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.