Home

Opening Weekend 2019

Leave a comment

For those of you who are on the reservation list for 2020 Spring Puppies from dam Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”, we are going to use Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” as the stud.  His information is on the “About Our Dogs” page of the website.  Let me know if you have questions.

If you would like to be on the contact list in the event that we have additional puppies available, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com.

In other random kennel news, I took Ruth in for her OFA hip x-rays and the vet said everything looked good, so now it is just a matter of getting the certificate back from OFA to see what rating they give her hips.

Sandhills Upland Opener

Our usual luxury accommodations in town are currently occupied by other family members, so we decided to camp at the lake over the weekend.  With all of the moisture this year we were happy that the sandburrs were still pretty moist, but the mosquitos were sure thick.  The boys and I focused on things like swimming, shooting 22 rifle, kayaking, making s’mores (and just making meals in general), and my favorite part — stargazing.

Brenda Allison - Sandhills Stars

The night sky of the Nebraska Sandhills, photo by Brenda Allison

 

20190831_204823

Sunset over the lake, no filter.  By Charity Upchurch

20190901_180005

Not listed on AirBnB!

20190902_101659

Fifteen year-old Conrad has become a good kayaker,

 

20190901_095903

Ten year-old Caleb had fun with the .22.  Both of the boys did, we ran out of ammo.

You can see in the background of the picture of Caleb that some unknown soul added an “amenity” to our shared primitive campsite.  They turned a five gallon bucket into a pit toilet by cutting the bottom off of it, creating “teeth” so that you can stick it in the sand, then screwed a toilet seat to the top!.  So all you needed to do was to dig a hole to put it on top of, then you use your shovel to “flush” with the sand pile.  Thank you creative redneck!!

Oh but you wanted to hear about hunting, right?

So after every upland magazine has published an article about the Nebraska Sandhills, every yahoo in the country is out there trying to chase sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens.  Which I am happy for honestly, there was a span of about five years where it looked like we were the only ones out there.  The non-natives stay pretty close to the highway because unless you know the dunes, it is a scary place.  And even for those of us who know it, it can play tricks on you sometimes.  This year the biggest hazard is water on the roads, so even if you have maps and GPS that say that a road is there, it may be closed or flooded.

Charles took Zoro out the first day and ended up with a dove and a sharpie in the bag.

20190901_171046

Charles and Stonyridge Zoro with a sharptailed grouse and a dove

On Monday he took Ruth out and got a limit of three.

20190902_125250

Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I “Ruth” and Charles with a limit of grouse.

The Sunday grouse went in the pot with some marinated chicken and canned vegetables for supper that night.

20190901_172745 (1)

Cutting up grouse for the pot.

20190901_181547

Camp food (the grouse is the dark meat)

20190901_175805

Coleman camp kitchen

The three sharpies that came home with us went right on the griddle with some chimichurri sauce on the plate (I forgot to take pictures).  Give them a good marinade and cook them like a medium rare steak for the best flavor.  When I’m at camp, I cook it as stew meat all the way through just to make sure that I’m avoiding food poisoning, since our sanitiation is as good as we can get it, but not up to normal “hot-water-from-the-tap” standards.

Up Next

I am really sucked into youth football right now, but it will be over in time for pheasant and quail season.  I console myself with the fact that I’ve shot plenty of grouse and prairie chickens, and that youth football is only this year and next.

Charles has his sights set on some early teal duck action here locally.  He is going to skip North Dakota again this year until things improve habitat and bird number-wise up there.  He did draw a Sandhills antelope tag, so he’ll be back out there for that and some more birds and ducks hopefully.

Continued success in the fields for everyone and good luck to all of those who are running in fall hunt tests!

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

Leave a comment

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:

Addiction

Addiction

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

Beginning of Hunting Season 2014

Leave a comment

I think that I overdid the adventures this summer and it rattled my hunting cage.  I carried a gun the days that we hunted up in the Sandhills the weekend before last, but the few cracks that I took at doves felt way off.  I will either opt to carry a camera this season, otherwise I will have to go back and re-read my favorite shotgunning book, Breaking Clays by Chris Batha, and get over to the skeet range before the big ducks start flying.

Nebraska Sandhills Sharptailed Grouse

We devoted Friday, September 5th to chasing grouse with our old buddy, Ryan.  After 4 hours in the field, we didn’t see a single bird.

