A New Season Draws Near

•August 18, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I can see September just up ahead and some things start to stir within and subtle changes  without. Morning coffee and the pups out for the much needed bathroom call is not quite as bright as only a couple weeks ago. Its become obvious the days are shortening.

My mind has begun to think about what the coming season will bring and the memories that will get tucked away in safe spots. The excitement associated with a young setter’s chances to learn more while afield and the hopefulness that an old friend has the legs to hunt a little bit, also.

Max will be 17 months when the quail season starts here in Oklahoma and Tucker will turn 13 in early September. Considering these two, my heart is both jubilant for the young and experiencing a warm sadness for the older. Such is the way of loving dogs with more than just a passing connection to them.

The Prairie so new to us all calls as does a possible trip in October to the Northwoods for Grouse and Woodcock.

Electronic gear has been taken out and charged again, clothing has been checked a couple of times and the gear bag gone over to jog memories of what might be forgotten.

Shotguns have been wiped with an oiled rag and shouldered several times as a covey rises or grouse thunders a loft–in the mind’s eye.

Oh ya–and the much needed booties for the pup have been ordered a size larger–those sand burrs are vicious.

Soon hot steamy days and air conditioning will be traded for the cool crisp mornings of fall and a chair for a crate.

Are you thinking of the season ahead?

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Connor–A Grouse Dog

•February 26, 2019 • 1 Comment

Before Maxwell, before Bromley, before Tucker, before Buddy that loveable rescue setter–there was Connor.

Connor was a block headed chocolate Lab with a lot of British in him. Connor was my first grouse dog, a wonderful friend and partner and Toni and I loved him dearly.

I shot my first Ruffed Grouse over Connor and its a day I will never forget. An October morning of bright leaves and sunlight along and old tote trail at the front end of ‘Goss Cover’. The cover I named after the family that owned the land that gave access to the area and in honor of the patriach that gave me permission to pass.

There were two grouse having breakfast on some tender greens off to the right and Connor set them to flight. One of them went off at a 90 degree angle to the right into trees and safety. The other more or less straight ahead along the edge. He fell to the forest floor at the bark of the gun. An easy mark for Connor and he picked up that Ruff with his ever soft mouth and brought it to me with a smile. I will not forget the soft warmth and heft of that bird. We must have stood there together for several minutes admiring the result of our partnership. Connor taught me the excitement and rush of a Ruffed Grouse flushing.

Connor has been gone for some 15 years now. He was taken early at 5 years young by a hit and run driver. A very sad and late night for Toni and I, but I don’t have the heart to recount that tale this morning.

Connor and I discovered the singular enjoyment of the uplands together. I knew no other bird hunters at the time, deciding to pursue this activity on my own. I’m struggling for a word other than ‘sport’, because hunting upland birds with a four legged friend is something more than simply ‘sport’. Still struggling. Perhaps another day will suggest a better word.

I was out on my workbench a few minutes ago, adjusting a gunstock soaking in acetone and happened to look through the contents of a jar setting there.

I found this old tag that belonged to Connor.

I have few pictures of Connor. He was of a time before we carried smart phones everywhere and those pictures I did have of him in the field were lost when a hard drive failed some years ago.

I did often carry a camera while working. Connor was also a job site dog and was always there making sure he didn’t miss anything.

You are still missed, Connor. You were a good boy.

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A Season

•February 24, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Thinking back on the upland bird season from here in the extreme northeast corner of Oklahoma, I must say considering all things, a good one.

Beautiful country and the start to a few friendships, an old man of a setter and a young pup full of vim and vigor coupled with a positive attitude—make for a good mix.

We searched for bird holding cover in two states coming up short in any close by areas. By close by, I mean within 2 hours. It seems that the states may be a bit ‘too’ optimistic regarding bird opportunities in places. Habitat, weather and the realities of change do not make way for optimism. Facts are stubborn things and do not give way to hope or anticipations.

Having said this—there is reward to the searching and of course, watching the dogs excitement when the tires hit the gravel roads.

My heart also begins to race at the sound of thrown gravel and the rumble felt through the seat and wheel.

Its part of the adventure and never to be considered a waste of time spent.

