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Fall’s Abundance

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We are planning a litter of pups for Spring 2020 between Bluestem Otoe Chief, NA II “Chief” and Bluestem’s Prairie Fire, NA I “Fire”.  The reservation list is currently full, but feel free to email bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you would like to be placed on the contact list for in the event there are additional puppies.

Ruth (Bluestem Peaches En Regalia, NA I) won’t be bred until 2021, but we received her OFA Hip scan and it came back “Good”.

Ruth OFA

Currently the plan for 2021 would repeat my surprise breeding from last year, using Stonyridge Zoro as the stud.  His sire, Stonyridge Otis “Cooper”, is now VC Stonyridge Otis, NA II UT I.  For those of you who don’t speak hunt test alphabet, the “VC” stands for NAVHDA Versatile Champion, meaning that he passed the 2019 NAVHDA Invitational Test, the highest level test in the club.  In order to qualify for that, he recieved a Prize I on his Utility Test, the highest level in the adult hunting test.  The NA II means that he got a Prize II on his Natural Ability test, which needs to be completed by the age of sixteen months.  NAVHDA offers three open tests: the Natural Ability test, the Utility Preparatory Test and the Utility Test.  Each test has three levels of scoring with I being the highest and III being a pass.  The best way to learn about these tests is by attending a NAVHDA Handler’s Clinic near you.

General Dog Health Information Update

A few things that come up in conversation with my fellow dog breeders online that I feel like I should pass along.  This was a bad year for outdoor fungi and algae with dogs.  Blastomycosis (dirt fungi) and blue-green algae ravaged the country and had a big impact on hunting dogs training this year, with many deaths occurring.  Especially with first year pups, keep an eye on vomiting and lethargy and make sure to take it seriously and go to the vet.  The dog can be saved if steps are taken immediately.

Grain-free diets.  Just don’t.  Or if you do, it’s at your own risk.  The FDA has started the research to back up the numerous cases of dialated cardiomyopathy that veterinarians are seeing in otherwise healthy young dogs.

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Three Dog Day: Fire, Ruth (on top) and Zoro

Dead Bird Photos? Yes or No.

Scott Linden of the TV Show Wingshooting USA posed the question on his social media recently of whether or not dead bird photos are necessary or appropriate.  For people who operate hunting dog kennels they are mandatory.  We have to put birds in front of our breeding stock and our clients need to see that it is happening.  Right now, I am just not able to get away to get into the field to take live action hunting photos.  The time that I do get into the field, I want to spend hunting right now.  Once the boys are older, I will have more time for field photography, but for right now we have to settle for the dead bird photos.  So dead bird photos?  YES.

Snipe and Rail Hunt

Charles took Zoro just down southwest of where we live to a spot where we can reliably get into rail and snipe.  The birds are not much larger than your average tweety bird, so it is good pointing practice for the dog to get used to stopping on very little scent.  It is also a good way to work on preventing “hard mouth”, since the bird is very small and the dog has to hold it gently to bring it to hand.

We normally get into sora rail, which have the yellow triangular beak, but this year was the first time that we’ve taken any Virginia Rail.  They have the more reddish hooked beaks.

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Zoro and his snipe, with long beaks on left, and rails on right

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From left: three sora rail, four Virginia Rail, and six snipe

No Dogs Allowed: Sandhills Antelope 2019

Charles spent four days this week hunting antelope out in the Nebraska Sandhills.  He passed on some small bucks and settled on a doe.  We already have antelope horns on the wall, so the trophy pressure was not there.  He got to see lots of wildlife and some dumb grouse hunters (hint: sharptailed grouse and prairie chickens are not in the trees).

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The smaller antelope bucks that he passed on.

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The gun perspective, he likes to belly crawl in close

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His classic gun and big game photo

Sandhills Ducks and Grouse

Yesterday he finally got out with the dogs and chased some birds around.  It sounds like Ruth had an adventure with one of those ducks going down still alive and swimming under a muskrat mound to get away.  But she was able to dive down to grab it.  I wish that I had been there to see it, I always love to watch the dog work a duck retrieve like that. (Somebody didn’t wash the antelope blood out of the truck bed, sorry about that.  Gross.)

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Ruth with two mallard hens and two snipe

Fire and Charles did get into some more grouse and prairie chickens but with Fire being a little out of practice, there were a few slow points with wild flushes and birds flushing on the edge of range.  But a prairie chicken in the bag is better than nothing.

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It sounds like that he is out again this morning, so there may be additional photos to tack on to this post as the day progresses.  He drives back home tomorrow and then we wait for pheasant season to open up here.