Charity, Charles, and Ryan take a selfie in the grouse field.

Charity, Charles, and Ryan take a selfie in the grouse field.

What we did end up getting were two dogs with faces full of porcupine quills.

Charles pulls quills out of Sam as Ryan restrains BB.

Charles pulls quills out of Sam as Ryan restrains BB.

Another shot of the quill pulling

Another shot of the quill pulling

Conservation Officer Frank Miller of the Valentine office of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission stopped Charles and I on our way into the field Saturday morning and verified that grouse numbers are way down from normal, but just slightly better than last year.  Hopefully once the weather turns and they bunch up, we will see them on future trips this fall.

Charles talks to Conservation Officer Frank Miller

Charles talks to Conservation Officer Frank Miller

 Early Teal

After checking a few ponds with no ducks, we were able to put the sneak on a mixed flock and jumped them up.  There were too many mallards in the mix as they rose from the pond and the group of teal was circling around them really fast, so I didn’t even dare take a shot.  Charles was able to drop one teal out of the group.  The last day for early teal in the low plains region is this Sunday, high plains is already closed.

Our 10 year-old son, Conrad, came with us on the trip and learned a great deal about getting around out in the Sandhills.

How to open a western gate

How to open a western gate

Conrad celebrates dad's teal and 2 doves

Conrad celebrates dad’s teal and 2 doves

Dove

Dove numbers are strong statewide, with Charles harvesting limits at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers in the east, as well as during our trip to the Sandhills.  We’ve been making these bacon-wrapped dove poppers with them and they are quite delicious! http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/bacon-wrapped-dove

Bacon-wrapped dove poppers

Bacon-wrapped dove poppers

Charles and a Sandhills dove limit

Charles and a Sandhills dove limit

Other friends around the state are also getting their kids out on the doves!

My friends Ashley and Matt's son Gavin and his first dove harvest in the Sandhills.

My friend Ashley’s son Gavin and his first dove harvest in the Sandhills.

Carter and Cadence loved watching their dad Matt shoot doves near Lincoln.

Carter and Cadence loved watching their dad Matt shoot doves near Lincoln.

Snipe and Sora

Last weekend I followed Charles, BB and Fire around the swamp chasing after teal, snipe, and sora.  There was quite a bit of fast action and good success.

BB retrieves a sora

BB retrieves a sora

Fire, BB, and Charles

Fire, BB, and Charles

Snipe in flight

Snipe in flight

BB brings a snipe to hand on a mud flat.

BB brings a snipe to hand on a mud flat.

Charles and Fire inspecting a snipe.

Charles and Fire inspecting the snipe.

Charles and the dogs circling the pond.

Charles and the dogs circling the pond.

BB and Fire with Charles and 2 teal, 4 sora, and 4 snipe.

BB and Fire with Charles and 2 teal, 4 sora, and 4 snipe.

Overall a decent start to the 2014 hunting season so far.

Pupdate

George over in Wyoming had a great opener on Blue Grouse with Harry from our 2014 “H” Litter of Sam and Mae,  “Attached you’ll find two pictures of yesterday’s blue grouse with Harry. This was her first exposure to wild birds, and she pointed and retrieved them all. One was still somewhat lively for the retrieve and I’m glad she had the experience with a grouse instead of a rooster pheasant!  Happy hunting!”

Harry and Blue Grouse

Harry and Blue Grouse

As always, thank you to my puppy owners for sending such great updates and photos!

Until next time, good luck out in the hunting fields!

Federacion Canofila Mexicana: Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro

1 Comment

FCM Bluestem Freyja

I received an e-mail from Charbel in Mexico City that six month-old  Bluestem Freyja, sister to our pup Fire out of Sam and BB, is now officially the only registered Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in Mexico!  Viva Griffon!  I find the name that they use quite interesting, as it literally translates into “Pointer Griffon of Hard Hair”.  Here is the official pedigree from FCM, and thank you so much to Charbel for sending me a copy!

Federacion Canofila Mexicana Pedigree of Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro, Bluestem Freyja

Federacion Canofila Mexicana Pedigree of Pointer Griffon de Pelo Duro, Bluestem Freyja

It is pretty cool that in 3 generations it goes from France (Cyr, the sire of BB), Canada (BB was born), US (where Freyja was born), and now to Mexico.  I know that she has a good life down there, and I can’t wait to get some pics of her chasing some of their crazy quail.

