Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanks R.G.S.

As some of you have read from a prior posts on here, i was part of the stars being aligned, and also waiting for lightning to strike my gun, as i was part of a rare "triple" on ruffs this season.
The Ruffed Grouse society has a club, in which you have to be a member to qualify, but none the less have to sign an affidavit to say you shoot two simultaneous birds in the air at the same time, also a witness. They keep track and then you are listed in their all time records.
Besides this nice little plaque certificate, they also send you a silver pin with two birds on it.
it was a much nicer award than i thought it would be, and it was free!
Anyway, not much to see here, but i thought some of you might enjoy seeing what they actually send you, its quite nice!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I-DA-HOpe I can go back!

I have been hearing what a great upland and waterfowl state Idaho is for at least a few years, from the one time CA resident and my best insurance provider R. Crosby. he liked it so much, he uprooted his family and moved there.
Right from the get go the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. the first day met us with a snowstorm and icy roads. we had tried to hunt the area just on the border or Oregon, and the famous "Hells Canyon."
It didn't take long for us cut a Chukar track, but as usual, the terrain was just ridiculous that these hell chickens dwell in. The rock,shoals, and 80 degree incline combined with a layer of ice and snow, made it nearly impossible for this flat lander to keep his feet and become a member of the under forty hip fracture club. I knew I would have to save some energy and didn't want to burn out within the first hour of the hunt, so i urged Ryan who had been chasing big game through these mountains for the past couple of months to continue on a brief quest to track them down.
He ended up flushing two of them , but no shots were offered. i didn't feel so bad as I watched him come down the hill and fall keyster first onto the slippery grade all with a big smile on his face.
We thought we would drop a little lower and try for what was usually a sizable Hun population at a little flatter and less snow accumulated hillside.
It looked perfect, offering enough rock for hiding spots, and plenty of what we call cheat grass here in the Midwest.
We worked the fabulous looking draws and rock outcroppings for a couple of hours, but it just didn't seem in the cards today. On the bright side, I think I'm evolving as a hunter. I flew halfway across the US, it was 11 o clock, I hadn't flushed a bird , but I could stop gazing at what I was surrounded by. I can honestly say I had never felt so minute, so alive, and  so aware of my surroundings. It was a cathartic feeling, that few to many city dwellers every get the chance to experience.
The next day found Ryan and I heading to the fabled Snake river. I knew I was in for a treat just from the variety of birds and and lack of competition that I was used to here on the ever popular Green Bay. Wading across waist deep current at high levels is always a challenge, but it was SO neat to see Decoy, (Ryan's dog) use strategy in the angles he swam at  downed birds. he's one heck of a gritty dog, not sure I've seen  one more willing to withstand the elements. It wasn't long before we had drake mallards, wigeon, (as pictured) gadwall, among others finishing to our spread of only 11 decoys. If I lived here, it would hard to ever go to work with the ample opportunities of game around every corner.
Tired from the previous two days, to much 44north vodka, (which is fabulous and made from Idaho potatoes) and my well worn body that has been at it hard since mid September, we decided to chase some roosters and quail around his house. we had a few chances at both, but were to busy jaw japing, watching sunsets, or capturing the shots of the trip with my camera. Oddly enough, I didn't care. I hadn't harvested one upland bird on this entire trip, but I did shoot something that  knew would be much more important. I managed to have the perfect light, the perfect backdrop, and capture the perfect moment between two partners that Ryan will cherish for the rest of his life. I was lucky enough for someone to catch a shot similar last year, right before I lost Kwik. the bond between a man and his first real bird dog is like steel. It's the strongest, hardest, and one day coldest thing there ever is, BUT shots like this will always bring a smile, and admiration for the owner, forever. A toast To DECOY!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A snowy, uneventful, ending to the best season ever

What a year.
From the vast ebbs and flows of too windy to hunt, to the extreme heat in the middle of October, this was a year of extremes. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a cold, snowy morning met us on our closing weekend of "grouse camp." We usually end camp a week earlier, but thought It might be nice to be able to hunt a weekend longer, i can now say that we probably wont do that again next season.
We always thought "snow hunting" would be a lot of fun, i can now attest, I prefer no snow, none at all. the grouse seem to go and hide in places i have yet to figure out, but I can be sure its not tag elders, lowland pine, swamp, etc, because we worked all those things on Saturday.
Not one single flush made itself known to us this day, but that was OK. we were simply exhausted after working three straight productive covers and letting nothing but snow down the back of our necks Dottie was freezing, chaffed, and beat from the long season that she just wasn't willing to give up on.

