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Puppies on the way and first South Carolina harvest

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We are expecting our “R” litter from Obi and Ruth in the next week or two. I currently have 18 reservations with deposit. The largest litter of Griffs registered in recent times is 16 puppies, so I assume that I have homes for this bunch. If you are interested in waiting until our Fall 2022 litter, email bluestemkennels@gmail.com. Once the spring litter is two weeks old, I should know where my fall list stands.

Here are some updated photos of Ruth sporting her very pregnant belly. It doesn’t seem to slow her down much!

Pregnant Ruth running in the yard
Ruth side profile
Another belly shot (a little fuzzy phone pic)
Pregnant Ruth running in the snow (I circled her so you can see her)

Now it is just a matter of waiting for puppies to arrive! We just finished our whelping box setup this morning. It will be so nice to have them in a bedroom in the house instead of the heated garage. That way I have a bed right next to the whelping box in case of all-night puppies!

Ready for puppies!

This will probably be my last blog post until after puppies arrive. As they are being whelped, I will keep my Facebook page up-to-date. Then I will contact folks who have reservations once we are done whelping and I’ve had some rest. Finally, I will make a post here to the website.

First South Carolina Woodcock!

Charles is getting Sally ready for her UPT in May up at the Hudson Valley NAVHDA Chapter in New York. This is the NAVHDA chapter nearest to Charles’s hometown of Newburgh and he thought it would be fun to get up there to run some tests. He will also be re-testing Obi in UT to see if he can get a Prize I.

In the meantime he is trying to figure out the hunting game in these parts and he and Sally had success this weekend. They only saw one woodcock pop out of a cane swamp on some public land and they were able to put it in the bag. Charles is pretty sure that this is his first woodcock and it was Sally’s first wild bird.

Sally’s South Carolina Woodcock
Our South Carolina Woodcock

I was really excited to hold a bagged woodcock, as I’ve only flushed them in the Missouri River Valley back in Nebraska while out exercising dogs maybe three or four times. I’d only ever seen photos of them up close. Their feathers are much more colorful than a snipe and their bodies are stubbier.

Here’s a random photo of Sally training in the yard with Charles back in November that I just noticed in my files.

Charles and Sally doing yard work

Here’s another random photo of Obi bringing me a stick the other day when I had my good camera out.

Obi with a stick in the driveway

Having snow on the ground in South Carolina is pretty fun and we are so glad that it isn’t day after day with feet of snow piling up like it was back in Nebraska. I think it will be all melted by tomorrow. But for now I will throw on my boots and go muck around in it with the dogs.

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for the latest on the puppies whelping and keep us in your thoughts and prayers for good health.

R Litter Confirmed by Ultrasound

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

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

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

So this is the beginning of the next chapter.

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

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

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

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

R Litter: Spring 2022

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We are ready to start interviewing and taking deposits for our Spring 2022 R Litter. Please email me at bluestemkennels@gmail.com if you are interested. I have sent an email to everyone who is currently on my contact list, so if somehow it was spam foldered, please consider this your notice to get back in touch with me. I will be taking 10 reservations with deposit on typically 8-14 pups per litter, first come first served (so the sooner you get back in touch with me, the higher likelihood you will get a pup this spring).

The breeding that we’ll be working on over the next year is the pairing of Obi and Ruth.  Obi is the sire and his registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi NA I, UPT III, UT II.  Ruth is the dam and her registered name is AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches En Regalia NA I, UPT II, UT III. 

Obi and Ruth with Charles, sharptailed grouse opener in the Nebraska Sandhills, September 2020

You can see all of their pedigrees, hunt test results and health clearances at the “About Our Dogs” page, which has a button in the brown navigation bar above.


We will be keeping a male pup out of this litter and plan to keep more out of our future litters from them.  This is a breeding that we are relying on to build on our already strong foundation of Wirehaired Pointing Griffons that are sound in health, have great stamina for all day hunts, cooperative and mentally stable members of the family.  In our eleven years of breeding, we’ve placed around 150 puppies successfully.


Our puppies are sold with Limited AKC and NAVHDA registrations, this means that they are not automatically eligible to breed (the requirements to lift the breeding restriction are on the “Puppies” button above). You give a gender preference to me (or state no preference) at reservation with a deposit.  Puppy placements are first come, first served by reservation order.  If there isn’t enough of a particular gender, you are given the option of the opposite gender, wait for a future litter, or a refund. Deposits are fully refundable, no questions asked, up until the date of the puppies 3 week birthday (at that point I keep the deposit if the owner backs out, with few exceptions). I do breeder picks based on the input of the future owners desires for the dog and the needs that the individual puppies have.


Puppies come with: at least 3 rounds of deworming, tails docked and dew claws removed, first vaccinations, microchips, limited AKC and NAVHDA registration papers, and a three year health guarantee against fatal genetic defects or genetic hip dysplasia.  They are seen by a veterinarian twice before they go home: for claws/tails right after birth and for shots/microchips right before they go home at 8 weeks.  The breeding is anticipated for around Christmas, with puppies born in February and going home in April.


The puppies need to be picked up from my home in Clover, South Carolina on or during the week following their 8 week birthday.  As soon as they are whelped, we know their 8 week birthday so that you can prepare to travel for the pickup.  I no longer offer air cargo shipment as an option. Regulations change regularly regarding taking a pup on a flight as a carry-on (if you are considering this you need to research your options and find out if an air carrier near you allows 8 week old puppies to fly with an interstate health certificate).


The puppies are exposed to dead birds, live birds and cap gun fire.  Once they are moving vigorously at around 5 1/2 weeks, they go outside to run and play at least twice a day.  I take litter photos once a week in the beginning, then around 2-3 weeks of age I take individual photos of the puppies weekly.  I also do weekly YouTube videos of the litter.  I update my Facebook page every few hours as they are being born.