Fire Training Day Epic Fail

Our poor raggedy chukar have been sitting in the holding pen for too long.  It isn’t a flight pen and most of them are big males and have pecked one another over quite a bit.  But we decided that Fire absolutely had to get out.  So yesterday morning, off we went to the dog training wildlife management area south of town with three chukars.

It has been raining so much that the grass was wet, and the birds were wet.  But Charles planted them anyway.  At that point, we hadn’t had Fire out working birds or even for a multi-hour walk for about a month.  The first thing that she did was take off like a bat out of hell right down the scent of Charles’s boots, with no care in the world for the whistle.  We finally found her about 150 yards away, up and over the hill with the last bird that he had planted in her mouth.

On the second bird, we got a point out of her that Charles was able to walk in on, but it barely flew and was almost an Arky shot (looks like I need to add Arky Shot to Urban Dictionary.  It is when a person shoots a bird on the ground or in a tree, which is extremely unsportsmanlike when not totally illegal).  But he wanted to make sure that he fired the shotgun and the bird was dead when she got ahold of it.  I think that the shotgun blast scared me more than it did the dog, so it looks like we’ve got the pup’s shotgun conditioning finalized.

Charles walking in on Fire's point

Charles walking in on Fire’s point

Fire showing off her prey drive on the flush

Fire showing off her prey drive on the flush

Charles going for the near-Arky

Charles going for the near-Arky

She retrieved that bird, but I was still too stunned from the blast to get a photo of it.  We got a decent point on the last bird, but it didn’t fly but about 6 inches off of the ground, right into Fire’s mouth.  Aw hell.  Although it makes for a funny story, and everyone who trains dogs has these days, it was still a big thumbs down.

Everybody Run

Remember that awesome song from Sesame Street in the 1970s?  Well, here it is:

Yet I digress.  This morning, we finally got everyone out for a run.  And it was fun.

The three dogs and Charles.

Sam, Fire, BB, and Charles.

Fire in the flowers

Fire in the flowers

Go Sam go

Go Sam go

BB on the move

BB on the move

Three dogs in the grass

Three dogs in the grass: Sam, Fire, BB

Here comes BB

Here comes BB

Happy Sam

Happy Sam

The people

The people

Upcoming trialing and hunting

This weekend, we will be running Fire in the Amateur Walking Derby and the Walking Puppy Stakes at the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Nebraska’s Fall Trial at Branched Oak Lake Trial Grounds.  I’ll be sure to get something up about that at the end of next weekend before I get on the plane for Maine.  I’m hoping that the stakes prior to the Derby are large, because if it falls on Friday, I will have to handle.  It would be my first time.  I thought we’d be running again the following weekend, but once I went to fill out the premium for the Lincoln club, I realized that there are no walking stakes.  So we’ll have the first weekend of September off from dog activities and just plan on sitting for some doves on Monday the 1st.

AromatherapyP

Pointing Dog Journal: Nebraska Sandhills Prairie Chicken Mention

This month’s PDJ Pass Along E-mail Blast was about the Greater Prairie Chicken and my very own Nebraska Sandhills.  The following is the full text from the e-mail and I hope that I am re-printing it with permission.  Full credit goes to Pointing Dog Journal and the author listed below:

prairie grouse logo

Prairie Chickens
in the Nebraska Sandhills
by Greg Septon, STCP

Founded in 1961 to save the greater prairie-chicken (GPC) in Wisconsin, the Society of Tympanuchus Cupido Pinnatus, Ltd. (STCP) is working today to better understand the dynamics that maintain the nation’s largest viable population of GPC in the Nebraska Sandhills – the last best place to study the species in their natural grassland environment.

The goal in the Sandhills is to document productivity, habitat use, and movements of GPC and provide an understanding of how this is interwoven with human activities in the region. If GPC are to prosper as a species we need to better understand their needs and work to determine a scenario where compatible land uses will provide a secure future for them as well as humans so that both may coexist.

Our proactive approach at studying the dynamics of this large population now means that we can likely prevent the GPC from following in the wake of the lesser prairie-chicken – which is now listed as threatened, and the greater sage grouse, which may also be listed next year. If similar proactive research had been undertaken 20 years ago with these species, they might not be facing the uncertain futures they face today.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the life history of Nebraska’s large GPC population will also help provide a future for the isolated, remnant GPC populations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa. For it is from the large populations that these states will need to translocate birds from to restore genetic health and increase numbers to maintain their “museum” or “zoo” populations as they are often referred to. Without a stable source population where birds can be drawn from for periodic translocations, these small, isolated populations will eventually fade away one by one.

