Tag Archives: Pride

Something to Remind You

On February second my wonderful gun dog Pride, passed on.  He was thirteen and one half years old, and his health was deteriorating.  We were fortunate to adopt Pride at seven years old, after his original owner lost a long battle with cancer.  His personality was unique for a seasoned gun dog.  In the field, Pride demonstrated all of the characteristics of an accomplished bird hunter.  He could locate evasive roosters, and retrieve downed birds out of the thickest cover.  At home, Pride was quiet and reserved. He loved to be loved, and that was obvious by the way he responded to our family.

The most special moment in my hunting life occurred during my first ever pheasant opener in 2011. In our initial field, Pride located a half dozen roosters, and I missed every shot. I had pheasant fever, and my confidence was shaken.  In the early afternoon, hunting became difficult when temperatures hit the lower sixties, and the wind blew at twenty miles per hour.  We were walking a public CRP field just northeast of Holyoke, Colorado.  About two thirds of the way into the quarter section of native grass, Pride stopped on a hard point.  He was not a pointing lab, but his posture was unmistakable.  Realizing that a pheasant was present, I started to make my way over to my focused dog.  The bird must have started to run right as Pride suddenly moved left. When Pride shuffled, the rooster took flight.  I shouldered my A400 and fired. The bird tumbled from the sky, and fell over a nearby hill.  Pride was already in a full sprint when the rooster landed in the waist-high grass.  Almost immediately, I began to second guess my shot.  Was that a rooster or hen?  Did I make a lethal shot?  My anxiousness disappeared when I saw Pride running towards me with the colorful bird in his mouth.  I just shot my first wild pheasant.

Thank you Pride.  Thank you for teaching me how to be a bird hunter.  Thank you for your patience, love and kindness.  Thank you for being my partner in many amazing adventures.  Rest in peace my man.

Something to Remind You

Echo

The 2016 season represents my fifth year chasing wild birds in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.  My gundog partner, Pride, is now officially retired.  A seasoned birddog, we adopted him at seven years old.  Over the last five years, Pride taught me how to bird hunt.  He put up with my misses as well as located that late-day rooster to fill my limit or salvage the trip.  The formula was easy; I pointed him into the wind and he did the rest.  It was upsetting to see him slow down towards the conclusion of the 2014/2015 season. It was my first indication that Pride’s hunting career was coming to an end.  When cancer took part of his left front paw last summer, we knew that our time in the field would be limited.  He had a few successful jaunts over four trips last winter.  On December 31st 2015, with birds flying everywhere, he could not make the walk back to the truck.  I handed my shotgun to Jeremy, and then carried my friend back to the truck.  On that day, Pride stopped chasing birds.

Preparing for that moment, Jenny and I had been talking to different breeders throughout the fall.  I ended up speaking with a nice man in Yuma, Colorado.  Francis Owens and his wife, Teressa  own a breeding/training business called Advantage Pointing Labs.  Francis and I spoke multiple times during the season, and he invited me to hunt over his dogs.  While we had a tough day finding birds, it was obvious that his pups demonstrated everything we wanted in a pet and gundog.

Echo was born on December 13, 2015.  She is one of three females in a litter of twelve Labrador retrievers.  We took her home at ten weeks, and then returned her to Francis and Teressa  one month later for basic puppy training.  Admittedly, I am not yet confident in my ability to train a gundog.  With that in mind, I asked Francis to start Echo.  The plan was to do an initial introduction to birds at three months, then bring her back for obedience as well as more complex field work at five months.  My responsibility has been to educate myself on the how to reinforce the teachings.  SportDOG offers a variety of content that helps me understand how to work with Echo.  Additionally, Francis regularly posts YouTube videos demonstrating the specific techniques he utilizes with his dogs.  I observe then do my best to employ the methods during our practice time.

Echo is now seven months old.  She has a sweet disposition and a strong prey drive (video – Echo @ 7 months).  When the season opens in November we will be ready to patrol the same fields that Pride and I once scoured.  I look forward to our upcoming hunting adventures.

