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Nebraska’s Late Hunting Season Surprises

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We’ve had a mating with two ties on Thursday and Friday of last week between Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire” and Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief”, so we’ll be expecting the arrival of puppies sometime between March 8 and 13, for homegoings eight weeks later around May 3 through 9.  This is all my calculations at this point and subject to change once the pups are actually whelped.  I currently have ten reservations with deposits, but feel free to e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be on our backup contact list in the event that a potential new owner drops out or if we have more puppies that I have reservations.

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part I

On a tip from a good friend we headed north a couple of weeks ago to make an attempt at pheasants and quail, and were pleasantly surprised.  There was 4-5 inches of hardpack snow throughout the fields with butt-deep drifts in places and the cover was pretty thick to begin with, so it was not easy walking.  Our first field we walked for a good half hour, seeing hundreds of pheasant tracks in the snow, but put up nothing.  Then we saw a couple of roosters get up way out of range and the dogs started pointing hens like mad.  There was one point of Ruth’s where she had the hen pinned on one side and I walked towards her nose and the hen almost hit me in the face when it flushed.  We probably got up seven hens in that field, but no roosters in range.

The second spot that we stopped at, a covey of quail got up in the wide open about 15 yards into the push, but I had no shot since they were all around Charles and he was uphill from me.  He took a quail out of the bunch and I’m pretty sure it was Fire on the retrieve.  We worked our way another 75 yards and there was this scrubby ditch full of plum thickets and gnarly burr oaks.  He got on one side, I was on the other and the dogs were really birdy as we pushed down it.  Charles said, “They’re both on point!” in a loud whisper.  Two or three roosters get up, Charles takes down one right by me, I unloaded both barrels on one flying at the edge of range and four more go soaring by me totally within range (of course my gun is empty and I can only watch), while a few more boil out of the shrubs going away from us.  I seriously think that there were nine roosters in that group and it was the biggest bunch that I have ever seen in my life in Nebraska.  Ruth picked up the rooster for Charles and we finished the circle on that field, seeing nothing else.

So at that point we were getting up on 11 AM, I’d already marched over five miles in the snow after not having hunted all season.  I had been so focused on swimming to train for my lifeguard test that I hadn’t been hiking or hunting.  Let me tell you that swimming and hiking/hunting do not use the same muscles at all.  Deciding to pick up hunting again at the end of the season was not optimal and I need to make sure to get after it right away in September if I want to have any success next year.

Charity Upchurch hunting

Charity with her skunked face on

The next spot that we hit was right by a busy road and I didn’t see any really scrubby parts of it, so I was like, “Nah, I’ll sit this one out for the next one.”  Charles worked his way over the hill for about 30 minutes and as he and Ruth were working their way back, I started taking pictures.  It was cold and I had taken my coat off, so I just snapped a few and jumped back into the truck.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon On Point

Charles walking in to Ruth on point on two roosters

It wasn’t two minutes later that two shots rang out and I saw the last pheasant go down.  Charles shot a double!  Once I talked to him about what happened I found out the Ruth retrieved the first one, which was hit hard, then dropped it because she wanted to go after the second one which wasn’t hit as hard.  They lost track of the first bird but Ruth was able to retrieve the second one to hand.  I saw that they were struggling to find the first bird since they had lost their place, so I let Fire out and she and I went to where they had taken the first shot and found the bird.  Charles had a limit of roosters and a quail by noon.  It was a long drive home and we had gotten up very early, so we called it a day.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Pheasant and Quail

Charles with a limit of roosters and a quail, along with Ruth and Fire

Although Charles had completed his Nebraska Upland Slam on his trip with his buddies out to the southwest, he didn’t have the photographic evidence to submit it.  So this was the photo that got him to finish the Nebraska Upland Slam for the season.

Charles Upchurch upland slam

Welcome Obi, Part I

Over the weekend we headed out to Wyoming to pick up our new male pup Obi.  In my next post I’ll take apart his pedigree to show you why I picked him for the next candidate for our stud dog.  Today I’ll just show you pictures.

Things you see in Wyoming:

Wyoming sign

The official welcome sign

Wyoming Welcome

The real welcome sign

Wyoming Vedauwoo

Someday I will hike in the Vedauwoo, but this weekend was probably my twentieth drive-by.

