Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hector grouse

Hey gang,
got out for a two-hour hunt with Ol' Gimpy, and we had a great time. Temp was 55 deg F, a slight 4 mph wind was blowing from the west, and I wore my usual crappy upland stuff. Yep, orange Filson hat too.

Kate is moving at (ahem) a fast walk with a pronounced limp. We went out yesterday, and I missed the only woodcock we saw. (Plus Katie didn't hurt herself, so that was good.) Today we fared much better bird-wise. We hunted the Old Tent covert, where years ago we found in the back woods an old canvas tent that had seen better days. We were in the woods by 4:30.

We walked in on the woods road that leads to the Old Tent, and as we drew near the sacred spot I took the low road on the path while Katie worked the thick stuff above me. The leaves were pretty damn dry, and the wind so slight that I tried to stay as quiet as possible while the dogge padded through the dogwood.

Not five minutes had passed when Katie went on point uphill from me in some thick stuff. I had a bit of a clearing off the trail leading up to her, and as I walked in a grouse flushed in a beautifully open flight, left to right, toward the deep woods beyond. I missed the first shot at about twenty yards but nailed the second shot at about twenty five yards. The bird tumbled to the ground, and we were on the board! Score one for Gimpy. Nice big grouse, too.

Later I missed a similar opportunity at a grouse Katie was pointing on the edge of a marshy low area. This bird seemed to flush a lot faster; and as I emptied both barrels at it, a second bird flushed much closer to me. But . . . no more buhwets.

Somewhere along the way Katie pointed a woodcock that flushed from my feet. I was tangled in some thorny crap, but I managed to shoot at the bird (I swear to God!) from the hip--the first time I can ever remember truly shooting without the gun to my shoulder--and lo and behold, the bird crashed about ten yards away. That one is pretty much going to be hamburger.

Katie pointed another grouse as the evening wore on--this bird went up into a tree above her, and as I debated that particular shot, it decided to high tail it out of there, which was fine with me. More for winter hunts.

Finally, Katie pointed another woodcock as it was getting close to sunset. This one flushed straight up, and I missed it overhead at about five yards before settling down and killing it some twenty yards away with the second barrel. Not a bad haul for a two-hour hunt.

Some of you know of Michel Gélinas, our Quebec friend who has an utter fascination with the wily woodcock. Michel's website has a special section reserved for pictures of woodcock deformities. Well, one of today's woodcock is the first one where I've noticed a deformity--one of the birds had lost a digit on one of its feet:

So I guess I'd better send the picture along to Michel.

All in all, a good afternoon's hunt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

We Grows 'um Big here

Yesterday, George H. took a beautiful buck out of the Canoga Creek Farm & Conservancy. I won't tell George's story for him in hopes that we will hear from this future Grouser in person on the subject, but suffice it to say that this may be his best archery deer to date, and it is the second "big boy" to grace my lawn since I've been the steward of this here parcel. Hearty congratulations to George.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The ponds once again provided us with a great opening day duck hunt. We had a very different hunt than the double black boys; all Teal and Woodies in the morning almost no Mallards to be found. Ernie,you can tell Carol that there was only three of us : myself ,Dave and my uncle Fred who is 73 years old. A lot of the shooting came from Spanos. The morning hunt produced 1 drake mallard,2drake woodies,1hooded merganser,and 4 green wing teal. After being soaked to the bones we bailed out about ten and went for a hot breakfast and dry clothes. I returned alone for the afternoon hunt and managed to bag three nice drake mallards, a total of eleven for the day. A great opener =the only thing that could have been better would be a blind with a roof. It rained all day. I am glad you guys stayed dry and had a great hunt in the new Double Black. Sorry, no pictures -it was too nasty to bring the camera out.

See you in the field,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Western Zone NY Opener-Finger Lakes/Double Black II

Quick sitrep...

In the newly constructed Double Black blind (thanks again to Eric, General Contractor for the project, and Mike O and Ernie, the flag squad), opening day was a great day of milestones. Christening the blind with the first kill was Zack Havelin, a "greenwing" youth hunter who contributed to a great morning. Zack killed the first duck of the day solo, and later contributed a Coot as well. On the dog front, the veteran McPhee and the rookie Sage took turns on the retrieves on the morning ducks (6) and then for the afternoon hunt, Sage handled the retrieving duties on her own (6). Sage did well, as this was her first real hunt, first shotgun exposure in real action, first live bird retrieves, first decoy obstacles, first duck calling, etc. A+ for both dogs and their handlers today.

