Two New AKC Hunt Titles!

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Pending AKC approval, Sally is now Bluestem Sally Forth SH, NA II! She and I got our last AKC Senior Hunter pass at the Rappahannock Brittany Club AKC Pointing Dog Hunt Test in Dillwyn, Virginia on Saturday, April 29th. Since we did not title her in Junior Hunter, it took five passing runs for the title. The first four we received at the AWPGA Eastern Regional Specialty in March. We went five passing runs in a row, which was very exciting.

I appreciate all of the judges assistance in guiding me through my first hunt test title. I’ve been in the gallery for 10 years now and it was finally time to step up to the plate. I have to give the most credit to Charles for training her; all I did was go in and drive a truck that he built. This is not going to be a common event for me until I get my last child out of the house in four years. Even then, I expect it to be infrequent since I enjoy wild bird hunting more.

This photo was taken right after we jumped out of the truck at our AirBnB at the end of the day, so my jaeger lead is not on correctly. Also, I am in sneakers instead of my boots. Of course it bothers me now looking at the picture, but I was too excited and tired at the time to care.

Charity and Sally with their last SH pass ribbon in Virginia

Our second new title comes is one that has been a long time in the making! Plus it was the same weekend that Sally finished Senior Hunter. At eleven years-old Bluestem TracHer became an AKC Master Hunter at the North Dakota Pointing Dog Club/Montana Brittany Club joint AKC Pointing Dog Hunt Test. TracHer is from our “C” Litter between Sam and Mae (both of whom have crossed the rainbow bridge). Congratulations Susan on a job well done and staying with the dream for so long!

Bluestem TracHer MH with owner-handler Susan and Wirehaired Vizsla, Condi, and her first Senior Hunter ribbon
Bluestem TracHer MH, the spitting image of her dam Little Lady Aspen, NA I “Mae”

Also at the Rappahannock Brittany Club test, Charles and Obi got their first AKC Master Hunter pass. AKC Master Hunter takes six passing runs for the title, so we’ve got some miles to travel before that is done.

Charles and I both had some fashion faux pas in our photos. He’s already changed out of his hunt test hat and boots in the photo. Do not try to handle dogs in Crocs:)

Obi and Charles with the first AKC Master Hunter pass ribbon.

Before we worry about finishing Obi’s AKC Master Hunter, we have to get through NAVHDA Invitational in September. Charles traveled with some dog training buddies out to Moberly, Missouri this past weekend for some in-depth training.

Obi with Charles backing Tracy Johnson’s Vizsla way off in the distance at Missouri Valley Outfitters
A liver German Shorthaired Pointer backing Obi’s point

The perspective of the following photo is interesting since it was taken by the person who planted the duck for blind retrieve practice on the bank of the pond opposite Charles as the handler. So Obi was sent from the far side of the pond to swim across and retrieve the duck on the bank that is in the foreground of the picture.

Obi retrieving a duck to Charles, in orange on the far bank.

I wish that I could give credit to the folks who took the photos out in Missouri, but Charles didn’t give me any names. He seemed very pleased with the results of the weekend training in Missouri after being a little disappointed in not getting more passing runs in Virginia the weekend prior.

Duke is a year and a half old and is currently zero for eight runs in AKC Senior Hunter. He is a young, stubborn pup with a lot of prey drive. He does not want to hold still when that bird is getting kicked up, even with commands. We have a long road ahead and he is doing many things right, it only takes one mistake to get pulled from an AKC test. Here he is looking cute at the vet office for his rabies shot.

Duke is cute at a year and a half and 62 pounds

Ruth has become my dedicated canicross dog. Canicross is a sport that is more popular in Scandinavia and Canada, where the handler wears a hip harness with a bungeed dog lead attached to it and you go hiking. Right now we are exploring the trails of Kings Mountain National Military Park, where the American Revolutionary War Battle of Kings Mountain took place. It is a good way for two old moms to get out, plus I take our fourteen year old son Caleb too.

Ruth on the canicross harness back at the beginning of April, it is much greener here now.

One of our “P” Litter puppies from our surprise litter between Ruth and Stonyridge Zoro got out preserve hunting with her girl in Kansas at the end of March. Great job Madilynn and Rose!

Rose and Madilynn excited about their first rooster together!

I don’t have whole lot to say about the Westminster Kennel Club dog show this year since I was teaching swimming lessons and busy around the dog farm here. One thing that stood out to a lot of us long time followers is that the stands were completely empty. I hope that in the future the club is able to move it back into Manhattan at Madison Square Garden in February for the experience that we all miss. The last MSG show was in 2019 before COVID. I just feel blessed that our daughter Cordelia and I were able to go in 2018 since there is a chance that it may never happen again in Manhattan. The Piers where the benched show and breed judging happened are completely falling apart into the Hudson River, so we all may be stuck going to the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Queens in the future.

Empty stands at WKC 2023, I stole this screenshot out of someone’s Facebook video.

Charles will keep plugging along here with training for Invitational and I’ll be prepping for breeding season here in a couple of months. I’m expecting Ruth to come into season late July with pups whelped in September and going home around Thanksgiving.

I currently have thirteen reservations with deposit for our Fall 2023 litter. As my deposits are fully refundable until the puppy is three weeks old, this list often shakes up at the last minute with folks having life events that lead them to hold off until the following year. If anyone is reaching out at this point looking for a pup, they need to be comfortable with the fact that it could be Spring 2024 before I have any puppies available. But it is all up to the good Lord and Mother Nature, so we’ll see what is provided to us. Email bluestemkennels@gmail.com for inquiries.

Happy New Year 2023!

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Happy New Year from Bluestem Kennels, the South Carolina home of hunting AKC and NAVHDA Wirehaired Pointing Griffons!

We are still awaiting Ruth’s winter heat cycle, but it looks like it will be any day now. We are taking a break from breeding this cycle, but that will drive when she comes into season this summer for our Fall 2023 litter with Obi. We still have spots left on the 2023 reservation list and then we’ll also go for one last litter from Ruth in Spring 2024 before she retires from breeding. Most likely we’ll also do a first litter of Duke and Sally for Spring 2024. Contact us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you’re interested in a pup from us in the future.

Puppy Brag!

