Jessi was seven months old when this photo was taken. By the time she was nine month old she was completely broke - steady to wing and shot, and required very few corrections to get to that point. All her preliminary bird work was with pigeons and electronic launchers, and when gamebirds were introduced there were no significant faults in her birdwork. As I continued to work her on pigeons there was a point when she tested me, and some corrections were necessary. As a result she began blinking pigeons and traps in her birdwork at home. She definitely made a connection between the pigeons and corrections, and wanted nothing to do with either. Her intelligence played a big role in this, as the corrections were not very harsh. I was fearful that this would lead to blinking gamebirds but it did not. I ran her in the California Shooting Dog Championship this past November and finished her with several pieces of exemplary birdwork on released bobwhite. This past weekend on her second wild bird hunt, at 2-years old, she pinned a covey of chukar and stood mannerly through the shot. Unfortunately there was no reward for her, shame on me!
My two favorite pieces of upland bird gear are my Arrieta 577 double and my Wing Works vest. Beneath the vest I'm wearing a Filson moleskin vest, a Royal Robbins knit longsleeve and lightweight polyester thermals. Headgear this day was a thinsulate camo beanie by Gamehide. Gloves are a lightweight Browning shooting glove. Up top I like clothing that breathes, wicks moisture, and dry's fast. Trudging uphill in chukar country can make you sweat, even in 20-degree weather with a headwind. I can pack a lightweight fleece in the Wing Works vest, put it on at ridgetop, hunt downhill and stay warm.
Cody (on the left with me) after winning the Western Open Derby
Cody has been running in a couple trials this year and no joy yet. Cody spent the summer with Travis Gelhaus on the Saskatchewan prairie and it really sharpened him up. He is in shape, running an all-age race and HUNTING hard. Now we need trial ground time and a little luck to get him his first Championship. He is ready to win, and Sheldon is taking him to the Southeast where he will run in the Continental Championship and the Florida AA Championship. These are major circuit trials and will allow us to see how Cody stacks up against the best of the best.
We bred Cody to a daughter of Crockett's Deep Freeze (Johnny Crockett X Super Christina) and are expecting some nice pups very soon. These pups will be as close as it is possible to get to Johnny Crockett via Crockett's Deep Freeze, See Johnny Run, and Jetsetter.
Just returned from a week fishing Kelly Creek in Idaho. A beautiful place with only moderate fishing pressure when we were there. Not peak conditions, but we did find plenty of willing West Slope Cutthroat trout from ten to seventeen inches. Beautiful native fish in their native stream.
Caddis were the main menu items and, as usual, I found that standard dry patterns got more refusals than takes. I did most of my fishing with a soft hackle - a no. 14 Woodcock & Orange.
I got a brief note from John McIltrot (Seranoa Kennels in Broadview, MT) and Andy seems to be taking his lessons well.
Right now the theme is yard work and barrel work, but on July 15th, he will begin running on wild birds - Hungarian partridges and sharp-tailed grouse. John reports that it looks like a good year for birds, so I am expecting Andy to get a lot of exposure to birds.
Montana Wildlife and Parks is currently considering a closure of sage grouse hunting in the state. This proposal seems to be sponsored by oil & gas developers and cattlemen in the state.
Once there were
more than 2 million sage grouse throughout the West. Now, the best
estimates show there are somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 of the
birds left in the Unites States, mostly in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana
Sage grouse ARE under stress across their current range, but the primary reasons are oil & gas development, sage land conversion, over grazing, and West Nile virus. Hunting mortality is not a major contributor to the continued decline of sage grouse populations. Please take a minute to click >here< to post a comment on the Montana Parks and WIldlife website. Comments close on June 23rd.
Due to schedules and dog requirements, I am taking my pup, Andy, to John McIlltrot at Seranoa Kennels in Broadview, Montana in early June. I hunted Andy last season as an unrestrained pup and it is time for some more formal work and tons of birds.
I had dinner with John during the West Coast Shooting Dog Championship earlier this year and it seems like he knows his bird dogs and we share similar views on developing setters.
Meanwhile, Cody will be heading to Travis Gelhaus at Sagebrush Kennels in Hazlet, Saskatchewan for work on wild birds over the summer. This past season Cody has shown that he is a legitimate All-Age competitor. But he is still a young dog and needs further experience and a little polishing. Trainer Sheldon Twer has done a good job with Cody and Travis can provide the big country, wild birds and conditioning that Cody needs to win the more important trials.
I'll be heading to Montana and Saskatchewan in Early June. Taking my fishing tackle, too.
Life is short Quit your job. Turn off the TV. Go outside and play.
The photo behind the title header was made by Clair Kofoed in NE Oregon several years ago - Jesse pointing, Huns flushing, and me thinking about the camera and shooting behind.
This century's quotes
"Over the long haul of life on this planet, it is the ecologists, and not the bookkeepers of business, who are the ultimate accountants."
- Stewart Udall, 1970
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end"