We had 50 flush days, got into a nice flight of woodcock, Shot extremely well, and enjoyed each stroll just a little more this year. Maybe it was maturity? Maybe it wasn't? One thing is for sure, i feel a threshold was crossed this year. Dottie made her place in my grouse history as the best pointer I've had. I did end up hunting by myself this season more than years past, which i thought I would hate, but it was quite the contrary.
A closing of another Wisconsin grouse year, lets hope the cycle can remain steady for one more season.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Doodle Dandy

It was the last weekend of our Woodcock season, and they are my trusted partners favorite bird, so I felt a little pressure to take advantage of the nice November weather we had been having, and go to the ONE spot that if there are doodles around, it will produce. Joining us this day was Bob's son Christopher, "esquire" for his first hunt after the long bill.  It didn't take long for Dottie to get birdy, I have no doubt she was trailing running grouse from her pointing style, and the amount of point and stalk instances that were occurring. Then came the staunch, low bodied curl that usually means Woodcock. A quick tramp around a ten foot area resulted in a quick brown feathered friend in the gamebag, then it turned into The shooting gallery that it usually is.
Christopher sporting his 28 gauge and a much quicker gun mount that his father connected on his first with a great shot and big smiles!
After we had three quick birds in the bag, we thought we'd leave some for the sports in Louisiana, and decided to move on to some more productive (or so we thought) grouse covers.  Some of which had produced double digit flushes in small area just two weeks prior.
It just wasn't in the cards today for ole ruff. I'm not sure if someone had just worked some of these areas just before we got here? If the winds or weather changes had put them into the thicker pines? Or, the birds were simply running so much, that we couldn't keep up with them. We saw a couple, but nothing like the weeks before.
I found out later, that a close friend of mine was having the same exact issue in the same general area, and had actually witnessed birds running in the aspen away from his dog on numerous occasions that morning.
After a quick of Chicago style hot dogs and Italian beefs at the "Green Shack", our bodies were nourished and legs rested. Trying to think of a place that had entirely different cover that what we had previously been working, bob and I realized we weren't so far from one of those places, "Kwiks last trail".
I have this cover described in a much earlier post, but it includes a beaver pond, swamp, aspen, pretty much everything on the planet, but its a good half mile walk through unproductive cover to get through it.
About half way to the good stuff, Dottie slams on point, so serious that I KNEW a bird was near, but WHERE? this was a terrible area for classic grouse cover?
As I'm looking around a grouse bursts out a pine/ dogwood cover and Bob connected with is little 28 ga of Turkish origin.
I cried enough on this trail last year, but inside I was crying again. Kwik came through again, like he always did, even Bob mentioned that he knew he was looking down on us and made sure we got one on his trail, he would have it no other way.
After working the entire cover and putting up a few more birds offering no shots, we started our venture back. Dot jumped into the thickest patch of tag alders I've seen in years. it was going to take me five minutes to get where she was, but she was unrelenting, so i had to jump in. Half way into it a red phase offered me a small window between two large pines, I fired two quick shots and it miraculously fell. A great day shared between Friend, Father, and Son.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Waterfowl week

After spending the majority of my vacation and the early part of October chasing grouse around the aspen jungles of Wisconsin, I decided I was going to put a week long effort into chasing the large variety of fowl we have in our fine state.

With new friends and old, it was a week to remember, Although the shooting was never completely "fast and furious", we found great variety and some fantastic specimens.
Here is mark aka "The GOOZENAZI" with a nice drake redhead that never would have made it into our boat, as my first shot was a good two feet behind him.

It seems like this year the weather has been of the extremes. Sometimes having so much wind that even a seaworthy vessel would be taking an unnecessary chance with ones life, so a few days we decided to keep it a little closer to shore than I would have preferred, but it TOTALLY paid off!

On those classic grey days like shown the picture on the left, with two great canvasback bulls, you just cant help but feel the chill of an early Winter on it's way. Having the opportunity to share the blind with a lifelong friend and one gigantic thermos of coffee keeps the soul warm enough to brave out the inclement weather. Laughing at the same dumb jokes and anecdotes for the last 25 years, certainly hasn't got old, but we are starting to. We start talking about our bad hips, sore knees, and hairlines that move just a little further back each Fall.

