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Sharptailed Grouse Hunting Opener and Other News

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Reservations and Breeding Plans

At this point, I have taken 10 reservations with deposits for my Spring 2014 litters and continue to get interest daily.  Even though I am planning three litters (from Mae, BB and Velma), I won’t even start breeding for another three months or so (which puts whelping 5+ months away and homegoing 7+ months away).  I just want everyone to know that I am a bit hesitant about taking additional reservations right now.  If everything goes as planned, I could have 12-20 puppies in 2014, but I just don’t know right now.  Feel free to call (402) 682-9802 or e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net if you have any questions.

Sharptailed Grouse and Dove Opening Day: September 1, 2013

Charles had a great opening day of grouse in the Nebraska Sandhills on Sunday, September 1st.  We set out into the northern dunefield of our usual opening day spot.  Our “usual opening day spot” consists of two east-west running dunefields with about a mile wide valley in the middle.  I let Charles, Sam and BB head deep into the dunes, while I waited behind at the truck with Mae.  Once they were out of sight, I set off eastward into the rising sun.  I was probably 100-300 yards south of Charles and clearly heard one shot about 15 minutes into our walk.  I had a single bird get up to my left about 5 minutes later, but I missed the shot, which was the only one I had on a grouse all weekend.  Not long after I heard another single shot.  Charles and I met up at the eastern fenceline of the section about 45 minutes after we had started and talked about what we had seen.  He had seen a few large flocks of grouse and had 2 in the bag, so we headed up into the northeastern corner of the section to make sure that we had covered everything, then turned back around to go west towards the truck.  Once again, Charles was to the north of me in the higher dunes and I was working the southern edge.  Sure enough, not 5 minutes after we parted ways, I heard another single shot.  I went over to him and he had his limit of 3.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Hunt Sharptailed Grouse

Sam, Charles and BB with their limit of sharptailed grouse on opening day 2013

We worked for another hour walking westward where he had seen the larger groups, but we didn’t see a single grouse.  We then set up our decoys at a windmill and sat for doves for an hour and a half or so, each taking one, but it was too hot to sit the whole day, so we headed back to town to spend time with the family.

Sandhills Dove Hunting 2013

Charles and Charity with the obligatory one dove each to start the season

The following day we set out into another spot that has been an annual producer for us.  I walked for 3 hours and Charles walked for 4 and neither one of us saw a single sharptail, which is very odd.  Some folks say it was last year’s drought not leaving enough cover for nesting, others say they were killed in the massive summer hailstorm that hit the area, but all I know is that they have been in this spot for 15 years and they weren’t there on Labor Day.  We called it a hunt midday on Monday and headed out to the lake with friends and family.

Charles has spent the last two weekends working with BB on the duck search and retrieve for her second shot at the NAVHDA Utility Test in October.  This coming weekend we will be heading down to Missouri to try our hand at the last weekend of their early teal duck season.  Sam is usually our main duck dog, so he will have to hang back back at the truck while BB finally gets her chance to be the waterfowl star.

Pupdates

Got a message and photos from Bob in Minnesota about his pup Ed, from Sue and Sam’s 2013 “E” litter.  Sounds like he is doing great and has some fun adventures in store for this season:

Ed is a big boy and tipping the scales just shy of 60 pounds on his 6 month bday.  He is loving our weekend camping trips to the lake and is a hard charger in his water work.  In fact he gets close to the lake and will rip the leash out of your hands to go in while carrying his bumper.  Last weekend he pointed 2 grouse sitting in the woods near the lake on one of our walks.  Ed is looking real nice on his points but still is breaking so I have some more work to do.  He is retrieving to hand and I am hoping that continues when hunting season begins here in MN.  I have taken a break the past week on training as we have been having triple digit temps up here and it is just too hot.  Ed will be heading out in mid September for official gun introduction and bird and gun association.  Out pheasant season starts on October 12 here in MN and then we are headed out to North Dakota on November 6 for our first North Dakota adventure of the fall.  Thinking trip number 2 will be in December but that will depend on the weather and how he does this fall on our other outings.

Ed6mos

Ed at 6 months chillin’ on the deck

Ed hanging out in the house

Ed hanging out in the house

Ed and his toy pheasant

Ed and his toy pheasant

16 month old Chester from Sam and Mae’s “C” Litter of 2012 lives out in New York and has been practicing hard for the upcoming season with his owner Sal and trainer Hoss.  He’s pictured here at a Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter training day.

