Monday, December 22, 2008

Sub Zero Pheasants

After working almost 3 straight weeks at 12-14 hours a day my body and mind were ready for a break. So I did what all good upland hunters would do for a break..............I went hunting! I scrapped up all the energy I had and headed east to our closest pheasant cover in Burlington, CO. It was a very cold morning and I didn't have a clue to how the birds would react. I thought it might be one of those days were all the birds busted out as soon as you stopped the truck. But luck would have it they held tight.....real tight!
-2 degrees as we started the hunt!
After the first gimme shot was missed I regained all credibility by downing a late breaking rooster. Mia made scent but I thought it might be left over scent from the first bird but I quickly remembered that you should always trust your gun dog as I pulled the trigger. After those first two flushes it was obvious that the cold was keeping the birds in their place.

For the next few hours we hit our usual coverts with great resolve and thoroughness. Most of our damage was done at my favorite section of CRP. The best part of the field is that it gets better as the season moves on and it's only starting to get warm. My brother in law Pete and I took 4 roosters before noon. We had a few more missed opportunities after lunch but could not connect. But that was just alright for us we had a great day afield. Mia once again proved her maturation as she worked every scent cone she could find. I was particularly fond of her range as she relaxed to the tight holding birds.It was nice to slow it down a bit!

Bundled up Ben.....
Til next time................

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

All for one....bird that is!

I have a saying "If you live in Denver, Colorado and you hunt or fish: you have to drive at least two hours to get away from the crowds" or "or near a decent population of birds"

Yesterday was no different. My brother was in town and hasn't hunted wild pheasants since they slowly disappeared from the Upstate NY landscape some long lost time ago. We were on a mission and the four hour round trip wasn't going to stop us.

The crew consisted of my brother -in-law Pete, his son Ben, my brother Phil and myself. We hit the coverts of Burlington, CO pretty hard. The dogs put us on birds in almost every covert we hit but most were hens. At one point we had over 25 flushes with only 3 roosters to speak of. It was one of those days were the action was there but the shooting opportunities weren't.

It was so bad that the first bird to hand was a trap that Mia had on a hen! The hen must have been asleep at the wheel and thought she was being run down by a lab, just kidding. But low and behold Mia came in with her prize.

Although I was slightly proud of her I knew it wasn't the best thing for her to trap a bird on a day like this. Frustrating days afield can spill over to the dogs as well. The next bird contact we had Mia thought she could do it on her own when the next set of hens took flight. But as she learns, so do I.

The last field we hit was the best part of the day. Birds, birds and more birds. And even roosters to boot but the shooting opportunities still were slim as birds took off towards the road, the farm house or even the neighbor's horses. One rooster did succumb to the well placed shot of my brother. At 3pm it was like first light all over again,well maybe not but it was good to get one in the game bag.

It was a fast, hard and tiring hunt but it was worth the drive. Mia worked the birds has hard as ever. Abby had a ball and even put a few hens to flight.

Til next time.......

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

The day after Thanksgiving bought us to the duck blind with hunting cohort Adam. It was a tough start to say the least. My body needed a little more time to recover from the over indulgence of our celebration. Oh well, life is short and the birds won't wait for us!
The action was hot and heavy. As soon as legal shooting time came so did the ducks.
"the sky was black with'em" as legend would say
The initial rush of ducks was almost overwhelming. Which flock, which duck...they were everywhere. It was a good day in the blind. The action brought plenty of good and bad shooting. In the end we scratched down 5 mallards, 2 drakes and 3 suzy's.

til next time.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Solo Mission

The girls and I went out for a solo pheasant hunt today. All the usual suspects bailed out yesterday and I decided to go it alone. 435 miles later I returned with a limit of Ringnecks.

The hunt was almost over before it started, I was actually thankful to miss on the first three birds Mia flushed. All were well within range and all should have been in the bag before 7am but my poor shooting ability extended the hunt.
Mia was outstanding ! All day long every bird that took flight in front of us flushed well within gun range after she sorted out the scent and flushed the birds hard! Her nose and tracking ability were on today despite the very poor scenting conditions. The temperature reached 65 right after I finished my hunt at 1pm.

Here's Mia retrieving bird #2

Sorry dad it's not to hand because I'm hot and have a few feathers in my mouth...