Traveling with Obi photos:

Bluestem Kennels Obi in car

On my lap

Bluestem Kennels Obi in crate

In the crate

Charity Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon bath

Charity giving Obi a bath at the hotel.  Photo by Charles

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons hotel

Ruth welcoming Obi into the pack at the hotel

Charles Upchurch Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Obi rolling down the road on Charles’s lap

Nebraska Late Season Hunting Adventures, Part II

On our way home from picking up Obi in Wyoming, Charles hit one spot for pheasants.  The weather was blowing in on Sunday, so we didn’t have much time.  We passed on the first spot that we drove by since it didn’t look right, but the second one that we pulled up to had all of the things that a pheasant would like in the cold.  A windbreak to the north, harvested corn on one side, baled hay on the other side and plenty of thick and tall grass cover in the sizeable field.  I wish that I had been running a video camera as I watched him walk away, because about 20 yards into his walk a beautiful rooster flushed and he took it down.  He only broke its wing and it was still running but Ruth got in there and snatched it up.

Nebraska Pheasant Hunt

They had a second rooster flush wild on the far side of the field but come back into the thick of the middle since it really had no place to go and it was starting to flurry a bit.  Both of the dogs locked up in a patch of old sunflowers and he was able to bring a second rooster home.

With the weather getting nasty, it was time to take a photo and get back on the road home.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Nebraska Pheasant

A couple of southern Nebraska roosters for Charles and the girls

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon First Pheasant Eight Weeks

Obi got to see his first rooster

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Eight Weeks

Obi and I ran around in the ditch while they were hunting

Welcome Obi, Part II

Bluestem Kennels Obi and Caleb

Caleb is glad to have a new pal

Obi at the vet

Obi meeting everyone at the vet

End of hunting season

The end of January marks the end of hunting season in Nebraska.  I have had a lot of distractions the last couple of years but plan to get back into the field with renewed vigor in September.  I think that Charles might get out a couple of more times and we’re going out to another European tower shoot on Monday, with me handling and Charles shooting.  Practicing shooting at the tower shoots and over the summer with his sporting clays and skeet makes all of the difference for him.  Hunting wild pheasants in Nebraska is tough and you have to be able to hit since there are not gobs of birds.

A few pics from our New Year’s Day walk:

Other random things

I am going to start the process of monetizing the blog and my YouTube videos.  I have the raw footage to make a grooming video, but it is going to take me at least four hours to edit and I need to figure out a compensation structure for my creations.  I want to keep my puppy prices in the affordable range so that real hunting families can adopt them.  But expect to see changes coming to the blog and our YouTube channel in the future.

I’ll make sure to keep you posted about the end of the hunting season and the beginning of our “Q” Litter of puppies.  Yes, that means that this is my 17th litter.  Who would have guessed that ten years later it would turn into this!

Stay warm.

P Litter at Four Weeks Old

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These puppies are definitely up and moving these days and the time has come to make some modifications to their housing.  At our old house, now would be the time where I would move them into the outdoor kennel with insulated dog house, but we’ve decided against having any outdoor runs or kennels here.  I think that what I’ll end up doing is taking the railings out of the box and building steps in and out of the door, so that they can have run of the whole kennel.  Then a couple of times a day, I can just herd them out the back door to play outside since the kennel door and the back door are right next to each other.

Since it is still cool out, I’ve been bringing them in the house to play and sometimes we just sit in the box with them too.

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Caleb always enjoys his puppy time

We are in the final throes of getting the old house ready for the next owner, today should be the last day that I have to go over there and work.  We close a week from Friday.  It will be nice to have more time for the puppies and getting ready for Zoro’s NAVHDA Natural Ability test.

I will make sure to get individual photos for next week, the puppies will be big enough for Caleb to pose them for me.  And it will be time to start talking to the new owners about who we think should go where so we can have it all decided in time for them to go home.  They turn 8 weeks on Monday, April 29th, which is the first day that they can leave my house according to the USDA.  It will be between then and Sunday the 5th that they go to their new homes.  For those new owners who are planning on picking up on Saturday, May 4th: can we do it early (like between 7-9 AM) so that I can go watch Zoro run his NAVHDA Natural Ability test?  I will also put that in an email here soon.

Right now the pups are chowing down the soft canned food twice a day.  A whole can each feeding.  So that tells me that they are ready to start having kibble mixed in, so that I can transition to kibble-only in a week or so.