Chester on point

Chester on point

Another shot of Chester on point

Another shot of Chester on point

Chester retrieving

Chester retrieving

And handsome three year old Whiskey out in Nevada from Sue and Sam’s “A” litter of 2010 has been caught by owner Deborah being very silly these days.

Whiskey thinks that crocs make great chew toys

Whiskey thinks that crocs make great chew toys

Whiskey peeking out from his blanket

Whiskey peeking out from his blanket

As always, thank you to the puppy owners for taking such fabulous photos and sharing them with us!!

I just talked to my eyes on the sky down in Missouri and he said that with this warm weather there aren’t many teal flying, but this coming weekend is the last one of the season, so it is the only shot we’re going to get on this particular season.  Since we’ll have our Missouri license anyway, I see us heading down there for some other waterfowl seasons this year too since it is only an hour and a half away.  So wish us luck and we’ll keep you posted!!

Pupdates and Hunting Season in 2 days!

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I’m supposed to be packing for the annual trip to the Sandhills for the September 1st dove and grouse opener since we’re leaving tonight, but I just had to get these pictures out before I got too distracted by hunting season!

This is Zoey, she is 6 months old and is out of Sue and Sam’s last litter that was born early this year.  Jimmy has been doing great work with her down in Oklahoma and is shown here perfecting her water retrieve.  Rumor has it that she’s going off to waterfowl school, but she’s definitely got the basics down!

Zoey water retrieve at 8 months

Zoey water retrieve at 6 months

Another shot of Zoey retrieving a dummy

Another shot of Zoey retrieving a dummy

Zoey also looks cute just laying around the house…

Zoey chilling on the kitchen tiles

Zoey chilling on the kitchen tiles

Zoey's sweet face!!

Zoey’s sweet face!!

Thank you so much to Jimmy and Sandi for all of those great pictures!!

I swiped this picture off of Facebook, but I didn’t think that Deborah would mind.  Whiskey is from Sue and Sam’s “A” Litter from 2010, so he is 3 years old now and lives out in Nevada.  Here he is with his little Lab buddy Ruger who is holding him down and giving him a tongue bath.  Too funny!!

Whiskey getting a bath from Ruger

Whiskey getting a bath from Ruger

Thanks Deborah for capturing such a hilarious moment!

Hunting Blog

For the last couple of years I’ve been posting our hunting stories on to versatilehunter.com, separate from this here kennel blog.  I have to talk to Charles this weekend and see if we want to continue on that URL or if we want to consolidate our presence here on the kennel blog.  I also used to be active on Twitter under @VersatileHunter, but just really hit a wall with trying to keep everything updated.  Then to complicate things, I’m also going to start hunting blogging for Lion Country Supply.  So I’ll probably be writing my first draft either here or on versatilehunter.com ( there is also a button to up at the top that says “Hunting Blog”), then write a final draft for LCS.  Plus I’d like to start really honing my writing to where I’m submitting articles to magazines.  So please bear with me as I decide where I’m steering this whole writing ship.  I’ll let you know sometime next week where things are at so that you can keep up to date with my blathering.

So wish us luck up in the Sandhills, I will be wearing my GoPro, so hopefully I’ll actually hit something to show you on YouTube:)

AKC Walking Field Trials and other updates

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Waiting for puppies

Sue is very pregnant and about 3 weeks away from whelping and Mae is definitely showing and about 5 weeks away from whelping.  I really need to get into gear and get the whelping boxes and areas ready!  Right now I have 13 reservations with deposits.  I would be willing to take additional reservations, but at this point have no idea how many puppies I will have.  Anyone who makes a reservation and does not get a pup out of these litters can either have their deposit refunded or have it carry over to next year’s breeding season (I have 2 reservations for next year currently).  Contact us at (402) 682-9802 or bluestemkennels@cox.net with any questions.

AKC Walking Field Trials

Charles and BB participated in the first AKC Walking Field Trial in the area for the year, down in Osborn, Missouri (just east of St. Joseph) over the weekend, put on by the Heart of America German Shorthaired Pointer Club.  This was a much more relaxed atmosphere than the 250 dog trial that we went to near Lincoln last year, it really felt a lot like a hunt test, except that we were the only ones there with kids.

