Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cobalt skies

Stolen poem - picture taken after a long, very cold day of fishing the Gallatin River outside of Bozeman last fall.

A Blessing

by Ken Hada

After three days of hard fishing
we lean against the truck
untying boots, removing waders.

We change in silence still feeling
the rhythm of cold water lapping
thankful for that last shoal of rainbows
to sooth the disappointment
of missing a trophy brown.

We'll take with us the communion
of rod and line and bead-head nymphs
sore shoulders and wrinkled feet.

A good tiredness claims us
from slipping over rocks, pushing rapids –
sunup to sundown – sneaking
toward a target, eyes squinting
casting into winter wind.

We case the rods, load our bags
and start to think about dinner.
None of us wants to leave.
None wants to say goodbye.

Winter shadows touch the river cane.
The cold is coming. We look up
into a cobalt sky, and there,
as if an emissary on assignment,
a Bald Eagle floats overhead
close enough to bless us
then swiftly banks sunward
and is gone.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Requiem for Herter's decoys

Yes, it's sad but true, Herter's decoys are no more. As reported on a number of hunting sites, including

In Herter's and KGT's honor, I spent some time yesterday repainting some Herter's 72s that were looking a little beat up. Better keep an eye on the Pennysaver and Craigslist for now on, 'cause they ain't making any more of these.

Cabela's is starting to garner a reputation as an evil empire. Hard to believe.


p.s. And in case anyone's wondering about the size of those neck bands . . . take a look at the videos on .

Sunday, October 24, 2010

15 minute epic

Opening day for ducks (as well as the morning following the full moon and west wind that might bring a flight of mudbats) coincided with Nolan's last soccer game of the season as well as the long-awaited Insectapalooza at the university (and notwithstanding my lack of federal duck stamp), so the sporting life of this household didn't get started until the sun, under a heavy veil of clouds, had descended substantially in the west. Both the boys thought it was a good idea to put off supper for awhile so that we might bring Brody out to look for a woodcock.

And so, attired in boots, orange vests and hats, and toting side-by-side shotguns real and real-looking and a spear, we three trudged with Brody up past the barn and pigeon loft to a small stand of red maples above the pasture. We were going woodcock hunting.

A light wind was out of the southeast, so we entered the woods from the north to give the dog some wind to work with. I activated Brody's beeper collar and sent him in. Nolan and Collin followed me; we paused while I answered questions about the beeper and how we'd know if Brody found a bird. In a minute or so (probably less) Brody went on point. I found a good place for the boys to stand and watch while I went ahead to flush the bird. Collin was backing me up with his shotgun (minus caps), as was Nolan with his spear. My stomping about didn't produce a bird, and before long Brody worked cautiously ahead. He came to a stop after another 30 yards.

I brought the boys up to another opening where they had a view the dog, and again I went in to flush a bird. This time a woodcock whistled up. My first shot whistled up through the air past the rising bird, and the second shot tumbled the woodcock to the ground. There was no need for Collin to fire his pop gun, and fortunately no need for Nolan to hurl his spear. Brody over ran the bird, which allowed me to get there in time to take it from the dog soon after he picked it up (haven't progressed that far w/ fetch yet). The boys were pretty excited (so were Brody and I for that matter). They'd seen the dog go on point, the bird fly up, the shooting, and the bird fall. They each wanted a "smoky shell". It was getting late, and the odds of improving on the hunt were about nil, so I heeled the pup and we headed to the house. The kids took turns carrying the woodcock. They recounted the hunt over pizza, and after supper they did a fine job of plucking the bird. The only drawback of this perfect hunt is that their expectations may be a bit too high now. For what it's worth, it didn't seem like a flight had come in last night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

2009 WC Carnage Report

I know Keith likes his carnage reports--sorry I didn't post this earlier.  Perhaps Andy can provide some analysis of the data or an overview of how the nation's numbers were last year.