For a more comprehensive history of STCP and an account of our research efforts including work with the endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken, please visit our website at: www.prairiegrouse.org.

Until next weekend

I need to go and get the kids ready for school tomorrow.  It is very much unlike me to do a Sunday night post, but I desperately need to save my writing time in the morning for my paid writing gig.  Oh, I also wanted to give a special shout out to the late night internet lurkers on my blog.  I am also one of those people who gets up almost every night for 15 minutes or so between midnight and 4 AM and gets online.  I know it is neurotic and a bad habit, but I always check my stats and see there are folks out there reading my blog at that time.  I also see that there are people reading my archived posts from several years back.  How embarrassing, it is a real cesspool in places.  But that is just part of keeping an online diary.  I’m glad that you enjoy it.

 

NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic, our first Best of Breed, and other news…

Leave a comment

The Countdown Begins

It was only in the 50s when the sun was coming up this morning and it set Sam a-howling, which seemed appropriate to me because my first thought when I woke up was, “only two months left and it will be hunting season again”.  Although I’m very excited, I’m also a bit nervous since we’ve retired all of our older females at this point and I’ll be hunting with Sam.  It will be my first time hunting by myself with a male dog, and Sam and I have our moments where he thinks there is room for debate as to who is the dominate player in our relationship.  But I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out and have a grand time as we always do.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Chas, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Opening weekend 2011: Charity, Ryan Tompkins, Charles, then Sue, Sam, and BB.

Best of Breed

I am just beside myself at the success of Bluestem Big Sky Rendezvous NA I “Midge” in both the field and the show ring.  She is from our 2013 “F” litter from Sam and Mae.  Only a couple of weeks after her Prize I NAVHDA Natural Ability test with a score of 112, she took Best of Breed on June 20th at the Electric City Kennel Club Dog Show in Great Falls, Montana.  The competition in Montana is tough and I am just thrilled.  Infinite thanks to owners/handlers Lou and Lindsay Volpe.

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

Midge has a stretch after her BOB win at Montana Expo Park

NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic

The first and most important thing I have to say about NAVHDA Handler’s Clinics is: GO.  I wish that we had gone 10 years ago, as it would have saved us numerous hours of time in both research and training.  We were lucky to have 3 judges with us over the weekend: our own Tracey Nelson and Chuck Casanova, and our instructor, Jason Wade from the Sebasticook and Yankee Chapters in Maine.  The first day was devoted to going over the Aims, Programs and Test booklet that covers the elements of the Natural Ability, Utility Preparatory, Utility, and Invitational Tests.  We then scored two dogs at the Natural Ability level.  The second day we scored a UPT and a UT dog, then finalized any remaining questions.  It was a great combination of direct instruction, guided practice, then finished with independent practice.  Kudos to Tracey and her family at Skyline Sportsmen’s Club in Thurman, Iowa for being gracious hosts to the Heartland Chapter yet again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Pupdates

Speaking of the NAVHDA Chapters in Maine, Tyson out in Bangor sent me a pic of Moose doing some work at a recent training day.  Moose is from our 2014 “H” litter from Sam and Mae and is 12 weeks old in the picture.

Moose retrieving a chukar

Moose retrieving a chukar

Kaylee down in Missouri shared this cute pic recently of my pup Fire’s sister, Willow, working on the water retrieve.  Willow is from our 2014 “G” litter of Sam and BB.  I love the confident look in her eyes, like, “I’ve got this!”

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

Willow is proud of her duck dummy

I just love all of the pics that Susan and Tom up in North Dakota get of TracHer and the pretty flowers.  Here is Susan and TracHer, who is from our 2011 “C” litter from Sam and Mae.  Don’t be fooled by her show dog looks, she’s tearing up the sloughs, ponds, and prairies up there.

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

Susan and TracHer in the summer flowers

As always, many thanks to all of my owners for sharing photos with me and giving great homes to our pups.

Mae’s Retirement  

We spent the solstice/wedding anniversary weekend up in the Nebraska Sandhills, enjoying time in the outdoors with family and friends.

