us and the Navajo.  Everyone we met had relatives either currently living in our part of Indian Country, or had moved up here and had gone back.  The plains tribes’ basketball teams also travel down there for all-native tournaments.  It was a bit strange to be so far from our house, yet feel at home.

The farthest point into the valley on the Wildcat Trail

The farthest point into the valley on the Wildcat Trail

Poor Caleb gets pushed to his limits on our hikes, this photo was taken at mile 3 of our 4 mile hike into Monument Valley.  My formerly brown sandals are still red from the sand.  We really love the land and people of this place and talk of maybe living a year out there once we’re retired (a long time from now).

One last random vacation picture.  I have done the South Rim drive through overlook tour of the Grand Canyon twice now and have to say that I will never do it again.  Take the time to go to the North Rim, raft the river, or do a pack mule trip if you want to see the Grand Canyon.  It is just one of those places that is wedged between other places that I really want to see, so I’ve never taken the time to do it properly.

Sorry for this blurry picture.  We had literally just gotten out of bed and Charles pulled the curtain back on our room at the Yavapai Lodge of Grand Canyon Village and this was who was there to greet us.

Bull Elk outside of our window

Bull Elk outside of our window

Since I’m on the topic of big game, this is a banner year for antelope in Wyoming.  We saw many does with twins, lots of large, healthy bucks, and probably over 100 antelope total along I-80.  I wish that I had taken the time to photograph, but was just really road weary at that point and didn’t.

Visiting the Sierras and Quail

Our final destination was up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary and the family reunion on my mom’s side.  My grandparents came from ranch families in the Nebraska Sandhills, but left after WWII and my grandfather was an electrician in the budding San Fernando Valley.  So yes, my mom and aunts are some of the original “Valley Girls”.

Okay, so when they retired, they moved right outside of the gates of Yosemite National Park to a town called Oakhurst.  Similar to Valentine, Nebraska where my fraternal clan lives, all of my maternal clan is in Oakhurst.  It really stabbed me in the heart when the first greeting we got from a relative was, “Welcome Home”.  I tear up just thinking about it, as we had been away for far too long.

So whenever we have a reunion, my immediate family has a tradition that we go up to Yosemite with my Uncle Jim, who we are very close to.  He is a stage tech in Spokane, Washington and just all around cool dude.  I would call him an ex-hippy, except that I think he is probably still a hippy.  But I love him and we have fun together.

The usual suspects, plus Uncle Jim

The usual suspects, plus Uncle Jim

Our first stop was the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, because if you get there too late, they close the parking lot and you have to take a shuttle in (which we have never done, we just skip it if it is full).  What we thought was going to be a nice hike looking at trees took a bird scouting turn, when we stumbled upon a male Mountain Quail tending to his 6-8 chicks.  I did not have my telephoto lens on and had left my camera pack in the van, so we are actually this close to them.


First spotted by Charles on the trail

First spotted by Charles on the trail

Feeling pressure, they moved into the trees

Feeling pressure, they moved into the trees

Male Mountain Quail with one of his 6-8 chicks

Male Mountain Quail with two of his 6-8 chicks

Just beautiful

Just beautiful

Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia

My grandmother apologized for our trip to Yosemite being a “disaster”, but really it was quite cool to see the Mountain Quail and a new side to the park that I hadn’t seen before (this would probably be my 5th or 6th visit).  The normally green valley was dry and brown, smoke filled the air, and the waterfalls were non-existent.  Both the El Portal and the French fires had started the day before, and we saw fire from Hwy 41.

Yosemite burning

Yosemite burning

Yosemite Valley in the smoke.  Normally, Half Dome is visible on the right.

Yosemite Valley in the smoke. Normally, Half Dome is visible on the right.

Last news I received is that they are still battling these fires.  Pray for rain and for the safety of the firefighters out there.

But back to birds.  Not only did we have our Mountain Quail sighting, but right on Rd 426 going up the mountain out of Oakhurst, we saw loads of California Quail action.  They are the ones that look like the Partridge Family, with the blob on the end of their head plumage.  I was always too busy scurrying between family events to slow down for them and the one time that Charles was driving and we slowed down to look, my camera bag was back in the hotel.  Argh.  So I snagged this photo from the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy website.

