Saturday, September 29, 2007

Flaggers Wanted

Double Black lives again. I am looking to sub contract some flaggers as the GC on the Double Black Project I am putting out the bid for flagging of the blind. Keith and I finished up the roof and the plywood on the sides Friday afternoon. We will put the finishing touches on next week such as benches, shelving,peep holes strategically placed for waterfowl spotting and a door.Anyway back to business we are ready to flag the blind and need Flaggers anyone know where we caqn find some.Sorry no pics we did not have a camera with us while we were building the blind in the middle of some feirce thunder storms.

See you in the marsh

Friday, September 28, 2007

Get Ready...

Click on the image...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Grouse Opener Report

Mr. Mike (the REAL Mr. Mike) and I took our chances chasing grouse yesterday up at Tug Hill. We left my wispy white haired pokey dotte dogge home and hunted over Gordie, Mr. Mike's three year old cocker spaniel. Gordie is by now a seasoned veteran of the woodcock and POAS wars, but has not yet tasted the feathers of Bonasa umbellis.

Alas, today he is still waiting for that first taste.

But it was not due to lack of chances. Mr. Mike and I saw/heard a total of eight birds, with a couple of additional reflushes. The result of our opening day marksmanship was that Mike was 0 for 1, while I was 0 for 3, or as some statistically challenged Minnestoans and erstwhile Penn State urban sociologists sometimes calculate it, "0 for 2."

Here's how the action broke down: after meeting at 0900 for a breakfast that couldn't be beat at the Adams Mickey D's, we hastened to a spot that shall remain unnamed but that you've all hunted at. That's right, Pete's original Grunley Creek covert. Forgive me Pete.

In a little over an hour's hunting, Gordie managed to dislodge two grouse and three woodcock from their aldery lairs. Fresh from the hunt test circuit, Gordie at first displayed some uncertainty about the nature of the Tug Hill upland cover, and the 75 deg. F temp and stiff winds made for difficult scenting. Also the ground everywhere we went yesterday was bone dry--Tug Hill has apparently been in the throes of the same drought the rest of NY state has been experiencing.

Anyways, not a shot was fired. I was hefting my 12 ga. Parker, while Mr. Mike was sporting yet another new shotgun acquisition, this time a 12 gauge Benelli "Superlight," a flat-out-wrong autoloader that needs no plug and can only shoot three shells. Plus it comes with an easily detachable recoil pad.

More on that easily detachable recoil pad later.

After resting at the truck for twenty or so minutes to cool down, we decided at 12 noon to make our way to covert #2, so we drove over to Rectors and hunted "Jim's secret honey hole Covert" just south of the Montague Inn (which is still for sale by the way). One or two of you have seen this covert in previous years, its location still hopefully yet a secret to popple-pounding Penn Staters such as Pete.

heh heh

Anyway, we made our way into the hemlocks and balsams of covert #2 right at the height of the midday siesta at approx 1300 hours. We hunted hard over Gordie criscrossing our way around the increasingly overgrown skid trails that meander throughout the parcel. Nary a flush for the first hour or so. Damn. Where are they?

Until we heard a flush. BIRD!!! Mike and I motion to each other to circle the patch of grass and ferns the bird flushed from, I to the left and Mike to the right--while Gordie took the center.

No sooner had I walked around a tall arrowy white pine, Gordie loosened two more birds loose. WHRRRRRRR. WHRRRRRRR. At the apex of their flight, I managed to fire twice at the rapidly disappearing birds who were busy making a hard right into some spruces. I was pretty sure I didn't get them, but at the sound of the shots a fourth bird went up.

Now you gotta understand some things about this fourth bird.

Things like, (a) it was surrounded by an angel's glow of brilliant yellow light from the sun. When Mr. Mike EVENTUALLY took a shot at the bird, he had had time enough to do a rough Eldridge Hardie sketch of the damn thing.

Second, (b) at this point of the hunt, Mr. Mike had jettisoned his easily detachable Benelli superlight recoil pad. Or should I say, the recoil pad jettisoned him. Either way, Mr. Mike had by this point of the hunt lost his buttplate, leaving two nasty-looking lug nuts exposed and nakedly protruding from the hollowed buttstock of his newly beloved Benelli. The things looked ominously like what you'd see on a Tritronics shock collar.

Needless to say, (c) there was some trepidation and timidity aforehand on Mr. Mike's part about shooting the gun without said buttplate.

So there was Mr. Mike, gazing wonderously over this beautiful grey phase Tug Hill monster that Gordie had just flushed. I myself had the best look of the day at this bird--I saw it all--but alas . . . in the immortal words of Elmer Fudd (note to self: add label "Elmer Fudd" to this post), I had "no more buhwets."