Echo Training at Quail Run

Echo @ 7m

Another Shot

Our initial trek to Eastern Colorado did not produce positive results.  Cover was thin and birds were scare.   We witnessed only a half a dozen birds (one rooster) situated in both walk-in-areas (WIA) and prime private land.  The hunting chat rooms underscored the challenges associated with the 2013-2014 upland season.  Some people found birds, but most struggled.  Not unlike past years, crowds diminish after the first couple of weeks.  To that point, I set up our men’s three day hunting trip for the third weekend of the season.

Four of us headed out to Northeast Colorado on Friday morning.  My favorite field has CRP that abuts freshly cut corn on three of the four sides.  As we neared what I would deem the most productive section of land, I split the group so we could begin to pinch the most dense cover.  Deep snow drifts made it difficult for the dogs to get to the bottom of the draw.  Otis and Pride ran quickly through the hundred yards of prime territory, and the hunters moved into advantageous positions.  Unfortunately, there was not a bird present.  I sent a quick text to a rancher friend of mine, and asked him if we could hunt his property.  He responded positively so we headed north to his house. 

While we were enjoying a vacation day, my friend was hard at work.  I asked him if he needed assistance.  He refused, acknowledging our desire to hunt, as well as his need to get an important project accomplished.  I convinced him that the hunting could wait, and that we would like to help.  The rancher explained that his cows needed to be moved to a new pasture.  We set up an electric fence, emptied and moved water troughs, and then we took the cows from one field to another.  Dave, Jeff, Bob and I actually had a good time completing our tasks.  The time was 3:15 pm, and we had about ninety minutes of hunting time available. 

Just to the north of the residence there is a bit of CRP that extends through a fifty yard tree line.  I told Dave and Jeff to enter the eastern part of the field quietly, and we would start our walk from the west.  As Bob and I drove by the tree row, we spotted two roosters walking into the tall grass.  Soon after piling out, Pride became immediately birdy and darted ahead of us.  As we approached the trees, a hen jumped in front of Jeff.  I yelled to be ready as there were at least two colored birds in our presence.  Pride took a sharp left and moved toward the fence line, so I shouldered my Beretta in hopes that the running bird would rise.  The roosters did eventually take flight; just sixty yards out of our range. 

I took the group into the adjacent CRP strips and formulated a plan.  Dave, Jeff and Otis would sneak to the east and begin to slowly walk to Bob and me.  As the four hunters came within twenty yards of one another I asked everyone to pause.  As we stood motionless, deciding on our next move, a rooster busted from the deep cover.  He flew west then banked a hard left moving toward the south.  Shots rang out as the mortally wounded bird glided seventy five yards before plummeting to earth.  Our dogs marked the downed bird and headed to fetch him.  The first bird of the trip was in the bag, and the last bit of the day’s sun settled in the west.

Day two was cold (nine degrees) and had us patrolling uncharted territory; northwest Nebraska.  Navigating the maps we eventually found the available CRP fields, but there was no sign of birds.  Four hours of hunting, and no opportunities had us heading back into town for some lunch.  We asked the locals for any recommendations, but mum was the word of the day.  As we were leaving, a friendly waitress suggested we try some areas just north of our position.  The first CRP field looked similar to the others, but had some unique structure abutting it.  We piled out quietly, and surrounded the area.  Otis darted up the center, obviously excited by something.  I started to run behind him as my instincts indicated potential action.   Without warning, a hen followed by a large number of pheasants, flushed from the tall grass.  I selected the first rooster and fired.  Unscathed he banked a hard left and moved away from my position.  Fortunately, a second rooster jumped up, and a single HEVI-Shot Pheasant shell downed him immediately.  Birds were still exploding from their position at the edge of the cover, but no rooster was close enough for another shot. 

The next WIA seemed to be untouched as the snow had no visible markings around it.   As we slowed down next to the field, a dozen birds exploded from the pit adjacent to the road.  The guys piled out of the trucks, and moved through the ditch in order to obtain a solid, legal shooting position.  More birds poured out, and headed away from the road.  I heard some shots but I stayed in the truck.  Despite the furious action, no pheasants were taken from the field.  We hunted multiple public areas the rest of the day, but were only able to push up a single hen. 

