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.

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

probably better explained, along with so many other variables, here:
http://www.gundogmag.com/training/fine-tuning-a-shotgun-to-fit-you/

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:


Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer school

When it comes to certain things I've always held that you should seek the experts. While I am bullheaded enough to do fixing my own brakes, I'm not opposed to seeking any and all help when it comes to the more important things – such as training my dogs.

To that end, Carson has gone to visit a pro for a while.  

I've never employed the services of a professional dog trainer so this is all new to me. It was a long drive to come home after dropping him off, but I owe it to him to give him the chance to perform to his potential. 

The house is certainly quieter, and there are times you go to look for him and remember that he's not there.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"new" rides

It's not an everyday occurrence; much more like every couple of decades, that I get a new ride. And when I do it's never been "new" it's always "new to me". I mostly blame my Scottish ancestors and being raised by folks that saved everything because the great depression taught them what real privation was like.

Nevertheless-the new to me hunting truck:


It's not going to be replacing the tried and trusty subaru just yet as it has had some "deferred maintenance" issues to be taken care of before I can consider it to be completely dependable for everyday travel.

That aside, the seemingly obvious issue is that it doesn't have 4wd. Honestly I didn't realize how much I really depended on my subaru's AWD until I took the truck turkey hunting a few days ago and nearly turned into an unplanned campout! Obviously I was able to get back to civilization but not without getting re-acquainted to RWD truck physics.

So after reassessing the tread on the rear I think a set of these is in order:

The truck already has a locking rear diff, which will make a ton of difference and is probably the only reason I didn't have to camp out the other night. I won't be doing much over-landing but it should suffice on forrest/logging roads that I frequent if I just get a few bags of sand to keep some weight over the axle.

The real question now is the pooches.

My initial thought was something like this:


A plus is that I already have the ruff tuff kennels and could see building the drawer boxes. I'd just need to find a cap and a quick search on craigslist already shows me this wouldn't be too difficult to find.

The other thought was a dog box:


I've been inside a camper shell in the summer and quite simply it sucks. I'm not sure how insulated the tool box is, but it could be much worse. 

They do make this "summertime dog box" which might be a better option:
(for a bit of levity-this summertime box is listed as being "extremely lightweight at only 110#". Not that I can't move that, but that's bordering on what I would no longer call lightweight)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

It's what's for breakfast

Tomorrow is the Father's Day celebration at my daughter's school. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible Moms, aunts, uncles, granddads, etc... are invited. So while really it's XXXXXX Day and I'll be thinking that it should really be "YYYYYY" day, chromosonally speaking; it should be a lot of fun.

We're invited for the morning and to bring hammer and nails to fabricate sculptures with our kids, who will paint them for us.

Last year we were very representational and wound up with an airplane. Perhaps this year we'll be more expressionistic?!??! I'll have to wait and see what the boss has in mind. (I'm just in charge of nails and hammer)

Also, we were requested to bring food and apparently there is/was a signup sheet with suggestions posted outside the classroom door, but still being a bleary-eyed-bloke in the AM thanks to the time change I still haven't fully recovered from, I didn't notice above mentioned sign-up sheet until there was only one slot left.

"Quiche:  _____________________"

Many years ago there seemed to be a political firestorm over a book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche that's apparently now long out of print, but it made enough of a splash in our little town that it was the launching point for more than one sermon from the Sunday morning pulpit. So as a youngster it was indelibly etched on my psyche that any egg based pie was verboten...until I learned that I really liked quiche. (I decided that was ok, I just had to keep it a secret for fear of a repeat of the "easy-bake oven incident")

So, quiche is the suggestion and I gladly put my name down.

Now, with the recent discovery of the "hipster hunter"

Rise of the Hipster Hunter
Hipsters Who Hunt

I will do the hipster thing and see how 'cool' I can be and see exactly how many of my fellow dads are in on the 'game'.

Tomorrow's menu will include a venison sausage quiche.  Wish me luck. If no one eats it I promise it won't go to waste.





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Four letter words

It doesn't take a long look around my favorite blog haunts to see that there is a bit of malaise. Whether it's  "crickets" or "the vest" there has/had been a notable lull in productivity.