As a change of pace, Even more friends (and their boys) decided to hit a traffic field for some Canada goose action. The opposite end of the spectrum for wind met us that morning, all 2-3 mph of it. Giving those smart, old , and  pressured honkers more time to analyze your decoy placement and to make out your "hide of blind" never makes it any easier. A small raincloud made our decoying life MUCH easier and it didn't take long to add smiles, and talk of going out to breakfast to celebrate. Its amazing how your perspective changes when the day is seen through young, wide eyes.

Last but not least, it was kind of exciting to have multiple chances on small flocks of Sea Ducks, I love the way they decoy, but not necessarily the way they taste. Some Scoters are very large ducks, and decoy with reckless abandon.
Their tough enough to bring down, especially after shooting bluebills, and redheads most of the week.
Randy had to do a little emergency surgery on me about an hour before this picture was shot, as half of an earplug broke off way up inside my ear. a flashlight and a long nosed leatherman lent new credence to the Army way, of always being prepared!  It truly was a great week, blending new and old friends, and more experiences to the highlight reel that seems to become distant memories with each passing year!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

O.B.G.C 2011

The O.B.G.C. 2011 had high hopes after yours truly had done a good bit of scouting/hunting and groundwork for the foursome who had started this tradition just 6 short years ago.
We were going to be one member short after a heel spur and a meeting with a slamming screen door and all but guaranteed my father wouldn't be joining us this season, we raised a "few" glasses in your honor.
Paul ( my brother in law) and I drove up together on thursday night, and created the aroma of the culinary favorite of frozen pizza and seagrams 7 in the a frame of happiness.
A breakfast of eggs over easy and way to much bacon was enjoyed by both of us, And the only finicky German shorthair eater I've ever met, miss Dottie.

We started our morning at what we like to call "tick heaven", which populates the deer variety to almost plague levels, but the amount of ruffs in this place, makes it worth the risk.

Paul was absolutely ecstatic with his first shot of the trip to harvest his first 'BRONZE" grouse of his life, and only the second one i had ever seen.

That was until we walked 500 yards and I shot another one, UNREAL! I knew this season was going to be special when I shot a triple, but TWO bronzes on the same day? Ic need to buy a lottery ticket

Both paul and I are now in our mid thirties, and have been trying to eat much healthier, so instead of the bar hamburger and fries. I decided to pack a "gluetin free" lunch of almond butter sandwiches, dried fruit, and plenty of beef jerky. hey , we all have to start somehere.

A few rudimentary english boxlocks, with origin dates back to the 1920's, I know its not a borowed Purdey or Holland and Holland, but that suits us just fine, but not the other three grouse.

"Sam" is ALWAYS helpful in getting rid of the contents from the guthook application on my knife. He sits and waits so patiently, but I have to wonder if he'd prefer the breast meat and legs instead. So majestic, so flipping big!

The second morning we were finally joined from our favorite teeth junkie who is just here to 'take it all in."  Its rare we ever get him to pose for a picture, so i knew after all the contacts we had today, I better take advantage of the situation.

Although our shooting was pretty much terrible over the past two days, we still managed to take a few more birds than last season, and hunt a few less hours. It's really bad at my age when your hips and spine really cant function without Advil after a all day grouse affair for a couple of days, BUT its a great time to be sore, that is October, and it is GRAND!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Back after 'The Professor"

I got out of work a little early, so I figured I'd try to get up to camp in hopes of getting an afternoon hunt in with one of my employees who is an experienced "Harlequin of the fields" hunter, and had only kicked up grouse on the way to his deer stand and had always wanted to try hunting them. It had started to drizzle and the wind was blowing a good 20 mph with low, grey, clouds speedily moving their way across the sky.
I knew we had to get to a place that had a bit of a windbreak. I decided to try the "professors" cover first. The "professor" is a huge grey phase who got his name last season as my brother in law and myself flushed him three times, EACH time he flew DIRECTLY at our heads almost having to duck in self defense.
The professors lair:

was ecstatic to see they were actually doing more cutting around that particular cover, so she can finish out here life in this great little piece of heaven.

It didn't take long before she got really birdy, and I thought she was on His majesty, she locked up and the bird flushed about 3 seconds later.
Two quick IN THE OPEN shots for Luke yielding nothing but curse words and "holy crap those things are twice as fast as a pheasant". All I could think to myself was ,"finally, another convert".
We followed up for a reflush, when Dottie locked up again, I heard the bird and JUST caught a fleeting glimpse when I touched off the more open of my two barrels, To my surprise she fell. It wasn't the Professor, but I'm guessing it was one of his redhaired ladies:

Not wanting to take any other of his harem, we decided to move on.
The next cover was VERY small, Dottie wasn't 5 minutes in when she locked up on a nice little timberdoodle, which Luke claimed as his first, a bigger smile I don't think I've ever seen on his face.

