Wednesday, July 26, 2017


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 and I'm looking forward to this fall to use it 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 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.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bargain Shopper - Discount Upland Hunting Gear

It’s the upland hunting off-season and if your like me your already dreaming of fall and can’t wait for September to roll around again. Even though the guns are stowed-away and the gear and shotgun shells are organized and filed in their corresponding boxes, Boots are oiled and put in the back of the closet. There is still plenty to do. I'm doing my best to keep myself and the dogs in shape. I've been working on retrieving drills with my setter. He's a decent retriever but I would like him to improve on a couple things. 

Turkey hunting season is here and that is fun but for my money nothing beats chasing a bird dog through new covers.

There is one thing about this time of year a price conscious bird hunter should be aware of.It’s time to evaluate your hunting gear situation and see if you can take advantage of retailers need to discount and move merchandise to make room for next seasons latest-greatest styles and gear upgrades.

Below are a few discounted items from reputable brands that I’ve recently discovered and thought I’d share.

Orvis is known for their high quality, practical gear. They have a classic style all their own. 
Below are 3 awesome bargains. If you need one of these items you can’t go wrong with an Orvis product. They also have an excellent warranty and have outstanding customer service.

Orvis® Bird vest 
$64.50 regular price $129 

I ordered this vest and will give a review shortly. I saw it on an Orvis advertisement in Covey Rise magazine a few years ago and thought to myself that would be a perfect September/warm weather grouse hunting vest. But when I looked at the Orvis site they were out of them. I forgot about it until recently and low and behold there it is new and improved and on sale. I’m hoping it will become a go to item.

Orvis® Chaps 
$49 regular price $98

Orvis® Upland Hunting Vest 
$74.50 regular price $149

I’m just sending the link to their hunting page. It appears it’s all on sale.

I use their pants and  their sharptail hunting shirts and really like both of them.

Men’s Sharptail Long Sleeve Hunting Shirt. $28.90 was $45
I like having a button up shirt while hunting. I can roll up the sleeves or unbutton a couple buttons if I feel too hot. I like having a pocket to hold small essentials and these shirts have small slots on the pocket I like to use for q-tips to keep my dogs eyes clear. There is also a whistle loop above the pocket.. Made from a cotton poplin blend with many hidden vents this shirt is an  excellent choice  for early season hunting. 

Men’s PHG Blood and Guts™ Shooting pant  $29.98 was $65 
These pants aren’t as durable as most upland pants and probably wouldn’t last long in most grouse woods but for what I do here in Utah they are great and I get a couple seasons out of a pair of these.
I like them because they are light weight and breathable. They are fantastic for early season and late season chukar hunting and are my favorite chukar hunting pants. I’ve bought 3 pairs. 2 in the old Chukar pant style and 1 in this new style with less cordura coverage on the legs. I use them for everything. but they wont stand up long in the thick grouse woods back east but for $30 they are good for a pheasant or quail hunt or 30.

Men’s Sharptail Field Jacket
$49.98 was $100
Looks like a decent field jacket for $49. I go back and forth on ordering it. I have more jackets than I need.

 I’ve had good luck with Columbia gear and they have a good warranty on their products as well. Order with confidence.

Cabela’s Bargain Cave

Theres some good deals on hunting vests, pants, orange caps, dog supplies and such. I always make it a point to hit the bargain cave each spring to see if there is something I need. They lump the upland clothing with the shooting clothing so you have to weed through the tactical gear to get to the upland gear.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tribute to a bird dog | Dingo 1974-1986

Dingo. The day after her last hunting trip

Dingo was my first bird dog. She was also the family dog. We got her around 1974 from a 2nd uncle who lived in the neighborhood. He had an english pointer bitch that whelped a litter of illegitimate pups. Whatever breed Dingo’s father was she inherited most of her DNA from her mom and looked and acted the part of a Pointer. She was liver spotted with some faint ticking. More liver coverage than most pointers. Rumor was her father was a lab/beagle mix. I don’t believe it and think it was most likely a german shorthair. She had the coat and size of a pointer. Whatever she was she was all bird dog.

Originally she was my oldest brother Rick’s dog. The story I’ve been told is she was so crazy and disobedient that he became very frustrated with her. On the eve of the pheasant opener he told his future father-in-law that if Dingo didn’t show him something the next day he wasn’t bringing her home. If that meant he was going to abandon her or shoot her I’m not sure. 

