Cold Weather Layers

•January 2, 2019 • Leave a Comment

When relatively stationary in cold weather many options are available to keep one warm. Pretty much any fabrics that provide dead air space for insulation that slows down the air exchange from the body heated air to the outside does the trick–along with something to break the wind for the same reason.

During high activity, another factor comes into play which requires a more careful choice of garments. Sweat.

In warm weather the moisture produced by your body has a cooling affect through the action referred to as ‘evaporative cooling’. We wear loose clothing in hot weather because this allows air-flow that aids in taking the moisture away from the skin. The physical sensation that results is cooling as the moisture carries the body heat away.

In cold weather we don’t want to be wet. We want to mitigate that cooling affect. An effective method is to wear a ‘close fitting’ garment that acts kind of like a second skin system that takes the moisture away from the skin and passes it outward and at the same time trapping at least some of the heat against our skin, but keeping our skin relatively dry and warm.

Technical base-layer clothing does just this. These materials are hydro-phobic (meaning they don’t like water and won’t absorb it)–rather the heat of our body pushes the moisture we produce through the fabric to the outside. The fabric, because it doesn’t capture the moisture stays relatively dry and acts as an insulative layer at the same time as it creates a micro-environment against the skin that is friendly.

The second layer, which is typically heavier continues this process while providing additonal insulation.

Note: its important to balance layers and ventilation with the level of activity, outside temperature and sweat production. Everybody is different so it stands that some experimentation is needed to find the best balance for each individual.

I prefer a very thin base layer that fits snugly during very high activity or when high activity is sporadic during an outing.

As mentioned earlier, ventilation is an important piece as well as slowing down appropriately during an outing–these two things help to regulate the ‘system’ so to speak and prevent your layering system from being overwhelmed. Common sense, right?

For years I have used the following products successfully, but there are many others.

Patagonia ‘Capilene’ light and mid-weight, Easter Mountain Sports ‘Techwick’ Lt. and MW and Marmot of the same as base layers and Patagonia R1 and R2 pieces as a second layer. The ‘R’ series of Patagonia garments has a waffled pattern on the interior which does an excellent job of trapping air while picking up moisture. Wool works as a second layer, but is heavier and will hold a great deal more moisture than synthetics.

I like softshell garments because they are less restrictive and do a fair job of repelling wet weather and breaking the wind. Again, wool is good, but will hold more moisture and is much heavier and less packable should you need to shed a layer.

This new softshell from Gamehyde is an Upland Hunting specific design I look forward to trying in Kansas soon.

Stay warm my friends.


Shotguns, NICS and a Bug

•December 29, 2018 • 4 Comments

I thought that I would relate this bit of gun buying adventure, thinking that some folks might find it interesting and maybe helpful.

I have been told that the experience of being delayed by NICS during a purchase is on the increase, what with some realities in our world being what they are.

It started back some years ago out of the blue— I would guess near 6 years ago even. I had never experienced a NICS delay before and it took me by surprise.

Naturally, I wondered why and set about attempting to discover the answer. Ya see, I’m one of the ‘good guys’, in that I have no record of any kind. Heck—I haven’t had a speeding ticket since around about 1976 and that was in New Jersey! Everyone knows about New Jersey, so I don’t see how that can be counted against me. The FBI ought to have their collective hands full apprehending those drivers who don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘MERGE’, without being all concerned about a speeding ticket in 1976 by a young man driving a 1969 Volkswagon Bug— even if that Bug had a bus motor powering it.

In case you are wondering. Yes, I did treat that New Jersey State Trooper with the utmost respect; as I am a staunch believer in law and order and the need for authority. I do recognize the fear inspired by a Bug with a bus engine roaring down the Turnpike at 70 miles per hour and so concede the point of his need to ticket me.

Keeping these things in mind, I called the NICS division of the FBI and after three attempts of speaking to three different public servants, was at last given a small bit of insight into the reasons for the delay.

It seems that a flag is thrown– in most cases when there is a similarity in a data point with another individual of some question with a probable record consisting of offenses more heinous than a young man racing down the Turnpike in a 1969 Volkswagon Bug with a bus engine for a drive train. Any additional information more specific than that, I was told, can not be made available to me or anyone else for that matter. Such matter having to do with a ‘privacy act’ of some stripe.

I learned to deal with the delays over the next several years because, after all, any FFL I had dealt with would always release the gun after the 3 days allowed by the law and although an inconvenience, not to bad.

I did attempt to revisit the issue with the FBI folks at some point, but what with the increase in the implementation and use of automated telephony systems and the resulting difficulty in speaking to a live human, I got no further. It occurred to me that a simple notation on the record stating something like “this guy is NOT that guy” would clears things up and free up the public human and financial resources spent on the guy with the speeding record from 1976—to be better spent on child molesters and middle eastern terrorists. Apparently, these things aren’t considerations and each purchase requires a background search in the same manner without exception.

This brings us up to recent events and near to closing out this accounting.

It seems that Cabelas has a policy in place where they will not release a gun on a delay status at all unless and until NICS sends a notice to release. Nobody else does this, but it is allowed by the law. The FFL can wait up to 30 days before releasing the gun if they have not been contacted by NICS with either a release or a denial. If NICS has not contacted them within 30 days either way, the whole process starts again; according to the law, the NICS processing transaction # is void after 30 days and another background check needs to be initiated.

Ok—I filed for a UPIN number, which when included in the paperwork filled out at the point of sale, is meant to help prevent delays. I subsequently discovered that the FBI (at the time of this writing) is working on UPIN applications from August of 2015. I don’t suppose they will ever catch up, given the increase in sales and the larger percentage of ‘flags’ being thrown.

Learning this, I began another telephone assault to see if anything else could be done— considering my being one of the good guys with the only record being a speeding ticket from 1976 on the Jersey Turnpike in a 1969 Bug with a bus engine at 70 miles per hour.

After hours of voice mail vortex and a couple battery charges of my iPhone, I finally got a human to talk with.

This very helpful woman spent some time explaining to me the issues of privacy and how these public servants’ hands are tied in regards to any information given. She pointed me to a specific internet URL where I could fill out an online application. This application along with an official fingerprint card is to be sent to a specific address and upon reception of said application and fingerprint card, a copy of the record would be mailed to me within 7 days— whereupon I could call a specific number and challenge whatever is on the report. Such challenge would involve my giving the public servant permission to annotate the record once proving that I am the individual in question based on specific information on the record that only I could know. Presumably.

It remains unclear whether these actions will help at all.

I am waiting for the mail lady.

By the way. The sheriff at the county seat was happy to fingerprint me and even print an extra copy.

Nice folks down there.

Thoughts On the Prairie

•December 4, 2018 • 2 Comments

‘Brought from the prairie’ to be placed here–I suppose is a more appropriate way to make a title.
I’m relating here to the Oklahoma panhandle type prairie that is along the Kansas border prairie.
It is vast and from a certain situated prominence, the views afford a remarkable vista and variety of things to pleasure the eyes and give rise to expressions of awe as the soul takes in the cornucopia of both stark and subtle bands of hues stretching 360 degrees to the horizon and upward to the heavens. It seems remarkable to this neophyte that human eyes can facilitate so huge an expanse without sending dizzy signals to the brain; such magnificence and such subtlety in variety without overwhelming and shorting out the facilitating organs by the entirety of the experience.

Its huge.

As the light changes, the bands of ambers, grays, greens and tans seem to move like waves fairly dancing around the shadows. Shadows brought into ever changing being by the rise and falling topography. One can imagine a thing alive is being observed. A huge living breathing organism.

