Friday, March 29, 2013


I've never cross posted someone's blog post, but this is a really interesting read.  I have the greatest respect for Jefferson but I am distraught to read his views on dogs:
I participate in all your hostility to dogs, and would readily join in any plan of exterminating the whole race. I consider them as the most afflicting for all the follies for which men tax themselves. But as total extermination cannot be hoped for let it be partial . . . . should we not add a provision for making the owner of a dog liable for all the mischief done by him, and requiring that every dog shall wear a collar with the name of the person inscribed who shall be security for his honest demeanor?

UPLAND EQUATIONS: A PRESIDENTIAL PURSUIT, PART THREE: THOMAS JEFFERS...: AUTHOR'S NOTE:  Here is the third and final installment of my article on bird-hunting presidents.  The first two installments on Geo...

Thursday, March 28, 2013


There are very few books about springers or other flushing gundogs.  Pointers are supposed to allow you the time to wax poetic about their regal nature as you anticipate for the oncoming flush of the 'king' of gamebirds.  This has lead to a great literary and art tradition...featuring pointers. I'm surprised there isn't more literature about labs because there are the seemingly necessary lulls in the blinds waiting for flocks or singles to come in. Maybe upland hunting just so solitary a pursuit that it leads to an internal monologue that translates well to print.

I admit to loving the stuff as much as the next guy in tweed and peruse antique stores in hopes of finding a forgotten AB Frost print such as this:

Hunting behind a flushing breed, especially one 'on the edge', requires you to focus on too many things at once to develop an internal monologue any more complex than the one your dog is probably having. Despite popular convention, multitasking is a myth.

That's why I get so engaged with running spaniels in the UK and the videos that comes from there:

Invariably these are not solo hunts/shoots, so there is not really any way to do this on my scale.  There is obviously the camera operator in addition to the dog operator.  Nevertheless they are an interesting look at running trained spaniels.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Solo training is not always the best, but sometimes it's the only option.

I'm mostly a solitary creature. But even if I weren't, finding others to train with has not been easy.  Nearly everyone I know in the area who has a hunting dog has a pointing breed-and while I would like to train with them I haven't been able to make it happen yet.

I met a trainer at the last spaniel hunt test who offered to work with us but I haven't been able to get the time or $ together to do so. (Taxes coming due soon)

This leaves me right back where I was-any training that is going to happen is going to happen because I do it alone.

As noted, there is a hole in Emmie's performance that I think stems, in large part, from doing training by myself and having so many retrieves originate with me-rather than the field. Options?  I need to get the dog to start looking to the field for retrieves, not to me.  Dove season is a ways off so something artificial has to happen.

I can't shell out $400+ for a remote launcher. It's just not an option right now.  I have played with trebuchet/catapults in my early geeky Dungeons and Dragons days. I even helped with a sculpture professor who was building a trebuchet meant to sling molten iron into the North Sea on the coast of Scotland at the turn of the millennium.  So-why not build a trebuchet for slinging a bumper/bird?

I've entertained the idea, and while I really WANTED to build one I've decided I have a better solution...a .22 blank bumper launcher-similar to this:
bumper launcher
Using the dummy launcher is great for teaching steadyness and for throwing LONG distance retrieves. I have a rounded bumper that I use to create a scent trail for the dog to follow.

The question remained-how do I shoot this launcher and have the dog looking in the right direction?  Again, part of the problem is that they continue to look to ME for something to retrieve-not in the field.  So the remote "marked retrieve" originating from somewhere OTHER THAN me is important.

It's interesting how my ingenuity often looks like redneck engineering at first:

Ingredients list:
  • 1 dummy launcher
  • 1 wood clamp
  • 1 archery release
  • 1 roll of survey line (pink is optional!)
Trigger detail:
Note that the trigger length string can be adjusted with small knots to take up the length very slightly and I found my launcher didn't launch reliably unless the trigger string was taught.

Now-do a good impression of a WWII commando and run a length of trigger line a distance away and prepare your dog(s) for the remotely launched retrieve:
This is a 'posed' shot. I only ran one at a time on these remote marks.

In the end I was able to get the reaction I wanted and I think the training goals were reached. I need to go back and reinforce later this week.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quail habitat

CP-33 presents one possible solution to bringing gentleman bob back into something people don't have to refer to a "put and take".

CP-33 won't solve everything because "everything" would essentially require us to go back to small farms-those usually described as "hardscrabble" farms or small family farms; the ones where there were 11 children because that's what it took to run a farm with enough surplus to feed the family.

With absolutely no post-modern irony and as a southerner descended from share-croppers, I wouldn't wish that life on anyone. I know the post-reconstruction south that was so kind to gentleman bob was providing a hard life for poor blacks and poor whites alike. Economies of scale don't care about skin color.

However, after a few successful generations on the farm where a broad array of crops (vs modern mono-culture) and plenty of what are now called "dirty" fallow edges we might start to see the return of gentleman bob. If we were to travel above the mason-dixon line we would also see the possible expansion of ruffed grouse- a win/win!

If you read James Howard Kunstler it would be understandable if you saw real hope for a return of wildlife in the dissolution of suburbia and the abandoning of subdivisions under construction.  And I can't say I drive by several orchards of PVC stubs sticking from the ground, waiting for "development" to be built around them, and think about that.  To wit-there are even reports of pheasant returning to downtown Detroit.

Personally, I hope for a bit less of a dystopic process will help the bob; such as the extension of reasonable farm bills.

A good description of CP33 by Mississippi: 

Monday, March 4, 2013

On shooting better

I'm not the first to notice this: America is a nation of riflemen. As such we have a tendency to shoot our shotguns like they were rifles; which leads to all kinds of issues. I was as guilty of this as anyone until someone gave me a 'quick tip' at the skeet range which changed my approach to shooting completely. 

It's all in the feet.

With a 'rifleman' like approach to a target you will be set up something like this (NOTE-I shoot Left handed because I am left-eye dominant. Eye dominance - a subject for another time.)

Foot position with a traditional "Rifle" stance

You won't really notice an issue with this if you only shoot trap, or if you just shoot a stationary target...setting up like this comes naturally to someone who's first "firearm" was a Daisy Buck.

However-put yourself on the skeet field or sporting clays course, and you'll notice something right away-limited range of motion!

Green = Range of Motion
 What happens if you do this:
Adjusted range of motion
See how much your feet control your range of motion?  (This is a shooting stance championed by Percy Stansbury)

Application?  Consider the skeet field and both of these stances at station 4:

Option 2 allows full access to the field, the other puts you in a bit of a 'bind'.  This is what I was doing years ago.  That little tip - to move my feet - was a real catalyst in my thinking about all the things that determine a hit or a miss before you take the shot.