My favorite pheasant spot is along the river and is probably going to be flooded out this year, so I’m most likely going to be working my way south and west of here looking for quail and pheasant while the kids are in school.

Happy hunting for those of you out in the fields this fall.  We are truly blessed to have well-managed public lands available to us all around the country.  I hope to see more of them in the future once the boys are grown, but for now I’ll just get out when and where I can and watch everyone else get the rest of it done on social media.

 

Valentine’s Day Greetings!!

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Official Valentine of Valentine, Nebraska 2015

Official Valentine of Valentine, Nebraska 2015

It would be near blasphemy if I did not wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, since I am a native of Valentine, Nebraska!  Sorry that I’ve been absent on the blog, my schedule has been extremely hectic.  I was supervising a high school debate tournament on the last day of hunting season and it rained/snowed all day, so Charles didn’t go out into the slop.

Last night there was a raccoon on the prowl in the woods behind the house, so the dogs were in full frantic mode outside and I brought them in for the night.  It was a good chance to check BB out.  Not that I don’t spend time with her outdoors, but when we’re out there she is always on the move so I don’t get a good opportunity to analyze her behavior.  At this point in a dog pregnancy they don’t show much, so watching behavior is the best way to figure it out.  She is pudgy and whereas before she would play with Fire and Sam, she wants nothing to do with them now.  She is also very food and bone protective, which she isn’t normally.  I’m very confident that pups will be arriving in March.  Right now I have 16 reservations and am not taking any more.

As far as Velma goes, she has a stockier build to begin with so Aaron isn’t sure.  We will keep watching her and hope for the best.

My brother has been sending over pictures of retired mama Mae.  She is enjoying her retirement in Valentine with her Siberian Husky friend, Whisper.

Nap time for Whisper and Mae

Nap time for Whisper and Mae

Whisper and Mae hanging out at the hobo shack.

Whisper and Mae hanging out in the yard.

Pupdates

Susan in North Dakota has been out cross country skiing with 3 year old TracHer from our 2012 “C” Litter between Sam and Mae.  Zephyr is also a griff, but not from us.

TracHer, Zephyr, and Susan enjoying the snow.

TracHer, Zephyr, and Susan enjoying the snow.

Matt had TracHer’s sister Josie, from our 2013 “F” Litter of Sam and Mae’s out enjoying some snow time too up in South Dakota.

Josie snow profile

Josie snow profile

Josie's snow run

Josie’s snow run

Jimmy in Oklahoma takes 2 year old Zoey, from our 2012 “E” Litter of Sam and Sue’s, out into the oil fields with him.  Here she is begging the trucks for treats.

Zoey scoping out the trucks for snacks

Zoey scoping for snacks

Kaylee in Missouri put together a cute birthday card for Fire’s sister, Willow.  They are both now 1 year old, from our 2014 “G” Litter from Sam and BB.

Willow is 1!

Willow is 1!

Thanks to everyone for keeping me updated on their pups, it is always fun to look at the great photos and read the stories.  If you’ve left a message for me and I haven’t called you back, I will do so tomorrow.  Today is an official holiday for me, so I don’t want to disturb anyone.  I will check back in a few weeks with some belly pics of BB.  If you are looking to get a hold of us right now, the best way is by e-mail at bluestemkennels@cox.net.  The school district asked me to fill in full time this semester in high school English and debate, plus I’m doing my last semester of grad school and helping with the Griffonnier magazine.  It is super busy and I’m looking forward to the summer.  Talk at you in a couple of weeks.

Happy Valentine’s Day from your official representative of The Heart City, Valentine, Nebraska!

I hear that you’re into dogs…

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My last graduate school class of my program is a full day Saturday class, it just happens to fall on every Saturday this semester that I’m not coaching a high school debate tournament.  We were working our way through introductions in the room and word had gotten around to me that there was a fellow dog person present.  I went up to her and said, “I hear that you’re into dogs, so am I!”  One of our classmates, who I’ve had classes with in the past turned to me and said, “That’s one of the greatest introductions that I’ve ever heard!”  Of course, the fellow dog lady and I launched into all sorts of chatter about where we are in our breeding programs and gossiping about what is going on in our respective breeds.  She is a Boston Terrier girl, which is one of the two small dogs I’ve ever thought about (the other being a Jagdterrier).  But I’ll be a one-breed dog owner for the foreseeable future.

But that really has nothing to do with the task at hand, which is updating you on the end of hunting season and the beginning of puppy season.  This Saturday the 31st is the last day of hunting season in Nebraska, and of course I will be at a debate tournament.  But Charles and Matt are planning on hitting the fields.  They had great success last weekend just south of Auburn, Nebraska on some private land full of quail.  They said that they saw numerous coveys and probably 40-60 birds in total.  The harvest shows a successful hunt.

Charles and Matt's harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Charles and Matt’s harvest of quail with Fire and BB.

Breeding Update

Although I had thought that I’d missed Sam and BB’s breeding while we were in Valentine for Christmas, last week told us otherwise.  If Sam wasn’t having his way, he was howling and barking at BB 24/7.  We had to bring in Sam at night in order to not disturb the neighbors.  So that puts us at pups being born toward the end of March if Mother Nature smiles upon us.

Aaron also brought Velma over this week to see what the interactions between she and Sam were like.  Ben has been kenneled with her since before Christmas and all of the signs seemed to be correct for her being bred.  Velma was looking chubs when she was here and she had absolutely no interest in letting Sam get with her.  So, we’re going to assume that the deed is done and keep an eye on her for possible March pups as well.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Velma and Sam hanging out.

Here’s just a random photo of Caleb with BB and Sam.  He is my dog boy and loves spending time with them.

BB, Caleb, and Sam

BB, Caleb, and Sam

I have caught up on my e-mails, but am a bit behind on returning phone calls.  Right now, e-mail is the best way to get a hold of me with my erratic schedule.  I will return phone calls as I can, but I also know that I take down messages sometimes, then the kids get into my office playing around and carry away my papers.  So, if you haven’t heard from me, please e-mail bluestemkennels@cox.net for the best response.

Pupdate

Fire’s sister Bella got out for her first hunt recently.  Here’s the word from Gil:

Bella’s first bird hunt was a success!  Even more impressive considering the tough conditions. The wind was blowing 25 mph, gusting to 35 mph!  Nothing was flushing. Everything was running. She also found plenty of dead/un-retrieved birds.

 This sweetheart is a bit of a late bloomer, but seems the training and bloodline kicked into gear.(@ Pheasant Bonanza)

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Bella with her chukar from Pheasant Bonanza

Thanks to Gil for the update and thanks to you all for continuing to check up on us even though I’ve gotten a bit sketchy on posting with my new duties.  The school district asked me to teach 10th grade English full time and coach the high school debate team this semester, so it is crazy!  It might just be for the semester, or it might turn into a permanent thing.  The district has to cut 5 million from the budget next year, so there is a possibility the position could be eliminated.

Charles and the kids are stepping up around the house and kennel to make sure that everything we need to do is done.  I might drift off for a bit on the blog between now and when the puppies are born, but make no mistake about it, the puppies will be well tended to.  My school is only 5 minutes from the house and I will be running back and forth during plan periods and lunch once the puppies are born.

I will certainly let you know about the hunt next weekend and a few weeks after that when and if the females are showing signs of pregnancy.  At this point, I am not taking any more reservations this year until I know what the puppy count is.  I won’t start thinking about next year until these (hopeful) puppies go home.

I can feel spring in the air and the snow geese are traveling north.  Enjoy the extra daylight and send good puppy vibes our way!

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.

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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

Sam Profile

Fire Running

Fire Running

BB heading in

BB heading in

Sam

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!

Pheasant 2014: North Dakota and Nebraska

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North Dakota Wrap-Up

As mentioned in the last post, Charles and the dogs were in North Dakota last week from Sunday until Thursday.  Sunday they got a hun, and Monday a duck and two pheasants were in the bag (both of those photographs are in last week’s blog post).  Tuesday they bagged 4 ducks, but they were mixed in with everything else on the stringer in the photograph and it was getting dark, so I opted to spare you another body count photo.  Wednesday, they got a snipe and a rooster.

Snipe and Rooster from Wednesday, October 22nd

Snipe and Rooster from Wednesday, October 22nd

One of Charles’s friends tipped him off to a good spot to hit on his way out of North Dakota, where he got a limit in an hour and a half on Thursday.

North Dakota Rooster Limit

North Dakota Rooster Limit

I apologize for the body count photos, especially to one of my regular readers who scolded me recently about having too many of them on my blog.  We’ll get some more artful action photos with dogs in them and such next year, I opted to stay home since I got in plenty of travel earlier in the year.

Nebraska Opening Weekend

We decided not to wade into the fray of opening morning, but I was bound and determined to get out on Sunday.  Charles decided that he wanted to come along too even though he had a cold and had just spent the whole week hunting.  We went out midday and by the time we were headed back to the truck later in the afternoon it was 86 degrees out.  Way too hot.  He got 2 roosters within the first 5 minutes of our arrival to the field.  I got a shot off on one a bit later, but missed.

