Thursday, January 21, 2016

A day in the field

Everyone has to begin any recount of such endeavors by apologizing for going to a preserve to work their dogs.

I say if it gets you out in the field and you get to work your dogs then more power to you. I know I certainly don't spend enough money to keep these places open so I'm actually grateful to those that do.

Last weekend was one of those increasingly rare ones lately where there was more daylight than cloud-cover.  The wind was noticeably brisk and I couldn't help thinking how hard it must have had to push to get that front to finally move through.

Since there is the spring trialing season coming up I needed to get my dogs on birds. We tried our usual haunts for woodcock since the end of deer season, but the weekend prior had raised only one and then we never found it again after the flush and my horribly bobbled shot.

The problem is that the area we had been finding them has been dramatically transformed with the seemingly incessant deluge. It's a hardwood bottom with a nice sized creek that feeds into one of the larger river systems working it's way to the Atlantic. This usually docile creek had overflowed it's banks so much that a full 8" of sand and silt now blankets a good portion of the bottom. A food plot just up from the creek had all it's winter wheat pushed to the side by the waters flow. The only way I could describe it to anyone not there was that it looked as if someone had combed the field like hair. It was like one of the old gents I used to see at church who still used Brylcreem. Luckily the silt and sand didn't inundate the food plot as I think the plants would have suffocated.

Another creek on the property had it's culvert plugged by the sediment and this led to the erosion of our road:

A photo posted by Sparkyflint (@gundogs_and) on

So, with no real birds to be had, a washed out road, and a need to work some rusty dogs it was time to pay a visit to the fine local hunting preserve.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Rain, deer, rain, mud, rain, deer, mud...and a grouse

I have actually been busy and will post a about this soon:
deer #2 Ogelthorpe CO, GA.
deer #1 Ogelthorpe CO, GA
See the print in the mud below? That's my next quarry.
evidence of hound from hell
And for what it's worth, and probably the most striking:

there was a grouse flushed.

The first one ever for me this far south.  The DNR website says they have been seen as far south as Clarke Co, GA.

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

RIP Jack Rowe

Jack Rowe 1936-2015

As a LH shooter, one of the reasons I gravitated to the SxS, especially the older ones is that generally they are cast neutral.

The lateral divergence of the shotgun stock from the plane of the barrels.

probably better explained, along with so many other variables, here:

In the end, I wanted to shoot more consistently and to that end I owe a debt to another brit: Chris Batha (who I should write something about).

Time was spent developing a consistent mount and then more time was spent exactly 16 yards away from a pattern plate. The results of which told me how much I needed to alter my stock.

I went in search of info on bending stocks as I have enough woodworking experience to know I can do it myself.

Beyond the usual sources I came across a youtube video of Jack at one of his seminars.  He was bending stocks, but without using a fancy jig. He simply had the wrist wrapped in cotton which he soaked in linseed oil then heated with an open flame. Occasionally the cloth would flame up, but he'd simply swat the embers out and move the flame a bit further away.

It was this matter-of-fact demeanor when working with the guns that struck me most. Here was a man who was a trained English gunsmith and yet he didn't hold these guns in high reverence as sacred objects. Rather, he seems to see them as what I imagine the craftsmen who made them may have: functional.

These were machines/things meant to be taken apart and adjusted to suit a new owner; and in it's in the english tradition to send a gun back to the shop for a "refresh" every year or so. The gun is disassembled and worn or "tired" parts are replaced. Inherited your uncle's purdy? There no problem getting it adjusted to fit you. Not the same size you were when you bought the gun? Have the length of pull adjusted.

They're tools and they should be an extension of the body.

Whatever one may think of Larry Potterfield and MidwayUSA I am glad they produced, and I purchased, their DVD of Jack Rowe working on SXS's. The quality of the recording was obviously affected by his declining health so I have to adjust the sound to really make out what he's saying. It's clear that this was created after the youtube videos I first saw.

My wife laughs at me, but I honestly think one of the things she loves about me is that I can sit and watch Jack tighten/loosen a frozen turn-screw without buggering the head, and be impressed.

Like so many before him that I never got to meet, he had an impact on me.

God rest Jack. Thanks.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer doldrums and financial plannings

Carson's reports have all been positive but I've been hesitant to post anything for fear of jinxing it.

Also, on a humorous note, I have a sneaking suspicion that a large percentage of my family are under the impression that Carson is off at some form of remedial obedience school and will return to us with the demeanor of an Scottish butler.

Personally, I'm expecting something else...

Thus far, the conversations with the trainer have been something like:

me: So, what do you think? Is he a hunting/meat-dog, is he a hunt test candidate, or is he maybe even a future field trial champion?  
trainer: If he was my dog the answers would be "yes, yes, and yes". 

One week later:
me: So you've had him for almost a month now-are you able to size him up yet?
trainer: I don't make predictions because so many things can go wrong and I don't like people coming back saying 'you said he'd make a such-and-such and he didn't'. But with this dog, if I don't run into any roadblocks, I think he could be real competitive in field trials. 
 me: cool
My family asked about Carson's progress and I shared the good reports. The general consensus was that my wife would have to be the dog handler if I was going to want him to compete....because that's what they always see when they watch dog shows – women handling the dogs around the ring. Like I said, I am expecting something else.

... mapping out the cost of field trials is a somewhat daunting task. There's food, travel, lodging, entry fees, additional training sessions, etc... I have a dog so I can hunt, that isn't gun-shy and loves birds. That's probably going to have to be enough, but if it's not I know I'd rather carry a NEF single-shot behind a good dog than have my dream gun (bar-in-wood round action) but a crappy dog.

A little shotgun porn: