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Beginning of Hunting Season 2014

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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!

Sharptailed Grouse Hunting Opener and Other News

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Reservations and Breeding Plans

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

Sharptailed Grouse and Dove Opening Day: September 1, 2013

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

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons Hunt Sharptailed Grouse

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

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

Sandhills Dove Hunting 2013

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

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

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

Pupdates

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

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

Ed6mos

Ed at 6 months chillin’ on the deck

Ed hanging out in the house

Ed hanging out in the house

Ed and his toy pheasant

Ed and his toy pheasant

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

Chester on point

Chester on point

Another shot of Chester on point

Another shot of Chester on point

Chester retrieving

Chester retrieving

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

Whiskey thinks that crocs make great chew toys

Whiskey thinks that crocs make great chew toys

Whiskey peeking out from his blanket

Whiskey peeking out from his blanket

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

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