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Caleb, Fire, Charles, BB, Cordelia, Conrad, Mae, and Sam at our special swimming spot

Mae has been officially retired to Valentine, Nebraska to live with my brother, Ron, and his 1 1/2 year old Siberian Husky, Whisper.  The initial introduction of the two dogs was a bit dicey, but they settled in with each other quickly and are good friends.

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother's yard

Mae and Whisper chilling in my brother’s yard

Burr season is here

As I was writing this, I received a panicked phone call from a griff owner asking about how to deal with burr mats in the coat.  If we run the dogs in burrs, I try to brush them the same or the next day to prevent matting.  Should I forget to do this and a mat develops, I try to brush it out with a wide toothed comb or burr puller.  I make sure to grab the fur close to the skin before I start yanking on it with the comb.  There are spray-on liquid detanglers that you can buy at the pet store to help with this.  If it will not come out and the dog is crying and/or trying to grab your hand with its mouth, it is okay to cut the mat out with scissors if you have to.

I had better move on with my day, even though it seems like there is always more to write, but the littlest one is asking for me to fix him a hot breakfast.  So everyone have a safe and Happy 4th of July!  Keep the dogs inside or kenneled a safe distance from fireworks so they don’t try to eat them like my little cocker spaniel did when I was a child:)

Mid-season hunting update

Leave a comment

I think I’ll start off on telling you all what is happening with this blog.  It is blowing up on me a bit.  Right now I’m getting between 60-100 individual viewers everyday, each reading between 5-10 items.  If you search anything online about Wirehaired Pointing Griffons and hunting, we are the top kennel name that pops up.  I’m getting phone calls and e-mails every day about puppies, which is great!  But if you have to leave a voice mail, get me on the phone and I sound stressed and frazzled, or send me an e-mail and it takes me a week to respond, please try to understand.  We are not a big farm with lots of kennel hands or anything.  We are just a busy family that loves hunting with our dogs, which takes us on the road this time of year quite a bit too.  I respond to everyone.

If I had to wager, I would bet that my females are getting ready to cycle in December.  They are both showing about the same amounts of changes and Sam’s interest is high in both of them.  Mae might be a little ahead of BB.  So, I’m thinking that they’ll have puppies in February that go home in April.  But it is Mother Nature after all, so we’ll just wait and see.

My birthday was on November 9th, so we went and chased some birds.  Charles got 2 pheasant and a quail.  I missed the shots that I had.  But it was fun to get out on a beautiful fall day anyway.

Birthday girl Charity, your loyal narrator

Birthday girl Charity, your loyal narrator

BB, Sam and Charles with my birthday presents

BB, Sam and Charles with my birthday presents

Last weekend, we took time away from bird hunting for Charles to go after his annual mule deer in the Nebraska Sandhills.  I was able to stay back in town and visit my family.  He took this bad boy opening morning.  It is a tie with his muley from 1999 for personal best deer antler rack.

Charles's mule deer buck and rifle out on the prairie

Charles’s mule deer buck and rifle out on the prairie

Up close with Charles and his deer

Up close with Charles and his deer

I’ve been all amped up about trying to shoot a goose.  There is a pond along the Platte River that I have access to and I went out to it for a couple of hours the day before yesterday.  Saw lots of geese on an adjacent pond that is property of the gravel mine, so I’m hoping that if I get in some morning in the dark and set up, I might be able to get them flying into the mining pond.  But we’ll see, it is a work in progress.

Charles will take the weekend off from pheasants due to it being the last weekend of rifle deer season.  We don’t want one of the dogs to get shot on accident.

I am also getting ready to go to Quebec the weekend between Christmas and New Years Eve (God willing!).  The puppies are three weeks old now and have their eyes open.  I’m not sure which one of these three is mine, but I plan on calling up there tonight and I’ll find out.  Renee and Gilbert have very busy jobs on top of having way more dogs than I do, so I completely understand.

Cristal and Fortis puppies at 3 weeks old.

Cristal and Fortis puppies at 3 weeks old.

I am so thankful for all of my owners who take such great pictures and write such nice e-mails to keep us up to date our our pups.  8 month old “Ed” is out of Sue and Sam’s 2013 “E” Litter.  Here is what owner, Bob, had to say about their trip to North Dakota:

We had a great hunt in North Dakota this year.  We had 5 hunters and got our limits 2 of the 3 days we hunted.  It rained all day on our second day so the hunting was pretty short.  Ed figured out the game and has picked up the art of pointing just like I hoped he would.  He also has shown his desire to retrieve with no hesitation.  Very successful first North Dakota hunt for Ed!  It is awesome what a good dog can do.  And at only 8 months old is unbelievable!