Day three’s plan would be to visit a few familiar Colorado fields, and hunt them until about ten am.  The first WIA is lined with rocky mountain junipers as well as plum trees.   The area had been hunted in previous days as there were boot tracks everywhere.  We marched the dogs into the wind, and bumped a coyote toward the end of the tree line.  Realizing that the predator would have moved any birds out of that area, we headed back to the trucks.  Our next field was minutes away, and had a few mounds of spilled corn around the contiguous road.  We managed to jump one hen on our walk west.  The wind was blowing from the south at twenty MPH, so we pointed the dogs into the wind and continued the hike.  Otis started to weave quickly on the field’s western edge.  I decided it was best to hasten my pace and keep up with him.  The fifty yard run culminated with two hens flying out of the corner of the field.  Otis’ young nose was on and he was not stopping.  For the first time on the trip, pheasant tracks marked the two-day old snow.  I watched Bob on my left as Pride was getting birdy in front of him.  Otis rocketed east then took a hard right, and moved a rooster out of his concealed position.  Bob and I fired at once, and the bird tumbled to the ground.  We decided to continue our hike toward the east; a mistake, given hindsight.  Almost immediately, Otis and Pride started to sprint after evading birds, and we attempted to keep up.  As we neared the center of the field we witnessed two sets of four pheasants fly across the road.  Admittedly, I make a tactical error.  I should have worked back to the road, and blocked for Jeff, Dave and Bob.  We piled into the trucks, and headed to our final field of the day.  Another forty five minute walk resulted in Pride taking me to the edge of a cornfield where he startled a hen hunkered down in the adjacent ditch.

After a big breakfast, we make our way back to Parker.  Despite the conditions, the second trip was really enjoyable.  I have great friends that stay positive and hunt hard.  While the bird sightings were rare, we managed to execute a few times when opportunities were presented.  There are eight weeks left in the season.  We will look for a significant weather change then head back east to give it another go.

Reviews

Product

Review

Sport-DOG   Upland Hunter 1875

http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/unlucky-lucky/

HEVI-Shot   Pheasant

Six shots, three   pheasants down. I have not had to make an extremely long shot yet (40   yards+).  That said, I am confident of   the lethal, knockdown power of the shell.

Uplanders Warehouse

Visit the site   and get all you need in upland products.   

Hankook   Dynapro ATM

Another 670 miles   of tough driving in 2.5 days.  These   are great tires.

SportDOG Nutrition

SportDOG C9   nutrition keeps Pride in the field.  He   is 10 years old and continues to work all day, every day.  I am absolutely committed to these   supplements. 

Beretta A400 XPLR Light, 12 gauge

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Badlands Birdvest

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Garmin Oregon 450T GPS

 

Hunting GPS Maps

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Ram 1500

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Columbia Upland   Freezer Long Sleeve Shirt

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Columbia Full   Flight Chukar Pant

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Irish Setter   Upland DSS King Toe Hunting Boots

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

 

 

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Not a Chance

Late December brought on another cold. I had just recovered from a nasty flu bug, only to wake up on Christmas morning with many of the same symptoms that occurred earlier in the month. My condition was very disappointing as I planned on taking Thursday and Friday off for bird hunting in Eastern Colorado. Lots of water, plenty of Cold Eeze and a couple of DayQuil provided me the elixir for ensuring I would spend time in the field.

Despite the constant coughing, and leaky nose, I awakened at four am on December 28th to leave for the two day trip. The Dodge Ram 1500 was already packed, and sported four new Hancook DynaPro tires. On my last two trips, I tore up two of the Goodyears that came with the truck. The Hancooks were an unexpected and untimely investment made at Discount Tire. Greg met me in front of my house at five am with his truck as he planned on coming home that evening.

