Henry Hunts

This is Henry at one week on 1/5/2021. Born Xander at the great Deutsch Kurzhaar (GSP) breeder Vom Gansehimmel in North Dakota. It has been a great pleasure to watch him grow from a mischievous puppy to a legitimate bird dog (but still full of mischief!).

Undoubtedly, one of the great joys is to see your dog grow into what he was bred and born to do. I hope you enjoy these pictures of a transformed dog on his first wild bird hunts.

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Pre-Season Bird Dog Training

Henry is 7 months old now, with about a month until the hunting seasons begin. Chris and his sweet black lab, Ryder, joined us for a training session on a perfect Colorado Sunday morning. I hope you enjoy the pictures of these beautiful bird dogs!

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Henry Points a Bird! Woo-Hoo!

Our first day in the training field with Chukar was bird-dog nirvana. The two objectives were to see a first point and to introduce Henry to gunfire. Both were achieved on this perfect Saturday morning. This morning was truly a slice of heaven . . . maybe not so much for the birds! I hope you enjoy these pictures of the day.

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Henry’s First Fourth

I hope you had a terrific 4th! Fantastic weather in Denver over this 3-day weekend prompted us to visit the off-leash dog park in Chatfield State Park a couple of times. This park is awesome, with 75 acres of varied terrain along with some sizable ponds. It is for sure Henry’s favorite place to be, at least until he discovers the upland bird hunting country.

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DK at the Dog Park

Deutsch Kurzhaar (GSP) Henry is a week away from 6 months old. He is still very much a puppy, but in many ways we see the awesome bird dog that he is going to be. I hope you enjoy these pictures of his progress.

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Bird Hunting Photography – Part 4 Camera Management in the Field

Managing a camera while on the hunt can be a bit of a challenge. There can be a lot going on – like handling your dog(s), safely carrying a shotgun, excellent wing shooting, not tumbling down the side of a hill, screwing around with your GPS, and executing outstanding photography. With so many things to deal with, you want your camera management to be as efficient and non-intrusive as possible. Camera management is how you safely carry it and bring it into action while hunting. Safety is number one because nothing ruins the joyous mood of the hunt, like putting a load of 6s in the side of your pal’s face. (insert Dick Cheney joke here).

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Henry at 4 Months

Our Deutsch Kurzhaar (German Shorthair), Henry, reached 4 months a few days ago. He is growing fast and has a wonderful demeaner. He takes life in stride. His training is going well. He knows wait, whoa, here, sit, off, leave it, no, and NO! DAMN IT! If a treat is involved he will actually execute these commands, unless he is in the coup shaking one of the hens like a rag doll. He is a good boy and I can’t wait to get him on game birds. Soon, I hope.

King Henry the First!

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Puppy Pics for Easter!

Henry is just over three months old and is doing great. He is completely assimilated into the family and is such a wonderfully biddable dog. We think he is super intelligent, mainly because he likes to watch TV and has learned a few commands. Our only issue is that when we think he is finally house-broken, he will piss on the carpet. I am sure in a week or so, he will cross that finish line! Here are some new pics of him. We will be glad we captured some of his puppy days because he is growing fast! 31 pounds today. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

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My Brother from Mexico.

Hey everyone, today is my 3 month birthday! It has been a crazy 90 days. About a month ago, I was transferred to a new family. My suspicion is that there was a cash transaction involved, but surely not. I refuse to believe that my mother would allow such a thing as trafficking in puppy flesh. But I don’t know; I can’t seem to shake that feeling. I do believe my new overlords are decent people. They are moderately intelligent but inconsistent and naïve in how they try to manage me. Their attempt at potty training has been hilarious! Once they think they finally have me trained and celebrate my “getting it,” I like to drop a pint of puppy urine on the carpet. They absolutely lose their minds! Just a week or two more, and then I will make them proud. Of course, I know what they want; I always have.

And I hesitate to mention this, but they smell. Not overly offensive, just different. As long as they keep feeding me, I am sure I will get used to it. Also, the male, who is clearly junior to the Alpha Mrs. Birdhunter, is a bit over the top with the picture taking. It is a minor annoyance because he swears we are going to do all kinds of bird hunting – many states, many species, all wild birds, top-notch accommodations, etc., etc. If that happens then we are good. If this is one of those “two preserve hunts a year” homes, then I am outta here.

Then there is my 70+-year-old curmudgeon Chihuahua stepbrother Jack. That’s him in the picture below on the left. Mexican Jack, as I like to call him, is generally pretty fractious. It doesn’t help that I am only about three and a half, but clearly, I irritate him to no end.