The wind was really starting to rip now, so we carefully watched the enormous oaks, and cedars swaying with each heavier gust. Then stopped the bell. About 40 yards to my right the absolute largest Ruff I've ever shot without question presented me with a small window to connect. With a whole lotta luck the back trigger did its job, you can see from this picture just HOW big this bird was. the other bird its next to was an adult from a little later.

It was honestly our plan to hope for the best once we got back to camp and watched the evening forecast for wind. After seeing sustained and gusts even heavier than today, we decided  the only thing we'd be hitting for the weekend was this, and hit it we did, HARD.

this morning was awful

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Earning her spot on the wall

She earned it, after only 6 years
Dottie that is.
My wife and I have only had one other dog that we felt was professional portrait wall of fame worthy. We loved all our dogs, but only two have been extra special so far. Dottie earned her spot this year. We have a fantastic photographer in Charles Lieneger who did Kwik's shot, and now Dottie's.
I never had any idea how hard it would be to keep a pointing dog still enough in the right amount of light, right position, ALL while being outdoors where a hunting dog is trying to do what it was breed for, HUNT!
Anyway, I couldn't be happier as this shot here, it's merely a cell phone shot of the actual proof. Its SO much more vibrant in person. Shes always impressed with her countless Grouse and woodcock points, her steadiness, calm demeanor, and her sweet, soft, nature that most GSP owners can't believe, she will ALWAYS have a place in our hearts and on our wall.
Congrats Dottie Girl!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A taste of Fowl

Every once in a while, I get a hankering to head out to a marsh in which I cut my teeth as a waterfowler.  It's not not a big marsh by any means, but it has a great variety of ducks that always keeps it interesting.
The sunrise always welcomes me home and fills the new day with anticipation of great reward.

The tool of the trade has changed throughout the years. It started out with a Remington in 1989, there were many  impostors in between, now back to the one who brought me.

The speculum color flashing brightly against the new beams of Sun, while the heft in your hand leaves a slight moment of regret.

The regret REALLY comes in the form of sore fingers after the daunting task of plucking a bird completely, but the skin makes it so OH so delicious.Especially when your wife can plate a dish like no other.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A quick walk, with results

It was the official opening of "grouse camp" this weekend, as My father, my dentist, and myself rent a cabin every Fall. This afternoon found my father with a prior engagement, my dentist with being a cheerleader for his wife who decided she was going to run a marathon, and myself, who decided to take the bull by the horns, and clean up camp this afternoon.
After using the vacuum to suck up minimal dirt and the remnants of the eurasian beetles that make themselves at home in the wood, i found myself with a couple of hours before sunset to hit a few covers.
This first cover was hilarious. It started spitting rain along with our 20 mph north winds the minute i opened the jeep door. So while i was asking myself why didn't I just stay at camp,  a young brown phase erupted less than 10 feet from me. I was so surprised that he was that close, i airballed. Dottie didn't even scent him, so i was surprised to say the least. I followed up , but flushed another adult bird on my way to end of the trail, he was in the cut pretty far, and offered no shot.
i decided to work through the cut in hopes of finding him again, we were almost back at the jeep when dottie locked up on a grass and wood pile. (NO WAY) i thought. that little brown phase comes flying out offering me two easy shots going away, miss, miss.
I had to laugh.
So i followed it into the other side of the cut, Dottie catches scent, and I ready myself, just in time to have a woodcock flush from under her nose. The little brown bird tumbles against the backdrop of the enormous coldfront that rolled into town last night. It certainly wasn't what i expected to come flying out of there, but a pleasant surprise to say the least.
 After putting the doodle into my vest Dottie points again and her bell is silenced. My third opportunity at that little brown phase leaves my the easiest grouse shot in the open I've ever had. This time i actually do my part.
I decide to walk by a small Brook trout stream on the opposite side of the cut (mostly to see the spawning jewels of the North) when the bell goes silent again. A Grey phase swoops from a tree limb downward towards the swamp alongside the river.
It was out there a ways, so I squeezed my back trigger, and by dumb luck he tumbled to the aspen leaf covered floor.
I certainly wasn't expect this this evening, but i felt did enough harvesting for the day.