Unknown judge and handler in the Gun Dog stakes

Unknown judge and handler in the Gun Dog stakes

Charles and BB, center, head out for the Amateur Walking Derby run

Charles and BB, center, head out for the Amateur Walking Derby run

There were four dogs entered in each of the stakes that they were entered into: Amateur Walking Derby and Open Walking Derby.  There was a male and female Vizsla pair that was braced together, then BB and a male German Shorthaired Pointer were braced together.  In both stakes, the Vizslas took first and second, BB took third and the GSP fourth.

Charles and BB at the trial grounds with their third place ribbon from Saturday

Charles and BB at the trial grounds with their third place ribbon from Saturday

The weekend's ribbons: third place in both the Amateur Walking Derby and the Open Walking Derby

The weekend’s ribbons: third place in both the Amateur Walking Derby and the Open Walking Derby

I would really like to see more diversity of versatile breeds in the AKC Walking Field Trials.  Charles told me that one couple who traveled from Colorado to St. Louis for a WFT two weeks ago had a Spinone Italiano that was entered.  I would love to see griffs, Weimaraners, Spinones and the other versatile breeds recognized both by the AKC and NAVHDA participate in the AKC Walking Field Trials, not just GSPs, GWPs, Vizslas and Brittanys.  The way that BB is winning over her bracemate is NOT by running like a bat out of hell and ranging far and wide.  That’s not to say that she’s “pottering” as is the technical term for what we normally call “bootlicking”.  She is just diligent in finding every single bird in the field.

On Saturday, the bird planters double planted the field, hoping to get the two Amateur Walking Derby braces covered with one trip.  Well, the GSP had one find and BB had FIVE.  She “cleared the field”, as they call it, and had to plant more birds for the next brace.  They didn’t make the same mistake the next day, but there were still plenty of birds, as the GSP once again had one find and BB had three.  Some of the positive things that the judges said to Charles is that BB is very smart, meaning that she knows how to analyze the terrain for bird cover, understands how to work the wind and the bird scent cone.  Of course, the judges would like to see her range farther, but there really is a place for these closer working dogs in the walking field trials.  It really should be about finds and not about running haphazardly and missing birds.  Like I say, I want to see more diversity of versatile breeds out there so we can show the judges how we do our thing.

The next field event in the area is the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Lincoln’s Hunt Test and Walking Field Trial on March 9-10.  E-mail Tresha Moorberg at lincolngspc@gmail.com if you are interested in receiving premiums.  As BB turns two at the beginning of March, she will age out of the Derby Stakes and now need to qualify for the Gun Dog Stakes.  The AKC Field Trial Gun Dog Stakes require the same skills as the AKC Master Hunter test.  So in the Derby Stakes, you are basically at Junior Hunter level skills, now we need to move up to MH skills.  Our biggest challenge is stone steadiness on point and on honor.  As my dogs are allowed to relocate without commands in the hunting field, they have a tendency to creep when the birds start moving.  We are going to see if we can get Sam and BB ready for Senior Hunter test runs and Gun Dog Stakes walking field trials in time for the March test, but if not, it is something we will be working on all off-season.

Pupdate

Rick sent a great write-up with some photos of Sam and Sue’s 2012 “D” litter pup, Dottie, who is now 8 months old:

I wanted to give you an update on our pup, Dottie, and a recap of our winter hunting season here in Eastern Nebraska.  The drought really took it’s toll on the habitat this year.  We spent a lot of time trying out new CRP fields.  Dottie has really developed nicely over the season. She did a good job with obedience and acclimating to the fields on her first outing in the fall.  She covered a lot of ground, but the experiences were all brand new.  We kept taking her out about every weekend, and by the last hunt in January, she was really doing great hunting out the birds.  We didn’t encounter many pheasants for her to hone her pointing skills on, but it was a great year for quail, and she really did a great job working them out.  Below are a few pictures from the season.
 
Here is a picture from our December 16th outing.  Dottie sees something of interest here.  We saw a few hens this trip, but the field must get hunted a lot because they spooked and flushed out pretty early.
Dottie checking something out.

Dottie checking something out.

December 28th. Rick and Dottie with the first “all Dottie” quail.  She pointed the covey and located the dead bird!  We’re still working on retrieving.