The hunters today were Mike O, Cagey (yours truly), Havelino and Son, X-man (half day) and JT (half day). All told, we ended up with 12 ducks, all mallards, one Coot, and one lost Bufflehead that dove and eluded us . The beautiful thing about today was the teamwork and comraderie...the first six ducks were "pre-called" so that each individual in the blind had a chance at a solo, and every single person got one, unassisted. Awesome. A memorable opener. Over and out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

On behalf of Path Walker . . .

. . . whom I've re-invited from his work email address. This missive arrived in the old-fashioned email box today, and it's just too good not to share.

I quoteth the Walker on Paths thusly:

Hey Gang,
I was able to get out for ringnecks last Saturday morning (rain, winds S 15-25mph, T= 55-60, shadow grass). Set up in the wrong spot (tough navigating the canoe in the driving rain and darkness), but had some success w/ ringnecks and blacks anyway. (See attached file: Spy and ducks 10.20.07.jpg) Spidy got some easy retrieves. The hoped-for geese did not show, but 50-100 ringnecks came in early. All and all, fine and pleasant.

May try this again tomorrow morning (this is the last week of the first split). Still haven't gotten the floor in my boat, but a little duck hunting is good motivation for some late night work in the garage. That, and some more decoy painting (goldeneyes are next). Haven't been able to post on the blog for some time, so I figured this would work.

Best to Kate.
- Andy

Andrew, I sent you a new invite. Join up again if possible!


Sunday, October 21, 2007

More celebrity . . .

Here's the label category that refuses to go away. The boss and offspring visited with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor this morning, and then the boss went off on a ladies-only junket to Seneca Falls and the National Women's Hall of Fame. Apparently a good time was had by all.

Keith, you and Mo will be interested to know that my kids talked about Peanut with Justice O'Connor, who in turn told them stories about growing up on the Lazy B Ranch as a child. So maybe Peanut is the real celebrity here.

Anyway, more photos are at the Bossy Hen's Flickr site.

Delayed Haiku

Knuckles healing, blood

staunched, the opener draws near,

With my trusty pump.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Hey gang,
Some of you may find this mildly amusing. I found this on the internet last night: a 2003 lecture I gave in a class at Cornell that among other things covers animal rights and the philosophy of sport hunting.

If you've got a spare twenty or so minutes and want something to run on your machine as "background noise," go to http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/handle/1813/7697 , let the mpeg fully load, and then skip ahead to just past the halfway point of the lecture to listen to "Tantillo on the Philosophy of Sport Hunting."

Of course if you're not pressed for time, or have no life, you could always listen to the entire 50-minute lecture, which also covers no-kill animal shelters and feral cats.

Also, as an added bonus I read from a book titled, 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving, which by itself is worth the price of admission.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Black Lake - First Shot


The nimrods: Bill; Mike; Keith; Rich; Pete

The dogs: McPhee; Cody; Artemis; Brandt

The birds: timberdoodle (7); road cock (1); Bonasa (2); mallard (5); ring neck (2); gadwall (1); wudduk (2).

Beer Camp teaser: Ring Neck evades Cooper’s Hawk but not Mr. Mike

Canine headlines: Artemis Performs for All, Leaves Grown Men Exhausted and Satisfied; McPhee Reminds Hunters how to Live; Sweet, Patient Cody; Chesapeake Pup Shows Penchant for Sputum Soaked Tissues

Quotes: “help me, help me, help me”; "I'm in trouble" (2006); “biofuelia, that’s my word”; “you can have your Beretta back”
Ailments: gout; constitutional(too fast, too slow); fingers (amputated)
Culinary conquests: Curry Duck; Twice Cooked Goose Chili; Roasted Endives
Noteworthy EtOH: 1977 Chianti Classico; Irish Redbreast

Hangovers: only 1!


Katie update

Well gang, Katie is officially on the disabled list for the foreseeable future. Bad timing for sure.