While I was busy with puppies in the fall, I missed an accomplishment announcement for the first Ruth and Obi pup to NAVHDA test Natural Ability. Congratulations to Clint and Bluestem Ramble on Rosalind “Rosie” on their NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize II, 101 points at seven months-old! They tested on September 10, 2022 with the Keystone Chapter in Central Pennsylvania. That is an amazing accomplishment for a first-time handler and young pup, we couldn’t be more proud!

Congratulations to Clint and Rosie on a NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize II at seven months-old!

Duke’s Health Scans

Then right after the pups went home at the end of October, I got Duke over to Steele Creek Animal Hospital in Charlotte for his hip and elbow x-rays and advanced bloodwork. We are so happy that everything came back looking good! It is only through close work with our veterinarians that we keep our dogs and puppies healthy for hard hunting.

If you look at the graph on this report, the square represents that average of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed. Duke’s chances of developing hip issues are significantly lower than the average. Obi’s are slightly lower, but both are perfect for stud dog purposes.

Also his elbows show no sign of problems, which is another good thing. We had extensive bloodwork completed on his thyroid, liver and kidneys and that all came back normal. The reason that we tested the liver and kidneys even though it is not required by any breed clubs is that there are starting to be problems in certain bloodlines in the Upper Midwest where the pups are getting liver and kidney problems at young ages. We have a friend with a pup (not from us) who is battling it now and it is not something that we want to bring into our breeding program.

East Coast Griffon Event Announcement

I almost forgot this! The AWPGA is hosting a regional specialty event in York and Wellsville, Pennsylvania from Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 20th. Thursday is a field training day, Friday is the regional specialty dog show in York, Saturday and Sunday are AKC Hunt Tests in Wellsville. I will be driving up on Thursday so I’ll miss the field day, but I will be hanging around at the show on Friday, then running Sally and Duke in AKC Senior Hunter on Saturday and Sunday. After spending ten years in the gallery and helping out at hunt tests, I’m finally going to handle myself. I don’t know that I’ll get any passes, but we’ll have fun running anyway. There is a Facebook group called “AWPGA Eastern Regional Events 2023” that has all of the details. https://www.facebook.com/groups/375079241463081

Our Training

Charles has been working with training Obi for NAVHDA Invitational, Duke and Sally for UPT or AKC SH, and Ruth just to keep her active. Here’s just a couple of random training photos from the last couple of months where he is working with our Griffons and the English Pointers of the neighbors’.

Ruth with the green collar on backing the Pointers in December.
Obi on the right backing one of the Pointers yesterday.

We hope that every one of our puppy owners and followers had a blessed holiday season. We were lucky to have our two adult children come back to us in South Carolina from Nebraska. Here is a photo of the five of us at the harbor in Charleston: Charles, Conrad is 18 and an Information Technology student at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Cordelia is 21 and a senior in Agribusiness at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Caleb is 13 and is in eighth grade here in SC and then me.

I’ll get back on the blog once Ruth comes in to heat here in the next few of weeks, then we’ll know a little bit more about our puppy making schedule this summer and fall. Stay warm until then, especially my poor people up in North Central Nebraska and South Central South Dakota who have snow drifts up to ten feet tall and are still getting roads and driveways cleared for travel. They have my prayers daily.

“S” Litter Five Weeks and Duke’s NA Test

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Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the backup contact list in the event of anyone backing out on this litter at the last minute. I will start doing interviews for our Fall 2023 litter once our 2022 litter goes home, so you can reach out about that too.

Duke’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

You cannot put the pressure of your breeding kennel on a junior handler and our 13 year-old son Caleb had fun handling Cedar and Spruce’s Apollo “Duke” to a NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize III, so that is really all we can ask for. They tested at the Foothills NAVHDA Chapter in Hickory, NC on Saturday. The pheasant track was spot on and he did great in the water, but it took him 15 of the 20 allotted minutes to get started in the field search. To his credit, he was the last dog in the field and it reeked of bird stench after nine other dogs ran ahead of him, so I could tell that it made Duke a bit confused and timid, wanting to point every place a bird had been planted. I’ve seen pro trainer/handlers come up with a “No Prize” on Natural Ability, so we are not disappointed. At nine months old Duke is still young enough to Natural Ability test again, but we won’t and just continue on to prepare for the Utility Preparatory Test. But the most important thing for him and for Sally is to get out west into the wild bird fields this fall.

Caleb and Duke ready to run
Duke in the field
Waiting for the water
Checking of the attributes

“S” Litter at Five Weeks Old

The pups are growing like weeds and are large enough to run the yard. We’ll do that a couple of times a day going forward. They have their first collars on and are picking up and carrying around toys. They love to chew on each other and their toys. Caleb is also my puppy assistant and I catch him doing the silliest things sometimes, like getting in their dog house.

Caleb has turned into a puppy

Here are their individual pics. Keep in mind that this is just a snapshot of this puppy. This doesn’t show their personality, size or conformation very well at all. They are just now starting to develop their different coats and I’m getting a better idea of who will fit well where.:

Male pup, Sebastian:

Male pup, Sebastian face
Male pup, Sebastian body

Male pup, Simon:

Male pup, Simon face
Male pup, Simon body

Male pup, Samson:

Male pup, Samson face
Male pup, Samson body

Female pup, Simi:

Female pup, Simi face
Female pup, Simi body

Female pup, Spokanne:

Female pup, Spokanne face
Female pup, Spokanne body

Female pup, Sue:

Female pup, Sue face
Female pup, Sue body

Here is their video for the week. We were so busy this weekend that I didn’t have a chance to get Caleb to help me with them in the yard. It is just too much for one person to handle and try to video when we’re in the yard. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtJ2jke9twg&t=1s&ab_channel=CharityUpchurch

I need to go ahead and sign off for now, the day is getting away from me and I need to start talking to folks about travel plans and puppy picks. I’ll be back next week on Tuesday, Monday has just become too crazy for me with kid activities and so the weekly updates will shift a day for the rest of their time with us. Good luck to everyone in the field with hunting and testing.

Spring Test Prep

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Now that our oldest son has finally completed his schoolwork for his senior year of high school, I feel like I can breathe! He finished on Friday and will walk across the stage in about a week and a half.