Like all of us that pursue such things, back home in New Hampshire, I spent many years, tire tread and boot leather searching for likely bird cover and the honey holes such cover may reveal.

We are starting all over again in this strange and so different land.

“Older now and still running against the wind”.

We give many thanks to those friendly and unselfish souls who have offered suggestions and more.

Thank you.

Next season is just around the corner of a hot summer to come. May all of you and your four-legged friends have a fine and healthy time between the seasons.

A book or two to read, memories freshened with pictures and conversations of the last and the next.

Back to the Panhandle

•February 14, 2019 • 2 Comments

So a bit of a recap after musing. The kind of musing that goes on during a solo drive home after a hunt.

The vastness and after walking over several lows and highs where they all look much alike, it is a bit intimidating.

The dogs tend to keep going–mostly. Max stretches out pretty good and is always hunting. This makes me smile–a lot.

It smells fresh and particularly nice in the early morning with a mist rising up out of the river valley.

The sand burrs were not bad at all but I booted the young fella anyway.

The prairie is large and a north woods hunter needs to re-evaluate distances and water toting.

Good boots are required.

An eye or sense of rodent holes can make a difference.

I think that Mother’s pack vest bought years ago and is nearly unused–will get some use next season. It will hold more water and a layer shed.

The tightly woven cap that holds water works twice. Once for the dog and again when redonned.

There is wind on the prairie…terrain causes shifts.

Quail on the prairie: its very cool that the covey once pointed and flown, provides additional multiple opportunities for a pup and the guy watching the pup and smiling.

Quail can run….a lot.

Quail will find a hole after being feathered or leg broke.

When they fly over a rise, there is no telling if they broke left right or kept straight.

A mist in the morning makes a difference–for about 2 hours.

Dogs love the feel of running in a big open space–like the prairie.

Lesser prairie chickens sound much like a ruffed grouse when taking off.

No need to be askeered of sand burrs…pups likes booties.

Both pup and the fella following and smiling are glad to get back to the vehicle.

The prairie is a lonely place.

WCC Brown Slayer

•February 7, 2019 • 2 Comments

Several years ago, fishing with friends Mike Kroll and Mike McDonald up on West Canada Creek Upstate after a rain…the water was fast and deep.
I located a deep scoop hole at the head of a run where I suspect browns might be holding. I reached into my pack and dug out a nice meaty looking weighted pattern that seemed would do the job of reaching those trout holding in a place of refuge. Sure enough casting 20 feet above in order to allow some time for the fly to drop deep enough yielded the desired outcome.
This would be that brown from that day in 2013.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is my version of the memory I have of that fly.
My intention is to soon offer it to some small mouth bass that live in a nearby creek.
WCCBS

A Funky Safety/This Bird Has Flown

•February 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

It was mid morning of a late October day. The sun was just warming the damp forest floor. The leaves were just wet enough to be quiet and a first season Setter was on the lane to becoming a bird dog. Coming around the corner of a mostly grown in tote road, the man saw the Setter still and near rigid. His nose visibly active and his gaze fixed.
As he cautiously approached, his thoughts of a pup deserving his bird had him nerved up. The bird must be close. Yes behind that clump of spruce. Two more steps. Maybe it will choose to fly ahead down the old lane.
In the middle of that thought its wings slammed the ground and rose from the black growth and into the sun streaming into the lane. An easy going away shot. The man could see the grouse fall in his mind’s eye as the 20 gauge 101 came up smoothly from port of arms to mount.
In one practiced series his thumb and finger worked in concert.

Both dog and man watched the grouse fly on to safety.

Blogs–That have Suffered

•January 28, 2019 • Leave a Comment

As I have looked at several great blog sites that I have followed over the years, I find that most of them have fallen out of use. Most haven’t seen a new article or story posted for years. It seems that some once busy forums have suffered as well.

I blame the evil of social media and its various seductions.

These–such as Facebook and Twitter are ruining otherwise good minds.

I was so corrupted for a time, but no more.

Stand with me against this onslaught upon all that is good. Resist this mental disease gone viral–before it is too late.

Resistance is not futile!

 
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