Posts Tagged ‘upland game bird hunting’

On this so called “Black Friday”, Russ, Russ’ nephew Galen, the dogs, and I spent the afternoon outdoors, first in snow, then in bright sunshine, and then again in dark clouds and snow. We were at 5000 feet on Reeder Mesa, on the Broken Spoke Ranch, in western Colorado. Russ and I hoped to give the dogs something feathered to flush and retrieve, and Galen came along to observe and take the photos for this blog post.

We got Tooey out first. She’d missed out on the hunting in Montana, and she wasn’t entered in the hunt test in California, so the girl was past due for some bird action. She didn’t disappoint. She found her first bird right off, using her usual, methodical, back and forth quartering. She flushed the rooster, but before it could be brought down, it glided into a neighboring pasture on the other side of a barbed wire fence.

Tooey's first flush

Tooey’s first flush. Photo by Galen Dodd

After Russ helped her through, she flushed it again right toward Russ, who brought it down about 50 yards away. Russ could have retrieved that bird himself, but Tooey, stuck on the other side of the barbed wire, was jumping up and down, trying to leap over the fence so she could get that retrieve herself.


The first pheasant of the day. Photo by Galen Dodd

Once Russ helped her back through the fence, she dashed directly to her bird, grabbed it up, and delivered it to hand.


Here you go, Dad. Can we go get another one? Photo by Galen Dodd

Tooey then quartered the field, looking for more birds. After a search through some Russian Olive trees, she flushed another rooster, which Russ missed. Both Russ and Tooey watched it glide away about 200 yards into some heavy, boggy cover. Tooey correctly identified the landing zone, found the rooster, and flushed it again, this time in Russ’s direction.


A twice-flushed pheasant. Photo by Galen Dodd

That made this one a much easier shot.


The snow is lightening up. Photo by Galen Dodd

And Tooey delivered that one to hand, too.


I’m a real hunting dog, right? Photo by Galen Dodd

All in all, Tooey found, flushed, and delivered a total of four pheasants. That was her quota for the day, so then it was Carlin’s turn.

Our goal was to see whether Carlin could do an extended hunt, where there weren’t other (girl) dogs around to distract him. We know that he can do a short 4 minutes in the field at a hunt test, but can he do an hour? Unlike Tooey, Carlin is not moderately paced. His style is to range out farther and much faster. We ended up having to whistle him back in closer to us many a time, and remind him to actually quarter across a field, rather than just run out in front.


Carlin’s first of five flushes. Photo by Galen Dodd

But even with these challenges, Carlin scored better than the gunners, finding and flushing five pheasants, only three of which he got to retrieve to hand. Clearly, he can do the work, find and flush the birds, and deliver them to hand. We just need to continue to tune up his style.


We done good. Photo by Russ Dodd. Birds by Carlin and Tooey

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It was actually Cooper’s turn to go hunting yesterday. After all, Tooey got to do the bulk of the hunting on a previous trip just a month ago. But The Coop was laid up yesterday, so Tooey filled in.

And boy, did she do an amazingly wonderful job.

She did a fine job of finding, flushing, and retrieving birds all day — in fact, the team (Russ with Tooey, Norm and Kent with Scarlett) came home with 10 birds.

But the most dramatic part was Tooey’s 300-yard retrieve, her longest ever, from under a huge patch of Scotch broom, down a long hill, and into a field of downed corn. If you watch the video below, that long retrieve is the last one. In it you’ll see that Russ did some mighty fine shooting, too, bringing down a bird that by all rights should have been long gone.

The video is a little deceiving. You’ll see some sections that are shown in slow motion — when viewed at normal speed, the action is too quick to see. Also, the video is only about 8 minutes, but it actually took about three hours to find and bag the 4 birds shown. What’s missing is all the hiking up and down the hill, waiting and watching for the dogs to find and flush birds — not boring while you’re actually out doing it, but tedious to watch in a video.

We will all eat well in the coming week. All told, with the 10 birds, there is just over 2 lbs. of organs and necks for the dogs’ dinner. Plus, I think we’ll be inventing a new lemon grass, lime, and coconut pheasant soup. Yum!

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If you do something 4 years in a row, is that a tradition?

It seems that taking Tooey on a holiday hunt should be such a tradition. Once again, we met up with our hunting partners, Norm and Scarlett plus Norm’s son Kent. The three of us and the two dogs have gone out together every holiday season for the last 4 years*, and it always seems to start the year right. In fact, this is the same combination of hunters and dogs that was so successful last fall in Kansas**.

Today’s Oregon weather was stunningly perfect (for hunting with dogs). It was chilly in the high 20s, but bright and sunny with a lot of radiant warmth in spite on the low angle winter sun at this latitude. But with some rigorous walking, everyone was quite comfy looking for pheasants as the layers kept being removed.