A quick update on our breeding plans: it looks like I’m full on reservations for Fall 2022 Obi x Ruth, but folks can and do back out. Feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to get on my contact list for litters. The next planned breeding(s?) after that will be Fall 2023 since our daughter is graduating from college back in Nebraska in the spring of 2023. But accidents can and do happen, so I can’t totally count that season out even if I try.

In the meantime, Charles, Obi and Sally will be heading up to the Hudson Valley (NY) NAVHDA Spring Test this weekend. It will be Obi’s second and final UT run. He was a very high scoring Prize II at the Carolinas Chapter Test and Charles wants to see if he can get a Prize I. Sally will be running her UPT Test, the practice test for the UT.

Obi, Duke, Sally and Ruth in the kennels

When we’re not working with them in the yard or socializing with them in the house, the dogs spend their time in their kennels. They are crated indoors at night.

Charles, Obi and Sally have been putting in lots of training hours at various grounds in the area, but I hardly ever leave “Tiny Farm of Bethel, SC” since there is so much to do here! I managed to catch some pics of them working in the yard yesterday.

Sally on the track
Sally with the duck
Obi with the duck
Obi retrieving to hand

I hope that they have fun in New York and give it their best shot! Charles grew up right near where the test is being held and so he is going to get to visit his dad while he is there too.

Duke is almost six months old and is turning out nicely! His teeth all seem to be in their correct places, he is learning his commands, we’re working on getting his fitness built up, he has a nice coat and he isn’t too large. When we weighed him a few weeks back he was 30 lbs., so we are hoping that he tops out in the 50-55 lb. range but we will see. Dukes lineage is a combination of Coppershot, Des Battures and Stonyridge, so I am expecting great things from him!

Duke on the move
Duke in the field
Duke pointing me and being cute

I look forward to our trip to the Nebraska Sandhills this summer so that he can get a big long run in behind the truck! And do lots of swimming at the lake too.

Ruth has really bounced back from the puppies and now it is just a matter of watching and waiting for her next cycle. I suspect that it is going to be in July or August, but I will keep you posted. I normally do not do back-to-back litters with females, but it took us three attempts to get an outside male raised and turned out properly to breed with her. A female pup from this fall’s litter is going to a breeder, then we will keep an Obi x Ruth female for our program in 2023.

Ruth running the hills
Ruth creeping through a low spot

We are so blessed to have our place here where we can work with the dogs right in the yard. I’ve been busy planting domesticated flowerbeds and trying to keep the wild woods at bay as much as possible. My vegetable garden is already exploding with lettuce, spinach and collards. I hope to add chickens for eggs and meat goats next year. Charles keeps a funny collection of birds for training.

Domestic mallards and a rooster pheasant

He has a whole other quail house on the back hill that I’ll have to get pictures of later.

Good luck to everyone at their spring tests, may we all savor the thrills of victory and withstand the stings of defeat.

R Litter Confirmed by Ultrasound

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The Bluestem Kennels “R” Litter was confirmed by ultrasound today! Please see the earlier breeding announcement blog post for additional photos of the parents and our “About Our Dogs” page for pedigrees and health clearances. Right now, we have 11 reservations with deposits. This is going to be a large litter so there is a possibility that if you put down a deposit and made a reservation now, that there could be a puppy available. We are also repeating this breeding in the fall, so if you get on the list and don’t get a spring pup, you could get a fall pup: bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

Why do back-to-back litters? Ruth is young, in her prime breeding years at age 5 and we are finally in a place where we can expand our breeding kennel. She is the great-great granddaughter of Am/Can CH Duchasseur Moustache, UT I, an AWPGA Hall of Famer from Quebec, Canada. The Quebecois bloodline was joined with our strong foundation blood from the upper Midwest US. A fantastic combination of health, hunt drive and family companion.

Obi is a new start for us, coming out of a small breeder in Wyoming. He has hips in the top 10% for the breed recorded by Penn-HIP. He is the most silly, gentle male we have ever owned as a family dog. He also has great biddability and is easy to train. We have high hopes to eventually take him to NAVHDA Utility Prize I in his life.

So this is the beginning of the next chapter.

I had to stay outside during the ultrasound due to COVID restrictions. York Vet in York, South Carolina
Ultrasound photo taken by the vet tech
Ruth resting with her little sister Sally a couple of nights ago

As we read test scores and judges evaluations in NAVHDA’s Versatile Hunting Dog magazine, as well as talk to other owners and breeders, it is tough for us to decide where to go next with bringing in outside blood again. We are keeping a male from this litter, so our backs are a little against the wall to come up with a mate for him somewhere. Now that I’m within halfway decent driving distance of Quebec, my eyes wander up there (also because I love the food and hanging around Vieux Quebec “est tres bien”). But I need to do my research on any new paperwork and veterinary requirements. But that is not where we are right now!

We need to focus on getting ready for the puppies. They are taking over the guest bedroom from the guests. I will finally have a whelping box with a bed next to it, like I’ve always wanted. So now it is just time to watch and wait! I will post more pictures of Ruth as she gets bigger and some of Obi training and just playing in the yard (once this rain goes away).

Happy New Year from Bluestem Kennels! Going into our twelfth year of puppies in style!

Hunting Season Opener 2020

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Like everything in 2020, our opening weekend was a little different than normal.  Many of our “go-to” spots are still flooded out, but luckily the bounty of the Sandhills still provided.

Opening day we split into two parties, with Fire and I taking one dune ridge and Charles, our buddy Ryan, Ruth and Obi went on the ridge to the south of me.  It’s funny the difference that one valley makes.  Fire and I hiked for five miles and saw absolutely nothing, while Charles and Ryan saw about 14 sharpies and Charles limited out by noon.  Which was good because the high temperature got up to 105 that day, a record for a September day in Nebraska.  Obi was having a great first outing as he got all of the retrieves that day.


Charles and Obi headed back to the truck


Obi and Ruth with Charles and a limit of sharptailed grouse opening day

Day two we decided to all three hunt the same ridge with all three dogs.  Charles and Ryan stayed up high and I worked the mid-level hills closer to the valley.  We had planned on crossing the valley once we got to the fence, but they had seen a group of birds get up that I did not, so I met up with them at the top of the ridge and we headed back the way we came.  I saw a group of about ten of them get up and go around a dune, so I hoped that we’d be into birds soon.