Male and female California Quail

Male and female California Quail (photo from sanelijo.org)

According to my relatives, their coveys can number in the hundreds and really prefer the shrubby areas of the lower Sierras.  My cousin-in-law Ryan, who grew up there, says that he used to hunt them with success as a kid using his Red Ryder BB gun.  The bag limit on Mountain and California Quail is 10 per day per hunter, which tells you how abundant they are and how few people actually hunt them.  So a combo Christmas with the family and quail hunting trip is definitely in the works within the next 2-3 years.

Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

Billboard for the Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

Billboard for the Battle Mountain Chukar Tournament

We were making time through chukar country, so the only chukar that we saw on the trip was for the Battle Mountain, Nevada Chukar Tournament.  So, now I have a new item on my bucket list http://battlemountaintourism.com/chukar-tournament/.  But once again, beating my tired old drum, I would have to get into much better shape.

Chukar country is intimidating

Chukar country is intimidating

The Ruby Mountains of Nevada and the Himalayan Snowcock

Back in the 1960’s the Nevada Department of Wildlife stocked the Ruby Mountains just east of Elko, Nevada with Himalayan Snowcock, which is essentially a giant chukar native to Pakistan and Nepal.  Our fellow upland crazy Brian Koch of ultimateupland.com took a crack at them a couple of years ago, so we had to see what it was all about.  Check out Brian’s adventure at http://www.ultimateuplandlodge.com/magazine/read/climbing-for-the-birds_136.html

Himalayan Snowcock in Nepal (photo from summitpost.org)

Himalayan Snowcock in Nepal (photo from summitpost.org)

The Himalayan Snowcock is to North American upland hunters what the Dall Sheep is to North American big game hunters.  The badass trophy.  You have to be super tough, at peak fitness, and acclimated to altitude.  Not to mention a crack shot, because you are going to get less than a handful of chances, if any.  Our climb into Liberty Pass just got us into the elevation that we would start seeing them (which we never did, as it is a well traveled trail and a 5 year-old, 10 year-old and 13 year-old don’t hike this hard without some loud wailing involved).

But at 5.2 million acres and rugged high elevation, the Ruby Mountains were gorgeous and impressive.  They call it the Yosemite of Nevada, as it was carved by glaciers similarly.  When we get trained up for the Rubies, this is a situation where we would want a guide.  We just don’t have the time a resources to do the scouting needed to locate them on our own.  So if anyone knows of any good guides for Himalayan Snowcock, let me know.  Actually, in looking for a photo online I found Nevada High Desert Outfitters who specializes in guiding for the bird, so if anyone has any feedback on them let me know.

The view up the trail to Liberty Pass from the End of the Road parking lot at Lamoille Canyon.

The view up the trail to Liberty Pass from the End of the Road parking lot at Lamoille Canyon.

Just above Lamoille Lake

Just above Lamoille Lake

Stopping for a break.  Snow on the ground still in late July.

Stopping for a break at the treeline. Snow on the ground still in late July.

The view of the back side of Liberty Pass.  Extremely daunting.

The view of the back side of Liberty Pass. Extremely daunting.

Well, I need to wrap this business up.  My suitcases are still sitting in the living room, but everyone is home (dogs included) and we’re all safe and sound.  I knew that you had missed me, so I thought that I had better get something out.  I’ll be back later in the week with the normal dog news and pupdates.  Until then, keep searching for adventure.

(Oh and I have to give credit to Maya Angelou for the title.)

The Highlights of Pheasant Fest 2011


January 28-30 was a weekend full of upland excitement at the 2011 Pheasant Fest, the national convention of Pheasants Forever.  Here are some of the highlights from our weekend spent there:

  • As seen in the last post “Bluestem Kennels in the Omaha World-Herald”, Cordelia, Sam and I had a great time at the photo shoot.  Cordelia and Sam were on the front page of the Friday, January 28th paper and also featured in an online video and slideshow.
  • We were the only Wirehaired Pointing Griffon entry in the Friday afternoon Bird Dog Parade.  Visiting with local Nebraska Game and Parks personality, Greg Wagner, was a fun part of the day.  He mentioned the possibility of having us on his KFAB radio show to talk dogs at some point in the future.
  • While Charles was out in the foyer working out some day job office issues over the phone during the Friday evening banquet, I got to pick the brain of Chad Love, a photojournalist for Field and Stream magazine.  He works primarily with upland hunting and bird dog assignments, so it was fun to hear how he went from his political science degree to getting published in outdoor magazines.  It was definitely an inspiration for where I want to take my blogging.  Here’s his most recent post on the Field and Stream website: http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/hunting/2011/02/jealousy-between-dogs-can-be-powerful-training-tool
  • Saturday afternoon turned out to be quite interesting for me, as I ended up helping to lead a seminar that I attended.  The 1 PM “Picking your puppy and the First Six Months” seminar was quite full and by 1:15 PM, there was still no presenter.  A fellow breeder/trainer and I got up in front of the audience and freestyled the seminar, sharing the wealth of what we know on the subject.

Charity Upchurch of Bluestem Kennels, right, discusses selecting and training a puppy

Thank you to Pheasants Forever photographer Jim Cooper for the use of the photo.

  • My children spent Saturday afternoon at Rudy’s Youth Village of Pheasant Fest, where we met some inspirational teenagers, the Illinois Pioneer Chapter #069 “Young Guns”.  They raised $6000 for a virtual shooting gallery had it trailered all the way to Omaha for the young people to enjoy.  My son, Conrad, couldn’t get enough of it!

Conrad practices his shooting skills

  • Charles and I had a great time at the Saturday evening banquet visiting with the members of the Auglaize County, Ohio Pheasants Forever chapter and one of their state wildlife biologists.  It was interesting to learn that the pheasant population in Ohio has been decimated to the point where the state game and fish department has a pheasant stocking program.   I didn’t realize until attending Pheasant Fest that promoting stocking pheasants in Nebraska is seen as nearly rebellious to the habitat cause.  The latest Focus on Pheasant report was sent to me by Nebraska Game and Parks following my post “Focus on Pheasant needs to readjust their sights”.  Once I get a chance to read their report, I’ll be revisiting this topic will a full post in the near future.
  • Sunday we met renowned wildlife artist Carl J. Melichar, who was a Federal Duck Stamp finalist and has taken on bird dogs as the focus of his painting.  He does not yet have a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in his catalog, so we’ll be getting him some photographs in the near future and possibly commission a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon original painting.  Here are some examples of his work:  http://www.artbarbarians.com/gallery2/main.asp?artist=48
  • We closed out our visit to Pheasant Fest on Sunday by attending Pheasants Forever Field Coordinator Pete Berthelsen’s talk on creating quail habitat on his 160 acres near Elba, Nebraska.  It was amazing to see how quickly habitat adjustments can restore bird populations.  In a matter of a few years, he went from one covey of quail to fifteen coveys!

The weekend was a complete success and really fired us up to increase our involvement in Pheasants Forever, habitat restoration and sharing our love of not only the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed, but raising, training and hunting versatile dogs.

Snipe 2010 and More Youth Hunt Pics

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Charles took Sam out last Sunday for a snipe hunt in Saunders County, Nebraska.  Yes, snipe do exist, and a “snipe hunt” isn’t a joke!  They are a swamp bird that sort of looks like a small woodcock.  I’ve never shot one myself, but I have seen them flush out of the marshes.  They fly in a strange zig-zag pattern.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sam, Charles and Caleb with three snipe

I received some additional photos from the Heartland Chapter #491 Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt that took place a few weeks ago.  Thanks to chapter member Ron Funk for getting these shots.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue on point

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue retrieving a pheasant

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles, the unidentified youth (again) and Sue filling the game bag

The dogs are getting this weekend off due to doe only deer season.  Charles didn’t have any luck yesterday morning and decided to take our 6 year old son, Conrad, with him today.

Deer hunt

Conrad’s first deer hunt

We’ll see if they have any luck with the afternoon deer hunt.  The dogs will be back in action next weekend hunting ducks in the Sandhills.

Thank God for “The Good Life”!

