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.
Shadow Oak Bo, last year's National Champion and the first setter to win since Johnny Crockett won in 1970, made history today by winning a second consecutive National Championship. During his brace Bo had favorable conditions and produced 7 finds. He was named winner a couple hours ago.
A setter winning back to back National Championships... it has not been done in over 100 years. I think this win will spark a lot of interest in setters on the major circuit.
Congratulations to Bo, Owners Butch Houston and John Dorminy, Handler Robin Gates, and scout Luke Eisenhart.
California hunting is abysmal this year - I hope it cannot get worse. I spent a few days on the Western Sierras and found a few coveys, but none were larger than 6 to 8 birds. Holdovers, hopefully they will breed next year.
But I was very pleased with Maggie. She had a half dozen nice points, a couple of which were productive - but I whiffed on those of course. In three days of pretty hard hunting I killed only one bird, and that on a wild flush. I wanted Maggie to at least get her mouth on a valley quail. She actually did a great job; the bird hit the ground running; Maggie came to me when I called and immediately started tracking foot scent; she found the bird in some brush about 50 feet away and jumped it as it started to run again. A very pretty and gentle retrieve, would have been a perfect picture.
Valley Quail hunting is tough in Southern California this year. I got out a couple weeks ago, in good cover, and found no birds in a few hours of hunting. Tried another good spot today that usually holds one or two good-sized coveys. Found three birds, apparently the remains of a covey. In some ways that is even more discouraging - I found the birds that were in the area, just not many of them. They flushed wild, individually, and though I had shots I kept the gun down. Let them go and hope for more rain this winter.
Good news was that Maggie made a nice point on a hot spot. If there had been a single I probably would have shot it for her.
The Imperial Valley is a different story. Last weekend a buddy and I found several coveys of Gamble's Quail on the edge of the desert. They feed in the edge of the fields and then jump back into the thick stuff quickly. We did get a few shots and killed a couple of birds.
Also found LOTS of mourning dove. Walked one field and must have pushed 500 or more into the air in front of us. This time of year they are very spooky and the shooting was tough. Also had collared dove coming by very high. Dumped a couple of them and felt quite pleased, though the percentages were not good.
And whacked one pheasant, an old guy with long spurs. Took 4 shots to knock him down. My second barrel did the trick, a high-speed load of #6 in my 12ga. It was a long shot and I was pleased with that one too.
Could have had a couple of ducks too. Found a small pond on the GPS, walked through the tules to get a look thinking "there could be ducks here", but the gun was filled with dove loads. Dumb. Four mallards got up 10 yards away from me, easy shot if I had been carrying my 12ga with loads of tungsten matrix. Not sure how I would have retrieved those birds though.
In Northern Montana earlier this month, Pete and I found this sign posted on a waterfowl production area (WPA)...
I assume that this was not posted prior to the "Government Shutdown", since it was not known that this would happen until it did, in fact, happen.
So... with no money to operate, the federal WPA management found the funds to print signs, purchase gas and drive US Govt trucks around posting all the public property to deny public access. With 'volunteer' agency personnel. And then, they found 'volunteers' to burn more fuel in government trucks driving around to patrol the grounds, keeping the public off public lands.
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"
Ted is a from Crockett/Sunrise lines, with some Cover Dog blood from his dam's side. Ted has earned eight shooting dog placements in his career, and has a lot of wild birds shot over his points.
"Cody" - Wenaha Code Red
Cody is from Jetsetter X Johnny's Jewel. He has derby wins at the Western Open Derby Classic and the Oregon Shooting Dog CH. He is a coming AA prospect.
"Andy" Wenaha Black Storm
Andy is 16 months old - a son of Tekoa Mountain Patriot X Iron Mistress - a daughter of Grid Iron.
"Tommy" Wenaha Tomahawk
Tommy is son of Ted's half brother, CH Jetsetter - double bred See Johnny Run - and was whelped in August, 2007. He qualified with a HB Open Derby placement in Nov., 2008. As he develops, I expect that he will be a nice bird dog.
"Jesse" Wenaha Jesse James
Jesse was a good bird dog - staunch on point, broke STWS, and a good retriever. He passed on early this year at 13 years of age. Thanks, Jesse.