It wasn’t too much longer until Fire went on a super-stylish point down in a little bowl.  It was one of those where their body is posed in one direction and their head is cocked to the right as if to say “The birds are right here!”.  With scenting conditions so difficult in the Sandhills, I’ve only had this happen one other time in twenty years of hunting.  So I ran down in front of Fire and sure enough, a group of five got up right in my face.  Due to the direction of the wind, with them taking off right into it, they shot straight up into the air and I shot right underneath of them.  One peeled off and flew back towards Ryan and he took it down.

Ryan is a traveling geology technician, so he hadn’t been out with us hunting in five our six years while he’s been on the road.  It was great to have him on the bird board again.  We continued our push and I sort of meandered toward the lower hills like I normally do.  Up at the top of the ridge the guys got up another small group and Ryan took another bird out of it.  Fire was hanging around with me, so we hiked up to where the guys were to try to help them find the bird since they seemed to be struggling to locate it.  It took us a good five minutes, but Fire put her nose to the ground and went about 40 yards to the south and came back with the runner.

I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis in my right foot for about nine months, since we chased roosters in January outside of South Sioux City.  Where I used to be able to do 8 miles of dune stomping in a day, I’m down to about 5.  The guys used to be up in the 10-11 mile per day range and now they’re at a little over 8.  We’re all between the ages of 45 and 50 now.  Ryan made the dreaded statement that, “Someday we’re not going to be able to do this anymore!”.  I’m hoping that isn’t for another 25 years or so, but I guess we just don’t know.  The oldest grouse hunters that I’ve seen have been in their mid to late 70s, but that was 10+ years ago.  We’re the old hunters of our part of the world now.

With that being said, I bailed out of the last three mile push of the day all three days.  So when the guys went out on day two and Ryan brought back his third bird for the limit, it was a great feeling just to be there.  I don’t have a good idea of how many sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens I’ve taken out of those hills, but I’ve done it.  And it hope to do it again, but it just wasn’t this trip.


Ryan and Fire with a limit of sharpies

Day three was at least a bit cooler.  At least the outside temperatures.  Let me just say that if you buy the Kindred Creamery Ghost Pepper Colby Jack Cheese, which is the hottest pepper cheese that I’ve ever eaten in my life, wait to eat it until you get home.  Don’t eat it during the hunt or you will regret it.

We went to the spot that we call “Lone Tree”, but the pasture with the lone tree and the grouse flock that we normally hunt had cows in it.  If there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the years is that the grouse don’t hang out with the cows.  So we tried a new dunefield.  And sure enough right when we got into it, a group of about ten got up at about 150 yards and sailed away.  We walked for another hour looking for them, but never saw them again.  The guys hit one more spot and Charles took a single with Ruth on retrieve.  It was the end of the trip and everyone was done posing for photos.


Charles with some worn out dogs and a single.

Someone made a post on one of the Facebook bird hunting forums that three guys and three dogs had been in the Sandhills for three days and hadn’t seen a thing, so I feel lucky that we didn’t get skunked.  I hope that we get out chukar hunting in Nevada someday because I’d like to see how it compares to the difficulty of hunting sharpies in the Sandhills.  If it wasn’t for my bum foot, which is only impacting me at long distances, I’m really in the best shape cardivascularly that I’ve been in 10 years now that I work as a lifeguard part-time and swim a mile once or twice a week, then walk once or twice a week too.  The orthopedist said that it will take time to resolve, so I just need to be patient and keep training.


“I’m getting skunked in the Sandhills”

Introduction to Iowa

There is a big swath of public swamp right on the other side of the Missouri River from where we live, so Charles decided to pick up an Iowa license and took Ruth over there a couple of days ago after work.  They managed to stir up a blue-winged teal and a dove.

Hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Teal

Ruth in the back of the truck with an Iowa teal in her mouth

Hunt Test Pupdates

Congratulations to Brent Haefner and Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III can now add a UT III to the end of her name.  They passed the very difficult NAVHDA Utility Test at the Minnesota Chapter Test recently with 174 points.  Brent said that the hardest part of the training was for the duck search, where the dog has to stay out in the pond for ten minutes swimming and searching for a duck.  Maddy is from our 2017 “M” Litter between Chief and Fire.

Brent and Maddy Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Bluestem Madeline the Huntress, NA III UT III and Brent

At the IllIowa Chapter test, Derek Gilsdorf and Bluestem Captain Augustus Mccraer “Gus” got it done in the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test, earning a Prize I 110 points.  Here’s Gus with his recent haul of teal down in Kansas.  He was from our surprise 2019 “P” litter between Zoro and Ruth.

Bluestem Gus Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Gus got the ducks

I love to hear news of our past puppies, but it is tough to stay in touch with 150 people (that’s why I have a blog).  Feel free to share your pup with us at bluestemkennels@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to share it with everyone here.

The Griffon that started it all…

Good old Sue is still out on the prairies of South Dakota doing her retirement thing at almost 17 years old.  She is the great-grandmother of our current female Ruth and the first Wirehaired Pointing Griffon that we ever owned.  It makes me happy to see her spending time with the family; her current mama Debbie is from Texas originally and moved to South Dakota to be a nurse on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation.


Stan and old Sue

Up next

The hunt tests all have waiting lists these days, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be running Ruth here in a couple of weeks in AKC Senior Hunter like we had planned.  Charles will be back in the Sandhills for duck season in a few weeks and is headed up to North Dakota with our pal Aaron too.  I’m going to stay home with the kids and wait for Nebraska pheasant season to open on Halloween.

Obi went to the vet today to get his PennHIP x-rays.  He weighs 54 lbs and Dr. Arndt of Harvey Oaks Animal Hospital said that his hips look “terrific”.  That is such great news, so it seems like the stars are finally aligning for us to have a quality outside stud after seven years of trying.

We’ll check back in after Charles returns from North Dakota and see if he gets any interesting photographs.  And hopefully some birds and great outdoor experiences too.  Best wishes to everyone out there chasing their bird dogs around the wilds.


Before I die I will shoot a snipe and other tales from the prairie…

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My poor neglected readers, I can tell that you miss me.  Yet hunting season is upon us and who needs any other muse?  I typically write forwards chronological, but today I’m feeling reverse chronological.  That way my title makes sense.