My hero shot

til next time.......

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Time Pheasant Hunter

My brother-in-law Pete and I took his son Ben out for his first pheasant hunting experience. We had a blast taking Ben out and hunted hard to put a few birds in the bag for him. For an 8 year old he certainly kept up with his dad and uncle. I was proud of him and I'm sure his dad is still smiling!

The day started out slow with the birds being a little sensitive and flushing wild. After the winds picked up the roosters finally started holding and flushing within range. Mia put the work load of the day on her back. For the most part she hunted great, only a few times did she range out there. She worked hard to find birds for Ben.
A few pictures form the day...

Til next time....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Our 2008 Colorado Pheasant Opener

Another year brings another Pheasant season. Getting out and chasing roosters has always been one of my favorites. It's something about getting out on there on the flat land and hunting hard!

In eastern Colorado pheasants are there but you definitely have to work for them!

Mia hunted hard and had a great day and a bad day all mixed into one. She made finds on all three birds we put in the bag. Working the scent cone with a good tenacity and a great hard flush within range of the gun....what she's trained to do! But when she was hunting her range was too far but she has never bumped/flushed a bird out of range. This is something I've been dealing with her for the past few years. Most of this is me and not her. If I would only extend my training into the field I could continue her progress. But I know with more training (for me) I will avoid this with Abby. Abby had a good day, I only put her on the ground a few times and won't gun over until she progresses with her training.

The sun coming up on a new season!

Me and the girls with the day's bounty.

I'll be out hitting the fields hard in the next few weeks and will follow up with more reports.

Til next time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Quick Break from the Birds

I was able to make it up to our annual Colorado Deer Camp yesterday. The deer opener was on Saturday and the reports that came down from camp was that the hunting was slow. Deer and Elk were seen but never in the right location. The high winds didn't make it any easier. My brother was able to fill his tag before the drive back to NY. It's a great 5x4 buck with 26 inch spread and 18 inch height. We had to pack it out 2 miles. Someone owes us a beer or two.

The long pack out.

The tired crew after the pack.
Back to birds...the Colorado Pheasant opener is Saturday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Homeward Bound Trip

I've been thinking about heading home to Buffalo, NY for a upland hunting trip. Some might ask why but I said why not and I hit the road on Saturday Oct 18th. Nichole, the girls and I headed east on I-70 and arrived at her parents home in Hollidaysburg, PA.

Day 1

The first stop on my upland extravaganza was actually on the water. My father in law Jon and I fished the "Little J" at the Spruce Creek junction. We hit the water on a cold snap so the window for hooking a big one was small. We did have a few hours in which the fish were sucking the dry's with ease.

It was a great day to be on the water.

Day 2
After my short stay in central PA I headed north to Buffalo. But on the way I stopped for my first taste of the upland fever. I met my brother and a friend just outside Bradford, PA for a quick grouse hunt. After a few minutes of busting brush I quickly missed a grouse with both barrels. It was almost too easy of a shot.....don't we always miss these "gimme shots."

It was good to get out and chase some Ruffed Grouse again. It's been a few years and this just got me started.

This sign caught me by surprise.....I thought I was back in CO and not in PA!

Day 3
My Dad, brother and I hunted for the elusive NY State DEC Released Pheasant. It was under wet skies that we hit the fields of WNY. Three wet springers were able to help us scratch done 1 Snipe and 1 Pheasant.

Three wet springers.

Day 4

Day four brought much better weather. It was a autumn day to remember! The same trio as the day before headed to the Southern Tier to hit some state land in which some pheasants were released the week before.

After a slow start to a cold day things warmed up quickly....both the weather and the birds. After a few flushes my brother finally connected on a hen (legal take in this area). With only bird in bag we headed to a new area in which we surprisingly flushed a timberdoodle! I cleanly missed with both barrels! After marking that bird I walked over to seek out a reflush. To my surprise a giant rooster flushed as I fumbled to shoulder the gun two shoots rang with no avail. as the rosster dawned upward and over to my brother's location in which he brought down with a quick shot. Right after that I finnaly connected with a hen.