So Dottie deserved "shotgun' in the Jeep on the ride home complete with her favorite blanket, you can tell by the picture, she was quite happy

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A TRIPLE ! swear to God!

Its one of those things that will never, ever, happen ever again. So I'm just gonna cherish it, and my season has already been made.

It was going to be a cool weather morning, and the rain was expected to stay away till at least noon, so i took Dottie and a friend who has been bugging me to get out. The foilage is still REALLY thick at this stage in the game, so i remembered a cut i haven't hunted in a few years that offered a bit of a trail alongside some older aspens, and some berries of all different sizes and varieties.
nate and i had let dottie go, (she's a bootlicker, so no astro needed) and started our gait, from about 100 yards down the trail she was already getting "birdy", she had a nice point on an adult bird that Nate barely caught a glimpse of.
I was just excited she had a nice point and contact , as i wasn't expecting much.
just like clockwork, she got birdy about another 100 yards down the trail, this time pointing off to the left, we followed her in, but nothing there, the minute we came back onto the road, she locked up on the other side, FLUSH, it offered me a fleeting shot , which i took, and blissfully airballed on my first shot of the season (AH YES)!
Just after i shot, i heard another flush off in the distance, and that alarming chirping we sometimes hear. there she goes again, locked up, I had to snap this photo: (above the text)

Two smaller birds flushed from ground to WAY up into the trees (I'm talking like 50 feet), I saw one but didn't feel like "treeing" a bird, especially a young one.
I was already happy with the day, Dottie was great, we saw some birds and it was a positive sign that at least some birds had made it through the spring.

WE walked for about another 15 minutes, when Dottie started getting REALLY birdy, like dropping her whole body to about an inch off the ground birdy. I had never seen her do this before. It was right at a waist high berry patch. as soon as Nate and I stopped, five birds erupted into the air. i mounted straight out and fired, two birds fall, (theres still three birds in the air), and swing as hard as i can to catch up, and pull my back trigger, another puff of feathers.
REALLY a TRIPLE? I couldn't believe what just happened. Nate was already going in to help Dottie find dead birds, and more birds started flying. Nate pulled on a hard right to left crosser, but didn't connect.  I couldn't even shoot cause i was so in shock.
Needless to say i put the three birds in the bag, and just slowly sauntered back behind Nate on the trail. We ended up bagging one more birds, and had a few more nice points and opportunities, but i think my season was already made.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The tide, Youth day, and one gorgeous sunrise

The darn tide, most people never even realize that the Great Lakes or the Bay of Green bay even have one.
I went scouting last week to try and find some suitable places for Wyatt to go under the "mentor" program, for youth waterfowl day. I thought we had some pretty decent places mapped out. We were the ONLY ones at the launch by 5 am this morning, and seeing as how shooting time was roughly six, I thought we were for sure going to have a banner day.
Well, the Bay had other plans. The prevailing winds should have put PLENTY of water in the rushes for me to pull my boat within three feet of the aquatic vegetation (it only drafts 6 inches), but we coudn't get within 50 feet, which wouldn't have been a problem but our shooter didn't have waders along, so we went for the next best option , open water hunting.
Not exactly perfect for puddle ducks, but the only option we had left, we set up the legal 500 feet from shore and hedged our bets. We got a few looks from some mallards, and even some early season divers (which i was quite surprised to see) but now quality shots were presented. its tough enough for an 11 year old to hit something while remaining stationary, and the boat and been rocking pretty good.
Just when we had about given up hope, a lone honker had cupped his wings and presented us a shot, we weren't on the mark, but just had a quick chuckle, and enjoyed which was truly one of the prettiest sunrises I've ever witnessed.
Wyatt can't wait to go out again, so unlike the video game era of today's children who try something once, and quit if they fail,  Wyatt wants another shot, and I'll be ready to help him get it!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Some training progress

 So this weekend we got sit mastered, we've got come (here) mastered, and we haven't had to even teach him stay. Were trying to keep all that calmness in retrieving to make him completely steady to wing and shot, (which I have no doubt he will be). We've only let him retrieve 1 out of every four throws we make. id love to videotape a whole sequence, but just decided to record the fun part.
Picking up and hanging onto larger dummies has been a little bit of an issue, so i decided to switch to a light bumper instead of a Dokken style dummy.
I cant thank my wife enough, as she has been just awesome and completely integral in our training process. As you can see Duke is growing, but still maintaining everything we loved about him to begin with.
I think he has a chance to be a special one, certainly in his will to obey, love of water, and ability to mark dummies thrown far away. So far I'm very impressed that even i can raise a British dog. Any tips and tricks, I'd been very open to hearing all your ideas, thanks for checking in!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The official start to the greatest time of year