Snipe, Sora and Early Teal

Charles and Charity ready for some fun

Charity and Charles ready for some fun

Yesterday we hit the local swamp in search of snipe, sora rails, and early teal.  It is a pretty popular swamp, as there were a couple of sets of duck hunters in there before we were.  Since we were late to the party, we went to the other end of the parcel.  We spent an hour or two there and each of us missed a sora rail.  At that point we figured that the duck hunters had moved on, but first Charles wanted to go to town for a hot dog.

So when you roll into small town Nebraska with a crazy dog box in the back of your truck with dog heads hanging out of it, a travel carrier on top with stickers from all over the country, and both of you are dressed in camo: you are crazy old man bait.  The old man had some great tales: how he had just intentionally ran over a whole flock of turkeys (because of the myth that they kill pheasants and grouse.  He even showed us the carcasses in the back of his truck), his pheasant hunting escapades in South Dakota, how much he wants to retire to Oklahoma (really? why?), he showed us pictures of his purple ’67 Dodge Charger, then proceeded to do a massive burnout with his pickup (when you squeal your tires on purpose) on his way out of the gas station.  I love Nebraska.

We went back to the main parking lot of the secret swamp and had the place to ourselves.  But the duck hunters had left their mark.  Shame on them.

Party foul

Party foul

Once we got up into the swamp, Charles got a sora after I missed a few.  Then with his keen eyes, he spotted a couple of teal on some open water about 20 yards ahead of us.  I love how teal just let us jump them, we never get away with it with mallards.  Charles grabbed Fire by the collar and I grabbed BB (here is where good heeling training would come in handy, but we’re pretty rusty), and we crept up to the pond.  When the two teal jumped, Charles hit the one in the lead with his first shot, I hit the one behind with my second.  Both were really solid hits, his to the head and mine to the body, so we didn’t have any flapping in the water (which I hate).  Fire was right out on the water retrieve, which BB proceeded to steal (bad dog).  Fire went back out for the second duck too.  Chief had no clue really, we just had him out there for exposure.

From there we made our way out to the snipe field.  It is sort of a wet field that cattle graze so that the grass is all short.  It is really muddy in places and where is isn’t muddy it is pocked with deep cow hoofprints.  This place kicks my butt, I have yet to shoot a single thing there and I’ve been hunting it for years.  It has even claimed a pair of my rubber boots: I sank in and couldn’t get out, so I had to walk by to the truck in my socks.  During dry years, we stumble across the embedded boots every now and then.

We worked the eastern end of the field to no avail, we figure the flights aren’t in yet.  We work the central part of it, and again nothing.  Right as we start to slack off and let the dogs work ahead…BB locks on point and Chief and Fire proceed to bust a flock of about 10.  Out of range, no chance of a shot.  Yet the way that snipe work there are always stragglers.  Charles knocks a couple down.  I proceed to whine about how many snipe he’s shot and how I’ve yet to hit one, so he lets me walk ahead.  I proceed to blast away at another 5 with no success, while he bags a couple more.  As we’re walking back, BB again locks on a solid point.  I go in for the flush and yet again miss the snipe.  But wow, to have a dog who knows how to point snipe, that is pretty awesome.

Charles with four snipe, a sora, and a teal

Charles with four snipe, a sora, and a teal

Charity and Fire with a Teal

Charity and Fire with a Teal

AWPGA National Specialty 2015

I just had to drive a couple of hours over to Des Moines, Iowa for the National Specialty this year.  It kicked off on Thursday morning with a fun hunt at Doc’s Hunt Club in Adel, Iowa.  I accidentally left my camera at the hotel that day.  But we had a good turnout and folks took turns taking their dogs out with birds.  I sent all of my dogs to the Sandhills with Charles, so I didn’t have any.  We did a lot of visiting and had a burger and hot dog lunch in the clubhouse.  There was a tracking seminar held in the afternoon, but I have worked AKC Tracking tests with our local kennel club before, so I skipped and sat in the hot tub, then took a nap:)  In the evening, we had our annual meeting and welcome reception.

Friday was the big show.  It was great to see so many owner handled dogs.  Remember Gino Troy from the NAVHDA test in May?  Well his bitch took Best of Breed.  Yay, Gino and Brie (and his breeder Kristi Rogney of Whiskeytown Sporting Dogs).

Best of Breed Ring

Best of Breed Ring

L to R: Kristi, handler, Brie and Gino

L to R: Kristi, handler, Brie and Gino

We were free for the rest of the afternoon and evening, so I found a new home at the Court Avenue Brewing Company in the Historic East Village of Downtown Des Moines.  The people there were so friendly and the atmosphere so nice (like a mini Old Market Omaha Upstream Brewery), that I thought that I’d give them a free plug.  If you need some beer and grub in Des Moines, this is the spot.  It was packed on Saturday for the Iowa vs. Illinois St. football game, but I had the place to myself on Friday after the specialty show.

Court Ave Brewery Des Moines

Court Ave Brewery Des Moines

AWPGA steins

AWPGA steins

We had a great time at the banquet Saturday night following the supported entry show, where I won a set of four of cool beer steins in the newly launched pre-banquet games (pictured here with 24 oz. each of Nebraska Brewing Company India Pale Ale).  I had the winning bid on the silent auction of two books to add to my collection of dog books in French that I can’t read.

French Griffon Books

French Griffon Books

So, that puts learning French on my to-do list over the next few years.

The food was excellent and so was the company.  There are some things in life that I just love above all others.  Food is one of them.  From left going clockwise: roll, seven layer dessert bar, pork chop, potatoes, creamed corn, green beans with bacon, spring green salad, and a fried boneless chicken breast in the middle.

I took some of everything.

I took some of everything.

Jay Hoth of Switchgrass Sporting Dogs was solo, with Lisa back in Oklahoma looking after the kids.  He had some company at the banquet: Sheryl Dierenfield, Shona Welle, and Kina Palmer on his right all from Colorado, then myself and Julie Baker, both from Nebraska on his left.

Jay Hoth's big date

Jay Hoth’s big date

I wish that I had won this sign in the games, but I didn’t.  Some of my other problems:



I was able to put my amateur auctioneering skills to use at the live auction.  When I was a child growing up in Valentine, Nebraska, there just wasn’t a whole lot to do sometimes.  So my dad would take me to the sale barn to watch cattle being auctioned off.  Between that and all of my time spent as “auction model” in my younger days for Pheasants Forever, I was able to pull it off.

