Wednesday, December 6, 2017

CATCH-UP UPLAND UTAH UPDATE


Valley Quail Hen
Its been a couple months since my last post.

A lot has happened and we’ve had some good days afield chasing the hounds looking for birds.

We chased grouse a few more times in October and bagged a few more birds but I also had a couple hunts were I didn’t see a bird.  



Walking the dogs in South Dakota.... with shotguns.






We had a trip to South Dakota at the end of October and spent 4 days hunting pheasants. Bird numbers were down but we had a good time and found some WIA areas that held good numbers.
We had some good dog work and learned some things about hunting in that area. It’s enjoyable just to have a few vacation days with nothing to do but go bird hunting. It’s a goal of mine to travel at least one week a year for that purpose. I’d like to go to southern Arizona for a quail hunt next year or Montana to chase prairie birds.

The pheasant hunt in Utah was OK. It was a let down from last year. A lot of the areas we’ve had success in past seasons just weren’t as productive this year as past years. I blame overgrazing by cattle that the blm and dwr has allowed in the areas we hunt. It was a joke. I understand farmers need to feed their cows but it’s disheartening to walk into an area that used to have really nice cover and see it decimated to stubble. Then to look at the farmer’s that use these areas fields and see that their fields are practically untouched. One farmer who supplements his herd on these public lands, his fields had grass that was waist high throughout. Basically these farmers fattened their cows on our blm and wma areas while letting their fields go unscathed by their own cows. Of course those properties were all posted. I asked permission from the farmer I mentioned and he was less than gracious. It’s annoying and needs to be managed better. I’m looking for some new areas to go and hopefully next year is better.We did bag a few birds and it was still a good time. 



Chukar season is upon us and I’ll be out shortly. Hopefully my lungs and my dog’s feet can hold up.


Lucky shot on a Valley Quail.

South Dakota


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SNOWY DAYS & LOST DOGS - GROUSE HUNTING 2017 CONTINUED

Coming Down Off The Mountain After a Crazy Snow Storm
Its been an interesting season. It started out really well and we had 4 weeks of really excellent hunting with plenty of opportunities. We then got a weekend of weather that left about 6” of snow at my favorite grouse hunting spots. That quickly melted and we were able to follow it with another great day of hunting. We got into some ruffed grouse as well as the duskies we’ve normally been seeing. The birds were in the heavier cover of the trees and could be found at the edges of young aspen stands. Usually at the end or edge of a gully with water nearby.

One afternoon my brother and I got stuck in a nasty storm that came on suddenly. We had an inch of snow on the ground in about 20 minutes and had to trudge through 2 miles of soaking wet, snow covered terrain. It was brutal. Luckily I was somewhat prepared for it but I was still pretty wet and cold by the time we got back to the truck. It was really hard on the dogs. They were both shivering and were done by the time we kenneled them up for the day.

Last week I hunted for about 4 hours and didn’t see a bird. It was really strange. There was fresh sign, the terrain was just right but nothing. We had 3 false points from Chief and one from Hazel. I just have to write it up as an odd day. 

On top of that I lost my Llewelln Chief for a few hours. That was rather nerve-racking. He’s been known to run off and get lost but usually within 10-20 minutes he figures it out and finds us. He has even barked and howled before to help me find him. For whatever reason he was LOST, lost. And I was about to panic. I couldn’t imagine driving home knowing he was lost somewhere in the mountains. Or worst facing my kids and telling them he was lost. All kinds of scenarios were running through my mind. Was he caught in a trap, did a mountain lion get him, did a pack of coyotes lure him away, did someone steal him? I was going crazy. I eventually walked back to my truck and started driving the mountain road… stopping every few hundred yards to whistle and yell. I covered about a 2 mile area back and forth. I eventually decided to go back to where we were parked and try there again and there he was running up the 2 track towards me. It was a happy reunion, at least for me. Chief just ran around the back of the truck and was like “let’s go, I’m done”. I watered him and took him home very happy and relieved. 

I’m Hoping to get out at least one more time before the deer rifle season hits and then were off to South Dakota for a few days, then it’s pheasant season here in Utah. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

MORE DUSKY (BLUE) GROUSE HUNTING

Chief, working it.

