Tag Archives: Bird Dogs
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.
A beautiful cock and hen
What a difference a year makes . . . .
Our annual North Dakota pheasant hunt last year, sub-zero temps and blowing snow. Not so fun!
This year was sipping beer in short sleeved shirts! Much more fun!!
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.
The excellent camouflage of the Sharptail grouse
Neither 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.
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.
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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
Tex wishes all you bird hunting and gun dog folks a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Historically, we have pretty decent weather on our hunts but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. Our North Dakota hunt was at the apex of an epic winter blast from Canada. Only one of the four days had high temps that flirted with double digits. On that day we traded a few degrees for 30 – 40 mph wind and blowing snow. Despite the brutal cold we still had a great hunt. We took our limit of birds each day, no worry of the dogs overheating (only worrying about them freezing to death) and because we were ready and well dressed, we were over all pretty comfortable.
There was some trepidation at getting out of the warm truck and braving the elements.
Lots of boot leather and tireless dogs found us four species of birds on a weekend hunt out west. Hungarian Partridge, Chukar, Blue Grouse and Sharptail Grouse all found their way into our game bags. This is big country, a sea of rolling grass and sage, and I was surprised with our success at finding birds. This is bird hunting in its purest form. No guide, no released birds, no food plots – just birds where God put them. You have to work hard, but when you find them and connect it is hugely rewarding for both the hunter and dog.
The dramatic, vast country made for some terrific photographic opportunities.
Tex on point.
The bird counts were way up over last year but so was the temperature. We had terrific weather with blue skies and temps pushing into the low 80’s. The unseasonably warm weather was great for the hunters, but pretty hard on the dogs. We had to keep a close watch on them to be sure they did not overheat.
I suppose I should change the name of this thing to PicturesOfMyDog.com, but old Tex is a photogenic boy and until opening day this is all I got.
It was a beautiful weekend here in Colorado. Here are some shots of Tex on a perfect Father’s Day.
Tex begins his third spring romping at the dog park. He has that German Shorthair drive to run and swim like he is in a race. The park is the perfect place to let him burn up some pent-up energy and wear him out for a while. At 94 pounds, he is our big moose GSP.
Here are two wonderful dogs sharing a point that will never happen.
The dog in the back is Rio, a true hunting machine. She was the dog I learned to hunt with and was my hunting buddy for 6 years. We loved that dog but she was a tough animal to have in the house. At times, she was like a wild horse and did more than her fair share of damage. All things considered though, the mischief and cost were worth it. A good dog can get away with quite a lot. Sadly, we lost her to cancer in November of 2011.
Tex, in the foreground, is the sweet boy who is with us now. He is a solid hunter (but not the maniac that Rio was) and is our beloved family dog. With Tex, we get the best of both worlds. Tex was born in February of 2012 so he never got to hunt with Rio. They would have made quite a team.
Hopefully this is a glimpse of heaven.