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Destructive Innocence

This is Henry, our 10-week old Deutsch Kurzhaar (DK is German for German Shorthair Pointer). If you haven’t read the earlier post on these dogs, you can read it here. Henry came from the fine folks at Vom Gansehimmel in North Dakota. After 2 weeks with him, it is clear that he has the potential to be an outstanding bird dog. It is also clear that I forgot the exercise in patience and constant, diligent oversight that a puppy demands. Right now, in our house, one character is being shaped while the other is being tested! He is the sweetest little guy, but he will playfully rip your face off without a thought. Cute puppy stuff! Not to sound proud, but he is a strikingly handsome dog. I hope you enjoy these pictures!

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Bird Hunting Photography – Part 3 Camera Settings

Here are the settings to give you the best chance at sharp, well exposed pictures.

Option #1 – Set your camera to “Auto” and have at it. I hope you found this helpful and I appreciate you visiting the Birdhunter!

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Bird Hunting Photography – Part 2 Balancing the Variables

There are three primary variables to contend with in photography. They are ISO, APERTURE, and SHUTTER SPEED.  The goal is to set these based upon the light you have for the best chance of a sharp, properly exposed picture. None of these variables is independent. Change one, and it impacts the other two.

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Bird Hunting Photography – Part 1 Elements of a Great Picture.

This is a short series about photography while bird hunting. The objective is to help you take great (or better) pictures while on the hunt, capturing memories and memorializing your awesome dog! In the spirit of the limited attention span common in the blogosphere, I have broken this into these 5 easily digestible segments:

  • Elements of a Great Picture
  • Balancing the Variables – ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed
  • Camera Settings
  • Camera Management in the Field
  • Photographic Equipment & Editing

So, let’s start with what makes a great, compelling image. Here are the four elements of a great bird hunting picture (or any other picture for that matter). An interesting subject, that is well composed, in sharp focus, and taken in good light are the makings of a great image.

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Setter Points

Meet Dodger and Layla, two exceptional English Setters. Here are some shots from a fun afternoon on preserve chukars. It was dastardly cold, but the light was wonderful. Dodger is six, at the top of his game, and Layla is about 7 months. She performed well, naturally honoring and retrieving. I hope you enjoy these beautiful bird dogs.

A beautiful point by Dodger!
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A Bright Bird Hunting Future.

We are leaving behind a tough year. You all know what happened, so I won’t go into that here, except to say the low point was the departure of my dear hunting buddy Tex. A sweet giant of a dog, he almost made it 9 years. Tex had a great life. He hunted in 9 states, was provided with $9,000 worth of knees, and was a much-beloved member of our family. He gave us great joy, and he enjoyed life to the end. His nub of a tail wagged all the time, even when we took him for that last terrible visit to the vet. We miss him very much.

The last picture of our sweet boy Tex.

So now we move on, and thankfully our bird hunting future looks very bright! Two elements warrant this optimism.

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Coronavirus Clays

When a pandemic strikes – grab a vintage Winchester Model 12 and go shoot some clays! This Model 12 skeet gun was made in 1946 (74 years old) and still smokes clay targets with authority. Today was picture perfect with sunny skies, a light breeze, and temps in the mid-40s. Crowds are thin with many sheltering on the couch. Stay well and wash your hands!

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Fox Sterlingworth

My friend showed up for a morning of bird dog training with this sweet 16-gauge Fox Sterlingworth. This is a very clean, original gun, circa 1924, and is a real pleasure to shoot. Though I have admired them for many years, this was my first opportunity to shoot a Fox.

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West Texas Scaled Quail

This was our second year to hunt with the great guys of West Texas Quail Outfitters. It is a terrific hunt in the most beautiful place on earth! This was our last planned hunt for the 2019-2020 season. It is sad to see the season end. The birds were a challenge from Wyoming to Arizona to Texas, but we had a great time doing all we could to find them! I hope you enjoy these pictures of the hunt.

A pair of scaled quail, taken by the good old Armas Garbi

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Arizona Mearns Quail

Back in 1999, my pals and I hired an Arizona quail guide to give bird hunting over pointing dogs a try.  We found a guy named Bob Krogh out of Phoenix, an excellent guide and dog handler. Back then, he charged us $250 per day for the hunt. Man, I sure miss those days!  We watched Bob work his excellent English Pointers and experienced the magic of these motivated, hard-driven dogs as they worked the land, sifting the air for scent and then transforming from a blur of energy into living statues. We would then witness the heart-pounding covey flush of little feathered rockets! It is hard to describe how intense and exhilarating it is. This hunt was a pivotal event for me. I have been enthusiastically pursuing wild birds ever since. It holds all the best elements of the sporting life – camaraderie, beautiful dogs, fine shotguns, and skills to be learned in awesome, wild places. On that hunt, I clearly remember thinking . . . “Man, THIS is what I want to do!! It is nice to find that in life.