Rick and Dottie got a quail!

Rick and Dottie got a quail!

We went out again on a January 13th Hunt.  This time Joey, my 9 year old son, was able to see Dottie in action.  Once again, all we brought home was a single quail. (good thing we’re not counting on my hunting skills to feed the family all winter!)  Joey sure liked seeing his dog in action.  I think we’ve created a new hunter in the family.  He’s asked to go every week since then.

Joey is fired up about bird hunting with some help from Dottie!!

Joey is fired up about bird hunting with some help from Dottie!!

Dottie and I were very fortunate the last weekend of pheasant/quail season to be invited out to my friend’s land to hunt with him and his griff, “Bear”.  We had a lot of fun and got into a covey of quail that kept us busy for an hour or so.  The dogs did great pointing out the covey after it broke, but we weren’t much of a shot.  We bagged one out of the ordeal. (I can’t come home with just ONE quail AGAIN! 🙂 ).  Luckily, the last field we hit yielded us some roosters to end the season.  We bagged two to end the year.  

Dottie and Bear found some roosters!

Dottie and Bear found some roosters!

All in all, I’d have to say that reflecting back on the season, we had a pretty good first year with Dottie.  Unfortunately, a lot of the CRP land we used to hunt is either out the program this year, or mowed down due to the drought, so it was a tough year to find good habitat for the birds.  We’re really happy with Dottie.  She is just excellent with the kids, and has a great demeanor.

 I’m interested in working with her more this spring.  I’m going to try and watch for any field trials that might be close to Omaha.  I know you guys do this quite a bit, so any help or pointers would be great.

 Thanks Again!

Rick & Dawn and Family

We are seeing if Rick and Dottie want to take a shot at Junior Hunter at the GSPC of Lincoln event in March, looks like she is ready to me with all the wild bird hunting, but I’ll let Rick and Charles talk through that one.

I had hoped to get the pregnant females out on some birds, but we might run out of time.  This weekend we’re finishing preparations on the whelping areas, the weekend after that we’ve got our first Heartland NAVHDA Chapter meeting of the year, then the weekend after that I’ll be hovering over Sue waiting for the puppies to come.  But we might be able to scrounge up some quail and do it this weekend, who knows.  Thanks to Rick for the great write-up and photos, they are always appreciated and enjoyed!  I’ll keep you all posted as to the latest.

Good luck tomorrow to the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon gang out in NYC for the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, I have plans to join you some year (just as a spectator!).  Also, those of you going to Pheasant Fest in Minneapolis this weekend have a good time, hope some AKC griffs make it into the Bird Dog Parade!

Waiting for puppies

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Mae is about 2 weeks along now, so we don’t see a whole lot of belly with her just yet, but Sue is definitely showing that puppies should be here in about 4 weeks!

Sue taking it easy in the house

Sue taking it easy in the house

Sue in the yard

Sue in the yard

The kids got a day off from school on Wednesday for a snow day, so we took the opportunity to sled and hang out with the dogs.  They are always a joy to be around and we never have to worry about them hurting the kids.

Two moms-to-be on the run.  Mae in foreground, Sue in background.

Two moms-to-be on the run. Mae in foreground, Sue in background.

Profile of Mae looking paunchy at 2 weeks pregnant

Profile of Mae looking paunchy at 2 weeks pregnant

Sam checking on the kids

Sam checking on the kids

Here comes BB!

Here comes BB!

BB and Sam tearing it up.

BB and Sam tearing it up.

Sam giving Conrad a kiss

Sam giving Conrad a kiss

BB and Sam having a good time while Cordelia sleds down the hill.

BB and Sam having a good time while Cordelia sleds down the hill.

All four dogs outside: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue

All four dogs outside: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue

All four dogs inside: Mae Sam, Sue and BB

All four dogs inside: Mae Sam, Sue and BB

 

We will continue to give you updates as the two mama’s pregnancies progress.

Pupdates

We received a couple of updated photos from our “A” litter of Sam and Sue.  Brothers Whiskey and Winston are looking good and all grown up!  Here’s Whiskey out on his last chukar hunt of the season this year in Nevada.  I just love his big mop of hair on his head!

Whiskey age 3 up on the mountain

Whiskey age 3 up on the mountain

 

His brother Winston has a bit shorter “do” on top.  Here he is on the left, with his big “sister” Stella, a German Wirehaired Pointer.  They live up in Minnesota and you would never know that they are two different breeds by looking at them.

Winston the griff on left, Stella the GWP on right

Winston the griff on left, Stella the GWP on right

 

Thank you to Whiskey’s owners Pete and Deborah and Winston’s owners Kelvin and Nancy for sharing the updated photos.  Even though there is snow on the ground here, the robins have returned and that is a sure sign of the spring (and the spring births) to come!  Keep checking back for the latest!

 

 

 

 

Hunting Season Ends, Puppy Season Begins

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Puppy Season Begins

Sam and Mae mated from January 12-15, so that puts us with another litter around March 15th.  So Sue will whelp around March 1st and Mae will whelp around March 15th.  It will be a busy spring around here!  Sorry to be out of touch as of late, but we are also working on a big development for our family and kennel that we aren’t prepared to announce just yet, but hope to have the news finalized by mid-February.

For those who are looking for a puppy, I do want to be up front that I currently have 14 reservations for the two litters.  I could very well have two large litters and have no problem producing more puppies than that, but there are no guarantees.  We are planning four litters for next spring/summer breeding season, so anyone not getting a pup this year could hold their reservation over to a pup next year.

Sue and Mae are definitely looking pregnant and I will be sure to get belly pictures of them next weekend.

Hunting Season Ends

Charles and Matt have figured out the new game in these parts and had some end-of season success with Sam and BB.  Last weekend Charles got a couple of wild quail, but no pictures, so we had to resort to the picture in the house after dark.  Conveniently, Sam retrieved one and BB the other.

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Charles and the dogs took two male bobwhites the weekend on Jan 19th.

Yesterday they returned to the field for the final push for the year, as wild upland season in Nebraska ends on January 31st.  Charles took one hen quail, with Matt filling the game bag for the day with 2 male bobwhites and the elusive Nebraska rooster pheasant.

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Matt, BB and Sam in the parting shot of 2012-2013

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Can you see the griffs? Matt, Sam and BB take on some quail.

Pupdates

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Nate and pup Ben, from Sam and Sue’s “B” litter of 2011 from near Palmyra, Nebraska.  Here’s what Nate had to say:

It has been a while since I had given you an update on Ben.  He is doing fine and we really enjoy having him.  He is an excellent family dog and we are starting keeping him in the house more and more so we can spend more time with him.  He does well hunting (I need to work on his retrieving) but our hunting has been very tough this year.  I couldn’t find any birds in my grouse spot this year and pheasants and quail have been very few and far both at my place and in central Nebraska.  Finally had a good half of day of hunting yesterday in central NE that would have been better if I would have shot better but that is the way it goes.  I am going to try to do some things this spring after season to make up for that like participating in hunt tests, buying some birds, and maybe even go to a preserve (which I never thought I would say).   I have attached some pictures of Ben pointing some birds this evening.

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Ben two years old from our “B” litter

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Ben pointing, from behind

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Ben checking out the snow

Of course TracHer up in North Dakota continues to have adventures with her griffon pals Mr. Favor and Zephyr and people, Susan and Tom.  TracHer is also practicing wearing her cross country skiing harness, to join everyone on their next trail adventure.

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 We hope that everyone has had a good beginning of the New Year.  We are looking forward to more griffon adventures ourselves.  Charles is planning on putting on what we’re calling the “Old Bitches Hunt”, where he plants some farm raised quail for the two pregnant females and me to hunt up, since I’ve missed the last part of the season while Matt and Charles figured out the new game for this area.  We’ll take it slow and easy, but we think it is good for the pregnant females to hunt to send the hunting endorphines to the pups.
I’ll get some pictures up of Mae and Sue next weekend, but until then, stay griffy!

Mid-season Slowdown, Pupdates and Happy Holidays!!

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After the big hunting trip to North Dakota for Sam, BB and Charles, filling the game bag has taken a pause.  It isn’t that we haven’t tried!  Charles went out for deer the first two weekend in November on our friend’s land on the Platte River and saw deer but didn’t have any good shots.  Our freezer is full of birds anyway, so I think he was really just getting out of the house.  The latter part of November and the first part of December he’s gone out for ducks, pheasants and quail, with very few sightings and no shots.  There were two weekends where he drove 3 hours one way (in different directions), even going down into the Flint Hills of Kansas, but still no luck.  We are hoping that when the snow finally comes (we’re at a historical record for days without snow), that we might be able to come across a few roosters, but are really looking forward to our planned grouse hunt on the Sunday before Christmas up in my Nebraska Sandhills home.  For the most part we’ve given up on Eastern Nebraska this year and are going to turn our attention to getting Sam and BB trained up to take a shot at some legs of the AKC Senior Hunter test over the course of 2013.

Looks like we’re getting closer to breeding with Sue and I suspect that Mae won’t be too far behind.  I won’t have an exact calendar of events until pro-estrous (bleeding) actually starts, but there are definitely changes going on and I just have to keep watching.

Yet despite our slow time here lately, things appear to be going well in other parts of the country with our puppy owners!  Aaron of Ohio and “Pepper” from Sam and Sue’s 2012 “D” litter (age 6 months now) posted an update on our Facebook page saying:

Pepper, aka Derry, from the D litter is doing very well. We worked her on quail in a call back pen all late summer and early fall until the quail “went native”. On Monday we decided to shoot over her for the first time after a fair bit of work with a starter pistol. She pointed and retrieved two chukars with no concern for the gun fire. She trailed a wounded bird to a groundhog hole where it escaped. She is also doing great in the house.

It’s so exciting to keep up with all of the pups and how they are doing, knowing how much joy a good dog brings to the home and field.  Randy and “Roxy”, from Sam and Sue’s 2011 “B” litter, out of Utah are having an outstanding year.  Randy wrote:

Man, has the light ever came on with Roxy.  She did all that could ever be wanted while hunting Iowa, North Dakota, and Utah this year.  Best all around dog I have ever had in the 50 years of hunting.  I will attach a few pictures.  Thanks you guys for making my hunting career come together.

Click on any of the photos to enlarge:

Randy, Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) and company after a great day in the field

Randy, Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) and company after a great day in the field

Randy and Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) had a great time in North Dakota!

Randy and Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female) had a great time in North Dakota!

Another great day for Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female)!

Another great day for Roxy (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon female)!

I really love the last photo of Randy and Roxy because aside from being absolutely gorgeous, it’s a great shot showing that she looks exactly like Sue’s head on Sam’s body.  Of course, having a hunter say that you’ve given him the best hunting dog that he’s had in 50 years of hunting makes a person feel like a million bucks!!  But that is our goal!!

Cliff down in Oklahoma and his pup “Belle” out of Sam and Mae’s 2012 “C” litter, which is 9 months old now, are having a great time thus far in Kansas and Oklahoma:

Wanted to give you a quick update on Belle.  We’ve been out every week since the season opened in OK & KS.  I had to work the weekend of Nov 10th & 11th, but that was just as well  because it was so warm and windy.  Belle & I hunted the following Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning in KS.  Saw very few pheasants (no quail) and bagged the only one I shot at.  That was Belle’s first pheasant.  Attached is a picture of us with #1.
 
The following weekend in KS we got 2 more pheasants.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving we hunted Kansas once again and got into a covey of quail and bagged 2 birds.  Belle as having rock solid points and also found a bird that had been hit and flown a considerable distance to which we only knew a general location.  With the quail, Belle made the connection that she was to bring them back to me, so she now brings the birds back to me in addition to fetching the paper daily.  So far the hunting reports across the state of Kansas are what I have experienced.  The bird population has been severely impacted.
  
Yesterday was opening day for pheasants in OK.  When I got up it was 59 degrees and windy.  The high got up to 76.  I should have had my OK limit (3 roosters), but missed the easiest shot of the day Crying face.  We saw a good number of birds, but with the weather most flushed far ahead.
 
Overall, I am very pleased with Belle’s performance.  Responds to commands, hunts close, has a great nose, does not flush birds wildly, and has learned to hold point and to find and retrieve downed birds.  I just need to keep giving her the opportunity to hunt so that we can refine her skills.  I have attached additional pictures.