   Maybe I'm getting lazy, or maybe I'm just getting smarter, but this whole "DOVE HUNTING" thing really has my attention. Wisconsin has only had the opportunity to harvest the Mourning Dove for a few years, and I've enjoyed every one of them slightly more than the it's prior. They truly are a worthy adversary, dipping and diving faster than any teal or woodcock. The bird is not on;y challenging to actually hit, but it's culinary rewards have become a tradition as our first wild game appetizer of the year.
   When it's paired with a grill, onion and jalapeno, and a smattering of blue cheese, its the ONLY way to  start the Packers season, which it will this Thursday evening.
   I used to be part of the early Canada Goose crowd, with endless hours of scouting and asking permission only to have the brothers uncles cousin show up in the field you have permission for, five minutes before shooting time. Usually ending up in some sort of unfriendly verbal exchange, and somebody threatening to go get the farmer at this early hour. This type of confrontation is exactly why I love hunting doves. i don't have to spend an hour grassing blinds, fighting over who shot the band, or When we should have taken the shot.
If we miss a few birds, so be it, there will be more, and if there isn't , well their only doves.
Its a sport in which old men and old dogs can enjoy just as much as some bright eyed go getter who's willing to sleep in a field in order to gain access.
this particular day we had "Easton", a black lab of almost twelve years who realised every single bird we dropped this morning. He didn't care whether it was a 10 yard retrieve, or a 50 yarder. I think as our dogs get older (just like humans) that every hunt could be our last, so enjoy every moment.
Some great target practice, some great eats, and a lot of laid back conversation, Yup, i've decided, I 'm  just smarter.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Basic obedience

WE started our "basic training" this week with Duke, and I have to say, its been pretty easy (don't want to jinx myself). in true British fashion the first 9 months of his life will be NOTHING but obedience, no live birds, no gunshots, etc etc.
they place stability and calm assertiveness as their top values in a gun dog, and so do I. I'm sure Ill have a lot of hiccups along the way, but he sure is off to an AMAZING start. Its sure hard not to start treating him like an adult or adolescent dog, as hes has progressed so quickly, but I know his brain can only comprehend so much before the next butterfly, wasp, or rock that needs to be picked up crosses his path.
He's starting to get very attached and "needy" to Kelly and I, that is good to see as just a week ago he was a bit head in the clouds.
he has an overall large will to please, and seems to have above average dog intelligence, so i hope i don't mess him up!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cool as a Scaups bill

Sometimes you just get lucky.
There's really no explanation for it, nor evidence on "WHY" I deserve it, but somebody upstairs must have been looking out for me, or thought I deserved a break.
My buddy Randy and I were chatting about the upcoming Wisconsin waterfowl season, and how excited I was to actually get after the divers that frequent Green Bay from about mid October until freeze up. Randy said "you know what, i had a buddy from Pennsylvania who gave me a bunch of Bluebill dekes back before I got married,(which I think equates to at least 15 years ago) I have no idea the maker and their condition is probably terrible, but you can have em if you want." I told him about my idea to flip at least three dozen of my old diver to old squaw, ("longtail duck" if your a politically correct puke) and that it would be much appreciated.
As every good military man should be, he was right on time with his delivery to my house, and my already grateful demeanor turned to outright shock.These weren't just Herters old foam decoys, these were homemade, and no expense was spared in their assembly.
Sporting such luxurious features as real glass eyes, wooden keels with weights attached to them, and the vast majority of them having what I can only describe as some sort of restle type coat on them, my plans immediately changed.
There was no way I could crucify all the hard work some guy on lake Erie (we later found the origin of the original maker and owner) by turning these birds to some dumb sea duck. These were going to remain bluebills, and I was going to give them a little makeover. thanks to my buddy Mark at Parker paints,  i loaded them up with Uvision white (ultraviolet), some flat back, and a plethora of greys found in the lesser and greater Scaup.
the neatest thing about these dekes is the pellet holes and pellets that still reside in some of them.  No doubt from the days when lead shot was the norm , and and the gold standard.
I'm proud to add another chapter in the long lives of these blocks, man the stories they could tell, and maybe someday will, when I pass them on.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Welcome home Duke!