Shawn and Dingo 1976
Family legend has it he took her out for a run the night before and she was terrible, she ran off, busted birds, pointed a butterfly and was living up to her poor reputation. The next day he was expecting nothing and was assuming that it was curtains for Dingo. When he got her out of the truck he claims he grabbed her by the face and said “Dingo this is your last chance”. She hunted like a champ. She pointed and held her birds, she stuck around and hunted hard for Rick and his girlfriends father. His father-in-law told him he would be crazy to get rid of that dog. So lucky for us she stuck around.

A couple years later Rick got married and moved out and purchased another bird dog for himself and basically gave Dingo to my brother Shawn and I. We didn’t know a whole lot about how to care for or train a bird dog and poor Dingo actually spent most of her time the first couple years of her life chained to a dog house up next to the gate of our pasture where we kept our horse. She was attention starved and lacked obedience. And we wondered why she was crazy. I remember letting her off her chain and watching her take off like a shot for the orchards surrounding our home. We’d call and call and you would just watch a white and brown blur disappear into the apple trees. A couple hours later she always returned and would then hang out while we played, did chores or whatever. Eventually we built her a dog run that she promptly learned to climb out of. 

She became something of a neighborhood menace. She would get into garbage cans, attack neighbors cats, she got into a few scrapes with other dogs. During deer season she would raid garages on bring home pelts and deer legs among other parts and we’d have to dispose of them before anyone saw. We were constantly apologizing for her behavior. But she was ours and we loved her. She was family, what could we do?

Dingo and I 1981
My brother and I had a couple BB guns and eventually got a pellet gun. We were the terrors of the orchards. Hours were spent murdering sparrows and starlings and other song birds that we could find. Sounds awful but we had a code of ethics. Rules were you couldn’t shoot Robins, Sea Gulls, Killdeer, or Sparrowhawks. I’m sure there were many native song birds that fell victim to our daisy rifles but we didn’t know better. We had a blast and Dingo was always in the mix of all of it. Every once in a while she’d point a covey of quail or a pheasant and we’d be awestruck at the beauty of her point and of the game birds she put up. We were always fascinated with the pheasants, quail and ducks my older brother Rick would bring home and we were anxious to turn 12 so we could have our turn. 

I remember Shawn’s first pheasant. It was behind our house in the neighbors orchard. I was sitting at the fence line of our pasture watching the whole scene unfold. Shawn and Rick were following Dingo into a line of tall cottonwoods that served as a windbreak that bordered the orchard. There was always a bird or two in that little orchard.  A rooster flew up, Rick shot and then there was a second shot from Shawn and the bird fluttered to the ground. I remember being very happy for him.

I’d get mine the next season when I turned 12. It took Shawn a couple seasons before he bagged his first rooster so there was no way his runt of a brother was going to out do him and get a bird his first season. He bet me $10 that I wouldn’t get one my first season. I boldly took that bet. I was obsessed. I spent hours in the orchards with dingo dreaming of the moment. I spent my birthday money on a bird vest and a Jones-style hunting hat. I looked the part and was ready for the challenge.

My first shotgun was an old Savage 20-gauge break-action single shot that took both thumbs and all my 12 year old strength to pull back the hammer. Dad’s solution….. cock the hammer and hunt with the action open. If a bird flew up, and only when a bird flew up, close the breech and take a shot. I guess it worked. Seems kind of crazy and unsafe now. I practiced and practiced closing the breech and shouldering the gun. When the opportunity came I’d be ready. 

First weekend of the hunt we went down to my Uncle Glen’s home in Monroe UT. We had a great hunt, Dingo was awesome! She was slamming birds left and right. Both of my brothers, my Dad and family friend all limited out. I missed terribly on every bird I shot at. It was looking like Shawn’s predictions were coming true. Back then the Pheasant hunt lasted only about 10 days and the next weekend was most likely going to be my last opportunity for the year to bag myself a pheasant. 

Dingo was a fun dog to watch and I didn’t realize at the time what a talent she was. She would stalk and move on running birds like no other dog I’ve ever seen. Her belly would nearly drag the ground as she carefully crawled, cat like, to pin the bird. In her later years she hunted pretty close to the gunner, she knew how to work a cover and hold her birds. I don’t think we gave her the credit she deserved. She was a fine hunter and was deadly on pheasants. 