An Arizona quail hunt over two decades ago.

Finally, after a 21-year wait, I had the great fortune to return to Arizona for a guided quail hunt with the wonderful gentlemen from Classic Bird Hunts. This Orvis endorsed outfit operates out of the Babacomari Ranch just southeast of Sonoita. This is a terrific hunt, in the most beautiful country, with great dogs, perfect accommodations and excellent guides. We really enjoyed this hunt partly because it is not elitist or opulent (but very nice!). You hunt hard every day because it is real bird hunting at the mercy of luck and Mother Nature. For sure, at the end of the hunting day you will savor getting out of your boots and the post-hunt cocktail! Learn more about them HERE.

A beautiful Mearns quail and the good old Armas Garbi 101 bird gun.

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Flooded Timber

There had been twenty years of pointing dogs and upland birds before I  had the great fortune to join on a flooded timber duck hunt. This hunt was a first-class affair at the Five Oaks Lodge near Stuttgart, Arkansas. Hunting ducks instead of quail means trading walnut for plastic, pointing shorthairs for retrieving labs, lead 7 1/2s for steel 2s, leather boots for waders, blaze orange for camouflage, and dry ground for shin-deep water. This truly was an amazing experience. I now understand the deep enthusiasm so many have for hunting ducks and how one can be smitten by the culture that goes with it.

The day begins early, 5:00 am for us on this hunt. We suit up in camo everything – booted waders, shirts, coats, hats, neck gaiters, gloves, and some even use face paint. As with most hunting prep time, there is a palpable excitement, an anticipation of what the day may hold. The guides arrive, and we grab our camo or black autoloading, 12 gauge shotguns for a short drive to a levee that borders a section of flooded land. We follow the guide and his dog into the water and slosh our way to a “hole,” which is a small clearing, where we set up to ambush the incoming ducks.

The guide sets the decoys in the clearing, and you pick a tree to stand next to. It needs to be big enough to hide you from the ducks that will soon be dropping in from the sky and keep your face in the shadows, so it does not shine in the rising sun. Then you stand there, in the water, gun in hand and wait. It is still dark, but you can start to make things out as your eyes adjust and the dim glow from the coming sunrise starts to lighten things up.  This is a very peaceful time, punctuated by a hooting owl, and then the far off booms of gunfire from other hunters. The trees must filter out the higher-pitched sound because the distant shots sound like artillery or rolling thunder.  Very cool, very exciting!

Then a bird comes darting by in the pre-dawn light. You can tell it is a duck.  My fellow hunter, who has been here before and knows what he is doing, fires and downs a wood duck. Melly, the guide’s sweet black labrador retriever, dives from her perch and retrieves the duck. The wood duck is a beautiful-gaudy bird and a bit of a prize, ensuring an afternoon trip to the local taxidermist. Melly is back on her platform, and the guide starts to work his duck call – an art in itself.

Soon, the first squadron of mallards come dropping into the clearing, cupping their wings to land, and the guide yells “TAKE ‘EM!” The shooting is fast and exciting, over in a few seconds. Melly is back in the water, fetching the downed ducks back to the guide. Five birds are now hanging in the game carrier straps. This is repeated for an hour or so until the limits are filled. It is like a roller-coaster ride, super exciting action, but over all too soon.

Hunting at this club stops at 9:00 am, which leaves 9:01 am to 11:00 pm for drinking, eating, and napping! There is a nice Skeet / 5-stand for clays, and a lot of time for comradery or maybe an afternoon goose hunt. The food at this joint is insane. Southern breakfast after the hunt, unbelievable appetizers (mostly creative uses of duck), and astoundingly good gourmet dinners, not to mention a full bar. I gained 8 lbs on a two-day hunt.

Here are the pictures from our hunt. I will say this was tough from a picture-taking standpoint. Not so much worry about dropping an expensive camera into the water, though that crosses your mind, but that a large part of the hunt happens with little light. Low light results in slow shutter speeds (blurry images) and high ISO (grainy images). I did the best I could, and happy to not put the camera into the drink!

Melly scans the skies for the next group of ducks.

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