Monday, December 8, 2014

The sound of an arrow hitting the target

One day around 7 years ago I was working the dogs at a nearby WMA when I came in contact with one of the DNR folks. I hate that I can't remember his name but he was a young fellow not long out of college and, like every DNR law-enforcement officer I've ever dealt with, he was genuinely nice.  I'd like to think impressed him with my knowledge of the law when I volunteered to show my receipt for the quail I was training with, but he just laughed and said "sure, but I'll tell you I've never even checked one before!" He just seemed to really want to talk and hangout; I didn't get the feeling that he was just trying to get me to say something to get myself in trouble.

Turns out that his passion was bowhunting and we talked a bit about that (b/c that is all that is allowed on this WMA) he asked if I'd ever used the 3D range across the road...

3D range?


(Actually didn't even know what that was but I've always loved archery. Always. For as far back as I can remember-to those "bows" strung with kite string and suction-cupped arrows)

To me the sound of an arrow hitting the target solicits the same endorphins as the sound of a golfball dropping into the cup.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The importance of doing things yourself.

Looking at the calendar I note that there ARE benefits to living in GA. The woodcock season just opened today, and I have every intent of getting out ASAP to put the pups to use. They've not so much been neglected as much as they've been in hiding. See, in GA these woods are deer woods, and any dogs seen out and about are likely to get shot.

I'm not kidding.

Lots of hicks used to brag about it on the local forums but that has been somewhat squashed. Nevertheless, it's one of the many reasons I run spaniels rather than a bigger running breed; but regardless, I keep them out of the woods until at least after Thanksgiving for their own protection.

The lease has me blessed with a couple of bucks this year.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The art of Bob Bertram

Having completely matriculated through the modern art education system where depicting reality is never in vogue, everyone is an amateur auto-psychologist/interlocutor forcing others to join them as they work through the myriad reasons mommy and daddy didn't love them enough, or society oppressed their ancestors and continues to deny their "human-ness" because of their mis-appropriated gender assignation...; it's nice to be able to admit that sometimes I just like to look at (and sometime even create) pretty pictures.

In a moment of weakness/strength (because, in art, everything is a dichotomy) I purchased something I'm really excited about, a "study" from Bob Bertram:

I'm not going to try to dissect why I like it so much, but I think calling it a 'study' is an injustice. Do not be fooled by the loose character of the plein aire expressionistic brushstrokes, because while they are not indicative of his illustrations, which are decidedly more formal and illustrative, they show spontaneity and engagement with the 'present'. I could go on, but I'll keep the art-speak to a min.

Bob and his work are well known in the dog community. I have been more than impressed with his openness to inquiry and generosity.  More of his work can be seen on his facebook page.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


One of the reasons I've stayed with spaniels, although I've considered other flavors of hunting dog, is that they are so versatile...not versatile enough to be in the NAVHDA ( and not that I'm bitter, but it's because they don't point). Having had the opportunity to train with some of those folks, I don't hold that against them! Mostly people that love dogs, that love working and training their dogs, don't care what flavor you bring so long as you bring dedication.

To the's not rabbit season. It's spring and the rabbits are...breeding like rabbits. Combining this with the record woodcock return migration and this has been a very good year to be a puppy and have a puppy to train.

Between mixo and the simple fact that EVERYTHING eats a rabbits, there's an ebb and flow regarding rabbit populations. From what I've seen, it seems to be a 3 year cycle; but that's so unscientific a conjecture that it really only rises to the level of "maybe".

I am not seeing the number of raptors I was and I AM seeing more rabbits than I was. Make of that what you's a situation like 'which came first: chicken/egg' I'm sure.

I do wish there were more on my lease but I'm hopeful it won't be long before they find all the brush piles from the latest timber-thinning and get busy doing their business of being rabbits.  In the meantime I'll do my part and continue to cull predators as I can.

The latest was a 4 1/2' rattler found on the closing day of turkey season. No pic as it was night so you'll have to just imagine a smoking 870 barrel and a rattler with no head.