I'm even more guilty than the next except I have been writing and working plenty but have posted nothing. The thing is that I've been dealing with a problem and I've not been sure how much of it to put 'out there'.  There are a few words that contain more than four letters, but have the same effect as four letter words used to have. The one I've been dealing with:

Gun-shy

but to be honest it's not really "gun-shy"...more like "gun-nervous"

That being said, I completely accept that it's my fault. I just don't know what the hell I could have done to deserve it!

Last year, in the late summer/early fall I noticed that Carson was getting progressively more storm-shy; until it was really unlike I've ever really seen in person: thunder = Slobbering, trembling, wanting to be in my lap, etc…(FWIW I didn't coddle him when it started, because I didn't want to reinforce the behavior for fear it would lead to more trouble down the road)

Fast forward to this past January. I took him out with some buddies and their dogs for a cleanup hunt the day after a continental pheasant shoot. This was not carson's first hunt, but it was his first hunt with other people not to mention dogs other than his kennel mate. The hunt started off in a planted bottom of around 10 acres. 

So...the other dogs and their owners are working a separate part of the field when they (2 gsp and a gwp fwiw) went on point, birds flushed, their owners shot (and missed, but that's another story).  

All the while my dog didn’t see any of this. 

He just heard the sound of three 12GAs going off in that bottom and I honestly think he thought it was thunder. 

At this point he was seeming pretty apprehensive and I should have stopped then and there but we kept hunting some the cover crops edges by ourselves when in another ~10 min the other group put up another bird (which they missed). 

When he heard the shot this time he went into boot-licker mode and would have preferred I picked him up (which I didn’t). 

Instead I took him directly to the car, put him in kennel, and drove home.  

The whole way home I keep thinking about the seriousness of this situation.  

Thoughts were generally variations on: 
"I can’t believe I’m going to have to live with a gunshy dog for the next 12+ years"
At this point he’s part of the family and I won’t push him down the line. Not to mention:
"he's too f'ing annoying to just be a 'pet'"
So I spent the afternoon brooding but by late in the day I finally came to the conclusion that if I was ever going to consider myself a "trainer" worth anything then I’d have to fix the situation because that’s what trainers really do-they fix problems.

Step 1 I talked to the breeder and 3 professionals. 

First thought from most of them, including myself: put him on some quail. When he’s really going after a fly away, shoot one.

I did that and he was OK, but really just ok. I thought I saw a bit of hesitation in his run so I decided to stop. 

Back to drawing board. Further input from trainers and further thinking on my part led me to:
  1. Take a BIG step back in training. Pretty much back to square 1.
  2. NO birds, guns, etc… for a few weeks. We're working on the basics.
  3. Add Masters Voice CD which I start to play several times a day. Fortunately I have an understanding wife and daughter!
  4. Seven to eight weeks later I went to my hunting lease and immediately after I sent the dog off for a dummy I had my wife( who was standing 100 yards away) fire one shot from a starting pistol. 
    1. There was no reaction
    2. We only fired that one shot as there's no sense in tempting fate.
Since then I've started firing shots closer and closer. But still only one.

Where we are:
Now I’m  firing shots very close, but that are muffled by the training shoulder-bag. I throw a dummy, send him for a retrieve, and fire starting pistol inside bag. 

Fortunately, so far no reaction.

Next step is to reintroduce some quail and then the .410 and I will probably do that in the next week or two. Biggest worry right now is that one of our thunderstorms comes through and somehow sets me back. 


He’s a wretched combination of being wickedly smart, highly driven, with dominance tendencies, and a hatred for being corrected. With positive reinforcement this dog to do anything. Sometimes I find it’s hard to have that kind of personality/behavior and so I’m learning a lot about myself here too. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

one season closes with sign for the next

Hopefully not everyone get's worked up at the site/sight of crap. 

What the pic below tells me is that even though my whitetail season is over, my hunting season isn't. It could also explain why I've had such an abysmal woodcock season, and why despite the hundreds of piles of treetops left by the loggers there hasn't been the increase in cottontails I was hoping for. 

.270 included for reference (3.30 OAL)

who is the likely culprit?
or

The question is whether to trap, to call, or both. 

I don't have an aversion to trapping, but I'm not really looking forward to it. I know it's probably the most effective means for controlling the predator population. Truth be told, if it's bobcats I would just a-soon leave them be. I think they don't have nearly the impact as coyotes as they're more territorial, but that could be a total misconception.