October 2020 Hunting Recap

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For those of you looking for puppies, we are planning one litter in the Spring of 2021 between Chief and Fire.  I consider the reservation list full, but we may get a surpise with more puppies than reservations.  Feel free to shoot me an email at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wish to be on the backup contact list.

In Memoriam

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon world recently lost two special breeders, Jan Resler of Potowotomi Kennel in Wisconsin and Philippe Roca of Des Vignes Rouges Kennel in Kentucky.

Jan was a strong woman with an intense passion for the breed.  She bred, trained, showed and hunted Griffs and excelled at all of it.  She and her dog Amstel won Best of Breed at the 2013 National Specialty and I captured this shot of her celebrating by drinking some wine from the trophy!  I thought that photo really represented her fun-loving spirit.  We shared many good times all over the country at Griffon events.  She is missed by many.


Jan Resler celebrating Best of Breed

Philippe was our American breed ambassador to France and cannot be replaced.  When I was editor of the breed club magazine, he called me at least twice a month to talk about Griffons.  We worked intensely on a few of his articles together that really captured some important breed history from Europe.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to help clarify his vast knowledge of the breed.  A native of France, he felt most at home on his sheep farm in Kentucky.  He told me many tales of how he incorporated dog training into everyday farm life.  I promise that I will learn French when my kids graduate, Philippe.

A side note to this photo by Barbara Young, is that the dog in the photo is Owen des Dunes du Captelat, our foundation female Sue’s grandfather and also in our new male Obi’s pedigree.

Philippe and Owen

Philippe Roca and Owen by Barbara Young

October Hunting Sandhills and North Dakota

October was a whirlwind of activity with Charles on the road hunting and I’m back in the classroom substitute teaching middle school.  Not two weeks before the district asked me to come back, I told another substitute that I’d probably never go back into education!  But here I am and it’s keeping me active.  But it does keep me distracted from hunting and blogging.  Luckily, Charles can’t seem to stay out of the field so the dogs get plenty of action.

The COVID is even impacting hunting, one of Charles’s hunting buddies ended up in quarantine due to his daughter testing positive and missed out on the trip to North Dakota, so it just seems to be more and more pervasive.

Before Charles made it up to North Dakota, he stopped by the Nebraska Sandhills for a few days of hunting.  The entire trip was warm, but the dogs held up throughout.  In the beginning, he only had one or two at a time out of the box to keep their competitive energy in check.  This photo is from the first morning on October 7, with our friend Ryan joining him on sharptailed grouse.

October 7 AM

Obi and Ruth with Charles and Ryan’s sharptails

Later on that afternoon, they took Ruth out again for some duck jump shooting.  The toughest thing about jump shooting ducks is keeping the dog on “heel” so that they aren’t running and swimming ahead and busting up ducks out of range.  It was good to see our usual creek produce yet again.

October 7 PM

Ruth and some jump hunted Sandhills ducks

The second day of Sandhills hunting, Obi was the star with Charles’s first limit of snipe in his hunting career.  This is impressive to me since I have shot at probably 100 snipe in my hunting life thus far and I’ve never hit a single one of them.  Snipe hunting really tunes in the dog’s pointing and retrieving skills because they are such a small bird to scent to both point and locate to retrieve.

Snipe Limit Obi Oct 8

Obi with Charles’s first snipe limit on October 8

The day of October 9th was spent driving from Nebraska to North Dakota and getting set up in the house with the other guys.  I don’t know their names and they never make an appearance in any of the photos, so I apologize that they sort of get left out of the whole story.  They are a part of the harvesting though, so not all of the North Dakota birds were taken by Charles, but the dogs did get to do all of the pointing and retrieving which is what is important to me.

NoDak Day 1 Oct 10

Ruth, Obi and Fire with the mixed bag from October 10th in North Dakota

NoDak Landscape

North Dakota landscape photo by Charles Upchurch

By the time Sunday, October 11th rolled around, the dogs were worn down enough to have all three running at once.  All of the crops were harvested in that area of NoDak, so it made for some fun cattail hunting.  It is hard work for the dogs busting through dried cattails, but at least you know where the birds are hiding out.

NoDak mixed bag Oct 11

The October 11th game bag

You can also tell that Charles is starting to get a little tired because he isn’t posing the dogs for photos for a couple of days!  He said that the dogs would be tired and sore at night, but when the tailgate dropped the next morning that they were ready to go to work again.

