Friday, October 30, 2009


"Got the call this morning. He is skinny and dehydrated but is being taken care of by the farmer that found him." - JD

Folsom was found in the farmstead where we originally lost him, next to a massive collection of round hay bales. The farmer called his name and he ran right over. He was skinny and very dehydrated as you would expect after being missing for 10 days. His neck was raw from wearing an e-collar all this time, and he was limping a bit. He ate like a pig and drank water, too. I wonder if he was in those bales for all that time? Temperatures were getting down below freezing at night and they had some snow as well. JD left from eastern Idaho the same day he found out and picked him up that evening. He said Folsom was happy to see him. A vet said it's possible he has a torn ACL, can't tell because of swelling, but he's young and healthy and will likely make a full recovery. JD's lab, Ruby, is also recovering from her surgery, which went well, but it's crucial that she not suffer any setbacks during this delicate time. I am constantly surprised at how tough dogs are.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Montana Odd-yssey

Never again do I hope to have a trip like this year's 2nd annual Montana hun hunt.

My heart is broken for my friend, JD, who was rear-ended by a semi. His two dogs, Ruby and Folsom, were jarred through their crate doors and onto a state highway. Ruby suffered two broken hips, and Folsom ran away and remains unfound (UPDATE: Folsom found!). Another friend, Scott, was forced to put down his prized pointer, Tikk, after he was diagnosed with an accute intestinal condition. I am emotionally drained over these events. I've replayed the pivotal moments in my head dozens of times and each iteration produces another "what if" scenario. Although I make a point to acknowledge it, I don't like to dwell on the bad news. So, this trip report is going to be a little different. However, if you'd like to read the details they are documented on the 8 More Miles Blog.

JD and Folsom


Monday, October 5, 2009


September 15 marks the opener of the "real" bird season in Kansas: prairie chickens. I didn't get to hunt them during the early season last year, but had some success during the general season later in the year. This year would be special. After a few years of stories and pictures my Dad decided to join me on his first bird hunt in more than 40 years--mostly shooting the camera, but he would get to pull the trigger as well. Wes joined us as well, only without Doc, who's been sick lately, but is improving.

On the way west we stopped to hunt a spot along the way before the sun set. Fifteen minutes into the hunt Sage pointed and was rebuffed by a stink-rat. What a way to start the season! I couldn't help but laugh.

Ike managed to point a small group of chickens but they flushed wild as the guns approached. Sage may have bumped them, and that's all the action we would see that evening. After a stop for dinner at So Long Saloon in Manhattan we washed the dog at a carwash that also had a doggie wash pod. It did help to some degree, but my fiancé still thinks he stinks.

We were up early the next morning to hit the same spot where I found my first prairie chickens back in 2006. Ike put down a nice run yet we were unable to locate any chickens in our first hunt. From there we moved to my honey hole, a spot that produced nearly every time I've hunted it. Hunting the pasture south Wes nearly stepped on two small groups of chickens and took a bird from each. The second bird flew across a road onto private ground so Wes took Sage over and he pointed the wounded bird in quick order. With Wes limited out he passed his shotgun to my Dad. A few minutes later a dozen chickens flushed several hundred yards out and we watched them sail away. So we continued walking.

And walking…

We looped back around and were cresting a hill when I heard the familiar chirp and confirmed that Sage was on point. I urged my Dad in and several chickens flushed straight away. Unfortunately there were cattle just beyond them so we didn't shoot, and then a few more flushed to the right offering clear shots. We both fired and I know we hit one bird, but it flew on strong. A couple more steps and another bird got up to the left and I dropped it. We decided to head in the direction the wounded bird flew, and several hundred yards further my Dad spotted the wounded chicken trying to hide along a cattle trail. We were unable to find any more birds.

Ike on a covey of quail we saw run across the road. I almost always work dogs on road birds (without a gun).

We ran Ike for an hour or so on Sunday and found some more quail and a young pheasant, but that's it. Already my Dad is talking about coming on the general upland season, and I am welcome to have him.

This past weekend I hunted with Wes, Mr. Scampwalker of 8 More Miles Blog, and Scampwalker Jr. Like the opener we covered a lot of miles but saw less birds. Still, the scenery was some of the best Kansas has to offer.

The fall colors are really starting to turn.

On Saturday we only managed to get close to one group of chickens, and I'll let you read Scampwalker's account. But basically we saw this...

And ended up with this...

And I learned one valuable lesson: wait longer to shoot.

Now, the task is to pack for Montana. Take care.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Belated Post: Colorado Trip

I can't believe this trip was more than a month ago. I've been busy and time has been flying, for good reason.

So, I've been wanting to take my girlfriend on a backpacking trip in Rocky Mountain National Park. The two hippie friends I usually do this stuff with are doing hippie things like working for the Peace Corps in Peru or travelling the high-seas on a cruise ship. Besides, a backpacking trip and roughing it for a few days is mandatory in a complete vetting process for potential mates. So, plans were set, bear canisters were rented, and permits obtained to backpack up to Lawn Lake to spend a couple days and nights.

I can't explain why people think these trips are a "vacation." You strap a pack to your back, hike uphill for several miles, and arrive sore and enhausted. Then, you set up camp, eat food not fit for Applebee's, battle mosquitos, and sleep in the dirt (save one layer of nylon and a Thermarest). Some of us even wake up every night absolutely positive a bear is nearby and about to have his next meal. Hopefully, the pictures speak volumes as to the "why."

This is the view we enjoyed for two days...Hague's Peak is on the right and Fairchild Mountain out of view to the left, Mummy Mountain out of view to the right of Hague's.

Of course I packed a fly rod. I really enjoy late-summer fishing to apline lake cutties. While small, they are numerous, hungry, and will rise from the depths to inhale just about anything.

I've never bought into filters and all the other stuff to purify water. I prefer to boil. Just seems like the only way to be sure you won't get some giardia or some other stomach bug. Sure, it takes time and you have to pack a little extra fuel, but at least you get to pass the time fishing.

Sometimes the water gets a little more boil than it needs...

I'm pretty sure this is a greenback cuttie. Count me in the group that thinks their re-introduction wasn't much of a success, but only because they don't get very big or fight like the other trouts. But they sure are good looking.

The last time I was here and buddy and myself climbed up this slope while the waterfall kept us cool.

This is looking back at Lawn Lake after climbing further up.

What she thought was "just" going to be a fishing trip ended up being an engagement trip. We couldn't have asked for better weather to enjoy this special time--the vistas were ideal. A lonely marmot was the only witness and he barked his approval (or displeasure); I don't speak marmot.

Alas, she said yes and has been busy with the wedding planning, one of the reasons for my long hiatus from posting. I should be done with my prairie chicken opener post shortly so stay tuned.