Charles in Nebraskaland: July 2003

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I recently scanned a page from the Nebraskaland July 2003 issue which featured Charles as a youth hunting mentor for Heartland Chapter #491 of Pheasants Forever.  Here’s a link to the article/photo:

Charles Nebraskaland

Nebraskaland is the monthly outdoor magazine of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.  Here is the link to the magazine if you would like to check it out:http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/nebland/

Our chapter holds an annual youth hunt for holders of a Nebraska Hunter’s Education certificate.  We are awaiting information for this year’s hunt, but if you have an interested Sarpy or Douglas County Nebraska youth, you can contact us at bluestemkennels@cox.net.

One more trip to the pond

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We had to celebrate our return home with a trip to the pond, possibly our last swimming trip for the year.  I think these pictures do a good job of showing what devoted family members our dogs are.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Sue and Sam watch attentively as dad winds up to throw Conrad in the water (by request)

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons


Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Caleb and the dogs muck about

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Dad, dogs and kids

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Sam is neck and neck with Dad, while Sue trails not far behind

Nebraska is more of a river state than a lake state and this time of year our lakes and ponds do something we call “turn over”.  My hydrologist friends tell me that it isn’t actually that the water “turns over”, but the warm conditions and runoff create blooms of algae and bacteria.  I knew I should have called a “no go” to our trip when I saw the water, but I couldn’t resist the warmth of the sunshine and coolness of the water.

I exchanged e-mails with Greg Wagner of Nebraska Game and Parks and we won’t know if we get an early teal season for Labor Day weekend until August 31st.  We are ready!


Some nice Canadian Griffs

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On our summer vacation we paid a visit to a kennel up in Canada to take a look at their Wirehaired Pointing Griffons.  Their pups may or may not become a part of our breeding program, but we are shopping around.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Conrad and Cordelia with the dogs, Belle and Cyrano

I have to apologize for my lack of writing lately, my muse has taken an unexpected leave of absence.  But hey, hunting season is only a few weeks away, so she should return soon!

Pup in the pasture

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The clouds and rain finally dispursed yesterday evening, so we headed down to the local dog training wildlife management area to give Sue, Sam and the last pup (Alpha Female) a big run.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies

Sue, Alpha Female and Sam

Half of the WMA had been grazed by a herd of cattle, which made the area easier to negotiate.  The other half would have been difficult for the pup and my kids to wade through, since the grass was waist to shoulder high, typical for the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Puppies

Getting a good run in

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies

Full speed ahead!

Fun was had by all!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies

Charles, Alpha Female, Sam, and Sue on the cow trail

The old farmer saying about corn was “knee high by the Fourth of July”.  This year, it is more like “head high”!

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue and big corn

Alpha Female flies to Atlanta on Thursday, with her final home destination of Alabama.  It will be time for us to focus on polishing up our training on Sam and Sue, while getting some pedigree research done (Pedigree Profiles are coming to the blog starting July 11th).

We are looking forward to the Heartland NAVHDA Chapter’s Training Days on July 10th and September 11th, with our eyes on the big prize of sharptail grouse and prairie chicken opener in my Nebraska Sandhills on September 18th.

We will miss the little pups, but are pumped up for a great hunting season and Sam’s NAVHDA Utility Preparatory Test.

Male 2.1 meets his family

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Sean, Amber and their beautiful family from Wyoming met us yesterday in Centennial Park in North Platte, Nebraska.  “Gauge” will be a part of a young hunting family, with grandpa leading the way with training and hunting expertise.  Sean is eager to begin training and I suggested several books to assist in the process, which I will be reviewing on the blog in the coming weeks.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies

Sean and Amber get to know Gauge

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon puppies

Family Picture

Some random notes from our trip.  We stopped for lunch at Skeeter Barnes in Kearney.  On our way out of the restaurant, we spied this interesting way to transport a dog on a motorcycle.  I couldn’t resist sharing.

Motorcycle Dog

Born to be Wild

On our way home, we stopped at another Kearney destination, the Archway Monument.  We had visited “the arch” on a previous excursion and the kids begged for a return trip.  If you ever need to get out of the car at this point and have a half-hour to spare, it comes highly recommended in my book, especially for kids.  The Archway Monument is a totally immersive and interactive exhibit covering the history of the Great Platte River Road from the prairie schooner to the Porche.

Archway Monument

Archway Monument, I-80 at Kearney, Nebraska

It is a rainy Fourth of July thus far in Bellevue, but hopefully the skies will clear in time for fireworks.  Best wishes to all of you for the holiday!