The next bird was one of the strangest happenings I have ever had in the upland field: Mia was working scent on an edge of pine tree stand and after she casted out towards the field a rooster flushed from behind me. As the bird reached the sky above me I brought it down with one shot. And wouldn't you know it the bird landed in my arms!!! No lie! Just ask my brother who witnessed it from only 50 yards away!!!

After the fifth bird was in hand we decided to call it a hunt. We figured we would leave one short of our limit for next time!

Here are a few pictures from the day's hunt:

Mollie and Dad taking a seat!
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This was the bird that fell into my arms, it was a gaint! I'd say a least 4 llbs!!

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Day 5

Friday moring brought us to our cabin for some more rough shooting. The cabin is actually a hunting club that my Dad and his neighborhood friends started in 1960. Most of the time this cabin is used as deer camp with a few other adventures thrown in for good measure. The woods surrounding this cabin will always hold a special place in my thoughts. It's were I took my first deer and ruffed grouse. These same woods is were I followed my Dad and brother as a youngster. Most of that time I was dogging branches that they tried to part way for me but only ended up snapping back in my face. For as long as I remember we made that trek to the "farm" every autumn weekend to hunt whatever was in season. There were times we arrived home with limits of ducks, grouse, pheasants, a turkey and sometimes even an arrowed deer! A true mixed bag!!

After we settled the cabin we headed out back for whatever game lay in wait. The first stop was a few stands of popplers and aspens for woodcock. No sooner did we step into the cover we had our first flush! For the next half hour my brother and I chased a few woodcock around. In the end we bagged 3 birds.

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We then moved on to some grouse coverts. The cover was thicker than I remebered but the dogs worked hard to push 8 grouse. Only one bird offered a shot so my brother obliged.

Day 5

Saturday was the Duck opener and the day was for the ducks...rain and more rain. We went out back to jump some woodducks from the beaver ponds. We only put up 3 woodies and they snuck out the back door. So that was it for ducks.

We then made our way in the rain to a friends property for pheasants. We ended up taking 3 birds and could have easily filled our limits but the rain was taking all the fun away.

Did I mention it rained! Sorry no pictures.

Day 6

Sunday was the ast day to hunt before I had to head back to reality. It was great final hunt...woodcock! We went to friends property that was one of the best woodcock coverts I have ever seen in WNY. It think we hit it too late or just on an off migration day. We did scratch down 1 of the 6 flushes.

My Homeward Bound Trip was over but not soon be forgotton. Here are a few remaining pictures.

Til next time!

PS: there are some wierd things going on with my spell check so I aplogize about any mistakes and such

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Ducky

I celebrated Columbus day with a duck hunt on the South Platte River. My buddy Adam invited me and the girls to a friends new duck lease. It's a great property with a ton of future potential. Even though it's still early in the duck season a good number were in flight this morning. Most of the ducks we saw had alternative flights plans. The ones that succumbed to our enticing spread meet another spread.....our #2 steel shot! And I actually shot well for a change!
Some of the highlights included a hen wood duck, which was the first wood duck for me in CO. But the big one was a great retrieve by Mia. After I crippled a drake mallard, Mia swam across the strong current of the Platte to find and make the retrieve. I was impressed!
Here area few pictures form the day.

"I think I heard a quack"
"Is that a duck or an airplane?" asked Adam

Abby stayed in the kennel while her big sister had all the fun.

Til next time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One great day of hunting with a bad day of shooting mixed in.

My buddy Adam and I went out for what most likely will be my last Blue Grouse hunt of the year. With the "mountain" to ourselves we headed in search of some new cover that might hold some grouse. The new cover didn't produce a single bird so we decided to head over to an area that produced birds in the past. That covert produced birds but my piss poor shooting didn't help put any in the bag. We'll just blame it the new gun syndrome! We flushed 6 and 5 of those were flushed by my Mia within 7 yards of the gun. You can't blame her, she did her part.

Looks like a coyote can hunt better than me!

Bear and Coyote prints.

Adam, looking for grouse!
Til next time.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Gun!!!

Last month my brother found a great find in a gun shop in Buffalo NY. Taking his word I put a deposit down on an Ugartechea 12ga, 26",SKT/MOD. Most likely a 221 model that was made in 1981. It arrived the other day and I'm planning on taking her out soon.
Here area few pictures.

I can't wait to take her out. This will be a great grouse gun!