Many critters live there and I am not knowledgable enough to list but a few. Prairie dogs and their own towns, rats, snakes–the ever present cousins to our own bird dogs and deer abound there–both white tail and mule deer. And always the raptors. This is their home and I wonder to what level some can appreciate how the walls of their home is papered–a mural such that no man can have in his domicile.

A walk on the prairie is not measured in hundreds of yards, but in miles. Its too far from this spot to that. A man that walks the prairie had better have good solid boots and strong legs with a sturdy heart to beat. The dogs that hunt the prairie are not average dogs as the ground covered is great and the next covey may be over there and as mentioned “there” is always a fair distance. How these dogs can run as they do with heads and noses in the air and not fall into or at least break a leg in one of the many critter holes is quite a thing.

Parking the truck on a hill is a prudent idea and dog and man will always get to climb that hill back to the truck, just about the time the legs say enough. Is that the truck? That wee speck over yonder? Still–there will be rest and maybe more food and water there…a place to sit and recount the walk. A small home of sorts in a large place.

There are quail in the prairie. Those wee tasty avians that are in part what brings us there.

It is profoundly beautiful and may just transport you for a time away from the mundane.

Unfortunately, photos taken by the author don’t do it justice.

Max Does the Panhandle

•December 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Stay tuned for more on Maxwell’s first big adventure getting after quail in the Oklahoma panhandle.
We need to rest up some.

Alright Max– sit pretty for the picture.
Thank you.

Generally, you can click on a pic for a full sized rendering.

Dog Booties–Serious Business

•November 30, 2018 • Leave a Comment

So what with sand spurs in some areas where quail can be found while avoiding pack rats and porkies…porkies, I hate ’em–just hate ’em.

Anyway, we have been spending some time concerned, in particular, with a pup’s tender feet and it seemed prudent over the last several days to get Max acclimated to the notion and sensation of wearing boots. Its an odd thing if you think about it, as our four legged friends aren’t normally shod in the natural.

We have store bought Lewis Boots, which are the Chippewa boots of the dog world, we have made boots out of a motorcycle inner tube, which work just fine by the way and then we have these 1000 denier jobbers that were suggested by a gentleman familiar with our sand spurs, whose experience says they work very well. So I ordered some from way away in Alaska where they are made. I had no expectation that they would arrive in time for this week’s adventure, but low and behold, they showed up just in time.
We had a bit of fun last evening.
Blaze orange to boot!

Then and Now

•November 28, 2018 • 2 Comments

It has been three months since bringing Maxwell home with us. Time sure does pass quickly in puppy land. Five months and a bit. And every bit has been a pleasure.
Max is a setter and has ‘settertude’.
Its a wonderful thing and gratifying to witness the natural bred in instincts to hunt, point and even quarter out front naturally. This weekend coming up, we are journeying to a place that is very likely and almost for sure to find some wild quail for Max to enjoy. I hope to be able to report back with pictures and an account of that adventure.

A Tribute to Bromley…Our Friend

•November 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I wrote the following two weeks after we brought Bromley home.

A Miracle Puppy and a Grouse Dog For Us

I was ten seasons into hunting grouse and woodcock in my New Hampshire woods, reclaimed orchards and farm lots. Perhaps its just as appropriate to say that I have been pursued these ten years by a sense of traditional.

My first year’s adventures did not include a four legged friend. That first season yielded no birds to my crisp new vest but my imagination put many there. I spent my time learning how to recognize proper grouse and woodcock cover and scouring the southern half of my state looking for those places that might hold birds.

I had some early success, not so much due to a learned eye nor experience, but rather the many hours that I spent afield. Every once in a while we’d stumble upon a decent covert that held birds. It wasn’t until later years that I have begun to understand just why those early finds held birds.

The excitement at my first grouse flush and the fact that he fell to my shot was just what I needed to keep my interest each time I grabbed my department store vest, gun and put my lab on the ground. I’ve missed many more than I’ve hit since that day. Every time out was filled with the hope and expectation of a bird flushed and Connor bringing the prize to hand with all the joy of a child finding his first two wheeled bicycle under the Christmas tree on a snowy morning.

