Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In this second clip Ike tallies a nice find, and Ted kills our limit sharptail over him. You can see a secord bird flush as the first is falling.
Friday, October 24, 2008
The field was like a table top with the edges falling off into lower pasture land. I followed the edge of a ridge and Ted stayed to my right, bisecting the field as he walked. Doc was off to the races, but I could follow him with the Astro as he hunted beyond 400 yards. I noticed the grass seemed to have been planted as it was in tight rows. After a few hundred yards with no action I thought that even the sharptails would now elude us. And then it started. Bird busting one, two, three at a time here and there. The wind was at our backs, and the two bigger running setters each ran beyond these birds. After a few wild flushes the temptation became too strong and Ted dropped a double. I think that is when it started.
We reached a fence and opted to circle back around to the truck. Ike made a long cast down the fence line and established point. Doc saw and hunted towards him and birds broke as Doc crossed the fence. At the end of the fence we turned right back towards the truck, into the wind. It wasn't long before we saw this in the distance ahead...
Ike instinctively honored, as he has since he was a pup, from a hundred yards or more. As I went beyond Doc's nose Ike probably started creeping, but I didn't notice. I cleanly killed the sharptail and as Doc attempted the retrieve Ike rushed ahead in search or more birds.
Then all hell broke loose.
Ike would point, and Doc would bust the bird. Then Doc would point, and Ike would bust it. We lost several birds like this. All the while I'm screaming at the top of my lungs in the wind, trying to get to the e-collar transmitter, or the camera; it was pure madness. Doc and Ike, in their competitiveness, even stopped ignoring the e-collar on the light setting, so it went up. This went on for what seemed like a while, but was probably only five minutes. Right there we ended up having a harsh training session on "whoa." I have never been so red-faced in the field before. My voice was hoarse. Even now my blood pressure goes up just thinking about it--I was so angry. The most frustrating part is I knew that both of them knew better, and they chose to ingore me, and for that the "team" suffered. Frankly, I felt embarassed in front of Ted.
Eventually the dogs put it together and we were able to finish our limits with good dog work. We even got some video that I'll be posting later.
I'm not sure why I took this picture; I wasn't particularly pleased with either of these no good butt sniffin' bird bustin' biscuit eaters.
Now THIS is a gaggle of birds. Count 'em, six sharptails in one hand!
We unceremoniously posed for pictures, put the dogs up, and cleaned birds only trading a few words between eachother. Then we sat on the tailgate each sipping a cold brew. I think we were both reflecting what just happened for a few minutes, and I broke the silence with "that was the most stressful limit of birds I've ever shot in my entire life." Ted agreed.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
We found an area that had some state land we could camp on, and were exicted to see a covey of huns and some pheasants from the road near where we planned on hunting. Ted cooked the sage grouse for dinner. He, and the dogs, thought it was edible. As we prepared to hit the sack the coyotes started their evening calls. Ted spotted some just a couple hundred yards way with his night vision scope. That night he slept with his .357. Being without a pistol, I slept with Ike and my shotgun.
The next morning Ted flushed a pair of huns out of our camp as he exited his tent. We reckoned it was going to be a good day. In short, the pheasants were numerous, and the other birds were tough. Even the coyotes wouldn't come out and play during the heat.
Looking west towards our camp...
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
A quick circle with Bodie and Doc, the loaner dogs, produced nothing despite Doc's impressive cast to the far reaches of the strip. At least he saved us some walking! Back at the truck the landowner stopped by for a chat. He was incredibly friendly, and even drew some directions on the map where we would find birds. I think he felt sorry for us, and I'm sure he thought we were crazy to come all the way from Kansas to hunt his little piece of Montana heaven. Maybe we are crazy.
Driving to where the landowner thought we should go we encountered our first covey of huns, a large covey that broke out of the ditch and flew a short ways into a wheat field. It wasn't on the BMA, so we made a mental note and proceeded to hunt an field of CRP set between two coulees, again with the Loaners. The farmer said earlier "you can shoot all the grouse you want here" as he pointed to the map. He was right. Doc was the first to encounter birds. His enthusiasm coupled with the lack of wind meant some bumped birds. Dogs were pointing and birds were getting up, and dogs were breaking and putting up more and more birds. I might have wounded a sharpie but I lost focus when Doc instantly located more birds. After the dust settled we noticed Bode was gone, but the Astro indicated he was coming back. He had followed that sharptail more than 200 yards and was making a stylish retrieve. Five minutes later he pinned a lone grouse on the edge of the CRP, which Ted dropped, and Bode completed the retrieve. Bode was quickly establishing credibility, and it was obvious he was going to contribute on an already capable string of bird dogs in their prime.