Charity auctioning off a cool welcome sign

Charity auctioning off a cool welcome sign

I was under the impression that supported entry on Sunday was later than it was, so keeping with tradition, I overslept the morning after the banquet and missed it (last year in Maine, I overslept and missed my flight).

It was a small turnout, only 37 dogs entered in the specialty show, but we managed to have a heck of a good time regardless.  Great job, Ruth Vogel and the 2015 specialty committee.  Next year, we will be turning it up in Helena, Montana Sept. 19-26.  Hunting seasons will also be open, so we’ll be there!

Sandhills Sharptailed Grouse Opener

Charles and the dogs had a great opening weekend in the Nebraska Sandhills chasing sharptailed grouse.  They limited out within two hours of their start time each day.  Only 8 shells shot and 6 birds in the bag!  I kept saying to myself in Des Moines, “I can’t believe I’m missing opening weekend to watch a dog show”.  But I’m pretty committed to my dog club friends and glad that I didn’t miss them being in the neighborhood.

Opening day limit. From back to front: Fire, BB, and Chief

Opening day limit. From back to front: Fire, BB, and Chief

Day 2 limit, back to front: Sam, Fire, and Chief

Day 2 limit, back to front: Sam, Fire, and Chief

Parting thoughts

I have probably missed around 100 snipe in my hunting career, so I’m going to be in pursuit.  Probably starting tomorrow.  I’m taking at least a semester away from teaching and am just going to hunt and dog train full-time.  I had thought about going solo and doing Wyoming sage grouse in a week, but I really need to get into shape (and save our money) for duck opener in the Sandhills the first week of October, and North Dakota mixed bag mid-October.  Here’s sort of my goals/timetable:

  1. I’m going to handle Chief for the first time in NAVHDA Natural Ability in the Spring.
  2. Charles will NAVHDA UPT Fire in either the spring or fall of next year.
  3. We’re going to train BB back up, giving her a year off from whelping, so that I can handle her in NAVHDA UT in the fall of 2016.  Depending on where Fire is at, she may also UT at the same test with Charles.
  4. In the next 2-3 years, I want to do Nevada chukar.  I am not in shape enough for that terrain.  Also, I have Montana staring me in the face next year, I’d like to chase some mountain grouse (blue, spruce, ruffed, ptarmigan) and the sage grouse while we’re there.  Time to get to work.

I was super excited to see Brian Koch make contact with the Himalayan Snowcock in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada within the last couple of weeks.  He doesn’t have this pic up on his Ultimate Upland website yet, but here’s the photo from his Facebook page:

Brian's Himalayan Snowcock encounter. Photo by Brian Koch ultimateupland.com

Brian’s Himalayan Snowcock encounter. Photo by Brian Koch ultimateupland.com

That is one for the bucket list!  Keep chasing birds

Hunting season ends, breeding season begins…

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It has been absolutely arctic around here.  We stayed close to family and did not venture out for grouse, pheasant, or Canadian geese while we were in Valentine.  It was very cold outside and several of us were sick with colds.  It has stayed cold down here in Bellevue, so nobody has been out anywhere except for the yard.  But the good news is that while we were hunkered down in Valentine, we think that Sam and BB got the job done.  So, fingers crossed, BB is about 3 weeks along.  Velma has just become fertile and is with Ben down in Springfield, Nebraska.  They will stay together for two more weeks and see what happens.  So if Mother Nature smiles upon us, puppies in March.

Yet if you call or e-mail me, I’m going to refer you to another breeder.  I currently have 16 reservations with deposit on file and just have no idea how successful these litters will be.  We’ll just keep our fingers crossed and wait and see.

The dogs have been coming in the house quite a big with the cold temps, but I didn’t get the camera out until we were outside today.

Caleb let himself into the kennel with BB and Sam while Charles and Conrad were shooting archery.

Caleb let himself into the kennel with BB and Sam while Charles and Conrad were shooting archery.


Conrad getting his archery practice in!

BB and Fire on a tear in the woods

BB and Fire on a tear in the woods

Fire on a lope, you can still see the shaved patch on her abdomen.

Fire on a lope, you can still see the shaved patch on her abdomen.

Fire and Caleb

Fire and Caleb

BB, Sam, and Fire

BB, Sam, and Fire


Sam Profile

Fire Running

Fire Running

BB heading in

BB heading in


Sam Eyes

Sam looks on while BB and Fire battle in the yard

Sam looks on while BB and Fire battle in the yard

Pupdates: Christmas Cards 2014

It’s funny that both of the cards that I received from puppy owners were from the “C” litter of 2012 of Sam and Mae.  Not that I can say anything about Christmas cards, I just don’t send them anymore.  I figure I send everyone a card everytime I write up a blog post, right?  Some cute photos of Chester from Long Island, New York came in Sal’s Christmas card:

Happy Chester

Happy Chester

Running Chester

Running Chester

Peaceful Chester

Peaceful Chester

A cute card from the owners of his sister, TracHer, far right, up in North Dakota.  Susan in read with Zephyr, also a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon (but not from us).  Tom with Max the baby German Wirehaired Pointer and TracHer.

Susan Card_NEW

We hope that everyone had a great holiday season and is ready to tackle the New Year ahead.  Charles is talking about one more hunt before the Jan 31 close of season, but I’m out of time.  I will keep everyone posted with breeding season, please join NAVHDA and the AWPGA, and stay warm!

So much to be thankful for…

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I really should not be blogging, but I know how much y’all have been missing me.  Well, not so much me these days as these fab updates from our owners.  But that comes later.  First of all, I wanted to say that I had no idea how much work it takes to run an AKC breed parent club.  Boards, committees, and lots of blood, sweat, and tears from dedicated volunteers.  I am really stressing about my first issue at the helm of the Griffonnier, but it looks like it is coming together well.  “How do I get this Griffonnier,” you say?  You have to join the AWPGA: http://awpga.com/

Another awesome must-have magazine is Versatile Hunting Dog from NAVHDA.  I’m excited/embarrassed to be in the November 2014 issue.  Guess how you get Versatile Hunting Dog: you have to join NAVHDA.http://www.navhda.org/.  I went ahead and scanned a copy of the article so that the non-members can check it out.