All of the elements were present and needed only the blessing from above to put the pieces together so as to reward Connor’s work and my determination to follow his nose. Once in a while it came together for us. Most of the time due to my bad shooting and birds avoiding my 8’s we came home with empty vest and poor Connor without the taste of feathers in his mouth.

Yet, I’ve loved spending time in my New Hampshire woods since a child; so the days were not lost and I generally learned something each day spent in those covers.

Just as many other aspiring upland hunters had before me, I read stories.

Stories of how ‘gentleman gun dogs’ would work close in thick cover and find and set a bird so that the fella on the wood end of the shotgun could better anticipate a bird’s flight. Of all of these stories and accompanying photos and sketches, those that froze in my mind involved English Setters. And of those it was the regal looking canines with flowing form and feathers that most caught my fancy.

Those images and stories led me to learn of the Dual Type dog and the how and why they came about.

Of those there were two. The George Ryman dogs that came from that man’s vision and determination to bring about a line that had never been and so was new to this earth. And the other beginning with those dual dogs and always dipping back to that gene pool; the result of the efforts of George and Kay Evans, who likely spent more time afield with their setters than any others. Folks with a dedication and an eye toward setters that have instinct to find and work upland game, be one half of a partnership, look beautiful at hearth and home and provide loving companionship in and out of the field.

These things appealed to me on many levels and I wished to have one of these gentleman gun dogs with which to pursue my new found past time.

About four years ago I had read about a fella, in my own New Hampshire, who bred Llewellin Setters and referred to them as a “classic New England gun dog”. His dogs had the look and reputation describing what I yearned for, so after several conversations and visits, I acquired a tri-colored male. I named him Tucker.

He is developing into a fine woodcock dog, has promise to be a decent grouse dog and is most definitely my good friend and companion.

It wasn’t until some time after, that I really learned of the differences between my Tucker and the Dual Type Dogs, so I decided that when the time was right, that it would be a good thing to have such a dog added to our family.

It was nearly two years ago that I contacted Roger Brown in order to inform him of my interest.

Somewhere along the line at least two and I suspect another individuals spoke kindly of me to Roger, in reference to owning an Old Hemlock Setter. For that I was gratified beyond words and forever thankful.

It is no small thing to have men and fellow upland hunters who so value these dogs, to have thought me a candidate to be included in the Old Hemlock family. No small thing to me.

During the summer of ’09 Roger and I spoke a couple of times of failed pairings and possible litters. Roger informed me of how an available puppy is greatly dependent upon the male to female ratio in a given litter.

There seemed to be a possibility of a pup sometime in 2010, but with no assurances possible–I braced for a wait.

And now I am finally getting around to how this story begins and ends with happiness at the McGranaghan household.

It began on the occasion of receiving a note from Roger telling of a puppy that had unexpectedly become available.

How that came about is a story for someone else to tell, but those circumstances made it possible for us to have this wonderful male orange belton who we subsequently and with great joy named OH True’s Bromley.

Roger told me that he is ours– that he would like for this pup to make a home with us and that we need only make arrangements to fetch him from away off in Minnesota.

As with many these days, money is tight and I have been working part time having just dealt with Hep C and the nasty meds taken to kill it. I didn’t know how we could pull this off at short notice.

My wife Toni and I had been speaking on the phone back and forth over the next hour or so about these things and lo and behold Toni calls me back one time all excited. She was very excited and could hardly get the words out.

It seems that her boss had just walked up to her desk and handed her an extra week’s check. Something about straightening out the books.

Totally unexpected, timely and just what we needed to drive to Minnesota and back. Needless to say, the two of us were a bit pleased and agreed that this was providence at work. The details with our jobs worked out like the sweet action of my well oiled old Fox and we were set to leave that coming Friday afternoon with plans to arrive at Jim and Barbara Rectenwald’s place on Saturday evening. They very graciously invited us to spend the night and repeatedly called us both before and while journeying, encouraging us to not hurry on their account, but rather take time and be safe.

