The focus this year is hunting western public land. Vast sections of BLM land, national grasslands, and state hunter walk-in access provide abundant opportunities. So far, we have found tolerable pressure, encountering few other hunters, and bird numbers have been acceptable. I hope you enjoy these pictures from our October hunts. If you are interested, these hunting spots are all about 125 miles southeast of Houston. Hope we see you there! 🙂Continue reading
Tag Archives: Hunting Photography
Henry is ready for his second season. The summer of chasing balls is over, and now only a short wait for the seasons to open and for the weather to cooperate. Henry forgot to stop growing and is now over 75 lbs. But his conformation is excellent, and he knows what to do in the field. We have high hopes for a memorable season.
Henry showing good form! This boy has a great nose.Continue reading
We enjoyed a Kansas wild bird quail hunt with Upland Bird Guide Service out of Sun City, Kansas. Very nice accommodations in a renovated, old bank building, and excellent cuisine from our Louisiana guide, Jamie Johns, added to the enjoyment. The hunt was great fun, the birds were thin but that is expected in the current down cycle.
It is common for pointers to bloody the end of their tail as they run through the brush. This old boy was super focused and gave himself a blood bath as his tail whipped back and forth. This speaks to the focus and drive that these dogs have.
Let’s roll!Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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!Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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).Continue reading
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!Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.
So now we move on, and thankfully our bird hunting future looks very bright! Two elements warrant this optimism.Continue reading
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
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.
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.
No, not the crop but a Small Munsterlander pointer named Milo. This beautiful boy presented himself in fine form on a perfect Saturday morning. Milo is a bit over a year old and has all the ingredients of an outstanding bird dog!
So far, this hunting season has been fun but a bit challenging! A near birdless hunt in Wyoming, some preserve hunts thrown in for fun and then slim pickings on Kansas public land. We had high hopes for the Kansas hunt because the talk was that this could be a good year. The local biologist proclaimed that we would see “a covey of bob-whites per hour”. I knew that was optimistic but having the local state-employed biologist make that pronouncement seemed a pretty good omen. One expert we ran into at the local Kansas donut shop said it was back to “pre-drought bird counts” and that too sounded like a good thing. Not to get melodramatic but 10+ hours of hunting through some of the most perfect habitat imaginable yielded a mere 2 coveys of quail. Two sweet bobs were taken, enough for a small appetizer. Anyway, we hunt with a terrific group of guys and always have a great time but the bird tide has got to turn. And I am sure it will! We have some great hunts on the calendar and this season is far from over. I did get some good photog and below are the pics . . .
Tex has his game face on!
My favorite Son-in-law, Kyle, and I went to Wyoming to hunt Hungarian Partridge, Chukar Partridge and Sage Grouse. First, you should know that the birds in Wyoming are WAY down. Three and a half days of hunting, 20+ miles of hiking and plenty of road hunting and we saw zero Huns, zero Chukar and only a few Sage Grouse. We were checked by a Wyoming game officer and he confirmed that this is a pretty dismal year for bird hunting. Not quite what I expected given that all the great plains states are no longer in a drought but the game officer thinks that these things go in cycles. I hope he is right and we look forward to better hunting in the future. Despite these depressing statistics, we had a terrific hunt. Kyle is a new bird hunter – he has not yet enjoyed a game rich hunt and he was elated when we succeeded on sage grouse. It was time well spent and a great hunt in all the categories that matter!
There is nothing like a Modelo Especial after a 4 hour hike of futility!
I have had a great time mixing photography with bird hunting on this blog over the past 10 years or so. Now I am adding woodworking to the mix by making hardwood frames to produce complete, framed “art”.
Check out Novak Image & Frame by clicking HERE.
See examples of the finished work below:
Texas quail are by FAR our favorite bird to hunt! We had the pleasure of spending 3 days with West Texas Quail Outfitters hunting near Alpine, Texas. Chasing scaled quail in the shadow of the Davis mountains on crisp west Texas days is about as good as upland bird hunting gets. The guides, Ryan and Josh, are hard working guys and did all they could to put us in the right places. They were an absolute pleasure to hunt with.
But know that hunting wild birds means that bird counts are at the whim of the cycles of mother nature . This year finding birds at times was a challenge and required covering a lot of ground to hit the coveys. It reminds you that every bird is indeed a gift from God.