EdND

Bob and Ed had a great time in ND!

Ed's stack of ND pheasants

Ed’s stack of ND pheasants

And as always, year and a half old TracHer, from Sam and Mae’s “C” Litter is having a great time living in North Dakota!  Susan and Tom are so generous to share their photos with us.  On this day, Susan got the first bird of the day, but missed for the rest of the day (I know that feeling!!), but Tom got his limit.

Here comes TracHer with a pheasant!

Here comes TracHer with a pheasant!

TracHer retrieving another pheasant

TracHer retrieving another pheasant

TracHer is excited about the bird that she brought to Tom

TracHer is excited about the bird that she brought to Tom

Everyone have a Happy Thanksgiving.  We all have so much to be thankful for!  Hopefully we’ll get out to chase some pheasants around then.  Take care.

Duck Hunting the Atlas Blizzard, BB’s NAVHDA UT and more news…

Leave a comment

I think that I am finally caught up on my kennel e-mails and phone calls, but if you’ve tried to get in touch with me and somehow fell through the cracks, please reach out to me again at bluestemkennels@cox.net or (402) 682-9802.  Charles has been on the road during the week for his corporate job 3 weeks in a row now, then we’ve been traveling on the weekends for hunting, testing and training.  I’m currently taking care of the 3 dogs and 3 kids, working as a substitute teacher in middle school and high school English, writing for Lion Country Supply and finishing my master’s degree in secondary education.  So sometimes the wheels just come off the bus and not everything gets done as it should.  I did manage to get my introductory blog post on to the Lion Country Supply site: http://blog.lcsupply.com/2013/09/postcards-from-the-great-plains-first-post/  It is different than writing for here, where I just sort of talk to you like I would if you were sitting here at my kitchen table with me.

But what did get done as it should was our duck hunt in the Nebraska Sandhills on opening day.  It was extremely cold and windy, as we caught the southeastern corner of what is being called the Atlas Blizzard that devestated the cattle industry in southwestern South Dakota (I’ve been following on another blog: Just a Ranch Wife http://www.justaranchwife.com/).  It definitely pushed the ducks south and right to us that day.  We both got our limits by midday and it’s a good thing because I had cotton pants on that just got completely soaked by the flying snow and I was locking up with some pre-hypothermia symptoms.  Our favorite method is jump hunting, so we were taking the action to the ducks.  I managed to catch a duck double that I shot on GoPro video and I posted it on our YouTube channel:

And the final shot on the day.  Let me tell you a bit about these end of the day shots.  I have my camera on a tripod and use the 10 second timer to take these.  I don’t look into the mirror before we take them.  I line everyone else up, hit the timer, then run into the picture.  I will never look like one of those cool, sexy huntresses in one of these pictures.  Like this one, I look like I have a damn chef’s hat on.

Charity and Charles with BB on 2013 opener of duck season

Charity and Charles with BB on 2013 opener of duck season

The following day was completely blue sky and right when we get ready to hunt, I realize that my license must have fallen out of my pocket the day before.  No hunting license, duck stamp or HIP number anywhere.  So I just carried the camera instead (after a good cry, of course).

Charles and BB started Sunday with a wood dock drake

Charles and BB started Sunday with a wood dock drake

Charles and BB leave the wooded pond

Charles and BB leave the wooded pond

The head of a wood duck drake is one of the most beautiful gifts of nature

The head of a wood duck drake is one of the most beautiful gifts of nature

Charles and BB back in the open looking for snipe

Charles and BB back in the open looking for snipe

I call this one "Anticipation".  This is Sam having to let BB go as lead duck dog for the first time.

I call this one “Anticipation”. This is Sam having to let BB go as lead duck dog for the first time.