The second rooster that Charles shot yesterday still had enough juice to fly 80 yards or so into some thick sunflowers, making Sam and Fire work hard to find the carcass.  Fire was the one who found it and brought it right to Charles.  He wanted to make sure that he got the bird from her in a timely fashion, so I didn’t have a chance to take a picture since I was carrying my shotgun.  Darn.

I took Wednesday morning of this week off from work so that I can get out on my own.  Not that it will necessarily change my shooting luck with rooster pheasants, but I’m going to give it a try.

Yet another dorky hunting selfie from Charles and Charity

Yet another dorky hunting selfie from Charles and Charity

It appears that the top pheasant in the photograph below was released by Nebraska Game and Parks this year, if you notice the nostrils are enlarged from the blinders that were on the bird during its time in the pen.  The bottom bird is either a survivor from last year or a wild hatch.

Notice the size of the pheasant nostrils

Notice the size of the pheasant nostrils

Pupdates

Bob from Minnesota sent me an e-mail and photo of “Ed” from our 2013 “E” Litter from Sam and Sue.

Just wanted to give you a quick update on Ed.  We finally made it out pheasant hunting in MN this past weekend.  I managed to get Ed and my oldest daughter, Faith, out for a bit.  In a year in which MN DNR says the numbers of birds are down, Ed managed to find and point 7 birds in a quick morning walk.  We have done no live bird work since last year and he was flat out amazing!  He is definitely ready for our annual trip to North Dakota next week.  I will get you some pictures upon our return from that trip.  Definitely looking forward to it.

Ed and Faith in MN

Ed and Faith in MN

Curt out in Central Nebraska shot this video a couple of weeks ago of our Fire’s sister “Gracie” doing her first water retrieve at 8 months of age: 

Congratulations to Lindsay and Bluestem’s Big Sky Rendezvous CGC NA I “Midge” in Montana for qualifying for the AKC Owner Handler Series.  Midge and Lindsay were #8 (tie) in conformation show points in the series (click photo to enlarge results).

AKC Owner Handler Series Rankings

AKC Owner Handler Series Rankings

I hope that everyone who celebrates Halloween has a happy and safe one.  I do not dress up my dogs, so don’t even think that you’ll be seeing that next week.  Not gonna happen.  But thanks to all of my owners for the updates and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to what is going on here.  Happy Haunting and Hunting!

 

Duck Opener and Fire’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

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Duck Opener

Nebraska High Plains duck opener on October 4th found us in our usual haunts up in the Sandhills.  We didn’t get out into the field until around 9 AM both days; that is the nice thing about jump hunting as opposed to sitting over decoys.  Sitting over decoys requires three things that I don’t like to do: 1) haul excessive amounts of gear 2) get up early 3) hold still.  So even though Charles had brought up all of the decoys and blinds and such to do it, we just didn’t.

We work a network of small ponds, swamps, and beaver dammed creeks trying to keep the dogs on heel as best we can.  It is about a 50% success rate on a jump as far as getting shots off.  Sometimes a dog will spook a flock, other times we come across a pond that we didn’t know was there at full standing profile and scare them off, or take a shot at a single in one pond that sets off a giant flock in the next pond.

We’ve taken up enough of a pattern that the game warden was able to track us down on Sunday just because he wanted to chat and see what we’d gotten into.  Charles took 3 teal and a hen wood duck on Saturday and I took 3 teal.  Sunday was a 6 hour day in the field and I took nothing, Charles got 2 snipe and a mallard hen.  I got a couple of videos, the first of Fire retrieving Charles’s mallard hen, her first wild duck retrieve: .  The second is my first anything of the year, I think that I’ve shot at 15 snipe this year with no luck: 

The photo from Saturday is a bit goofy, I just threw the camera up on the tripod, hit the timer and took the shot.  I obviously did not review the pic for my odd facial expression while talking to the crazy dogs.  Oh well, there it is.

Opening day, Saturday, October 4th.

Opening day, Saturday, October 4th.

BB and Charles with Sunday's quarry.

BB and Charles with Sunday’s quarry.

Fire’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test

Before I get into the test itself, I want to tell you about my new friend, Bob.  He is 75 years-old and ran his 52nd NAVHDA test on Sunday.  He is a retired truck driver from Pennsylvania who was en route to my beloved Sandhills and has been traveling out there for many years.  Before he takes his buddies hunting in the Sandhills, they are required to read the famous Nebraska author Mari Sandoz’s novel Old Jules.  I am certified as a middle and high school English teacher in Nebraska and have not read Old Jules.  Bob laid quite a bit of grief and shame on me, so I will be going on to Amazon to pick up a copy later today since it is not available on iBooks.