We had a shift in the weather last week and had a day of heavy rain and a 20 degree temperature drop. I welcome it, it finally feels like fall. I was worried that we would get too much rain or snow in my favorite hunting spots which would cause the birds to migrate higher into the thick pines. However when I was able to get out last weekend I was glad to see the birds were sticking to the mountain valleys where I like to hunt them.

It had rained most of the day before so I slept in a little to let things settle a little before I started hunting. I arrived at my spot about 8:30 am. The sun was just about to peer over the mountain and start drying things out. I was very happy I remembered to bring my upland chaps. They saved the day as I was wading through sopping wet knee to thigh-high grass and brush most of the morning. I would of been soaked from the wast down without them. When conditions call for them they are worth their weight in gold.

We started the morning working down into a wide valley with young aspens on the right and thick berry bushes and oak brush to the left. We went right and within 10 minutes Chief kicked some birds out from above me. One landed just ahead of where we were heading and we were able to get it up again and I scratched it down. I noticed my shell didn’t eject from my old Franchi AL48 and realized I hadn’t done my pre-hunt cleaning that this old gun requires. I was hoping it was just the cold temperatures causing the misfeed. 

Soon after Hazel pointed a single and I promptly missed with my first shot and again my gun didn’t eject the spent shell.  “Oh well”, it looks like I’m packing a single shot for the day. 

The day went like that most of the morning. The action was consistent and the shooting was consistently poor. I did mange to limit out and the dogs did awesome. It was an even split. Hazel found 2 and Chief found 2. Hazel retrieved them all in splendid fashion. Chief doesn’t like picking up the blue grouse. Too many feathers for his liking. He will bring them part way until he can’t stand it any more then drops it. Hazel is happy to clean up after him though.

Hazel busting Chief's point. To her credit Chief stole her point first. :)

It was a good day and I was able to figure out the issue with my gun so it’s all good. Looking forward to trying out some new spots and seeing if the birds did as well there as the spots we've been. It's a good time to be a grouse hunter in Utah.

Hazel doing the heavy lifting.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

UTAH GROUSE HUNT 2017 CONTINUES

Shawn with his limit of Dusky Grouse

I've been out a couple times this season and have really enjoyed getting after these birds and watching the dogs work. My shooting has been terrible and I've muffed a couple really nice opportunities. No worries it's early in the season and were just out having fun and working ourselves back into hunting shape. 

Again, Bird populations look good in the areas we've been. We've seen several family groups each time we go out. Fortunately for the birds we haven't been able to do much damage to them.

Chief my Llewellin had some great points last weekend and Hazel the Pudelpointer did great for a nearly 10 year old dog. I was a little slow and my shooting was less than par but that will improve.
I've been using my 28 gauge side x side and the shots have been longer than I'd usually like. But,
I have missed a few gimmes. All in all its been good and I'm looking forward to getting out again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OPENING WEEKEND / UTAH GROUSE HUNT 2017

My first bird of the 2017 fall season.

The 2017 early upland hunting season is here. Although I feel it is too early in the year and too hot, sticky and bug filled with the current summer weather to be out in the mountains chasing grouse. I I must say I thoroughly enjoyed getting out and doing what I love most. It was exciting packing up the truck, charging the collars, deciding what gun to take and the expectation of walking into a familiar cover with hopeful thoughts of getting into some birds.

To me grouse hunting is the most care-free of all the hunts. I’m not expecting much from myself,
the dogs, the weather or the birds so I usually end up pretty happy with whatever happens. That’s probably a good thing because the shooting, the dog work and the my ability to hike for very long in the hot weather wasn’t very awesome. There is plenty of room for improvement.

My brother and I got up early to beat the heat and went to one of our favorite spots. It prooved to be productive and the grouse numbers in that area look good. We saw quite a few birds, however, the conditions were rather poor. We had 80+ degree tempetures by 9:30 am and there was practically little to no breeze all morning. The vegetation is still growing and blooming. That coupled with the heat is a lot to ask for a dog. to find birds in those conditions can be tough. However for the first time out without a whole lot of off season work I feel they did pretty good.  I’m hoping a cold front will rumble through our state and cool things down and get fall started. With my dogs, cooler weather helps qutie a bit.



Shawn with the first bird of the day.