In the meantime I try to get the pups on the areas where I know there are rabbits.

No flushes in this vid and don't judge my videography too harshly:

Friday, April 11, 2014

It's the time of the year for that "other" upland bird

No dog work required here, unfortunately. I've always heard that boykins can be used as turkey dogs, but I've never known anyone who did such.

It was a mature tom at ~3 or 4 years based on his 9 1/2" beard and 7/8" spurs.

It was almost a case of self defense, and it was over before I had a chance to really get excited. I can't say I shot him in full strut, but nevertheless I did call him in and it wasn't a long distance snipe. Ample evidence of which is that I was shooting a modified choke 2 3/4" 12GA; distance to this bird was less than 30 yards.

The birds are hot and heavy for a 'lost hen' call right now.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Scolopax minor

As I've said in the past, it's amazing what dogs can do to elevate your mood.

At approximately this same time last year we had a single flush on the same property. One woodcock-brilliantly silhouetted against the sky. I honestly thought about writing some poetry when it happened again this year, two weeks ago.

That single flush inspired poetry. I have yet to really internalize what the 8 flushes we had yesterday evening is causing.

(excuses to follow): All I had with me was my iPhone, and the vid is sooo bad I hesitate to show it; but if you look closely at the 10 second mark you will see (and hear) the flush of woodcock #8 from R to L.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Some tech play and an example of bad behavior

An example of bad behavior and it is completely my fault. 

Working two dogs at the same time can be done but it's not easy. In the above vid Emmie was not supposed to be walking at heel so she's not really disobeying. The simple fact is that I should have placed her at heel and then given the retrieve for Carson. Then if she ran-in to try and "steal" the bumper I could have rightfully corrected her, and she would probably expect it.

The difficulty here is that the retrieve is so important to her that it might be worth it to her to be corrected if she were able to get the retrieve. It's something I am working on, and actually in the previous vid of Carson doing the unseen retrieve Emmie is actually behind me at "hup".

At first blush it seems that if I had all day to do it, and the training grounds were my backyard, I could work them each independently to the level I would be happy and then bring them together. This is something we do, in terms of yard-work. I do place-board training with them independently. But eventually in the real world, day-to-day they will need to both be with me at the same time. One will work, while the other is at heel and then they should switch out.

So on training walks like this one where I'm working them together I'm going on the theory:
"it's better to set off as you mean to go on". 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Learning to use your nose on unseen retrieves

I'm often asked why I hunt and particularly why do so with my dogs. The simple truth is that I am in perpetual awe of them; of their ability to use all their senses in such an all-comsuming way. When I see the light come on in their eyes; when the tail becomes a blur; the dog back-and-forth on the forest floor becoming frenetic–that anticipation of an impending flush peaks.  This is the thing that I live for.

One of the 'selling points' for Carson was the description of him being very confident with his nose, even as a six-seven week old pup. This is very very true and it's up to me to shape this innate talent.

It's hopefully helped with situations like this:

Friday, January 31, 2014

You've got to have confidence in your tools.


It's vitally important to have confidence in your tools; all tools.

A lack of confidence you will either get you or someone else hurt. I've seen it. When teaching a new student how to use a tool safely; whether it was a table-saw, a hand-drill, or even a hammer, doesn't matter. If the person using the tool isn't confident they will hesitate, be less than committed, and eventually they may get seriously hurt.

There are a multitude of ways to look how to build confidence, but ultimately it comes down to feeling that the tool is not a hindrance. At it's essence, you don't want to fight the tool. You want to let the tool do the work. After all, by the classical definition a tool is supposed to be the thing that "saves work".

Thursday, January 30, 2014


There's not a lot that won't get a spaniel excited but there is something special about snow. Whether it's the rarity of it here, I just don't know but it certainly elicits some pretty strong emotions in the pups (only slightly dwarfed by the anticipation of a 3 year old little girl waiting desperately for it to snow enough to make her first snow angel (not pictured)).
Always focused....Always.