VHD Article

VHD Article2

Thanks again to New Englander Jason Wade for coming all the way out to Nebraska/Iowa to put it on, and to Tracey Nelson for being a great hostess.  Also thanks to the people who let me ask about their recent Handler’s Clinic experiences: Susan Davy, Dan Dorfschmidt, and Matt Heard.

I was also recently published in Tufts University Seabird Ecological Assessment Network’s publication Field Guide to Beached Birds of the Southeastern United States.  The field guide will be used to help citizen scientists to identify bird carcasses.  They needed a photo of a female canvasback carcass and found it here on the blog.  Here is the link to the guide, my photo is on the bottom left hand corner of page 72: https://app.box.com/s/k01qk2eic0ojc0h0tjv7.  I’m always happy to donate my work in the name of science and conservation.

Birthday Hunt


I bagged my first official shot-it-all-by-myself Nebraska rooster on my 40th birthday.  That’s about the best present I could get.  I’ve been attributed to some Nebraska roosters in the past, but it was always up for debate since others had also put pellets in it.  But not this time.

I love chocolate cake, but I love birthday roosters more.

I love chocolate cake, but I love birthday roosters more.

So that was the high point of the hunt.  The low point of the hunt was at the end where we had to cross this shallow creek into a fallow field that was all plowed up and uneven.  I tripped on a giant dried up dirt clod and didn’t even catch myself.  It was a full-on face plant into the dirt.  I may not be known for my gracefulness, but I have become an expert in totally wiping out safely while holding a firearm.

Oh yeah, and Charles got a rooster too.  But you expected that.

That is my poor photography skills with the glare, not evidence of any supernatural forces.

That is my poor photography skill with the glare, not evidence of any supernatural forces.


Bob and Ed, who hail from Minnesota (and from our “E” Litter 2013 between Sam and Sue), had a great hunt up in North Dakota this year:

What a fantastic trip to North Dakota for Ed again this year!  5 guys hunting and we brought home our limits even with the tough wind we had.  Ed’s performance was fantastic and I could not ask for anything else from him.  He is a solid pointer and retrieves to hand with no hesitation.  He proved his worth when he found a bird we knocked down which ran into a cattail slough.  I am once again very happy for having found you while researching the breed. I can’t wait for our trip in 2015! Bob

Ed, Bob, and the birds in ND.

Ed, Bob, and the birds in ND.

Trucks, dogs, and birds is where it's at!

Trucks, dogs, and birds is where it’s at!

Jealous!  In more news from North Dakota, Susan and TracHer (2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae)  took out some roosters in the western part of the state:

A good friend got permission from an old high school classmate who farms in western ND, but north of I-94 (where the famed pheasant hunting area is) yesterday.  I experienced an all time first in my hunting life.  I shot a double, and was the first in our party of 3 to get birds.  I end up in that category of, I GOT ONE! only to be told by the guy hunting to either side of me, that no, they got it.  I’m a little slower to shoot so do better when I can get away from the others enough to get a bird on my own time, and it happened in spades yesterday!!   TracHer did great again…in the pics she is bring my bird back to me, with our friend Don Winden in the pic as well.  There were, indeed, a huge number of pheasants out amongst the oil drilling rigs and wells…The birds seem to have adjusted alright for now.

TracHer on retrieve with Don looking on.

TracHer on retrieve with Don looking on.

Closeup of TracHer and the pheasant.

Closeup of TracHer and the pheasant.

TracHer and the cows

TracHer and the cows

I love how she manages to shoot with a gun and a camera!  I need to work on that.  Staying in the North Dakota theme, Ernie put together this cool video with footage from his GoPro and some tunes, “Country Boy” by Aaron Lewis and “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynard.

Here’s a photo of Ernie and Duncan (from our “H” Litter 2014 of Sam and Mae)

Duncan, Ernie and a North Dakota pheasant limit.

Duncan, Ernie and a North Dakota pheasant limit.

A bit closer to home, it looks like Rob and Maggie of Omaha (from our 2013 “E” Litter between Sam and Sue) had a great trip to South Dakota:

Maggie did fantastic for the start of her second season. She works perfectly in my opinion. She stays close, her drive is fantastic, she is very methodical and thorough yet not too slow and her nose is awesome. She points solid and does a great job at retrieving, especially the sneaky ones that are hard to find. When I turn her loose I almost never even have to direct her. Just when I think that she might be nearing a range that I would consider being too far out she puts her head up to check where I am at and readjusts to stay in the working distance that I prefer. Sometimes it’s like she can read my mind. I’m sure I am biased but I just can’t say enough about how well I think she hunts. I love this dog! Take care. Rob

Rob, Maggie, and roosters.

Rob, Maggie, and roosters.

Taking it way down south, I got an update from Charbel in Mexico with Freyja from our 2014 litter of Sam and BB.

I’ve been off the grid lately with lots of work but finally manage to find some time for R&R. Sorry I couldn’t send you pictures sooner but here are a couple. This is Freyja´s first hunting trip in the beginning of November, we went Dove hunting, it wasn’t a good weekend because of the climate but we manage to get a few doves and the dogs had a lot of fun.

I have her leashed to me or to a long check leash since she still need to learn that there is no point in chasing flying birds, she will run all the way trying to follow a bird that fly’s by specially falcons when they are kiting the area and she tends to draw out thorns like a magnet, specially one I hate don’t know how its called but its a round seed fool of thorns that acts like Velcro. Took me more than an hour to remove all the thons from her, the bright side is that the thorn never actually gets it the skin but it does tangle in the hair.  But I would let Freyja run free after every hunting morning.

The second morning while we were lunching in the field she dash into a corn field, after a few minutes suddenly a entire covey of quail flush out and 2 seconds after that Freyja came out of the field with that smiley doggy face she makes. We were all shocked since no one was expecting that. It was amazing!!!

This weekend we are going to be flying to Mexicali Pheasant hunting I´ll send you pictures after we come back.

 Best Wishes, Charbel

Freyja ready to go.

Freyja ready to go.

Charbel and Freyja taking a break from dove hunting for a selfie.

Charbel and Freyja taking a break from dove hunting for a selfie.

Four labs and a griff cooling off.

Four labs and a griff cooling off.

Freyja coming back in.

Freyja coming back in.

Wow, thank you owners!  You force me to come back and blog even when I don’t think that I want to.  Then when I’m done, I see how much fun you have with your pups and it makes everything worth it.