Cliff and Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with her first pheasant

Cliff and Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with her first pheasant

Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and the Oklahoma opener game bag

Belle (9 month old female Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and the Oklahoma opener game bag

Awesome success, Cliff and Belle, so happy for you!!  It gives us hope that there is still upland bird hunting to be had out there since honestly, we’ve been in a bit of a funk about how things have been going lately.  I have pictures from the 1990’s of Charles and our Brittany “Sheaf” going out every weekend and getting a limit of pheasant here in Eastern Nebraska.  It really hurts my heart that those days are probably gone and we’re going to be stuck with three options: 1) extended bird hunting safaris to the Nebraska Sandhills, North Dakota and other states with sustainable bird populations 2) joining a hunt club 3) buying and planting our own birds on the local dog training wildlife management area or on a friend’s land.

Okay, back to something happy for the holidays!!  Joel and Jenn from Kearney, Nebraska shared this picture of Roxy’s brother, Mowgli, from Sam and Sue’s 2011 “B” litter.  He looks like he enjoyed the snow that they had out there!  What a face!

Mowgli (18 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) chillin' in the snow

Mowgli (18 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) chillin’ in the snow

Keeping in the holiday spirit, Sal and family in New York were kind enough to mail us a Christmas card with a cute photo of Belle’s brother, Chester, also from Sam and Mae’s 2012 “C” litter (9 months old):

Merry Christmas from Chester (9 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Merry Christmas from Chester (9 month old male Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Many thanks to all of my puppy owners for making this blog fun to put together and read!  You really go out of your way to take the time to send us great photos and write-ups and it is appreciated more than I can ever express.  We put a lot of time and love into our puppies, so it is a big warm fuzzy to see that loving spirit carried on in their lives in their forever homes.

Wishing all hunters and lovers of griffons, our puppy owners, friends and family the Merriest of Christmases, from Bluestem Kennels and the Upchurch family!

"Not a creature was stirring..." Clockwise from top left: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue.

“Not a creature was stirring…” Clockwise from top left: BB, Mae, Sam and Sue.

More Field Trial Action and Pupdates

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On Field Trials

Saturday, September 22nd was a big day for AKC field events in the Lincoln, Nebraska area, so the kids and I hit the road to visit friends and family involved.  Our first stop was the Missouri Valley Brittany Club’s AKC Hunt Test at Yankee Hill Wildlife Management Area just southwest of Lincoln, near Denton.  Although Charles and I lived in Lincoln for a couple of years in the 1990’s, I had never been to this WMA.  It is very nice, lots of good cover and space, I can see why the Nebraska Game and Parks selected it as a new spot to plant pheasant for the youth hunting weekend in October.  Yet I digress.

I was headed to the test to visit with my friend Sally Jo Hoagland from North Platte.  Although she is probably closer to my mom’s age than mine, she is one of the top (if not THE top) Weimaraner breeders in Nebraska (Weimshadow Kennel) and one of the only professional dog trainers in Central Nebraska (Four Paws Dog Training).  We had met at the Grand Island Kennel Club Dog Show earlier in the year after first connecting on Facebook, due to our mutual involvement with NAVHDA and AKC.  It was funny that at the hunt test I not only knew Sally Jo, but probably 90% of the people at the test and what was even funnier is that we were not the only family of spectators.

The hunt test environment is very family friendly, there are usually multiple families with elementary age children running about, so we all look out for one another’s kids and there is never any worry about any of the dogs being mean.  The dogs typically sit quietly in their crates or on their stakeout chains and love to have the kids mess with them.

Following lunch at the hunt test and a good visit with friends and fellow local hunt test junkies, we loaded up and headed north to Branched Oak Field Trial Grounds near Raymond.  Although we had been there for hunt tests in the past, this field trial environment was completely different.  The German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s field trial over last weekend was four days long and had 235 entrants, making it one of the largest AKC field trials of the entire year.  Our “camp” was out in the back 40, so when the kids wanted to go to the clubhouse to get some sweets and sodas, we had to wade through the melee.  As most field trials are on horseback, most of the other camps consisted of a camper/horsetrailer/dogtrailer combo, a stakeout chain of 10-25 dogs and at least one horse.  Anytime someone walked down the dirt road in the midst of the gypsy village, all 235 dogs barked and spazzed out on their chains.  This was with the exception of BB of course, who really wanted her people very close to her in this strange setting.  I don’t think that any of us were comfortable and felt pretty alien: a family with small children and one griffon surrounded by herds of barking shorthairs, German Wirehaired Pointers and Vizsla dogs along with their owners who reminded me of the rodeo crowd; not sure if their faces are red from being sunburned or last night’s whiskey, or both.  The only time that I saw any other women is when they came out of their campers to water their dogs or smoke a cigarette.