I am so thankful that my friend Drenda down by Lincoln had some live quail to part with for dog training.  We’ll use those to get Zoro ready for his test and let the pups see one.  I also have a good amount of dead birds stored in the freezer that they can practice carrying around towards the end.

Here’s a photo of our cute little suburban training quail holding pen.  It is a chicken hutch with a dog kennel around it.  I am just excited that it is on the ground where I can get to it, our old holding pen was on the top of our garage where Charles would have to climb a ladder to get birds out (I don’t do ladders generally):

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Of course, last but not least, this week’s YouTube video: https://youtu.be/T9klEWj6yqg

Now it is time for me to go and feed those pups, then I have to head over to the old house and take a sledgehammer to our old bird holding pen.  It was completely over-engineered by Charles; even though it is like twelve years-old, it was not coming apart with a crowbar and regular hammer last night.  Then we dropped it off of the garage roof hoping that it would come busting apart…nope.  So I need to go and put the hurt on it.

Have a good week and talk at you again soon.

 

“P” Litter at One Week Old

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Please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you wished to be placed on the contact list should someone back out of taking one of these puppies home.  At this time, all puppies are spoken for.

Saturday Ruth and the puppies moved out into the garage, which is just off of the kitchen and directly beneath my bedroom.  So I’m feeling a bit like having a new baby since I wake up every time one of the puppies pitches a fit on their way to the teat at night (going to have to talk to my contractor about getting some more insulation between the garage and the bedroom).

They are really starting to scoot around and we only have another week or so before their eyes open and they start to try to stand up.

The weather is warming up, the snow is melting and it is going straight into the rainy season.  But the change in the weather makes it so that they can be in the garage, otherwise they would still be in the kitchen if it was in the teens and snowing like it was a few weeks ago.

No news is good news, everyone is growing like they are supposed to be and all is well.  Here is the video from today: https://youtu.be/RlFBWcz4cu8

 

Welcome “P” Litter!

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E-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on the list should someone back out of taking home one of these puppies!  As of right now, they are all spoken for.  The soonest the puppies can go home is on Monday, April 29th and I’d like to have them all out of the door by Sunday, May 5th so that I can get ready for my daughter’s high school graduation a couple of weeks later.

The “P” Litter of 2019 between Ruth and Zoro arrived on Monday morning, March 4th.  Ruth began whelping right before I got out of bed at 6:30 AM and finished up by 11 AM so it was very quick.  Five girls and three boys.  The whelping went very smoothly and the puppies are growing quickly!  Here is a photo of them right before bedtime on Monday.

P Litter Newborn

Ruth and the newborn pups of the “P” Litter

The pups went to the vet Tuesday afternoon to get their tails docked and their dew claws removed.  My vets were on vacation and it was a substitute vet, so I was too busy talking to get any photos.  I take of 1/3 of the tail and leave 2/3, the longest allowed by the AKC breed standard.  I think that it make their point look more stylish and helps them use their tail as a rudder for direction when swimming in the water.  The AKC standard states that the tail should be docked to 1/2 to 2/3.

Here is a video that I took of them today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvGSsx_V93c&t=6s

The temperatures are starting to warm up here, so with supplemental heat the pups will be moving out into the attached garage over the weekend.  Not that I don’t love having them in the kitchen where I can be with them all of the time, it is just that after whelping the mother females lose their housebreaking with the amount of food that they have to eat and it makes for some nasty cleanups overnight and when I need to leave the house for a few hours.

I am very excited to watch these pups mature, as this is the mating that I am planning on taking the next generation of my kennel from in a new years.  It will be the fifth generation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that we’ve owned and the fourth generation and we have bred.  It is exciting and pretty amazing how the last nine years have flown by.  Caleb is still my head puppy hugger and does not know life before the annual arrival of the puppies.  He is so good with them and checks up on them almost hourly.  Caleb loves puppies so much that he has asked that his birthday cake is decorated with Griff heads this year!

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Caleb hugging puppies in 2019

Caleb 2011

Caleb snuggling puppies in 2011

Here’s a collage of some of the photos that I took today.  I don’t take individual photos until their eyes open in another ten days or so.

And one more of everyone before I close out before the weekend.  Catch up with all of you next week with one week old photos and video.