The two and three quarter hour drive had us entering bird country with five inches of fresh snow on the ground. The conditions were perfect; a five degree air temperature and a light westerly wind had Greg, Pride and me set up for pheasant hunting success. Driving down the first country road, we spotted thirty birds dancing through the unharvested corn. Two miles later, we entered my favorite field with the sole purpose to make it to the thickest cover situated one thousand yards from our trucks. We worked the edge of the CRP until we reached the berm where I hoped birds were holding tight. Pride is familiar with this land, and he worked feverishly to find a fresh scent. The deep snow drifts made moving to the key area slow and tiring. The effects of my cold were obvious as I struggled to catch my breath during the deliberate jog. Pride was obviously excited as he darted into the tumbleweeds. His speed allowed him to cover a lot of ground, and he looked in every nook that could possibly hold birds. Greg and I made our way west along both sides of the draw waiting for a rooster to take flight. It did not happen. In fact, the entire field did not produce anything of merit.

Although we were a bit disappointed, we knew that there were birds to be had if we hunted the right fields. Greg and I drove to some popular public spots where we encountered hunters who were already in pursuit. We drove slowly along the adjacent private land, and we witnessed more than fifty pheasants moving from the tree line to the corn fields. The temptation to pull over and hunt this area was real, but inappropriate, so we moved on.

Due to the lack of cover, the options were limited, so we decided to venture to the private land where we have permission to hunt. The rancher had planted two rows of evergreens that were situated just to the north of his house. Given the conditions, I felt there should be birds present as they would be seeking protection from the elements. Instead of entering the area from both sides, we decided to walk together from the east. Despite our stealth approach, the birds started to fly into the adjacent CRP before we closed the truck’s doors. We sprinted into the tree line only to see more birds jump too far away to get off a shot.

All of the pheasants that flew from the trees touched down in the rancher’s CRP just south of our position. The strategy became obvious; Greg would move southwest and I would take Pride five hundred yards to the south and hunt him into the wind. If we worked the area correctly, perhaps we could force the evasive roosters into the air. One thing that was clearly evident in this field, was that there were the fresh tracks of pheasants everywhere. There was no doubt that Pride smelled bird, as his head remained low and his tail moved swiftly from side to side. As we walked towards Greg, I anticipated we would see exploding birds. Disappointingly, it never happened. We hunted the rest of the field over the next forty five minutes, and never got a bird to fly. On a hunch, I told Greg we should once again hunt the tree line, as I saw two birds fly back into the cover minutes after we departed. This time, I dropped Greg off on the eastern side and I quietly made my way west. We moved in unison, trying to pinch the birds and force them into the air. I readied myself when I saw a hen sprint from a bush to the trees. Another hen surprised me when she took flight, and then another soon followed. A rooster flew straight up then banked a hard right towards Greg. I yelled “rooster” and heard Greg take a single shot from his Beretta Silver Pigeon. Two more hens darted from their hiding places, and flew less than twenty feet from my barrel. When I realized all of the birds had left the area, I made my way to Greg with the hope that he would have a downed rooster in his hand. Unfortunately, his shot had not found it’s mark, and we were still without the intended quarry.

We hunted for another two and a half hours before realizing that the sun was setting quickly. My rancher friend told me the name of the landowner who abutted his property. I called him with the hope that he would grant us permission to walk his fields. When I got him on the telephone, I introduced myself, and asked him the critical question. He responded with a resounding “no”. Disappointed, we drove from country road to country road trying to locate cover that we could hunt. After an exhausting and disappointing forty five minute walk through a WIA stacked with evergreens, we made our way back to the rancher’s land for one last effort before dark.

Greg and I walked the initial 100 yards into the CRP, and startled two hens that had hunkered down for the night.

Unfortunately, my cough became more intense and constricting as the day concluded. To that point, I made a decision that staying the night would not be prudent, so I made my way back home.

Ideal weather conditions do not always mean that an opportunity to shoot a bird will present itself. We were diligent in our effort, but luck was not on our side. Despite our lack of success, we encountered many birds that we will pursue aggressively at a later date.

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