A string of German Shorthaired Pointers at the AKC Field Trial on Saturday

Maybe I’m only drawing these caricatures because I was nervous and scared that my 3 year old was going to wade into a pack of freaked out hunting machines.  I don’t want to hurt any field trialer’s feelings and I’m sure we’ll be back for more, so I’ll get more comfortable and quit seeing things that make me want to point them out.  But as the hunt testing environment is where my fellow griffoniers find themselves, I wanted to point out the differences before anyone else decided to strike out into the field trial world.  Not that I have any serious ideas of other griffoniers going this route, as a few of them have raised questions about participation.

Our take on it is that Korthals wanted to breed a foot hunting dog that was faster than the bootlicking continental breeds of his time.  We do not believe that hunt testing does enough to test the athleticism and endurance of the animal, as it is a brief exercise that is only looking for the dog to satisfy the training requirements of the test (search, pointing, retrieving, steadiness, honoring etc.).  Even in NSTRA and BHU trials, the field is too small for it to be a valid test of athleticism.  We intend to continue to participate in walking stakes at AKC field trials and other trialers at the event encouraged Charles to look into American Field’s Region 19 events.

In my brief readings on American Field Region 19, these are events that last longer than an hour and are on open terrain and wild birds, which is a lot like what we are doing for hunting anyway, where we walk for at least an hour before stopping for water and usually two hours before we really stand or sit around for any lengthy period of time.  I would suspect that BB would be the first griffon to ever participate in American Field, should we decide to check it out.

BB placed 4th out of 5 in the Amateur Walking Derby stakes last Saturday, beating out a Vizsla her same age, working the terrain more thoroughly and having the one bird find of the run.  Although we are flying in the face of current convention with the breed, we worry more about the prevelance of designer house pets and conformation show-only dogs than about our involvement in walking stakes at field trials.  I really just wish we could channel the spirit of Korthals to ask him himself, but in the meantime we’ll just keep doing our research to support our methods and having fun with our dogs.

BB’s Fourth Place Ribbon.

Pupdates

TracHer is busy as usual in North Dakota, she’s 7 months old now and been out on a few sharptail grouse and Hungarian Partridge hunts.  She’s even retrieved a few of them!  Most recently, she brought a live rabbit into the house through the doggie door while company was over, luckily they were fellow hunters!

TracHer on left (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) with Susan and her old buddy Zephyr with Tom and their limit of sharptail grouse!

TracHer and her bunny (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

TracHer retrieving a sharptail grouse (7 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon)

Mike out in Colorado has also been working with TracHer’s “twin” sister Frankie on some pheasants.  He’s been working on steadiness on the point and he says she’s doing a great job!  Both TracHer and Frankie are from our 2012 “C” litter with Sam and Mae.

Mowgli is 18 months old and is from our 2011 “B” litter out of Sue and Sam.  Quite the looker!  I saw his brother Duke’s owner at the movie theater when I was taking the kids to see Finding Nemo 3-D, so hopefully I’ll get to see him soon.

Mowgli (18 month old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon) and his neighbor friend the Dachshund chilling on the deck

Coming Soon to Versatile Hunter

Well in less than a week, we’ll be headed back out to the Sandhills for some more hunting.  There are no words for how terrible Eastern Nebraska has been this year thus far.  The swamps are too dry for early teal and snipe, then the prairie chicken grounds have all been mowed for hay.  Damn drought.  We are going to have to start commuting to not only the Sandhills, but the Rainwater Basin of Central Nebraska, the pheasant fields of South Dakota and Southwestern Nebraska as well as the quail fields of Kansas.  I hope that this is a temporary blip in the hunting situation in this part of the state because I don’t see us moving anytime soon.  But we are in fear of this being the beginning of a total collapse in hunting in Southeastern Nebraska.

Shirts!!

Oh and one last thing, be sure to check out the new t-shirt designs on our Shop!!  You can either click the button at the top of the page or go directly to http://www.wirehairedpointinggriffongear.com Buy a shirt to show your griffon pride, 100% made in the USA, from the shirt itself, the artists designs to the embroidery and screenprinting!!

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