She spent the day at the vet's, and the good news is that nothing is broken. The bad news is that they suspect she has strained or torn a muscle in her shoulder. Although she's putting weight on the leg now, they caution against running her in the next few weeks so as not to re-tear or re-injure the muscle.

So that sucks. But at least she doesn't need $2000 worth of surgery, I suppose. So she's got that going for her, which is nice. . . .

no news is . . . being ignored

Geez, fer frigginchrissakes . . . . I've got to read Kelly Kleinman's blog to hear how the Black Lake trip went.

He's back.

Well, my husband got back yesterday from his hunting trip. The weather was really nice, not good for duck hunting, but he had a great time. He even got a wood duck! And some grouse. The grouse will be delicious and he plans to have the wood duck mounted. He even thanked me for watching the kids while he went on vacation. And that got me thinking. Vacation? It never occurred to me that he was taking a vacation!!! So, I must start planning a vacation for myself, too. I could call it a hunting trip if that would make it more palatable to him. Now, what would I "hunt"? I think I would hunt sand, water, margaritas and Mercado 28 in Cancun! And sleeping in wouldn't be so bad either. I guess it never hurts to dream....

Damn. I guess it would never hurt to blog, either, eh Dr. Dirt?

heh heh

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Back from the Odyssey

Hey gang,
looking forward to hearing tautly told tales by the old gout-ridden duck hunters. Had a fine trip to Michigan and Wisconsin, if a bit warm at first and then a bit rainy for the rest of it. Managed to scratch down a fair number of grouse. The trip was cut short by a couple of days, though, when Katie pulled up lame chasing down a crippled grouse. She'll be seeing the vet tomorrow morning, hopefully it's just a bad sprain.

Anyway, what pictures I took are over at Frank's Flickr site. But this was a particularly cool grouse we took out of the "Dead Pig" covert near Melstrand, Michigan. Dead Pig being so named due to the, uh, dead pig we found there.

Bear baiting: ethical? or not ethical? Discuss.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fin and Feather wekend

Well since Keith is so anxiously awaiting a post from me I figured I would send one, after he left for Black Lake. As you can see it was a better weekend for the fin than the feather but a good time was had by all. For those that don't know the players there is Dave Thompson, the tallest one, Big Jim, the shortest one he is 6'2" and the mid sized guy Robert Thompson. Saturday morning started with a hangover but still found us in the blind at 6:20 ready for the day. Lot's of shooting all around us but none from our little group. After breakfast at around 9:30 we knew that it was going to be nothing but a blue bird day so we decided to bag in the duck hunting and go for the fish. This was a lot more productive than the duck hunt so we had a lot of fun at that. The picture shows only a few of the fish we caught. In all there were over a dozen nice bass caught 6 perch and 1 pike. They were all caught off of a shoal at about 26 feet in the middle of the shipping channel where it was around 100 feet deep all around the shoal. Needless to say they provided for a great meal Saturday night. Whatever was not cooked up was taken home by the Thompsons for a fish fry for the family
Sunday morning found us back in the blind with a strong wind out of the north, which is the best for hunting the island, and rain in the air. We did a bit better by bagging the three mallards you see here but today not much was flying. All in all it was a lot of fun and Dave got to see the Island for the first time. I'm sure Keith and the boys will have better stories and more ducks in the bag from their trip but I can almost guarantee they won't have any wheres near as good of an opening day fish fry as we did!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Northern Openers Update

C'mon grousers, I know a few of youse must have stories--like Ernie.

I hunted Tug Hill for the duck/woodcock opener this last Sat. I camped (illegally) at the reservoir/beaver pond west of the Gruntley Rd coverts and scouted in the evening hours Fri . Lots of geese came in to the classic northwoods hole, but few ducks. Come morning, I had three woodies buzz me right at shooting time and as I positioned to shoot at them, I stepped into a deep beaver channel and did a Nestle plunge into the pond. Needless to say the woodies escaped unscathed...I was of course soaked and besmirched, my cell phone ruined, my tobacco rendered useless, and my pride seriously bruised. And did I mention it was hot and the mosquitoes were ferocious? I saw one other group of mallards fly over, but they were not interested in my pond or spread.