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Ruth and the “P” Litter at four days old

“O” Litter Four Weeks Old and Spring Training

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All of the “O” Litter puppies are spoken for at this time, please e-mail bluestemkennels@gmail.com to be placed on a list in case of a last minute backout.
The four week old “O” Litter puppies are enjoying the outdoors more and more as the weather warms up.  They are in the transition to solid kibble and not quite ready to leave the dog house and kennel.  Next week they will start to show interest in roaming the yard.
Here is the weekly video of them: https://youtu.be/tt2LIbWpDYI
Their four week photos:
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Just this afternoon we took our other dogs: Zoro 10 weeks, Ruth 15 months (and the sister of the above litter), and Chief 2 years all out to the pond for some retrieving work.  At least Ruth and Chief, Zoro primarily watched.
Ruth, 15 mo old sister of the “O” Litter
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Chief, sire of the “O” litter
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Chief wanted to retrieve both bumpers at once

Stonyridge Zoro at 10 weeks

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Happy training everyone!

Welcome “O” Litter!

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At this time, all 2018 puppies are spoken for.  Please email bluestemkennels@gmail.com to inquire about future litters.
The arrival of the “O” litter…

I knew things were starting Friday night at bedtime, so I put Fire in the whelping area when I went to bed, thinking that she would bark or howl to wake me up to help her whelp.  Nope.  Here is what I woke up to Saturday morning…twelve clean and healthy puppies!  Nine boys and three girls.

Fire O Litter1

Fire and the “O” Litter

I had only taken five deposits since she’d had a smaller litter last year, so I’ve been working through contacts and finding some great homes all across the country for these little ones.

This morning I took them to my vet at Heartland Pet Hospital just down the hill for their tail docking and dew claw removal.  Dr. Kliewer said that everyone looks healthy and vibrant.  All twelve are still going strong after two days, so that is a good sign.  I don’t see any of them at risk for fading away on us.

Fire O Litter2

“O” Litter at the vet

I will keep this blog post updated as I fill the last two male puppy reservation spots for the “O” Litter.

“N” Litter Picks

I have listed the “N” Litter picks by the state where they are going to (or region in the case of MO).
Boys:
Norman – Tennessee
Nicholas – Virginia
Noah – Iowa
Newman – Nebraska
Girls:
Namaste – Northwest Missouri
Nichole – Oklahoma
Nefertiti – Mississippi
Nellie – Texas
Nettie – East Central Missouri
Congratulations everyone!  We are scheduled for our shots and microchips on Wednesday the 4th and we’ll be ready to rock and roll.  Here is the YouTube video that I made of them Saturday morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqg-2sIj2JY&t=7s
Thanks to everyone for your vote of confidence in me as a breeder.

The last pup home and lots of pupdates!

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Over Memorial Day weekend, Reagan returned home to Colorado at 12 weeks old with Pam and Josh!  Josh is so excited to have a hunting dog of his own and will make a great trainer!

Josh, Reagan and Pam

Josh, Reagan and Pam

We had considered running Sam and BB down in Lincoln in AKC testing that weekend, but it was just too much to try to do that and a homegoing at the same time.  We’re signed up for UT in Sioux Falls in August with the Midwest Tri-State NAVHDA Chapter and I’m pretty sure we’ll just focus on training between now and then.  And of course, just having fun!  Took all the dogs to the pond this week for the first time since last year, but needed to get some grooming time in too!

Sue ready to be groomed while Mae swims with the kids.  Sam and BB off running.

Sue ready to be groomed while Mae swims with the kids. Sam and BB off running.

There were plenty of pupdates over the last few weeks!  We heard from 3 year old Gauge out in Wyoming, who is from our “A” litter (Sue/Sam) and is the brother to Whiskey in Nevada who we hear from.  He is doing great in the field and home according to Sean and Amber.  Here’s what Amber shared with me, “We absolutely love him and have fallen in love with the Griff breed for his loving side as well as his commitment to our family. He is an extraordinary dog in the field and works beyond our expectations. We could not be any happier with him, and wanted to share that with you.”  We are so glad to hear from you, thanks Amber, Sean and family!!