With great sacrifice comes great reward, or so I have been told.

After driving a total a 19 hours this past weekend, I hope that statement rings true. After countless research done on my part trying to find the right "BRIT" lab breeder, and line, I decided to purchase my next dog from Tallgrass Kennels, near DeSmet, South Dakota.
I was so pleasantly surprised by every aspect of this kennel, that I would highly recommend them to anyone in search of dog for ANY reason. The setting of this kennel could best be described by painting a mental picture of the opening scene of the television show "Little House on the Prairie", (oddly enough, the ACTUAL home of Laura Engels Wilder is less than 8 miles down the road) complete with rolling hills , wild pheasants and ducks, and the kind of remote location that can't help but make you pause and admire it's beauty.
Upon arrival on the long gravel driveway to the elegant remodeled homestead of over 100 years old, Robert and Kipley Claire greet you with waves and welcomes. A short time later their two boys come running out of the house eagerly awaiting the meeting of "their" puppies new owners.
A immaculate kennel, with calm, obedient, labs is a beautiful thing to witness, and they certainly have managed to create just that.
it only took us about 10 minutes to pick out "Duke", In some sort of weird way, I almost felt like he was picking me, and after I picked him up to get a much closer look at him, he sealed the deal with a lick of my face while staring in my eyes.
He did fantastic on the 9 hour ride home, no accidents, whining, or horseplay. he only whined twice all night and that was to go outside and take a bathroom break. He seems to be coming on command already, which ( I know will be tested very soon ), but all in all, couldn't be happier. Here is a link to their kennel if you're interested.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm On BOAT ( with t pain)

We rarely get times to correct our mistakes.
The biggest "hunting mistake", I ever made in my life was selling my SEA CLASS 18 FOOTER FOR HUNTING DIVING DUCKS ON THE BAY OF GREEN BAY AND LAKE MICHIGAN!
I sold my boat for a 21 of a MUCH lesser quality in 2004, I still say , the biggest outdoor mistake I ever made, BUT I got to correct it as I told a biddy, just 5 short years ago, if you EVER want to sell, call me first, and he did. Watch out lake michigan, All old squaws, scooters, bills, redheads, goldeneyes, buffleheads, and cans, Im BACK on the prowl. With a new British lab on the way (pick up in two weeks), my father getting older), and a premium placed on quality time with my (WAY OUT OF MY LEAGUE) wife, its time to get back to the day of zebra mussels,  early wake up calls, and dreams of nor easter's with a small chops. We all go through phases in our life, and while it's impossible to be a ACE at everything, i'd like to think I'm a "jack of all trades"

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Well, its finally here!
After living the the 2nd most liberal state with gun laws of the last 14 years , I'm PROUD to say, we finally have our constitutional right thanks to out assembly, congress, and Scott Walker! I have already taken two of the requirements to be able be a law abiding citizen to have a CC gun, and I have two choices! A S7W 38 featherweight revolver, and a soon to be purchased S@W 40 sub compact automatic, built on a awesome frame, 1911. ,What a great country we live in. happy to say, if you mark your business as NO CC, i will NOT be purchasing a  thing!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The new chapter begins

Somewhere in this one week old tangled mess of jet black fur, puppy breath, and more love than any man should deserve lies 'DUKE", the newest addition to our clan.
Duke resides out of Tallgrass kennels in South Dakota. He is of British Lines, so he will be a much smaller dog than our beloved "Kwik", but will probably be a bit calmer also.
This kennel came highly recommended from two people that I trust. Unannounced to me, I actually pet and played with a tallgrass dog a few years ago at the Ducks unlimited world festival. It was a fantastic specimen, and very impressive in responsiveness to its owner.
So the pick up date is mid August, Kelly and I will be making the drive to go pick him up.At his age , he's obviously going to sit out this hunting season, but I will be cross training him for both the uplands and waterfowl. So next Spring and Summer will have a lot less fishing and a lot more dog training. I'm OK with that, training Kwik was a great bonding process and lots of fun.
I'll keep ya posted!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Canada, oh Canada

