Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ruffed Up Road Trip

I was hoping that this post was going to be all about the grouse hunting glory from our road trip to Central Pennsylvania.  Instead, I report that both of my girls are going under the knife to repair some hunting injuries.

As I reported earlier, Mia came up lame on the opening day of our pheasant season and was given two weeks of rest.  I was preparing for the worst and hoping for the best with this, but I knew that it wasn't good that she wasn't getting better. It's not good as she'll be getting TPLO surgery to repair her ACL. So she'll be out of action for the rest of this season.

To make matters worse, Abby developed a strange lump/bruise on her side after grouse hunting this weekend.  I did an inspection of her and could not figure out a cause. The lump was definately filled with fluid and began to grow.  So after Mia was diagnosed with her injury and resulting surgery, Abby was going to go under the knife to repair some sort of hernia.

While writing this post, our vet called to tell us that Abby is doing well after her surgery. The vet also explained that a small puncture caused this hernia!  From what he could tell, a stick or giant thorn went into her side at her last rib and punctured the muscle in her stomach area to cause the hernia. It was almost 5 inches away from the small puncture on her skin to the puncture in her stomach muscle.

I know, I'm trying to figure this one out, too.  But Abby will be out for at least 4 weeks.

Our trip to Pennsylvania turned out to be a great time. We were able to visit a few of our Colorado pheasant covers before we started the rest of our 22 hour drive.  Once we arrived in PA, I was able to hook up with fellow blogger Rick Grimes from Allegheny Mountain Wanderings.  Rick was able to put us on some great cover that produced a few birds. While in the area I was able to stop by the Lion County Supply Store where I handled a few nice SxS's and picked up some dog supplies.

Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Colorado Rooster

Pennsylvania Rooster!

Looks like another hunter got here before me.

Little Girl

til next time...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Highs and Low

As in life, highs are usually associated with some untimely lows. The 2010 Colorado pheasant opener was no different.

Having scouted the hunting grounds the day prior to the opener, our excitement lifted as we saw birds in every cover and high numbers. As the day broke we found ourselves overloaded with birds. Almost too many for the 3 springers and 6 guns. The adrenaline was running high and birds were flying everywhere. As we settled down, a few birds fell after many were missed. Hey, what are you going to do it's opening day!

Abby got the call for the first hunt of the day and she didn't disappoint.  She was rock steady and her range was awesome considering the amount of scent that was on the ground.
Lining up for the first hunt

Mia got the call for the next hunt and she too was thrown into a gauntlet of cover that held 50 plus birds. She was great and hunted the overwhelming cover like a seasoned pro.

Now for the explanation of the title: the low.

This was the season that I was finally able to rotate dogs to keep them fresh. With Abby finally steadied, I thought this was the year that my two dogs would be able to give each other rest.  Not only for the day but for the years ahead. Mia has been the go-to dog for the last four seasons. She's carried the weight of several guns and produced birds on a consistent basis. But she can't hunt all day, every day, and be expected to live a long, healthy life.

With best laid plans comes some bumps in the road.  On Mia's second hunt, right after she flushed and retrieve two birds, she took a long turn only to come back limping.  When I first noticed her limping she was favoring her back left leg.  I originally thought it was a sand burr that was stuck in her pad so I checked her out her pads and they were clean.  I let her run a few more casts but the limping continued so I took her back to the truck.  After a few more brief tests, I knew that she was done for the weekend.

Man, talk about a buzz kill.  From that point on I was bummed to have a her out of the rotation. Mia's a wild bird hunting machine that lives for the hunt. So many high hopes were dashed as she stayed in the truck.

I was able to take her in to the vet first thing on Monday morning.  Our vet examined her and determined that the injury might be a sprain.  But we have to give it two weeks of rest and hope for the best.  If she is still limping after the next two weeks, it might just be an ACL injury, so let's hope for the best!

Back to the hunt and the highs. With Mia in the truck, it was time for Abby to shine and shine she did. Abby hunted hard for the rest of the weekend.  Saturday afternoon she smoked out a group of roosters that helped me connect on a true double.  Once she finished the retrieves, she quickly put up a few more birds and one more fell from the Adam's 16 bore.
Break time
Sunday started out slow but heated up right before lunch. After covering the edge of a very large CRP field, we headed back to the truck and put up a group of birds at the edge of the road. I missed the last bird that came out, but my oldest friend and hunting buddy, Brian, dropped a rooster as it crossed into a corn field. I didn't see it fall but Brian said it hit hard and started running. A wing shot for sure, never a good sign when that rooster could use its legs to run miles before we could get to the mark. As we scoured the corn, Abby took a line up the corn and started tracking.  She relocated the track a few times and after a few minutes took a line and produced the bird 300 yards from the original mark.  That a girl!!

It was hard to top that, but Abby saved her best work for the last hunt on Sunday. My BIL Pete, Brian and I scoured the roads and maps for the last hunt of the day and the trip.  Right at 3pm we ended up at the State Walk In Access CRP plot.  It looked semi-promising but we were tired and ready to hit the road.  But after a few casts, Abby started to indicate some ground scent.  Almost immediately, she started tracking the scent and from the looks of the cover, I knew we had some runners. After flushing a hen, Abby quickly got back on a scent and flushed a rooster that fell to my second barrel.

As we crossed the street and into some new cover, not much changed as Abby started tracking some hot scent.  A hundred yards up the cover, Abby flushed another rooster that was missed by four barrels, including two of mine! As we continued on and switched directions, the favorable head wind became a crossing down wind. I knew I was going to have to keep a close eye on her range. She did take a few extra long casts but I corrected her and continued on. As the cover was coming close to the end, Abby again started tracking and an explosion of birds overwhelmed the guns as we missed a few roosters to ruin her hard work.

Having crossed back into the original field only brought more spectacular hunting by Abby.  She tracked down two more roosters and Brian brought one down.  After that, we took one more rooster from a wild flush. We ended the day and the trip on a great note.

The disappointing loss of Mia isn't too far from my mind and neither is Abby's first wild bird hunt.

End of great day with myself and Brian.

Adam bear hugging Razor

Star of the Show!
til next time....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hard Hunt

Having just returned from our annual big game hunting trip in north central Colorado, all I can say is that I'm tired. We hunted hard from sun up to sun down. Miles were walk up and down the mountains. All this work resulted in one mule deer buck for the freezer. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining that I didn't tag a cow elk or mule deer buck but I was set on filling the freezer. There is always next year and the pheasant opener is only a week away.

Dusky Grouse tracks at 10,000 ft

The sun coming up in elk country.

Deer Country
til next time....