NoDak mixed back Oct 12

October 12th NoDak game bag with dogs boxed

Photo short a rooster Oct 13

Fire, Obi and Ruth with the final day’s mixed bag in North Dakota, October 13

It wasn’t the best year he’s ever had in North Dakota, but it wasn’t like the last time that he and I went up there in 2017 either.  2017 we hardly got into anything and some days we got skunked.  At least this year there was game in the bag every day.  I really appreciate the other gents who were there to help put birds in my dogs’ mouths.

Back Home

The weekend after Charles and the dogs returned from their big trip, he and Ruth hit a local swamp and got two teal and a snipe.

Ruth Oct 19

Ruth with two teal and a snipe in southeast Nebraska

Most exciting of all is Caleb’s first roosters at the Nebraska Youth Pheasant Hunting opener the weekend before Halloween!  Charles said that there were gobs of roosters flushing everywhere and Caleb was just blasting and they were falling down.  There are miracles in hunting, I’ve seen it.  And Obi just really loves Caleb, so this photos is just perfect.  They also had one taken by Nebraska Game and Parks, so keep an eye out in Nebraskaland and you might see him.

Caleb Youth Hunt Obi

Eleven year old Caleb with his first two pheasants.  Obi on retrieve and kiss.

In Closing

Write about one trip and get ready for Charles to go on another soon.  Deer hunting is just around the corner and he is taking the dogs to hit some fields on the way.

We got Obi’s Penn HIP results back and the doctor said that they are the best sporting dog hips that he’s ever seen.  Greyhounds have the best hips all-breed and the vet said that is where Obi’s are.  Just off of the charts.  I am working with a new scanner and will get those ready for my next post.  But great news.

The weather is finally cooling off and I’m thinking about getting out for some roosters and quail myself after rifle deer season ends.  It also sounds like I’m getting roped in to handling Obi with Caleb at a European tower shoot at the end of November.

We’ll see what all of this brings.  After Thanksgiving we are having our kitchen and main level bathroom floor torn up to replace the dying pergo with porcelain tile, so that will be an event.  At the same time we’ll be tearing down a gazebo in the backyard that will be replaced with a dog kennel set-up.

Oh speaking of dog kennels, one last thing.  My worst nightmare happened to someone else. Desbattures Benelli Bro, NA II UT II was stolen from his kennel at the Wild West Lodge in Grenville, South Dakota.  Owned by Coppershot Griffons Cliff Koele but used as a guide dog by the John Andersen of the lodge.  Bred by Dominic Brisson and Claudette Blackburn of Quebec, Canada.  He is very special breeding stock for Griffons in the Great Plains of the US and he needs to come back!  Reward offered, please contact Wild West Lodge or Cliff Koele on Facebook with any leads.  Look at other people’s trucks while hunting, like if they have a mess of mutts and this guy.  Or if you use any guides in the Dakotas.  He could be anywhere at this point.

Desbattures Benelli Bro

STOLEN: Desbattures Benelli Bro



A Heartland Hunting Legacy


The twenty-four graduates of the 11th annual Heartland Chapter #491 Pheasant Forever's Youth Mentor Hunt

Twenty-four youths from Douglas and Sarpy counties, ranging in ages from twelve to sixteen participated in the 11th annual Heartland Chapter Pheasants Forever Youth Mentor Hunt, held at Pheasant Bonanza inTekamah, Nebraska on Saturday, October 1st.

The day began with an hour and a half drive north in the dark out of the Omaha metro area, through the Missouri River valley to Pheasant Bonanza in Tekamah, Nebraska.  Check-in was at 7:30 AM and we enjoyed a breakfast of muffins courtesy of the Farm House Cafe in Omaha.  During the check-in process, the kids picked up their hunting vests, which were theirs to keep, courtesy of Nebraska state Pheasants Forever.  They also were given blaze orange hats by our chapter.  The kids were allowed to bring their own 12 and 20 gauge shotguns, so we checked the guns for safety, marked them with the kids’ names and set them aside for when they were to be used.  The youths were then split into four groups of six kids each: Pheasants, Grouse, Quail and Partridge, who took turns at the four educational stations.