Finally Mr. Mike decides to shoulder his firearm, risk the pain, take one for team, and fire the gun in the hopes of getting young Gordo some grouse gristle in his gullet. BANG! a single shot rang out.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, you already know the outcome. NADA. nothing. zilch.

We searched the area for a while looking for all three grouse we had shot at. We got one reflush from a tree a bit later, and then Gordie (who had been working the entire area insanely ever since the shooting began) finally came of age in the grouse woods by ground trailing one of the birds and eventually forcing a flush while Mr. Mike and I were (ahem) somewhat far away from the dogge while Monday-morning quarterbacking what had just transpired. Meaning: Mr. Mike was telling me the sun was in his eyes.

Sigh. "And that's why they call it hunting."

We hunted for another half hour or so under skies filled with gathering stormclouds, and then eventually headed back towards the trucks. On the way out Gordie managed to smoke out a woodcock, and then another; and a third flushed wild as we broke out onto the road. All in all a fantastic hunt, and it never did rain.

After a break to cool off, consume soft drinks, and converse with some wandering motorists who were exploring the region (the female of the motorists was particularly attractive, Mr. Mike averred), we decided to forego lunch and to squeeze in one last hunt prior to calling it a day. So we decided upon a "happy pin" spot on the map some thirty miles south near Littlejohn WMA, in Boyleston.

The third hunt is a technical operation well suited to Navy Seals and tired grousers. You walk in on a wide open Tug Hill ski trail through a biological desert of hardwoods, you reach the happy covert that is all of about twenty acres, you execute a quick search and destroy mission in this tiny little marshy hollow, and then you exit with prey in hand. Hopefully.

Well, we found a couple of grouse, right on schedule and right where I said they'd be. Mike and Gordie were in the thick stuff, I was out on the main trail doing the path-walking thing, and Gordie put a grouse up that flushed to our rear over the trail we had just walked in on. I wheeled and managed a snap shot at the bird who was gloriously open over the trail about 35 yards away. BANG! and at the report of the gun I saw a distinct shudder in the bird's flight, so I am pretty sure I hit the thing.

But alas. Once again we were unable to reduce the bird to possession. We looked and looked in the area where I'd marked the bird's flight, but nothing.

CRESTFALLEN, I returned with Mike and Gordie to resume the hunt. We had one other bird flush wild a bit later, and that was it. We were in the vehicles by 5:30, sans Bonasa, and the hunt was over.

But the day was judged a fantastic success due to the number of birds seen, but more importantly, by the number of birds Gordie connected with. The young cocker is well on his way to becoming a grouse-getting machine.

And p.s., Mr. Mike is planning on hanging up his POAS pea-shooter and getting a real grouse gun like the rest of us. Good luck with that Mr. Mike.
Happy Times, Tug Hill, 1997

"The hunt which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?"
--Thoreau (loosely paraphrased)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Black Lake - 2007

Squirrels, pronghorn, that's all fine. But, there's really only one thing on this Pennsylvania grouser's mind. Yep, the 2007 Black Lake migration.

I'm one Herter's decoy short (Abbey is spooning it in her eternal sleep), I owe Tidball a battery for his Mojo, I never bought the new duck gun, and I hope that smell coming out of the heater vent of the F-150 isn't toxic.

But, there's a nip in the air. There's a spring in Cody's step. Tidball has reserved the cabin. Reigel's crew has tuned up the SS Abbey's Dream and the boys are writing about new hunting escapades. I'm even starting to think of a recipe or two to try out after a long day of chasing ducks, grouse and woodcock.

Boys, it's business time!1

1 repeated link, or shall we say "motif," for those who missed this hilarious video the first go-round

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New Mexico Prongs

Sorry I dont have alot of time to tell the long dragged out story but the short version is this.Last weekend I flew to New Mexico for the two day antelope season. We had a great hunt my uncle and I both shot some nice prongs. I scored mine at 83 3\8 not 100 percent sure I did it properly but he will definitely score 80 or above. Long shots in the desert but the 7MM 140 grain nosler ballistic tip did the job.

see you in the woods Eric

September Kick-off

Victoria and I went for a little squirrel hunt. It was nice to be out, but it was great to see Victoria so excited about the hunt and the ensuing squirrel stew. I have heard her tell the story many times to her peers...I smile as I hear her become the female great white hunter.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


May 7, 1994-September 13, 2007
A full life

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Daddy, What's a Patriot?

When she asked, it was as if life was a record and it had just skipped. Eyes so innocent, an honest question. I asked her why the question...she said she heard it was Patriot Day. "Is it about that place you took us in New York City where the bad guys hurt all of those people and they all turned into angels and went to heaven? That place called 9 11?"

