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.