Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trouble in Bird Dog Paradise

I recently became aware of a threat to bird dog folks who live in or visit Montana and train on wild birds. You need to read this, then call Mike Lee at FWP - the number is: 406-444-4039


The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is preparing to make dog training on wild birds essentially illegal without permission from the agency director. Conditions under which a "permit" might be acquired and the restrictions attached there to are not defined in the proposal. 

The ruling that FWP is proposing to adopt is:
  1. NEW RULE I PERMIT TO TRAIN DOGS IN UPLAND GAME BIRD NESTING AREAS


REASON: In recent years, the department has received both written and verbal complaints regarding massive dog training occurrences, primarily in Eastern Montana on both private and public ground. The dog training that has been documented includes as many as 60 dogs and also includes the use of horses. This happens in the months prior to hunting season and has had negative effects on the local bird populations and has decreased opportunity for the hunting public. 

The Fish and Wildlife Commission was also approached by bird hunters who were noticing a large decrease in the available birds during the hunting season. The commission in turn asked the department to do something to curtail the large-scale dog training. 

MCA 87-4-915 (5)(a) Dogs may be trained in open fields at any time without permission of the director only if:
(i) live game birds are not killed or captured during training; and
(ii) the training is more than 1 mile from any bird nesting or management area or game preserve.
The language in the statute indicates that permission from the director is needed to train dogs in bird nesting areas, management areas, or game preserves. The statute does not describe the mechanism by which an individual may attain permission nor does it define what bird nesting areas, management areas, or game preserves are. The language in the proposed rule will provide for that and help define a permitting system for the activities in question.
4. Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments concerning the proposed action in writing to: Enforcement Division, Attn: Mike Lee, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620- 0701; or e-mail FWPDogTraining@mt.gov, and must be received no later than June 9, 2017.
5. If persons who are directly affected by the proposed action wish to express their data, views, or arguments orally or in writing at a public hearing, they must make written request for a hearing and submit this request along with any written comments to Mike Lee at the above address no later than May 26, 2017.
6. If the agency receives requests for a public hearing on the proposed action from either 10 percent or 25, whichever is less, of the persons directly affected by the proposed action; from the appropriate administrative rule review committee of the Legislature; from a governmental subdivision or agency; or from an association having not less than 25 members who will be directly affected, a hearing will be held at a later date. Notice of the hearing will be published in the Montana Administrative Register. Ten percent of those directly affected has been determined to be greater than 25 persons based on the number of people in Montana who bird hunt with bird dogs. 

 Back channel information...  

This proposal apparently sprang into being at the behest of a small group of land owners in the Scobey area (in the far northeastern corner of Montana). Friction has been building between the landowners and a professional bird dog trainer. The land owners want to sell bird hunts and feel that the dog trainer scatters the birds while training in the pre-birdseason dog training period - July 15 to August 31. Add to this the apparently abrasive attitude of the trainer and there 'ya go - a new state law that will punish everyone. 

 More effective ways to disturb/scatter game birds prior to the season...

1. Build lots of new roads and fraking ponds/well sites, etc.

2. Fail to order enough local rainfall, or too much, or allow hail to fall on your hunting/ranching area when the birds are nesting.

3. Cut your hay, wheat, barley, etc. before nesting is completed. You will produce lots of dead/dying young game birds for the crows, vultures, and four footed consumers.

4. Spray pesticides and herbicides on the earth.

5. Take land out of CRP for crop production. 

6. Eliminate ground cover and edge cover for game birds by discing and planting marginal ground.

Personally, I think running some dogs across the countryside is very far down from the top of the list. But it might help a few people at the expnse of many others.

I have been going to Montana to train may dogs every summer for most of the past decade. I run on private ground with the permission of the land owner. I put a little money into the local economy. It is  great place to train. If I can't go there, I'll go to the Dakotas, Idaho, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba. 

There are more than a few people who derive a living from training bird dogs in Montana, and there are many people, professionals and amateurs alike, who go to the last best place for bird dogs and bird hunters in prder to train on real live game birds. Sadly, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is attempting to make this ruling and avoid the process of holding hearings for public input prior to adoption of the new rules. Go to the department site and comment and call Mike Lee (and anyone else you know at FWD). If the phone lights up and enough comments are posted, perhaps this can be beaten back or modified to allow sensible use of the resource.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Buddy at 10 Months

John McIltrot at Seranoa Kennels has Buddy for the summer camp experience and initial development while I finish remodeling my house and selling some property.

John sent a photo of Buddy and commented very positively on the little guy...


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

HSUS wooing Conservatives?

If this sounds counter-intuitive... you are right. HSUS has spent a lot of money supporting Democratic candidates and initiatives aligned with their political agenda.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that HSUS is launching an initiative seeking to garner support from members of a traditional opponent.

