Friday, October 23, 2009

New dog topper

Shortly before I left for Nebraska in mid-September, I completed my dog topper project - a four-holer with room for extra gear. Above photo - Ted is modeling on the tailgate of the Ford with the completed topper in place. This is a Ford F350 crewcab with a short (6' 8") bed. 

This topper was inspired by the ones made by Bob Welch of WingWorks in Hailey, ID. Instead of the aluminum sheet that Bob used, I chose to make the interior of Baltic birch plywood, which was then sprayed with Line-X bed liner. This made an inexpensive, durable and stable solution to floors and dividers.

Here is Tommy trying out his new digs. He seems dubious, but all the dogs are happy to travel on warmth and comfort with hay bedding. The boxes in the bed of my F350 are each 24"W X 32" L X 27" H and the floors are insulated with 1" of styrofoam sheet under the Line-X coating - this has proven very successful.

I will make a PDF of rough plans and some photos when I get back from Saskatchewan. More updates to come in about a week.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chukar and horses and such

I spent last weekend in the Inyo Mountains (California, east of the Sierras) hunting chukar and quail. Warm weather limited hunts to a few hours in the morning but the bird population was reasonble, generally a covey or two for each hour walked. Good times for man and dog.

Sadly, the ground that I was walking had been horribly overgrazed by wild horses. The rocky areas that were inaccessible to the horses had good grass cover but the open areas were nearly barren. Such a shame that a piece of high desert habitat, which should be a real jewel, was instead ruined by an invasive species. The wild horses and burros are now protected, thanks to the efforts of misguided psuedo-environmentalists, and they compete strongly with native species such as the desert bighorn. Of course chukar are also non-native so perhaps I am not being entirely consistent ... but chukar do not seem to impact the environment to any measurable degree.

While camped in the area I met a group of buddies who had been hunting chukar together for a couple of decades. Nice guys, and clearly understood where to find chukar. However, none of them used pointing dogs, and with my two setters I was getting into a LOT more birds than they were. Interesting to have the difference in canine support illustrated this strongly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'll leave it to Mike to post more stories of our trip together with Clair, but thought others would enjoy pictures from my en-route hunt in Colorado. I had a day to wander while traveling to Nebraska and Joe Augustine very kindly suggested an area for ptarmigan (thanks Joe!) Hunting those birds is quite an adventure since their range starts at 12,000 feet or so and goes up from there. But the fall view of the tundra, with snowy peaks in the background, was quite lovely.

The tundra was very damp, spongy underfoot, and there were small lakes everywhere.

I started out hunting on the edges of the meadows, gaining altitude, and eventually moved my way onto the steeper slopes. At just under 13,000 feet we found some birds. My pups handled them reasonably well and I found myself with a 3-bird limit pretty quickly.

The colors in this picture are just wonderful - I hope they show well on the posted image. The white birds contrast beautifully with the yellow and orange tundra plants.

A close-up. These birds were about half-way fitted for their all-white winter coat.

There was a small peak nearby, perhaps 13,800', and I started to climb it just for the view. However, Rosie seemed to be hit by altitude sickness - she got glassy-eyed and listless - so we headed back to thicker air. I gave her half a Tiger's Milk bar and some water, and by the time we got under 12,000' she was fine.

I grilled one of the ptarmigan a few days later and can testify that they are delicious.

Take care all, Pete.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Report from the road...

I am in northern Michigan. Got on the road the afternoon of September 19th, and drove to Valentine, Nebraska to hunt prairie chickens with Pete Houser - and Clair Kofoed was along to take photos and offer encouragement. We hunted with outfitter Mike 2
Kuchera for a couple of days on private land,  and then we tried the McKelvie National Forest lands near Valentine. We got into lots of birds with Mike, fewer on the public ground. More on this later.

Pete and I then headed to Eastern Montana for sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge. It was cool and windy, but mostly dry and we found birds and had some good dogwork every day. Pete packed up and left for home, with a blue grouse hunt along the way. He reports that he did well in his 'special' spot, and bagged a double-double - both dogs pointing and produced two birds for a double on blues, followed by a late flush, and he was limited out. Pete's shooting the Fox, and his shooting has apparently improved.

As Pete went West, I headed East, crossing North Dakota and stopping today in Clearview, MN to visit Scott and Ben Berg at their beautiful kennels. We ran some dogs, and  while Ted was wornout and had sore feet, Tommy produced an acceptable performance. Scott and Ben showed me several very nice young dogs, and of which I would be happy to have in my truck. Ben's wife Dawn provided a nice lunch of classic Minnesota chili, and we had a nice visit. 

More later, and maybe some photos...