As for upland, I fared much better. I ended the day with roughly 15 flushes, (4 or 5 were re-flushes) on grouse, two of which (one gray phase, one red) came home with me. Artemis also had two woodcock points, one of which was also potted. The other one I somehow missed...not sure what happened there. Artemis did well, but, again, it was hot. All in all, a nice "quickie" to the Tug, though duckless.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Early Geese-Death in the Tall Grass

Thanks to Eric and Marty, I was able to get in a few goose hunts, sans decoys and calling, in the tropical September weather of the early goose season. On one hunt, Eric and I managed to down more than ten geese, thanks to a perfect stalk in windy conditions that allowed us to get close and surprise the birds. On this particular hunt, Eric made some incredible overhead shots on returning geese. Nice way to start the waterfowling season. I on the other hand, was effective but not impressive. My first shot (10 gauge, number 4 heavishot) when the birds were just getting up dropped at least two, perhaps three, geese, and I hit one more after a hasty reload as it tried to circle back looking for a fallen comrade. Meat on the table, but not that pinnacle feeling that is so elusive. But beggars cannot be choosers.

The second and final hunt for me in the 2007 early goose season was very satisfying however. Our hope was to return to the scene of the crime for a repeat performance. But when we arrived at the pond, the birds had vacated and were comfortably feeding across the road in a cut corn field. Bummer. As we stood in the middle of the pond complex feeling sorry for ourselves, another flock came out of the ponds deeper in to join their brethren in the corn field. Damn! And their we stood with our mouths agape. One of us finally got some smarts and suggested we at least check those ponds to see if there were any stragglers left. (I can't remember who was the smart one now, probably Illegal Riegel) We began our stalk through the tall grass like a couple of blood thirsty lions. After sneaking along a few yards, I signaled to Eric that I heard geese. Thrice more I heard them call, not far ahead. Eric motioned to where it sounded like they would be. Slowly we poked our heads over the dike. Nothing.

As we hunkered back down and deduced our feathered friends' whereabouts in hushed and whispered tones, we heard a number of geese begin to get vocal. The pond we would be sneaking was long and narrow, parallel to and beyond the long and narrow one we were peaking over. We would need to either cross the empty pond in front of us directly and risk alerting the birds with our splashing or go all the way around and risk being at the opposite end of the pond the birds were in. We decided to split up, one of us going to each end. Then, we would each come 1/3 of the way towards the middle to maximize pond coverage. We agreed on our plan, synchronized our watches, said our goodbyes, wished each other God-speed, and all that other high drama combat stuff.

I saw Eric at his end of the long narrow pond moments after I reached mine. It sounded like the geese were in his end of the pond, and that they were getting wise to the reality of death swishing around in the grass about them. I watched him hesitate, deliberating, and then install his dog in a stock still "sit" below the horizon of the dike, out of sight of the geese. At this point I thought "Eric, don't peak over the edge...just go your third and then walk up." But like Lot's wife needing a lance glance at Sodom and Gomorrah, Eric couldn't resist a peak. He didn't turn into salt, but he might as well have been pounding it. The geese got loud quick and swam for the middle...they had made him. I sprinted thirty yards to what I guessed was my 1/3 and dove into the grass, melting into the contours of the bank as best I could. I heard shots. I heard geese getting closer. I saw a flock of twenty fly too far to my east, but damn they were low. I saw a flock of 8 coming right for me, thirty yards up. As the first of the group passed over head I rolled upright and fired, and fired again. It was beautiful. I swung on a goose against a clear blue sky and watched him roll and tumble in the air. I picked another target and swung, fired and watched him cartwheel. Both geese landed in the water not twenty yards from me. Pinnacle. First double of the season, and more to come, "Insha' Allah."

Though Eric (who has an epic solo hunt story to close his early season goose hunting) didn't fare as well on his end of the pond, due to the geese making him and forcing him to take long shots, we both got a big kick out of the stalk, and a good time was had by all. Well, except for the geese. Thanks Eric!

Photo courtesy of Illegal Riegel.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Hey everyone,
Dr. Dirt and the Missus Dirt have been hanging out with the beautiful people in New York City.

Read all the gory details here.


ps. why does Pete get the winsome young thang and Kelly gets the withered old catcher's mitt? will wonders never cease.