Saturday, January 31, 2009

Training Day

Yesterday officially started the training season for us. We made the 80 mile drive to our friend and professional trainer Tim DeGroff's kennel High Praire Farms

I meet Tim a few years back when I decided that I wanted help in training Mia. While I grew up with gun dogs my whole life I never did train one on my own. There was two options in hand when it came time to train Mia. The first entailed sending her to his kennel for at least three months for the beginning stages. The second option was to periodically drive up to Tim's for training sessions. I choose the later because I wanted to be in the middle of the training. And besides there was no way Nichole could have sent Mia away for three months!! In between visits Tim would give me "home work" and drills to work on. He knows where I live and all the obstacles that an urban gun dog trainer can run into. After time and many trips I started to make great progress with Mia. At this point all I wanted was a gun dog that I enjoyed hunting behind. Well after three years of training with Tim I got what I wanted and much, much more.

The more is a second ESS, Abby, and a desire to take both my gun dogs to the step. I still remember the feeling when I first saw Mia steady to flush on a bird. It was an epiphany that I'll never forget. I never thought I would have a steady hunting dog. I didn't plan on it from the beginning but I'll take it! While I'll planning to keep progressing with Mia I'm not going to field trail her. I'll take that step with Abby. But Abby still has a lot of work to do but she's on the right track.

So going back to yesterday. I begin to tell Tim that I don't know how steady Mia was going to be. We just finished hunting wild birds for over 5 months and I just thought I lost a huge piece of Mia's steadiness. I'm sure Tim thought that Mia would have come in a bit on the wild side. I knew that she was going to quarter with in range but I didn't think she was going to be steady. Well I guessed wrong, she was steady as ever. She had a great session with 4 great contacts and every flush and shot she was solid. It was a pleasant surprise to see her work the way she did.

an old school house on the way to Tim's kennel

This was just the first of many, many training days ahead of me for the next eight months. I just can't wait to see what I'll have at the end of that time. Maybe two steadied ESS's and maybe even one of them will be running in her first field trail.

till next time...........

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reflections

Well it's official, our 2008/09 Upland Hunting season is over. I was contemplating a last minute trip to Kansas for some action but with all things in life I just could not fit it in. Oh well, the past season was good one with plenty of adventures and even more memories.

I'm trying to think back to the dog days of last summer to reflect on my expectations with the upcoming season. I guess I had the same expectations of all good upland bird hunters: my dogs were going to be steady to flush, gun and retrieve.... I wasn't going to miss one bird....limits every time I went afield....I was going to hunt a record number times.... Enough with the bull shit, none of this happened the way I thought. But I did take some birds over a somewhat steady ESS.

The majority of my hunts were documented on this blog so I won't go into the details of each hunt. But as my upland hunting evolves I begin to slowly take in all that I encounter in the field. From the sleepless nights before the hunt or the groggy ride home everything in between seems to matter just a little bit more than before. I'm still "gun ho" as ever but it's not all about me. It's about the dog work, the sights, the friendships both old and new and it's about exposing a new hunter to your passion. You begin to wonder if this will ever get old. At this point I don't think so but let jump to far ahead of ourselves!

As a history major I'm always reflecting on the past. I'm always thinking about those who have walked a hedge grove before us or if anyone has ever hunted this remote stand of aspens. I'm sure someone has but at least it makes me think. But this season was the recent past were I still long to be walking behind Mia and Abby in search of game. We all know the saying "that all good things must come to an end" but as I write this I'm completely satisfied to begin thinking about next year.

The one thing that I personally can take away from this season is that all seems to be slowing down a bit. I'm beginning to see Mia hit the scent cone even faster than before. Although the birds aren't flying any slower I am seeing them with more regularity. This all helps as I progress with both Mia and Abby. Hunting behind a Field Bred English Springer Spaniel is not an exercise in futility but exercise in thoroughness, from start to finish.

I start the next step in Abby's training tomorrow so I hope September will come around even faster this year!!




til next time................

Monday, January 19, 2009

Last Dance

Yesterday ended our 2008/09 upland bird hunting season. As they say all things must come to an end but before the music was over we saw a new hunter take his first bird. My brother-in-law's brother Joe took his first pheasant. While the high winds put a twist on the day they didn't dampen our spirits. We saw as many birds as during this hunt as any other hunt this year. But the winds kept a few birds out of the bag. And I won't sugar coat it, our shooting didn't help! It was great hunt that ended a great year in the uplands. I'll report later on my reflections of the past season but for now I have one more day in the duck blind.

A few pictures....
Road Bird.....



Joe's first bird.

"so you're saying it's over?"


til next time......

Monday, January 12, 2009

Surf's Up...on Vacation

So I know it's not upland hunting related but I had to brag about our trip. I'm still here on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. So far it's been nothing short of fabulous. I'm here with my wife and her family to celebrate her Mom's 60th birthday. We've done all the sightseeing but the relaxing is the main attraction to this place. Of course you can't come all this way without going to the beach to try and catch a couple a few waves. While this was only my second time surfing I was able to get up a bunch of times to ride the waves in. We leave tomorrow night and I will not soon forget this trip.


By the way I did see a few Ringneck Pheasant's on the island. I also just finished a great book, Upland Days by Willaim G. Tapply so I guess I did add an upland flare to the trip.


Here are a few pictures of the trip.













There are few more days left in the upland season so once I get back to Colorado I'll be taking the girls out one more time to chace some pheasants. After that we'll be in the duck blind a few more times and then it's on to the training circuit.



Til next time.................

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Duck, Duck....Goose

My buddy Adam and I took along my brother-in-law Pete out to Adam's duck lease for morning hunt. After the last visit and hearing reports of duckless days my concerns were high that it might be another tough hunt.
It was a tough hunt but at least the ducks were flying. And the geese well lets just say it's the most geese I've seen in Colorado! We were mainly after ducks but we did have a few geese decoys in the spread so I thought we might have a chance at them. The chance did come in a pair that were fully committed to the spread. The only problem was that Adam was caught out of the blind and with out his gun! Don't Move!!! Pete and I connected on the same goose and the other escaped the quick volley. Mia quickly retrieved her second goose ever!

One of the best parts of this lease is the warm water slough that runs parallel to the river and is only a few hundred yards from the blind. This creates some jump shooting opportunities that usually produce a duck or two.

The first attempt fell short as we come up to far away from a flock of mallards. But the next attempt was successful as Pete downed a lone drake gadwall. The bird fell on the other side of the slough so Mia was brought over complete the blind retrieve. As we finished up the days hunt Adam and Pete made their way for one last jump. Adam quickly downed a double! A beautiful pair of wigeon lay out of reach on the opposite side of the slough. Mia again was brought in to retrieve this pair. She made quick work of the double blind retrieve to call it a day.
A few hero shots!!

til next time...............