I can’t wait to get out again. I’m already plotting and coniving ways to get out of work and get my self back up into these mountains. My dogs are the happiest and most content I’ve seen them in months. Funny, I think I am to.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

KERSHAW AL MAR AM-3


Kershaw AL MAR AM-3
AL MAR knives of Japan is a brand known to create high quality, simply designed, user-friendly, tough knives. Kershaw has partnered up with them and taken from the best of AL Mar’s designs and added a Kershaw-flair with the liner lock and assist open flipper technology, along with adding a little jimping on the knives spine to create a really nice very pocket-friendly knife. Kershaw has also built this knife to be very budget friendly.

I've owned this knife for a few weeks and it makes a very good every-day pocket-knife but I also believe the size blade shape and handle will also make it a  good bird hunting knife. When I first saw it I thought to myself that it looked like a folding bird and trout knife and the blade shape and handle are similar to other knives designed for that purpose. 

AM-3 with a traditional trapper knife comparison
The main item I like about this knife is the blade. It's a 3" long thin spear point that ends on a very fine sharp tip. It reminds me of modern take traditional trapper blades (see photos). Perfect for opening crops on birds, piecing and butchering small game. Steel on the blade is Kershaw's budget 8cr13Mov. It’s not the best steel but it’s definitely not the worst. It holds a decent edge but will need to be resharpened more often then other more superior steels. My opinion and experience with this steel is that it is fine and Kershaw has put out many quality knives using this it. Keep the edge maintained and you will be happy with it. The blade utilizes a liner-lock that solidly locks the blade in place. Mine has no play up-down or right to left and feels solid and has a lockup that instills confidence. 

The handle is a combination of smooth, rounded and polished black G-10 on on side and stainless steel on the other side with the liner lock and pocket clip. It's a very comfortable handle to use and hold in my large sized hand. Any shorter the handle would be too small but at 3.5" long it fits well in my hand. The g-10 is a little over polished in my opinion and may get a little slick while cleaning a bird or other animals.

My favorite feature is the size. For my use the 3" AM-3 is just right. If you prefer a larger blade Kershaw makes an AL MAR AM-4 that has a half inch longer handle and blade. But at 3" this knife does everything I ask of a knife that size and does it all very well. It only weights 2.5 ounces so it carry's very well. It's not intimidating to use around the office either. 

My only gripe is the pocket clip seems a little weak. I like the ride on the deep carry clip its just that the clip doesn't really grab tightly to your pocket. It feels like it could fall out even when securely clipped in. However, it has not fallen out of my pocket once since I've owned it so it may be a mute point.


Overall its a great knife and I can recommend it to anyone looking for a traditional-styled knife that is loaded with modern features. It's a good blend of old and new. Cost was $28.95 from BladeHQ.com. In my opinion it's well worth the money.

AM-3 compared to some of my other favorite bird-hunting knives

Monday, April 24, 2017

Walking The Dog on a Treadmill



I know to some people this seems strange. I've trained my dogs to run on a treadmill and as long as I own dogs and a treadmill I will continue to do this. There are nights or times when walking the dog is not as convenient as you would like or you may have situations like what happened to me last winter where an injury prevents you from getting out. There are those winter nights when the last thing you want to do is walk the dog through a blizzard or other bad weather. Having the dog run a few miles on the treadmill does wonders for their demeanor and gives them the exercise these bird dogs need. I don't see any difference between this and running them along side a four wheeler. The main thing is to get them the exercise these busy-bodies need. It prevents them from getting bored and destructive.

I usually run my dogs for about 45-60 minutes at 4-5 mph. Chief sometimes longer and faster depending on his mood. When my pudelpointer was younger she would jump on it and bark until I turned it on. She loved it. At 9 years old, not so much,  she's hates the treadmill anymore and I slow it down for her after a few minutes to about 4 mph. I can relate.

There are a few videos on youtube on how to train your dog to do this. It takes some patience and you need to start slow and gradually work your way up to a point they feel totally comfortable.  Within a few sessions your dog will get the hang of it. I don't like to leave them alone on the treadmill and I'm usually in the same room or at least in the vicinity while they are jogging. My treadmill is right next to our family room in my basement so I can watch T.V., play pool or video games while they have a run. It sounds lazy but it's effective. Just make sure your putting in the miles yourself. You'll still need to be able to keep up with your dog.