Checking in and suiting up for a day in the field

Heading to their stations

Firearm safety and trap shooting was led by Don Pleiss, firearms instructor for the Bellevue Police Department.  This was the first time shooting a shotgun for a number of the kids, so the number one order of business for Don was to sit the kids down and talk to them about the safe handling of firearms.  As all of the participants recently obtained their Nebraska Hunter’s Safety certification, this was review information for them, but important to have fresh in their minds with live ammunition in use.  Following the instruction, the kids were closely guided by Don and chapter member Ron Bell through shooting a few rounds of trap, in order to practice for the field.

Don Pleiss provides firearm safety instruction

Time at the trap range

A youth takes a trap shot under the guidance of Don Pleiss and Ron Bell

In the field were six guide/dog teams.  Guides/dog handlers were long-time chapter members: Charles Upchurch (Versatile Hunter), Gregg Limley, and Ron Funk, who worked individually with their dogs, while two-guide teams of Brian Jorgensen and Scott Jenson,  Mike Lund and Brett Lewis, as well as Jeff Scherzberg and Brad Quilty manned the three other fields.  Participant parents and chapter members shuttled kids down to the fields in golf carts (thank you parent Chris Gibbs, chapter member Brian Sivertson, youth hunt graduates Ryan and Noah Bell and community volunteer Alfredo Garza, among others, for driving).  Each youth hunted with one of the guide/dog teams for forty-five minutes.  Seventeen roosters were harvested, with a few of the kids taking doubles.  As to be expected with any hunt, not to mention first-time hunters, not everyone was able to make a shot.  Yet harvesting a rooster was not the important part of the day; learning how to be safe in the field and having fun with the sport was the emphasis.

Versatile Hunter Charles Upchurch guides a youth with his griffon, Sam

Guide Ron Funk gets a youth on to a bird. Photo by Brian Sivertson

Our lone female hunter watches a bird go out of range under the guidance of Scott Jenson. Photo by Todd Bell

Guide and chapter president Brian Jorgensen helps a youth show off a bird. Photo by Todd Bell

Following our second rotation through the educational stations, the kids and volunteers feasted on a lunch of hot dogs, baked beans, chips and soda that was prepared and presented by the Pheasant Bonanza staff and paid for by the chapter.

Once birds were harvested, community volunteer Bryan Petrzilka took over to teach the kids how to clean and cook the birds.  He gutted and skinned the birds, then cut them up, breaded them and fried up some pheasant tenders.  “You can make anything with pheasant that you can make with chicken,” he told them. Bryanalso brought a delicious pheasant salad spread that he had prepared at home to share with everyone, that he served with crackers.  His station became the go-to spot for a quick snack between meals.

Bryan Petrzilka cleans a bird as a youth looks on

Bryan shows the kids how to cook it up

The fourth station was archery, led by chapter member Gary Brollier, with the fine set of archery equipment secured by chapter member Mike Lund.  The kids had access to like-new youth model compound bows and six life-size 3-D models representing various animals, from deer to wild boar. Gary first provided a demonstration of how to position yourself to shoot, hold the bow, draw and fire.  They were then allowed to take aim themselves, individually and as a group.

Mentor Gary Brollier observes archery practice

Removing arrows from the 3-D targets

We broke camp around 3 PM, considering the day a success based on the feedback from both the youths and the parents.  Many of the kids asked, “Can I come back next year?” and we’ve received e-mails from parents asking the same.  The youth hunt program is absolutely free to those participating, thanks to chapter fundraising, with the primary fundraising event being the spring chapter banquet currently scheduled for March 31, 2012 at the Tangier Shrine, 84th and Center in Omaha.

Pheasants Forever, in partnership with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, started the youth mentor hunt program in 1996.  Since its inception, the program has introduced over 5000 youths statewide to the joys of hunting and habitat conservation.  There are 53 youth mentor hunts scheduled across Nebraska for the 2011-2012 hunting season.

Many thanks to the chapter members, community volunteers, parents and kids who participated in our special day!!  The continuation of the youth mentor hunt program ensures that “The Good Life” is passed on to future generations.

About the author: Versatile Hunter Charity Upchurch participated in the event as youth coordinator by contacting/organizing participants and heading up base camp logistics at the hunt.  She has been a “chapter wife” since 1999.  An abbreviated version of this article has been submitted to the Omaha World-Herald for potential publication in Saturday’s Community Connection section.  Photos by the author unless otherwise noted.