" Imagine if Planned Parenthood launched a rebranding campaign to get conservatives to support its mission. “We’re all for limited government — we want the government out of private lives,” the group pleads in this fictional scenario.

Anyone with an IQ above Forrest Gump’s would understand this as meaningless sycophancy by a group that would throw conservative agendas under the bus at their earliest future convenience. Yet just such a campaign is about to be launched by the Humane Society of the United States. It is debuting a “Conservative Advisory Council” to sweet-talk right-leaning individuals to support its vegan-animal liberation agenda.
It’s the classic case of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), not related to local animal shelters with similar names, has the same goals as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals): Get rid of meat, cheese, ice cream, circuses, zoos, aquariums, pet stores, hunting and basically any other way animals are used commercially or institutionally. The CEO of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle, has said, “I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.”

HSUS’ political arms have spent $4.6 million (80 percent of its PAC money) trying to defeat Republican candidates. They endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. They just endorsed liberal state Sen. Raymond Lesniak for the New Jersey 2017 gubernatorial race. The voluntary board of HSUS shows a decided bias toward Democrats in its political giving. Mr. Pacelle once ran for office as a Green Party candidate.."

Read more here... Washington Post Story

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Renewed threats to Public Lands and cyanide bombs

I expect that most people most likely to be effected know by now that public lands are again threatened by the very short term thinking (thinking??) of Washington politicos. It's the Sagebrush Rebellion all over again. Cliven Bundy must be thrilled. Well maybe not, because he would have to actually buy, or at least pay taxes on, the land that he has grazed so long for free.

That's right. The pendulum has swung back to those extractive industries that currently pay bottom dollar to graze, scrape, dig, and log our public lands. OUR public lands. That they view as potentially THEIR PRIVATE lands.

Turning Federal lands over to the states is a potential bonanza for the states and their special friends. How long would it take for these states to sell, or even give away, these lands. And our access to these lands would be done. Forever.

Please support groups who are opposing public lands transfer - Trout Unlimited and Back Country Hunters and Anglers This is the least that you can do.

I have also been reading Greg McReynolds latest post on A Mouthful of Feathers about the continued use of cyanide bombs that are deadly to anyone who stumbles across one. They are designed to kill coyotes but are just as attractive to your bird dog - and just as deadly. There is no excuse for setting these deadly booby traps on any land - public or private.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

L. J. -- lucky dog!

L.J. has a new home with a bird hunter in Colorado. He gets to go hunting quail, has a nine year old playmate, and gets to live in the house with his (very happy) new owner.

Pointing quail...


Friday, December 9, 2016

Black Brant

Over the past couple of weeks I have hunted black brant at the invitation of my friend Gregg Holland. Shot my first brant out of a layout boat - great experience. Brant are exciting and great on the table. I could get used to this.

Here is Gregg's hard working retriever, Riley, making a retrieve...


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pete has gone over to the Dark Side

I just finished three days of great chukar and partridge hunting in northeast Nevada.  The dogs did very well and we found about a covey per hour of intense hiking.  One sequence stands out in my mind ...


Ryan's pointer Storm went on point 500' above us, up a steep slope, on the far side of 50' tall rock outcropping.  (thanks, Garmin).  So we suck it up, gain the altitude, and start to actually climb over and around the rock to ambush the birds.  Storm has great manners and all goes well.  Ryan generally goes over the top, I manage to find my way around about half way up the rock on the left side.  We get most of the way around the pile and the birds finally spook, flushing from high on my right down the valley to my left, 35 to 50 yards out.  Tough shots, but for the first time in my life I tripled on chukar.  Storm did a great job on the retrieves; one of the birds had bounced 50 yards down the slope, but all were dead when he picked them up.


I doubled on another covey and finished that day with a Nevada limit, also my first ever.


 But now I am firmly on the Dark Side.  I really enjoy shooting my vintage 16ga SxS's but using those guns I probably would not have put even one bird in the bag.  Last year I purchased a Benelli Ultra Lite 12ga semi-auto; it weighs only 6lbs and swings like a game gun.  It also handles heavy loads:  my first two rounds are 1-3/8oz of nickel plated #7 at 1350fps, and my last round is a Praire Storm #6.  For the trip I shot over 50% and many of the shots would have been passed if swinging the 16's.  And the Benelli has a nice sling which makes it much easier to scramble around in the nasty places where chukar hang out.


The SxS's are not for sale; they are the perfect guns for most of my hunts in Arizona and Montana and California and Oregon.  But on those big Nevada slopes I'll be swinging the Benelli.  Apologies to Obi Wan.