The week of Thanksgiving is upon us, isn’t it?  So that means that we go hunting, right?  I hope so.  I’ve been stuck at home the last couple of weekend with deer season.  Charles didn’t see one big enough to shoot out in the Sandhills last weekend and went out yesterday for a doe along the Platte River and didn’t see anything.

We really should be thankful to God every day.  As my grandfather says, “You’ve got a roof over your head and food on the table”.  We take important things for granted, like clean water.  1 billion people on Earth don’t have access to clean water, and we’re lucky enough to be able to fuss over hunting dogs.

I am thankful for you, my readers, for hearing what I have to say and enjoying what my kind puppy owners are nice enough to share with me.

Full on pheasant season

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I will be 40 on Sunday.  Not sure how to feel about that.  Hopefully I get at least 40 more years and I get to hunt for most of them.  We plan on going out to dinner Saturday night and probably chase some birds either Saturday or Sunday.  The other day we’ll spend with the kids and my mom.  I’ve told everyone no gifts since I’m spoiled enough as it is.

Brian over at Ultimate Upland wrote a post this week about slowing down as a hunter as we age http://www.ultimateuplandnews.com/upland-with-friends/.  Charles and I have been discussing the same thing this year.  I can remember being in our 20s and how we would hunt all day, then party for most of the night back home in Valentine for several consecutive days.  Over the years, the beers have become fewer and evening hours have grown shorter progressively.  I’ve actually given up drinking altogether as of two months ago (I’m making it official here on the blog since I’m going to stick with it this time).  I hope that is enough oversharing for everyone this week.


Mr T meme

Mr. T says so http://awpga.com/index.php.  Since you get to read my blog free from advertising, with the exception of the junk WordPress puts at the bottom, I am going to start plugging AWPGA membership.  Especially those of you who own griffs and do NAVHDA testing.  Now that I’m working on the Griffonnier and Charles and I are starting to help with the field committee, I see that probably less than 10% of those prizing are AWPGA members.  We are going to change that.  Plus, we are looking to get more AWPGA sponsored field events across the country.  I am very excited to be helping out the elders who have been doing this for a long time and using my blog as a way to help get the word out.

AWPGA Database: I have not yet added my litters to the database, but will have done so by the next time I post to the blog.  That will allow any of my puppy owners to add health and title information.  Griff owners can add information at http://awpgadb.com.  This is not only for AWPGA members, but any griff owners.

Pheasant Season Update

I was out of commission last weekend with a cold, but Charles and his friend, Matt, made it out into the field with Fire and BB.  Charles got a rooster and the world’s smallest quail and Matt got two roosters.

Charles with Fire, Matt with BB

Charles with Fire, Matt with BB


Sounds like last weekend was beautiful up in North Dakota and there were plenty of birds to be had.  Ernie, Duncan and a large party of fellow hunters and dogs found a mess of roosters!  Duncan is from our 2014 “H” Litter between Sam and Mae and is 7 1/2 months old.

Duncan and a big pile of ND roosters

Duncan and a big pile of ND roosters

Of course, TracHer, Susan, and Tom are out chasing roosters again.  They were joined by Jim Borg, participant in the 2014 NAVHDA Invitational and owner of VC Agate Hill’s Akeeta (who had to sit out of the hunt due to injury).

Susan said, “The weather has been unbelievably gorgeous for this time of year and we are so glad we can take advantage of it. TracHer really is coming into her own…she’s showing great drive, points, retrieves—I couldn’t ask for more from her, and it took until this season for her to come into her own.  We hunted with Jim Borg today with his 12 year old Griff Max.”

TracHer on point.  She is from our 2012 "C" litter between Sam and Mae.

TracHer on point. She is from our 2012 “C” litter between Sam and Mae.

Jim with TracHer and Max on point

Jim with TracHer and Max on point

Close up of TracHer and Max on point.

Close up of TracHer and Max on point.

TracHer, Tom holding Max the GWP pup, Susan, Max the griff, Jim, and Zepher.

TracHer, Tom holding Max the GWP pup, Susan, Max the griff, Jim, and Zepher.

An aside for those of you who are not familiar with the NAVHDA hunt testing system.  The Invitational is held every year for those dogs who earn a Prize I in the Utility Test.  From the NAVHDA website:

Field work consists of a search, pointing, steadiness, backing and retrieving with the dogs being run in braces.  Water work consists of a blind retrieve, double-marked retrieve and honoring a retrieve.  Cooperation, obedience, desire and nose are judged throughout the entire test.  Dogs successfully completing the Invitational Test with a passing score will receive the title of “Versatile Champion,” further recognized by placing VC before their names.

Susan does such a great job keeping me in photos!  I hope to make it up to a Central Dakota Chapter NAVHDA Test one of these years so that I get to meet all of these great griff hunters who are members up there.

Danny down in Texas has Fern from our 2013 “F” litter from Sam and Mae.  He said:

We work on upland, waterfowl, fur and tracking. This morning I shot a doe and she tracked it about 100 yards. I was so proud of her, even though it appeared to be super easy for her. We start duck season next weekend, so with a deer in the freezer we can concentrate on what she/I love the most.

We moved this summer to a house on ~6 acres. It’s fully fenced and she is a hunting machine. She spends so much time hunting at full throttle that I was remiss in her training for a couple of months.  We have stepped up our effort and she is getting back to her old obedient self.

Fern's blood track

Fern’s blood track

That is so cool, we have never used our griffs for blood tracking big game, but it is one of their historical purposes and it is great to see one of our owners out there doing it!

Rob lives just across town here in Omaha and has Maggie, who is from our 2012 “E” litter between Sam and Sue.  He said:

Maggie is doing fantastic. She hunted last year at 9 months and our hunting friends were shocked she was that young, because of how well she did. Since then we have been training all the time, in the hope that she will be better at hunting than I am at training!! And it’s going well. This is us working on retrieving, and hopefully I will get some great photos, or maybe video, after we spend next week in Winner, SD chasing those roosters.

Maggie and a rooster

Maggie and a rooster

Wow, owners, thanks for all of the great updates!  The day is getting away from me and I need to fix supper.  I have some big projects due for grad school coming up, so I don’t know if I’ll be back in one week or two.  But God willing, I’ll be back.  Talk at you then.

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