My new friend Bob from Pennsylvania

My new friend Bob from Pennsylvania

Bob travels in style

Bob travels in style

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His cool license plate

My favorite picture of the day was of Blaine Erkenbrack looking on as his daughter, Alexa, tossed the bumper for “Khloe”, a 14 month-old German Shorthaired Pointer. Khloe and the gang earned a Prize I, Score 112 in Natural Ability.

Blaine, Alexa, and Khloe.

Blaine, Alexa, and Khloe.

Eight month-old Bluestem’s Prairie Fire “Fire” now has a NA I at the end of her name, with a maximum score of 112 points.  Thanks to Senior Judge Mike Garriott of Falls City, Nebraska, Gabby Awbray of San Diego, California, and Darin Tolzin from Atlantic, Iowa for coming out to judge.  It was a little chillier than what we’ve been used to lately, but there was no rain, and the breeze was pleasant, not a howling gale.

Fire found a number of quail in the field and pointed them all, but proceeded to rip almost every single one (catching the bird before it flushes, also known as a “trap”).  There were a few that were able to get up and fly.

BB working the thick tallgrass cover

Fire working the thick tallgrass cover

Fire slamming into point.  Two quail successfully flushed from this one.

Fire slamming into point. Two quail successfully flushed from this one.

Charles holds Fire's collar while a quail flushes.

Charles holds Fire’s collar while a quail flushes.

After 2 Natural Ability dogs ran the field, they did their track, so 2 field runs, 2 tracks, alternating.  There were 8 Natural Ability dogs running for the day.  The track was a mowed strip leading into a dense, food plot-sized growth of native tallgrass prairie.  Conrad and Charles have been working with Fire quite a bit on the tracking skill and it paid off.

Fire successfully working the track.

Fire successfully working the track.

Fire inherited her sire’s absolute love of water retrieving and had two great bumper retrieves.

Fire getting excited when seeing the bumpers

Fire getting excited when seeing the bumpers

Fire bringing one back in

Fire bringing one back in

L to R apprentice from NJ, Gabby Awbray, Mike Garriott, Darin Tolzin, and apprentice John Green at the reading of the scores.

L to R: apprentice from NJ (sorry, I didn’t note the name), Gabby Awbray, Mike Garriott, Darin Tolzin, and apprentice John Green at the reading of the scores.

We were very pleased with Fire’s performance and enjoyed the day.  Good luck to John and Cle, Fire’s brother, on his Natural Ability test in Tennessee this weekend.

Velma in North Dakota

Velma’s owner, Aaron, was up on the federal ground in North Dakota the weekend before the PLOTS land opens and got into some pheasants and sharptailed grouse.  Velma is right next to Aaron giving him a kiss, we will be keeping a pup out of her breeding to Ben this spring for our next stud dog.

Aaron, his lab, and Velma WPG in North Dakota on Saturday.

Aaron, his lab, and Velma WPG in North Dakota on Saturday.

Pupdate

Tyson up in Bangor, Maine sent over a nice report on the start of his hunting season, his pup, Moose, is from our 2014 “H” Litter between Sam and Mae:

It has been a crazy busy summer here in Maine with some vacation and lots of training with Moose.  We feel so blessed to have such an incredible dog.  He is fitting in great and does awesome with the kids.  I have attached some pics for you.  Moose spent most of the summer sleeping in the boat, as you can see.  

The most exciting thing to report is that bird season officially opened in Maine on October 1st.  And Moose got his first day in the field this Saturday.  He got the chance to hunt with her good friend Spice who is an 8 year old female GSP that is an amazing Maine gun dog.  She definitely showed him the ropes.  They have spent some time training together this summer.  Some good pics of Moose with some very rare Maine Pheasant.  He also pointed the first grouse of the day at our first stop.  Thanks again for an amazing dog!

Best,Tyson

Moose is looking handsome at 7 months old.

Moose is looking handsome at 7 months old.

Moose spending some time on the Atlantic.

Moose spending some time on the Atlantic.

Moose and the elusive Maine roosters

Moose and the elusive Maine roosters

Thanks, as always, to my owners for the updates!

Well, that is about all of the excitement I can handle for one day.  Charles and the dogs head to North Dakota on Saturday, so it will be interesting to see what they come across.  I’m sure we’ll all be jealous.  Stay warm, until then.

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!

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