I had no words, boyos. Just a knot in my throat. I didn't want to spoil her naive curiosity, and her genuine care and concern, nor did I feel compelled to get into the complexities of the politics of 9-11. I just wanted to be a Daddy with a reasonably good answer.

"A Patriot is someone who is willing to give his or her life for their country, and sometimes actually does."

She paused, looking thoughtful, furrowing her brow.

"But Daddy, they weren't soldiers in that building."

"No sweetheart, they weren't."

Another pause, and then "We had a moment of silence for the Patriots, Daddy. I'm glad you are not a Patriot"

What a moment of confusion for me. How could I tell her I think of myself as a patriot, offered myself as a patriot, before 9-11 and after? That I love my country and swore an oath to defend it? How could I tell her that only a few weeks before her first birthday in DC , we lived not far from the Pentagon? That while I tried twice to get back in the military, Mommy was building strong arguments for leaving the Capital? That I get choked up even thinking about 9-11 for more than a minute? I could say none of these things, though I felt them viscerally.

"I am glad I'm not a Patriot too, Victoria" I managed, tears stinging my eyes. God bless America.

They come in peace, and go in pieces ...

Dove opener in Maryland. Stella and I sat in the shade of an oak at my local IWLA chapter with two very nice gentlemen named Tom and Jerry. Really. I decided that dove hunting would be a nice introduction for Stella to guns 'n birds. I went out without a gun myself, looking to focus entirely on Stella and allow others to bring down the game. I hoped to find some hunters who were "sans dogge", as the French say, and seemed amiable to have two young pups hang around waiting for stuff to fall out of the sky. Things worked out perfectly, Tom and Jerry were more than happy to have us join them. I kept Stella close at my side when shooting time began, unsure how she would react to sound of gunfire. I had, a few months prior, walked her behind the rifle range at the chapter and she seemed unconcerned with the noise, but having shotguns go off so near was a different story. As it turned out I had nothing to worry about.

At 12:05, Tom (or was it Jerry) took the first bird of the day, dropping it 20 yards behind us in the field. I hopped up, and led Stella over. The bird was visible between the rows of knee-high sunflower, quite dead. I called for Stella to fetch it up and off she went, looking for the black and white training dummy she has so enthusiastically retrieved over the past many months. She ran around in circles looking for that dummy, running past and over the dead bird a number of times as I stood providing encouragement. Her nose wasn't down, she was scanning the field in front of her with her eyes.

I chuckled a bit thinking about how I had expected her to magically re-orient herself to the bird. I called her over and physically brought her to the bird. She sniffed at it and recoiled. She approached it carefully, took a longer sniff and pawed it once and recoiled again. She clearly had no friggin' clue what this thing was, but she was just as clearly intrigued. I talked excitedly to her about the bird, hoping to impart joy and excitement to Stella about this bloody feathered thing.

Stella didn't look like she was going to mouth, let alone retrieve, the bird so I picked it up and brought it back to Tom ... mighta been Jerry. I sat Stella under the tree and held the bird right up against her nose, giving her the opportunity to inhale the scent. She was warming up to this new thing, she licked it, took a few light nibbles and walked over to it when I finally put the bird down in front of her. The doves continued to fly and a few minutes later another bird fell in front of us about 30 yards. I led Stella in the general direction and coaxed her to "Fetch it up!". Stella had changed. She was not the dog she was 5 minutes prior.

She had her head down, way down to the ground. She was using her nose. Oh my god, she was quartering. I sure as hell didn't teach her that!

She nosed her way to the bird, and with a one more "Fetch!" from me, she collected it in her mouth and started back to me. I turned from her and skipped, yes skipped, through the field back to the oak calling fetch back to her. She followed me, bird in mouth. She came right to me as I kneeled down to welcome her, I put my hand out to take the bird and she dropped it into my hand. A quick inspection of the bird told me that she had a soft mouth. Stella looked happy and excited. A few feathers had stuck to her nose and mouth. Her first retrieve.

Stella had seven more retrieves over the next two hours. One bird was quite lively, but it didn't bother Stella. She got very business-like when guns went off nearby, she would start heading off into the field. Towards the end she got a bit tired, and by the last retrieve a little less willing to bring her quarry back to me when requested. But that didn't matter.

She now knows what the excitement is all about. I know where I need to take her and what to show her, so her instinct can take over.

Not sure how many more times I can get her out for dove, but it's not too many more weeks until waterfowl.

I think I need to give Tom and Jerry a call ...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Double Black will Rise Again

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