Charles and BB creep into a wet spot

Charles and BB creep into a wet spot

Snipe way up in the air

Snipe way up in the air

Charles and BB also got a snipe on Sunday

Charles and BB also got a snipe on Sunday

A week later, BB received her NAVHDA Utility Prize III at the Heartland Chapter Fall Test in Thurman, Iowa.  Although I had planned on attending and helping out with the test, my kids all caught colds and we just really needed to stay home and recouperate.  We had considered pulling out of the test the weekend prior just because of having too much going on, but we had already paid our fee, so off Charles went.  BB had a “no-pass” in Sioux Falls in August due to not doing the duck retrieve, so we have been focused on water work in both our training and hunting.  She did what needed to get done with the duck search, steady by blind, and duck retrieve.  She aced the track, as always.  She was the last dog to run in the field and she was false pointing piles of feathers and breaking on the flush, which she hasn’t done in awhile.  But we’ve been so focused on getting over the water hump that she hasn’t been on upland birds since hunting sharp-tailed grouse at the beginning of September.  But we’ll take it!  So BB is now officially Bourg-Royal’s CB Bluestem JH, NA I, UT III.

Our co-owned female, Velma (De Jac’s Zip A Dee Doo Dah NA I) who is the same age as BB, is now dual registered with the AKC and NAVHDA, which was the final step in preparing to hopefully breed her within the next few months, in addition to the females who live with us.  I paid her a visit a month or so ago in order to take pictures that the AKC needed for registration.

Velma at 2.5 years

Velma at 2.5 years

I had originally capped my reservations at 10 but there were more folks really wanting to get on the list, so it looks like I’m at 13 now after 3 verbal commitments yesterday and in the process of finalizing with deposit.  As we are trying for 3 litters, I have high hopes that we will have enough puppies!

Speaking of puppies, we have our fingers crossed that Sam’s stud successor will be born around Halloween!  He is coming from the same kennel that we acquired BB, Bourg-Royal Kennel in St. Lambert-de-Lauzon, Quebec, Canada.  Should he be born and it isn’t a litter of all girls, he will be parented by two French imports: sire GCH Fortis des Sonnailles du Haut Davy FD NA I and dam Crystal D’O des Roches de Vouise.

Fortis on point.  Photo by Amy Caswell

Fortis on point. Photo by Amy Caswell

Crystal on point and posed.  Photos by Claudette Blackburn

Crystal on point and posed. Photos by Claudette Blackburn

We are so very excited and hope that all goes well for human mom, Renee, mama Crystal and the babies!

Last but not least it is time for some pupdates.  We got word from Kyle in Illinois within the last couple of weeks that Gomer got his NAVHDA Natural Ability Prize I with a perfect score of 112 points.  I don’t have the name of the chapter, but will keep my eyes out for it in Versatile Hunting Dog magazine.  He is from 2012 “D” Litter from Sam and Sue.

TracHer from 2012 “C” Litter from Sam and Mae took a limit of sharp-tailed grouse with owner, Susan, a week ago.  TracHer and Susan live up in North Dakota.  Susan said, “It is so rare that I hunt alone with just one dog, and very nice to go my own pace.  TracHer did great.  Ranged a bit, but would come back in.  It is also rare that I get my limit!!   TracHer found and retrieved to hand all 3 birds. “

Susan and TracHer with a limit of sharp-tailed grouse.

Susan and TracHer with a limit of sharp-tailed grouse.

TracHer’s sister (but not littermate), Midge, is from Sam and Mae’s 2013 “F” Litter and is really looking nice!  I hear that she’s had some pheasants shot over her in Montana within the last couple of days.

Midge at 7 months old

Midge at 7 months old

Hearing lots of good reports from other owners as the season kicks off and I can’t wait to see the hunting pics!!  Kyle from across town here said that he got Gomer’s brother Duke out on ducks, “I had the chance to get Duke out duck hunting a couple times this weekend. He did awesome. I didn’t get any pictures, but we got into the teal and wood ducks. ”  Duke is also taking after his mama Sue, Kyle said, “I saw a while ago that you posted a picture of Sue with socks and toys in her mouth. That must be where Duke gets it from. We can’t keep socks in one place at our house, he finds every dirty pair and carries them around. Haha.”  That really made me smile!

Oh this blog post has taken me way too long to write.  Thank you owners for keeping me up-to-date with the pups!!  What’s next for us? Saturday, Charles, BB and Sam leave for the big North Dakota trip.  Charles will be focused mainly on guiding his old friend Ozzie from New York.  A week from Friday, I leave for AWPGA National Specialty.  If we can just make it through October, we’ll try to have a less insane November.  But hunting season is only so long.  And you only get so many hunting seasons in your life.  So stay tuned for more craziness.

Older Entries