Tag Archives: Pointers

Bird Hunting Update

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!

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Sage Grouse and Garmin Pro 550 Plus Review

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!

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West Texas Quail

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.

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Pushing Our Luck in North Dakota

Last year, our guide called to say that the bird counts were down and the hunting might not be so good.  We went anyway and had a terrific hunt!  This year the guide called again and said “hey, seriously, this year is going to suck” and advised that we skip again but we still went.  After all, these bird hunts are much more than hunting birds. . . right?  You know . . . camaraderie, communing with nature, getting away from accountability for a while, riding in pickup trucks with shotguns, hunting-camp cuisine, etc.  We were pushing our luck!  This year, we were rewarded with a dastardly cold hunt and the lowest bird count in our 20 years of chasing roosters.  All part of the game though.  The great hunts are appreciated because of the tough times endured.  This was definitely not the worst and we are glad we went.  Everyone is looking forward to a future of more birds and less frostbite!  Of course, bird dog Tex has no idea what I am whining about.  He had a terrific time!

Majestic Tex

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Huns

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Here are some pics  from our hunt on the rolling prairie a few weeks ago. This is a good year for Hungarian Partridge. Not the covey counts you find on Texas quail but enough to keep our interest and make this a great hunt. I am thankful that we live in proximity to such beautiful, wild country!

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The Hungarian Partridge is a fast flying covey bird. They don’t hold as well for a point like quail or pheasant but when they flush it is some fast shooting. Beautiful bird!

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Western Grouse

The bird hunting season is upon us and most have already hit the fields but I was forced to spend the first of September on vacation in Boston. Sometimes sacrifices are necessary to keep the peace in the marriage! Check out this quaint street . . .

DSC_1686xThis is Acorn Street, one of the most photographed in the country. Boston is an awesome city and we had a terrific time. Highly recommended!

Then off to another world – our favorite western state in search of sage grouse. This was our first time in an area that holds more sage grouse than anywhere else in the country. Even though, this land is vast and we of course had to learn first where they weren’t before we stumbled into where they were.

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Tex on a staunch point, happy that the slow days of summer are over.

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Needles

Tex went to southern Colorado yesterday to find a quail or two. The quail were sparse but the cactus were not! Here are some pictures from the day.

Solid point on a cholla cactus.

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Cheap December Quail

We spent some of December looking for quail on public land. Hunting public land can be challenging because of . . . well . . . the public. But birds are there if you are willing to work to find them and the price is right! Here are some of the pictures of that effort . . .

A bird in hand.

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Preserve Bird Interlude

After a dove hunt in Texas and a long walk in a Wyoming prairie, we thought it would be fun to hit the local hunting preserve before the next season opens. Another reason to get on “bought” birds is that after those two out-of-state hunting trips I have yet to fire my gun! I can understand tough bird hunting in Wyoming, but no dove in Texas?!?! The bird forecast for the upcoming pheasant season in North Dakota is dismal as well, so this interlude was good for the dogs to be reminded what game birds smell like.

Appreciation of the good things in life is intensified by contrast.  These lean seasons give us reason to appreciate the seasons of abundance. So far this is a year of paying dues, hoping that we will be rewarded for our persistence. Happily we are old enough and wise enough to understand that the joy of the hunt is not a carcass count. The real satisfaction of bird hunting comes from the time afield with our friends and our dogs . . . but a covey flush every now and then would be nice!

Tex on a serious point!

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BLM Bird Hunt

Those fortunate enough to live in one of the western great plains states have access to the massive tracts of public BLM land (managed by the Bureau of Land Management).  Last weekend we took bird dog Tex there to try out his new knees. During the past year, he blew out his two back knees and had TPLO surgery on both to put him back together. This nasty, invasive surgery is a big deal and I was anxious to see if he could hold up to a full day of  heavy duty hunting.

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The magnitude of this vast land is hard to grasp. It is a bad place to loose your keys.

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Tex’s Forgettable Bird Hunting Season

If you follow this blog, then you know that Tex tore the dog equivalent of his ACL back at the beginning of the bird season. The poor dog had to miss October through the middle of December. He recovered well and here are some pictures of his return to hunting fields.dsc_3499
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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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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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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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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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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tex wishes all you bird hunting and gun dog folks a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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