Another Great ND Hunt!

Another year of great weather! This makes two in a row. We have been hunting ND pheasants for 15 years and this annual event is like a dear old friend. We can’t wait to get back every year and are always a bit sad when the hunt is over. This is one of those things that you know, at some point, will come to an end so we savor every minute, every bird, every point, every step in the field and every moment of comradery with our friends and fellow hunters. As we grow older, the hunt is cherished simply because we are here, in the vast openness of North Dakota – away from the grind, away from the responsibility, away from the noise. This time afield, immersed in God’s creation, is our connection with what is real and what matters. I hope you enjoy these pictures from a perfect hunt.

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A picture perfect lay-up.

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Colorado Aspens

Since Tex is in traction there is no point in hunting just yet. So we took a weekend and went to Aspen to see the fall colors and hit them near their peak. Beautiful stuff!

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Tex’s Last Hunt . . . . for a while.

About 6 weeks ago, Oak the setter puppy and Tex got out for some time on birds. We had a great time and here are the pictures.

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First Point

Meet Oak. The sweet guy is a Llewellin English Setter from Paint River Llewellins out of Saugarties, New York. We took him out on a beautiful summer morning to learn what birds smell like.

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“Oak”

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Shot Swarm

Summer is for clay target shooting. This beautiful Colorado memorial weekend we hit the sporting clays course and captured the incoming swarm of #8s.

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Rocky Mountain Roosters

The real hunting is over for now but we are fortunate to have some very nice preserves or hunt clubs on the Colorado front range. Kiowa Creek, The Bluffs, Quail Run are all great venues, but this weekend we tried Rocky Mountain Roosters . This is a great way to extend the season and get the dogs a little more time in the field.

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Windmill Point

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Wild Quail . . . Finally!

The biblical drought that tormented the western quail country for the past decade has subsided for now. The moisture provided the basic life elements (water, plants and bugs) allowing the quail to return to areas where they seemingly were gone forever. This is a wonderful testimony to nature’s amazing ability to recover when given a chance. We took advantage of the bird rebound with an end of season hunt.

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A beautiful cock and hen

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Fair Weather Pheasant Hunt

What a difference a year makes . . . .

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Our annual North Dakota pheasant hunt last year, sub-zero temps and blowing snow. Not so fun!

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This year was sipping beer in short sleeved shirts! Much more fun!!

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Western Sharptails

Hunting grouse and partridge on the vast plains of the west distills bird hunting to its base elements. . . persistence, stamina, skill and luck. No planted birds, no limiting out in an hour, no horse drawn buggy, no easy walk through a food plot – this is hiking for miles, wearing the dogs out, sweating the finish off your shotgun and putting your boots to the test while looking for the needle in the haystack. The hope is that when you find that needle fatigue does not rob you of the ability to wing shoot a fast flushing bird that is a bit farther out than you like. This is hunting for the die hard bird hunter.

But there is a peaceful joy in hunting limitless land. The dogs run unfettered, you seldom see another hunter and your only responsibly is to follow your dogs and perform when the opportunity presents itself. If you keep at it you will find them and when you do it is because you paid your dues. . . . you didn’t buy it, you earned it.

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The excellent camouflage of the Sharptail grouse

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Super Moon

At the end of September we had a super moon eclipse. A tripod, a cloudless night and a few rum and cokes produced these pictures.

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Montana Sharptails

DSC_5340Neither Tex or I had ever set foot in Montana until this trip so we were excited about hunting a new state. We made it up to the Hi-Line area near Hinsdale in search of sharptail grouse, hungarian partridge and hopefully some sage grouse. “Hi-Line” refers to rail line that runs through the area. It is the northernmost rail line in the country and is only 42 miles south of Canada.

We ran into birds every day, but not nearly as many as we expected especially given the great weather this year and rosy bird hunting forecasts. Maybe we need to realign our expectations when chasing grouse on the Great Plains!  All things considered we had a great time. A terrific bunch of guys, nice  weather (but a bit too warm), and an impressive amount of open country for the dogs to hunt and run made this worth the 13 hour drive from Denver.

One thing about these prairie birds, once they have been hunted it is tough to get close to them. They vacate quickly and typically leave no one behind. We found sage grouse by glassing the country with binoculars. That was a first for me and I was amazed that we spotted them.

These vast, empty plains are quite beautiful and you have to respect the folks who call this home.
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Tex’s Water Adventure with Merrick Backcountry Dog Food

Tex loves to swim. If we let him, he would swim to Cuba, but thankfully he lives in Colorado and won’t get the chance to try! Merrick asked us to have an adventure and give an update on how he is doing on the Backcountry dog food so we picked a swim day.

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Wet Tex

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Happy 4th of July!

May God continue to bless our great country!

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American flag and cross in Aspen, Colorado.

We hope you all have a wonderful 4th!

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American Robin’s Nest

This Robin’s nest with some fresh young ones is in our front yard. I think these chicks are days old.

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Merrick Backcountry Dog Food

The folks at Merrick asked if Tex would try their premium dog food. I occasionally get these types of requests and usually dismiss them but, since this is a really high quality product with great reviews, I thought we would give it a shot. Also, I noticed that the company is based in Hereford, Texas which is where my grandfather was born (1905), so I know good things can come out of Hereford! When Tex learned that this is the “game bird recipe”, he was very excited to try it.

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Bird Dog Barbed Wire Blues

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Barbed wire fences are ubiquitous in most of the places we hunt. We try to keep the dogs away but occasionally one will bust through a fence, particularly if they think birds are on the other side. About all you can do is watch and hope everything turns out ok. Amazingly many times no harm is done, but sometimes it does not turn out so well . . .

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Tex turns 3 today . . . Happy Birthday Sweet Boy!

It is hard to believe that Tex turns 3 years old today. Time has certainly flown by . . . all the more reason to hunt often and hunt hard! Hopefully we have a decade of hunting together in front of us.

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Colorado Walk-In Area Bird Hunting

Yesterday was a picture perfect day to visit one of Colorado’s many walk-in hunting areas. Colorado does a nice job trying to provide hunting opportunities and has enrolled about 215,000 acres in this program that allows hunters to access private land at no cost. In addition to free hunting we had perfect weather – highs in the mid-40’s, partly cloudy with a slight breeze.

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Franchi 48 AL 20 Deluxe Shotgun

Here is Franchi’s 48 AL 20 gauge deluxe shotgun. We took this brand new gun out to the clays course to try it out. It is a light, slim, petite shotgun and was great fun to shoot. Even though it is light it feels solid and well built. It will be perfect for dove, quail, any preserve bird and I am sure it would kill wild pheasants as well. Being recoil operated (as opposed to gas operated) it reminds me of shooting the great Browning A-5.

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This is a classy and elegant gun. Synthetics may be more practical and durable, but who doesn’t love the look and feel of walnut and steel (or aluminum)?

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