3 days of fishing on Lake of the woods is just about perfect.
I'm afraid that anything longer with the panoramic landscapes, excellent fishing, fresh fish Fry's for lunch everyday, and a few drinks back at the cabin every night, would pretty much spoil a guy to the thought of ever working hard again.
We had our second annual father son trip at the Fabulous Red Indian couldn't find people who were more accommodating in every aspect of your trip, they genuinely cared. The fishing was second only to the great wildlife watching, great guides stories, and the noon fish Fry's (which are documented on video here). We had a young wolf show himself that a captured in a terrible picture, (he was just to far and I didn't have my good camera), Eagles feeding on injured fish less than 20 feet from the boats, and otters and beavers playing just a short way away.
So many funny stories to tell, like my father questioning the validity of the Perkins waitress in Superior, that the TRULY DID NOT have cranberry orange muffins. "The great Perkins conspiracy", as it is now known created many laughs. To yours truly forgetting to actually close the clasp on my leader after watching a 3/4 ounce daredevil go a country mile directly into the water.
We had a freak DENSE fog in the middle of the day that I captured on video, the guide told us he'd been guiding for 30 years and had NEVER seen anything like it!
Many wagers took place and the winners included
BILL=biggest walleye
Paul= biggest pike
Myself= caught a pike on the ugliest most ridiculous looking bait that we all made fun of for hours prior (plus I won my dollar bet with Barry)
and of course my fathers musky on his second to last cast of the trip, what a way to end! I truly love Lake of the woods, it REALLY makes you feel alive!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PIPE TOBACCO, Smallies, and me attempting to row

That's just a recipe for a good day, who in their right mind could be stressed out with those simple ingredients. Nate ( yes, THE Nate Sipple) and i decided to light our briar's, make a few casts, and once again coach ME on how to become a better drift boat captain.
He was in total "guide mode" and would even let me tough the oars until I had boated like five fish. i just about had to pry his arse out of that seat, but he was happy that i did, and he caught some fish himself. WE even had a boils from a  few angry Brown trout, which always make this stretch exciting. WE had laughed and mutually agreed that we were the best smelling boat in Wisconsin this fine day, with (two different type of tobacco embers) burning the sweet aroma that even my wife doesn't mind.
A few grouse drummers reminded me what was to come in just four short months, and that they to were SICK AND TIRED of this non existent spring that we've been through.
AS usual we laughed a ton, made fun of our friends idiosyncrasies, and talked about how lucky we both were that our hot wives married us. A brew or two MIGHT have been cracked, but at the end of the day, I think Nate likes to fish more than any man I've ever met, he Literally won't stop until you tell him too.
He's a fantastic Steel head guy and guides trips for migratory browns in the fall. He has a GREAT blog at THE MEANDERING TRICKLE, that I strongly suggest you follow, he has great stories.
thanks Nate, awesome day!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I finally got my mounts back from the superb artist that is DARIUS out of southern California. He's a true "birdman" and a hunter himself, and he seems to capture the mood I'm always looking for! I've been waiting a while for these but it's well worth the wait!
After all the pain, soreness, and sacrifice it took me to get these guys, they will be protected like Fort Knox. I think a man only has a certain window to chase wild chukar in his life, and with my joint situation, I'm afraid my window is already starting to close. Special thanks to my father in Law Jerry, who said that mountain looks good, lets climb it!
i strongly recommend Darius for your bird work, he's won many national awards, is price competitive, and just simply does great work.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Brookies for breakfast, and the biggest smallmouth I've EVER seen

WHO says fly fisherman are snobs?

I went DOWN AND Dirty with leeches, minnows and night crawlers this past Saturday for the opening of our inland fishing season, and loved EVERY minute of it! I went out with my buddy Steve in his 20 foot walleye boat on X flowage to try and find some keeper walleyes for the frying pan, but that magical 15 inch size limit eluded us on Saturday.
We caught plenty of walleyes, as even a 14 and 3/4 incher ( insert quality dnr fisheries joke here) and had MANY laughs until Steve hooked this absolute behemoth of a smallmouth. It was just shy of 23 inches, and 7 and a half pounds on the scale, when it finally surfaced after a battle of wills, I couldn't believe my eyes, I simply had NEVER seen anything this size.  As the smallmouth season is still closed, we quickly snapped this picture and put her back in the water, but an amazing memory of an amazing fish.
We had a little lunch on the water and decided to try and hit a small stream he knew to see if we could find some Brookies.
it had been a long time since I searched any stream for trout sans fly, so I had to get back to basics and remember how to "Huck Finn" it. We made VERY short order of harvesting a a few trout,(below our allotted limit) the largest of these little gems measuring just under a foot. They taste fantastic with eggs! I don't plan on making a habit of it, but it was nice to eat some trout for once.

WHO says fly fisherman are snobs?
Surely not my stomach