Monday, October 9, 2017

Lightning strikes twice

My pup, Buddy, is showing me that he is birdy, handles to the front naturally, and wants to please. But when running him in Montana over the past couple of weeks  he seemed to be tiring sooner than normal and when tired his breathing was labored. After a cursory exam in the field I took him to Dr. Marcos Puiggari, DVM at Alpine Veterinary in Missoula.

Marcos confirmed that Buddy had Elongated Soft Palette (ESP) -- the same problem that was effecting L.J. (see an earlier post on this subject). Here is what Marcos found...

Before surgical correction - note the constricted airway that the pointer is indicating.

Note the much improved airway after corrective surgery...

In earlier conversations with Terry Turlep, DVM, who has done quite a few ESP corrections on sporting dogs, ESP occurs more often than is commonly recognized. He also indicated that the condition is most common in breeds with pug noses - pugs, bulldogs, etc., but can occur in all breeds and the genetics are not understood.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

More on Montana training regulations

I attended the Billings hearing last night. The sporting dog community was well represented and vocal.

Montana FWP announced that they were NOT going to pursue rule-making in this matter but were expecting that it would take the form of proposed legislation, which would be a comprehensive overhaul and total re-write of proposed regulations. In other words, they tossed the potato upstairs. It is now highly possible that the proposed legislation will not be ready until some time next year, and might never move out of committee to the floor for a vote.

HOWEVER, the FWP has asked for comments to assist in shaping the possible legislation and we should all put pen to paper (or get on our keyboards) to suggest some sensible permitting rules and process that would protect the wild bird resource and the ability to train on wild birds before and after the nesting season. With a formal permitting process in place the state would know how many trainers are training dogs on wild birds, where they are training, and how many dogs are being trained. It is my belief that this actual (not imagined) data will reveal that the 'problem' is largely imaginary.

I will post a link to the proper forms and a contact point as soon as I am able.

Meanwhile, you may continue training as always. Please have a good thought for those people who stood up and forced this frivolous rule making to take a more sensible course.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Meetings scheduled on Montana Dog Training regs

Here's the latest... from a field trialer I know in Bozeman...

The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has released a schedule of statewide hearings as a result of a year or two ago missteps of dog trainers in Eastern Montana. Apparently, they believe that some regulation is in order. While some regulation isn't bad, the wrong regulation is disastrous. I am not the lead man on this topic but noticed this release in the Spokane Spokesman & Review and wanted to pass it on. If I've missed anyone, please forward it.

Public hearings on the proposed rule changes will be held as follows:

  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 4 headquarters at 4600 Giant Springs Rd., Great Falls 
  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 5 headquarters at 2300 Lake Elmo Dr., Billings
  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 6 headquarters at 54078 US-2, Glasgow
  • Oct. 2, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 7 headquarters at 352 I-94 Business Loop, Miles City
  • Oct. 10, 6 p.m. at FWP headquarters at 1420 E. 6th Ave., Helena
  • Oct. 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 1 headquarters at 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell
  • Oct. 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 2 headquarters at 3201 Spurgin Rd., Missoula
  • Oct. 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 3 headquarters at 1400 S. 19th Ave., Bozeman
Clearly, the field trail community, as well as any dog owners, need to have a voice in this process. John McIltrot has been very front and center on this and has a very logical view of the concept.

If you are in Montana, please try to attend one of these meetings... it will only take an hour or so and they are in the evening, so it won't cut into hunting time.

See you there.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Buddy is now a year old and continues to score points with his trainer, John McIltrot of Seranoa Kennels in Broadview, Montana. John sent this photo, taken in July. I'll be heading to Montana in a few weeks for dog stuff, fishing, and a lot of bird hunting.

Lust and Henry Atkin guns

Henry Atkin learned to make guns while apprenticed to his father - the first gun maker employed by Purdey when they began their business in the early 19th century. After his apprenticeship he worked in the London gun trade (likely as an outworker) and began making guns under his own name in the late 19th century at the height of widespread participation in British shooting sports. His guns were based on the same design as the Purdey guns - the excellent sidelock design first developed by Fredrick Beesley. The quality of Atkin's guns earned him a loyal following and membership in the top tier of London gunmakers.

Henry died in 1907, but his firm continued making top quality guns and, in 1909, they began building guns incorporating modifications to the cocking system and ejectors, refinements on the 'Purdey" design. Over the years of the twentieth century the firm Henry Atkin Ltd. persisted through times fat and lean and kept their enviable reputation intact until 1960 when they merged with Grant and Lang, forming Atkin, Grant, and Lang, which survives to this day and is still making the improved '1909 Model' sidelock best gun.

 The Aktin (top) and Purdey compared.

In 1947 the doyen of British gun writers, Gough Thomas, ordered a 12 gauge Atkin and insisted that the gun be built " the highest prewar standards." He was very well satisfied in the gun delivered to him and shot it the rest of his life, often praising the gun in his writings.

Fast forward to me. I have been well aware of Atkin's guns for some time and was finally overwhelmed by my lust for another gun -- an lightweight, 12 gauge, spring opening, sidelock ejector Atkin gun.

This gun was made as the first gun of a consecutive pair in 1930. It has it's original 27" barrels and remains in proof after nearly 90 years of use. Weight is 6lbs., 3 oz. It is being exported from the UK and imported to the USA - a nearly incomprehensible process that reminds me of the famous 'chicken sandwich' scene from "Five Easy Pieces" with Jack Nicholson ordering a variation from the menu. I'll post up here when I do see the gun arrive.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

W. C. Kirk passes

I got word yesterday that W. C. Kirk passed away in his sleep on Saturday.

W. C. Kirk trained and handled HOF Nat'l CH Johnny Crockett and won the National Championship with Johnny in 1970. I hope W. C. is running bird dogs and winning on the other side.

He will be missed.

W. C. Kirk with Johnny Crockett about 1970

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:

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, 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.