We got out again yesterday to help the state manage its pesky woodcock problem. Six birds, five points, one shot, one kill. NO grouse. hmmm.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Snippet from Minnesota

Bird numbers were good in NE Minnesota. Weather was balmy, a little on the dry side. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get my dogs on the ground much -- a couple hours for Brody on Saturday 10/9 and a couple hours more later in the week during scouting; an hour w/ Spy during the RGS hunt, and finally (after the work was done) about 6 hrs w/ Brody over this past Sat eve/Sun morn. This was our first hunting of the year anywhere.

Little things can make or break a hunt. Spy made the most of his hour of hunting last Friday by pointing 3 wc and 4 grouse; all 7 birds were quite killable and were shot at, but we bagged just two: a wc by my hunter (his first!) and a grouse that I killed on Spy's last point of the day (at his age -- 13 -- you never know when it's his last. Period.).

Brody showed alot of... "variation", and alot of progress in a short time. He bumped plenty of birds early on, and made some nice points - and more consistently worked birds nicely - as his time on the ground increased. He ran w/ alot of urgency initially, probably a combination of pent-up energy and inexperience (as well as the potential to race in his breeding), and later settled into an easy handling mode, but still covering ground quickly. In the end I killed a woodcock and 3 grouse over his points, and I let go alot of killable foot-flushed and bumped birds. All those bumped birds and the few killed birds are great training. It's those pointed birds that got away that I regret not bringing down to reward the pup.

The photo is Brody last Sunday morning/noon in MN. It was dry as chips, but the birds were abundant and Brody was getting the hang of it. I had just knocked down a grouse from his 3rd or 4th point in a row, and he pointed it "dead" -- you can see it through the veg below about 6 inches to the front-right of his nose, its head is up. Pup was in a stupor, standing paralyzed, drunk on scent, eyes were just slits.

Also that morning I got to educate Brody on porcupines. For anyone who runs an e-collar, you might want to take advantage of your next porky encounter by setting the transmitter on fry-o-lator and nicking your dog when he knowingly approaches the porcupine too close. You want him to see and smell it. He'll think the porky gave him the jolt. Don't say a word, just pet him when he runs over to you, and hunt on. Try to come back around down wind later for another lesson. This could pay off some day. Hopefully you'll never know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Phoebe near Kenneth, Michigan

Here's another pic from the trip.  Woodcock were spotty, as usual.  Had a good first day on the eastern U.P. and landed these three bogsuckers with Phoebe.

I must say I got to see good work on woodcock from Bill's dog Maya and also from Rich's Conley, he of the earlier Pillsbury Doughboy fame.

My GPS crapped out on me last week, so Pete, no coordinates for you.  Sorry.

Preventative Maintenance

Grousers, here's what you need to do to your 2000 F-150s prior to taking them off-roading in the wilderness.

The excitement starts at 2:45. Enjoy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

We Hunt Where the Pavement Ends

It has come to some grousers' attention that other grousers consider Wisconsin to be a "second rate" suburb to Minnesota, and far below the great state of Maine as a desirable grouse camp location.

Be that as it may . . . we hunted hard all week, scouting some new coverts as well as revisiting some old ones. It was all good.

Here are some more pics.

Rich finds the wilderness

And a wilderness movie:

Finally, when you hunt where the pavement ends, bad things are bound to happen to your truck:

Tow dogge hooked up to truck

My rescuer celebrating my misfortune; aka
"Rich busting my ball joints"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Wisconsin Grouse Epic

the camp...4 happy guys and 3 good dogges. Wish you guys were here...

Mr Bill and Maya score...the old fashioned way.

The Cornell Flag flies proudly...

Jim in the "Rich, I hurt my truck" covert...

A good dog. Josh's gun connects for the sixth time on the trip.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Woodcock 2010 opener

Finger Lakes and Forest, in all due glory.

More woodcock flushes than can be remembered.

In times like these, you learn to live again.

A brace of woodcock, old guns, true friends.