Sunday, February 27, 2022

Prairie Blues

 

2019 Southwestern Championship, Johnson Ranch, Trail City, SD

You're rolling in at sunset with a truck of restless dogs

And the whistling wind comes, sounding rather scary.

Unlock and open camp, then light the lanterns and the stove.

And we'll face another summer on the prairie.


Tomorrow we will cull them. And you'll say your string's the worst,

But, of course, it's far from extraordinary.

Some mornings on the check cord and some hunting of young chicks,

And they'll carry all their days the mark of "Prairie."


You'll wrench an arm - and bounce - when your brainless nag departs

After dropping you kerplunk - (you were unwary)

A skunk gets you from one side and a porcupine the other

If you dismount haplessly upon the prairie.


Your best dogs point them, too, and there's little you can do

To correct their "varmint finds" - unneccessary.

If hail and twisters lay and you find the birds today,

You may still get somethiing done out on the prairie.


The summer speeds away and you feel you've come to naught.

Then your dogs show form that's due next January.

When the money trials come up, you don't place a single pup,

So you fold your camp and vow to shun the prairie.


But, dreaming, longing nightly for the blue flax fields in bloom,

When your June time state side life is sedintary,

You'll jam the truck with gear and set your wheels for northern roads,

Towards the hopes, dreams - and mirages - of the prairie.


From the book "The Unforgettables and Other True Fables" by Bill Allen. The book is now in it's third printing and available at www.strideaway.com.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Long time coming

It has been quite a while since I posted on Living with Bird Dogs. If you missed the posts, sorry. If you didn't miss them, then no harm done.

So what's new? 

 Practically everything. I have relocated to the mountains of SE Arizona with my five setters. I had six when I arrived here two years ago, but my good old dog, Ted, died in October at 16-1/2 years old. We had a great run, but damn, i miss that dog everyday.

Bought a house and land bordering the Coronado National Forest. Elevation 5100 feet. A rolling piece of land dotted with oaks (several species), junipers and, of course cat's claw and brambles of many types. No barn (it burnt to the ground in 2017) so I erected a decent sized metal barn/car garage/shop to keep my boat, Jeep, Landcruisers, and dog truck. Also installed my tools and other drag-alongs from my old place.

I built a kennel room off the garage at the house with individual runs (from TK Kennels - 1st class product) and with A/C for the summer months and heat for the winter. Adjacent to the kennel is a fenced paddock for the dogs that they use daily. An acre or two with gullies, oaks, and lizards to pursue.

 I acquired a pair of Atlas AT250 clay target machines with carts and voice releases, put bigger tires on the carts so they could be towed around behind the Jeep. 

So this is all to say that I have sort of set the place up to suit myself.

This past summer a friend from Teaxas gave me a nice setter pup from a litter he bred. At six months now he is feeling his oats and I've been working him on the basics with a check cord - seeking some co-operation. It might be happening. Have a cage full of quail to work him on when we get to that stage. He does not need to be shown birds to build enthusiasm, as he has plenty of drive and a ton of point.

 So I had promised Jared during a visit to his place last summer that I would resume posting. And I expect to provide some comments and information as convenient or when I have something to say that I think iteresting or important. I hope that you enjoy the future blog posts.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

"Duel"


Mike Gaddis' "Duel on Tabernacle Mountain" is a great read. A tale of an amazing young setter, and his nemesis, a wily ruffed grouse "wisdom bird." Duel is a page-turner, a must-read for all upland bird hunters who appreciate a good bird dog, and love to see one work. The book was published in a limited edition of 200 copies; leather bound with gilded edges, and presented in a one-time only, heirloom-quality, signed, numbered, and individually personalized. Find it at www.duelontabernaclemtn.com.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Indian Head Whiski - Jim

 

Jim is turning out to be quite a bird dog. I've had him out several times this season hunting both chukar and pheasant. Chukar seem to be a bit easier on him than these cagey old roosters. The chukar have been holding a little better, and even if they do run a little in front of the dog, you can usually put them up. When a dog points chukar you generally get some form of bird-work; even if it's chasing them across a hillside and having them flush wild on you. Roosters just seem to disappear; vanish. It's aggravating. Prior to pointing this old bird Jim had several very staunch points which had me running to the front of him and flushing like a mad man; to no avail. He was pointing with such intensity I thought a bird was there; hen or rooster I just wanted to flush him a bird. After trying to kick a bird out for a minute or so, I'd release him, and off we'd go hunting again. When this rooster hit the ground I cut Jim loose so he could get his mouth on the bird; he pounced on it, he mouthed and pawed at it, he snarfed it and got a general nose-full. Based on his reaction after reaching the bird, it seemed to be just what he needed......

Monday, December 7, 2020

Pups First Covey

Photo By Holly Higgins
IH Pearls Blindsider (Miller's Blindsider X Pearl Again), was aquired earlier this year from Daniels Kennels, of Bronwood, Georgia."Val" has been hunted in chukar country several times now and has pointed a covey each time she has been down; a great start for a young dog. Val is showing high style on her birds and points with intensity. She's also making great progress in her yard work, roading off the ATV, and with pigeons in the bird field. Quiet in the kennel and easy to be around, Val is a nice addition to the string.

 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Daybreak


Brisk this morning; about 12-degrees. I had just fed the dogs a cold-morning ration of feed with warm water, thrown the horses a couple flakes each and broke the one-inch-thick sheet of ice on their water trough. Looking to the east as I headed to the house for another cup of coffee, the sun was just ready to summit the distant juniper-covered ridges; quail and coyotes were sounding-off in the distance, ravens patrolling the roads for rabbits and other varmints which had had a bad night. After that cup of coffee it'll be time to fill dog waters and do the essential kennel maintenance. So-begins another day......

Monday, November 9, 2020

My Opener


 I generally consider November 1 the start of my upland hunting season. I'm not a fan of opening day crowds, mosquitos, pin feathers, or the heat, or snakes.... I like to run two or three dogs a day, one at a time; and in the early season, when it's hot, it's tough to do that. By November things have started to cool off, the crowds have thinned a little, and hopefully my dogs are tuned-up and ready to hunt. This past weekend there was a skiff of snow on the ground, a cool north wind, and things felt just right with a couple layers of wool up top, heavy pants and socks down below, nice gloves; perfect conditions......