We arrived late in the evening, and our hosts were not daunted by the late hour, but rather spent much time visiting with us and allowing us that first opportunity to spend some time with our new baby, his litter mate and Becasse the mother.

For Toni and I, it was love at first puppy breath!

We were greeted with an energetic pup in fine fettle and just as anxious as we for hugs and kisses.

We were all weary and the dogs settled in to their accommodations and the rest of us into ours. We retired with thanks in our hearts and excitement also, for the days to come.

The ride home began that next morning as we parted with new found friends and much well wishing.

Nearly two weeks have passed until the time of this writing and OH Bromley has settled into his new home well. He and our Llewellin Setter Tucker are already fast friends as our ‘pack’ has adjusted.

OH True’s Bromley, in keeping with what I have heard and read, is one smart Dual Type ‘Old Hemlock’ setter.

Toni and I could not be more pleased at what the future holds as we look to hunting our New Hampshire and Maine coverts with an Old Hemlock setter.

What a privilege it is!

And to the McGranaghan household–‘A Miracle Pup’.


Over time Bromley won our hearts in many ways. I realize that all of our dogs are special and that they all to one degree or another make an impact on our hearts and minds. With that said, Bromley was special. He just had an incredible soul. Loving, trusting, funny and smart with a devotion that made him seem much more than he was. He was as sweet as fresh drawn honey. He absolutely loved birds and sniffing them out for us. Although he didn’t have the same prey drive as Tucker, his nose was amazing.  Maybe he just knew when there were no birds around and would lay off out of wisdom and efficiency. I don’t know, but would not doubt it.

In his seventh year he left us. Cancer. He was gone in two weeks. His passing so quickly hit us real hard. Cancer–he was healthy and in two weeks, I was laying on the vet’s floor doing that whisper thing in his ear that I’d done since he was a pup as a calming technique, as he fell asleep before the second shot.

I sobbed as deep as the pain sunk. My heart was already raw from other things–anyway–things that make life both wonderful and hard.

I am so glad that Toni didn’t make the trip to the vet that morning. It would have been bad for her.

He loved the woods and although a large specimen of 90 pounds, he moved through the woods with a gentle grace and smooth effortless gait that defied his size. He loved water and pillows. He loved his brother Tucker. He seemed to be always happy and never tired of smiling or making friends with a toad. A gentle soul. He could swim like Johnny Weissmuller and was a natural retriever of a bumper and woodcock alike. He was equally at home on our bed of pillows and a mud puddle. He could walk on two feet and reach things like a bird feeder out back. Bromley would point a snowball and just for practice, dove scent gone or not. He loved to sit in a lap and even at 90 pounds, somehow managed to be smaller and defy physics when it was time to be a lap dog. He enjoyed a golf cart, a tractor and a dog box on occasion. He was a good boy.

I don’t know why, but one day when he was only a year old and we were driving down a dirt track on the way to a cover, he somehow tore through the screen on the truck cap’s side window and jumped out. I didn’t know until I stopped a bit down the road. Scared me silly. He was back there waiting for me.

In his first year, up in Pittsburg, NH he locked up on what I assumed was a grouse. It flew and yet he remained solid. Three more grouse flew out of that clump one at a time and yet Bromley remained solid. He was naturally like that. As much as he loved to smell a grouse, Bromley was nuts over woodcock. He just adored those little russet fellas.

When getting things ready for a hunt, he would not leave my side. He worked close to the gun and was always faithful to check my whereabouts.

He once stole a stick of butter from the counter and ate the whole thing. He loved to watch me cook on the grill. There may have been the hope of a ‘nummy’ involved. Maybe.

Bromley made us laugh and in the end Bromley made us cry and still today. His leaving left a vacuum. And a great many wonderful memories of the sweetest of souls.

He was a good boy.


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