Tooey and Scarlett hunted in tandem the whole day. Being only 12 inches high, Scarlett could really get into some tight cover to push out the roosters. Between the two pups, we probably flushed around 15 birds and brought home 10.

As a Christmas present for Tooey, I got her a (another) new gun. And of course she was so excited to give it try. I fired 11 rounds today and brought down 5 birds, so Tooey said it was a keeper, but we should go out more often because I need the practice.

While she was off on her last retrieve of the day, I put the gun down in the milo, reached for my camera so I could get at least one photo of her with a bird and her new gun. She returned with the rooster and, with wet muddy feet, delivered the bird while standing on her new gun. But since she had specifically wanted a gun with a synthetic (water proof) stock, muddy feet wouldn’t be an issue. Now that it has her foot prints on it, it is officially approved for field use.

Tooey with her newest shotgun

Tooey with her newest shotgun (can you see it?)

Perfect weather for January in Oregon

Perfect weather for January in Oregon (Photo by Kent Koshkarian)

*previous Holiday hunts

**the Kansas hunts

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In a nutshell, Day 2 was another full day of driving towards Kansas at 80 miles an hour on the Interstate. Boring (mostly).

The day started by leaving Burely, Idaho in search of some fine Interstate dining. The best opportunity appeared over the state line in Snowville, Utah.

Tooey recommends the Cattlemans Breakfast

Tooey recommends the Cattleman’s Breakfast

Here I digress with a bit of geographical trivia. Interstate I-84 starts in Portland and heads south-east for about 800 miles to Morgan, Utah. We live about a mile from start of I-84 in Portland, and at the other end, the tiny town of Morgan is the home of the Browning company.

For those of you who are not aficionados of shotguns, Browning has been in the firearms business since the 19th century and makes some of the best world-class guns for hunting and target sports, including one of Tooey’s personal favorite, her 28 gauge Browning Citori Lighting, which is packed away in her car. So we just had to stop at the factory outlet store. That’s why the Intestate was built between our house and their store, right?


Tooey and Scarlett in their VIP parking spot in Morgan, Utah

After I-84 ends in Morgan, it was time to join I-80 and head into Wyoming. Without casting aspersions on this windswept wasteland, let the following photo say it all.

Welcome to Wyoming

Welcome to Wyoming

So as of Day 2, we have clocked over 1100 miles and will be passing through Sydney, Nebraska tomorrow morning. (Can you say Cabela’s flagship store?!) And by dinner time, we should be ensconced in northwest Kansas at our first hunting destination of Beaver Creek Ranch.

Burley, Idaho to Laramie, Wyoming, via Morgan, Utah

Burley, Idaho to Laramie, Wyoming, via Morgan, Utah

To be continued . . .

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Often email contains stuff you just don’t want to read until you have to. But not today. Today, I received my e-copy of Rat Tails, the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America’s newsletter. Opening that email was a special delight because it features Russ’s photography and includes my article.

It’s fun to see one’s work in print! And I get to tell Cooper and Tooey that once again, they are famous. First the Tooey graced the center spread of the June 2013 issue of Gun Dog Magazine, and now Cooper is featured on the cover of Rat Tails!

Click the image below to open a PDF that includes the full size cover and my article:

Rat_Tails _Sept-Oct_cover


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The plan: Drive 3000 miles across 6 states with two dogs, and then find, flush, and retrieve a bazillion pheasants.

Day 1 is the rather boring but a necessary step of getting from Portland, Oregon to northwest Kansas, where we are going to start a western state hunting odyssey. We just have to get in a car and drive until our butts are numb.

Step 1 of Day 1 was to drive from Portland to Beavercreek, Oregon to pick up Norm and his Boykin Spaniel, Scarlett, the 28 lb. bird-finding machine.

Russ, Tooey, Norm, and Scarlett

Russ, Tooey, Norm, and Scarlett


Step 2: Load 2 dogs, six shotguns, and other misc. accessories into the car and then drive east to Burely, Idaho (about 600 miles).

I-84 from Portland to Burely in one day

I-84 from Portland to Burely in one day


Tomorrow should get us to eastern Wyoming or eastern Nebraska.

To be continued . . . .

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While we are in the midst of the rainy season, I still planned a day of chasing pheasants, weather-be-damned. Cooper and I got lucky. The first day of Spring was delightful.

Photo by Norm Koshkarian

Photo by Norm Koshkarian

Between Norm and Scarlett, plus Cooper and myself, we managed to bring home 6 pheasants. And not to miss out on the nice weather, I promptly smoked the pheasants over hickory, pulled it from the bones, and added it to a curry with wild mushrooms and coconut milk. That and some cool porter in a glass is how we celebrate Spring.

pheasant blog

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