3 year old Gauge pointing a pheasant

3 year old Gauge pointing a pheasant

3 year old Gauge in the water

3 year old Gauge in the water

Let’s go backwards by order of age here.  Next up is Chester from our 2012 “C” (Sam/Mae) litter.  I pulled his trainer’s photos off of versatiledogs.com.  Chester is trained by Steve “Hoss” Anker in New York.  Here is what “Hoss” had to say, what a hoot:

 Don’t hold it against me…butt….recently through the A-TEAM kennels, in training, training for NAVHDEEEEEE stuff, we have uncovered an unknown SPECIES of caninus familiarus known as the GRIFF-A-GATOR.A Woolie, droopey eyed, shaggy, hound-like, pointing animal, water oriented, replete with enough hair to clog up a 12 inch drain pipe.Shown here in intense A-TEAM training………INTENSE….

Chester in the water

Chester in the water

Mannnnn….look at those choppers, looks like a hairy bear trap on legs.

FETCH…OUT……Good Boy!

Chester working on fetch

Chester working on fetch

Is that the GRIFF-A-GATOR or is that the LOCH NESS MONSTER?  Not sure…WHAT SAY YOU….You hairy woolie hairball pointing dog types..?

Chester swimming

Chester swimming

Chester got a Prize II with 106 points recently on his NAVHDA Natural Ability test with the Hudson Valley Chapter, but owner Sal and Hoss are bound and determined for Prize I, so they’ll be back at it again soon.  Good luck guys!!

Our “D” litter from 2012 (Sue/Sam) recently had their 1 year old birthday and I got a cute “then and now” card from Rick and family.  Rick said, “Thanks again for introducing her into our lives. She’s a wonderful member of our family, and a great asset in the field. I’m looking forward to this fall, and her first full grown season of eastern Nebraska upland hunting.”  Thank you so much, Rick, Dawn and family for being great owners!!

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Happy 1st Birthday "D" Litter and Dottie!!

Happy 1st Birthday “D” Litter and Dottie!!

Dottie’s sister Abby recently scored a Prize I Natural Ability with 112 points at the Missouri Uplands Chapter of NAVHDA Spring Test.  Keep up the good work over in Illinois, Rob and Abby!!

Jimmy down in Oklahoma did some great video work with 3.5 month old Zoey from this year’s “E” Litter (Sue/Sam) both on water and land, that I put together in a YouTube video:

He also sent over a nice shot of her fetching up a stick out of the water.  What great work, Jimmy, thank you!!  You are doing awesome training!!

Zoey brings in her stick

Zoey brings in her stick

And what hunting dog doesn’t love off-roading?!?

Zoey in the dune buggy

Zoey in the dune buggy

Zoey’s sister GiGi is also having a great life in Maryland.  Marilyn said, “GiGi is progressing. I think a little slowly because my husband babies her. She walked a mile with him on the leash today. As a teacher I know kids don’t learn until they are ready. So it must be for puppies! We love her!”

Ben and GiGi taking a nap together

Ben and GiGi taking a nap together

GiGi on a walk

GiGi on a walk

And Midge in Montana from this year’s “F” litter (Sam/Mae) at 12 weeks old is having fun exploring the headwaters of the Missouri River.  Thanks Louie and Lindsay!!

Midge in the Mighty Mo.

Midge in the Mighty Mo.

Midge watching the kids

Midge watching the kids

Midge’s sister, Fern, is also doing well.  Danny down in Texas said:

Fern is doing great.  She’s a machine.  Never stops or slows down.  Potty training is going pretty well, but she still has some days that it just doesn’t click.  We love her.  She is very very sweet and lovable.  She wants to be by me all the time, until we get outside.  I think my other dog tolerates her.  Fern attacks her and wants to play all the time.  Basically, my old dog will let Fern growl and bite her neck and hold on until she’s had enough, then she just tosses her to the ground and tries to walk off.  But, Fern will never give up!  I’m waiting for Fern to take cues on when to stop.

One can’t help but feel good after going through all of those beautiful pics of pups and hearing all of the stories.  I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am to all of my owners for sharing their lives with us.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all and wonder why the heck I put myself through all of this craziness.  But this is why.  This must continue.  I can take a few months out of my life each year to get to play Santa Claus and spread some joy.  Thanks for the happiness in return.

I’ll be sure to get out training with Charles and Matt over the summer to get some updated photos and talk about that process.  Now that Mae and Sue have dried up their milk thoroughly, it is time for all of us to get in shape for hunting season (me included)!  Thanks for coming along on our journey and I’ll talk at you soon.


			

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