Although we do prefer hunting and hunt testing homes, we realize that the Eastern US is hardly a Mecca of bird hunting, therefore we are open to active outdoors non-hunting homes interviewing (no apartments, please).


Due to the rampant selling of information and constant robocall harassment in the past, I have stopped releasing my telephone number on my website or through Google. Please email me and we can exchange phone numbers.

The breeding is planned on being repeated in 2023, so you can also contact me if you are not ready for a puppy in 2022, but would like to be placed on my contact list for future litters.

These parents are proven wild bird hunters with successful NAVHDA hunt tests under their collars, as well as great family pets.

Obi and Ruth, wild Nebraska Pheasants and Quail October 2020
Ruth, Obi and Fire, North Dakota mixed bag October 2019
Caleb and Obi, Nebraska pheasant youth season opener 2020
Ruth and Obi, Nebraska pheasant and quail 2020
Obi Nebraska Sandhills Snipe, October 2020
Ruth, Nebraska Sandhills duck, October 2020
Ruth AKC Senior Hunter pass at GWPC of Eastern Nebraska
Obi Fourth Place in the Amateur Walking Derby at the Heart of America GSPC AKC Field Trial
Obi First Place in both the Open and Amateur Walking Derbies of the AWPGA AKC Field Trial

Hunting for our dream

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In case you missed the news, we’ve moved! We are now located in the rural area between Clover and Lake Wylie, South Carolina known as Bethel Township. Our place has three acres and a small barn, perfect for raising these dogs.

I won’t post too many detailed photos of our property since there have been so many problems with Griffons being stolen throughout the country and I don’t want to be in that position. Luckily there is always someone around our little acreage neighborhood keeping an eye on things. Where we are living is in the middle of a large family farm that was split between the family members, so everyone around us is related. The properties are all between one and forty acres, and the folks have animals of one sort or another, shoot guns, drive trucks…we fit right in. It is fun for Charles to be able to train dogs right in the yard. A much better option for us than one of the many subdivisions in the Charlotte metro area.

Right now Charles is working with Caleb and Sally on getting ready for the NAVHDA Natural Ability Test at the end of the month. Without much wild bird hunting around, the next few years will allow us to focus our efforts on our hunt testing and field trialing prowess. Caleb will be the first junior handler for the Foothills NAVHDA Chapter, so regardless of how Sally comes out, it will be a great experience for him. Plus, if we don’t like the prize that she gets out of this test, Charles can re-test her in the spring if he feels the need to do so.

Bluestem Sally Forth at 7.5 months, meeting her new vet

Sally is weighing in at 43 pounds and is a cute little dog. She was the smallest of the litter, so we are hoping that she doesn’t get much bigger than what she is now. Her coat is changing from her puppy fluff to her adult coat and we think that the warmer weather down here has it coming in shorter and tighter than with dogs past. Or it could just be her genetics, it is tough to know for sure.

You can see where the lighter softer coat is being replaced by a harsher, darker coat

This is the first Labor Day Weekend since 1995, when we were both still in college taking summer school classes, that Charles hasn’t been hunting the Nebraska Sandhills this weekend. I’ve been hunting there pretty consistently over the last 20 years. It is pretty emotional being away.

Nebraska Sandhills Sunrise, one year ago today

So then, why are we here in South Carolina? There was an offer that we couldn’t refuse. We are hoping that we can retire here, then have a big pickup with a dog box and an Airstream trailer that we can live out of during hunting season upon retirement. I love being between the beach and the mountains but still in a rural lifestyle. Charles will be back in Nebraska for a hunt in December and hopefully as we get settled in there will be more time for hunting travel. Our older son graduates this spring, then there’s one more kid for me to get through school. I will be mostly homebound until that task is completed, but am going to focus on conditioning in that time because hunts like Himalyan Snowcock, chukar partridge and white ptarmigan are going to take some serious athleticism.

The Palmetto State

I have found that keeping our Facebook page updated has been an easier task than sitting down to blog. Here are some miscellaneous photos of the dogs that I’ve taken with my phone recently:

AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Peaches en Regalia, NA I UPT II “Ruth”
AKC/NAVHDA Wyo Plainsman Kenobi, NA I UPT III “Obi”
AKC/NAVHDA Bluestem Sally Forth
Obi, Ruth and Sally

As far as breeding this year, we are planning on a litter between Obi and Ruth in the spring. I will make a formal breeding announcement in a few weeks, then start to take new inquiries while getting back in touch with my contact list. I thought that I would bounce back to kennel work at the computer faster than I have, honestly. Having all of my things boxed crammed into a semi then stuffed into an empty house is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I pray that this is our last stop, but we’ll see where life takes us.

Our stuff filled an entire semi trailer

AKC/NAVHDA Sweetgrass Sandhill Sioux “Sue” 05/26/2004 – 08/20/2021

I will be sure to do a better write-up about the life of Sue at a later date with more pictures, but I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the passing of the Griffon who started it all for us. She was born the day before our first son, Conrad, and spent her first 8.5 years living with us in our first house in Bellevue. Upon her retirement from hunting and having puppies, she went to live with the Knispel family in Cedar Butte, South Dakota (just west of White River, near Badlands National Park). She passed at the age of seventeen, after a long life of many adventures and being very loved. There are so many more pictures and stories to go with Sue, but this will have to do for now. See you at the happy hunting grounds, girl.

If you’ve been following our Facebook page, this isn’t much new material, but I’ll be getting the good camera out for Sally’s NAVHDA Natural Ability Test with Caleb in a couple of weeks and there will finally be some fresh content.

Good luck to everyone out there in the wild bird fields and with fall hunt testing. The future of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed is looking bright thanks to all of our efforts.

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.

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