The next weekend we hunted the same area and got into a few more birds. We hunted past lunch and were headed back towards my uncles house. Once there, the hunt was over and I was dreading making good on Shawn’s bet. In the last stretch of alfalfa almost to my uncles house Dingo got birdy. This was my last chance so I cheated…. I closed my gun and followed Dingo hoping for a chance. When we pushed up to a berm, up came the bird. A rooster! Shawn shot first but the bird kept rising, he had missed. I don’t remember aiming I just remember reacting. I pulled the trigger. Feathers flew an the bird folded. I must of said something. Shawn responded.. “No way, I hit that”. Luckily my uncle was there and said “Bull-Oney!…that Brett’s bird…” I wasn’t sure I knew Shawn had missed but thought my uncle might of shot it with his .410 sxs. I asked him. “Really?” He laughed… “Hell yes.”  He then opened his gun to show me he never shot. It was true. I did it. I shot my first rooster and a lifelong addiction followed. 

There are many more such memories and firsts with Dingo. I owe Dingo as much as anyone or anything or any memory or moment for instilling this passion for bird hunting. Dingo was really fun to hunt over. We were lucky to come into hunting right when she was becoming a seasoned veteran hunting dog.. She taught me as much about upland hunting as anyone or anything else ever could have. We were proud of her and she hunted hard and gave us all many great opportunities and memories.What more can you ask for from a dog. 

The black blur is my GWP Gretchen with Grandma Dingo
Her last hunt was a miserable rainy day back in Monroe. 
I believe I shot a single bird over her point. I had a young Wirehaired pointer at the time and she was my focus and didn’t pay much notice that Dingo was slowing down or that the cold was effecting her more than usual. The next day at home she jumped into the back of the truck and snuggled up in her dog box. I snapped the photo above . She just wanted someone to drive her to another cover where she could do what she loved to do. Unfortunately there wouldn’t be any more hunts. About 3 weeks later Dingo suffered a stroke and her story was over. I cried the entire way home from the vets office. 

Later that night I was sitting in her kennel holding her empty collar with my new dog Gretchen across my lap. My brothers had all moved out. It was just me, my dog and my broken heart. As tears dripped off my nose I dwelled on that first pheasant and many other memories and regrets but one memory came to mind,  it was of a time when I was with my older brother Rick and her in the orchard during an after-school hunt. We found Dingo on point in the middle of a row. It was just before dusk when the autumn light is a golden amber. The grass was about a foot tall and still green. Leaves were still on the apple and pear trees. It was getting colder and as the sun dropped there was a little mist forming in the dark places. Dingo was locked, low to the ground, her tail straight out and horizontal with her back, her eyes like lasers searching the grass in front of her. “Sick it girl!” She flushes her own bird and a single male valley quail files straight away down the row. Rick’s 12 gauge cracks like thunder and the quail drops right in front of her. I pick up the bird for him and tell Dingo how amazing she was. Off Dingo go’s to find the next one. I like to think she remains in that moment forever. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


So I’m taking December and January off from hunting this season. Explanation below.

Hawaii is a beautiful place. White sand beaches, teal blue waters, warm temperate weather. Just the place you want to go and relax. Leave the world and your worries behind and decompress for a while.
My wife loves Maui. It’s our go to vacation spot. Her mom loved it there and I believe being there makes my wife feel closer to her. We’ve been there several times the past decade.

Hope your having fun...... jerks
As a family Christmas present we took the whole family this trip and we were having a great time. Snorkeling, Boogie Boarding and just playing in the ocean enjoying the sand and the surf. About 4 days into our 9 day vacation my foot started hurting. I thought I had sprained my big toe while boogie boarding. By that afternoon it was really getting sore and I noticed a small whitehead pimple on the top of my foot. I thought it was just a blister from my diving flippers and didn’t think much about it. About 5pm that pimple was looking pretty swollen so I attempted to pop it. Nothing really came out of it and all I did was kind of break the skin above it. Then all hell broke loose.

Within an hour I had a fever of about 103° F and was out-of-my-mind sick. My wife and kids were in vacation mode and out for the evening and didn’t realize that I was sitting and suffering in our condo wondering if this was the end. It was crazy! Hallucinating, having crazy thoughts, wondering what to do. I felt like Martin Sheen in that hotel scene from Apocalypse Now. About 9pm my fever broke and I felt a lot better but my foot was really tender. I took a bunch of Ibuprofen and went to sleep. 

When I woke up my foot was about the size of a football and bright red. And off to the Insta-care I went. After x-rays, 2 shots, a bottle of anti-biotics and a hefty bill I returned back to the condo to let everyone know that I have a mrsa infection and my vacation was over. Apparently the ocean is a dirty, dirty place. Especially around the south end of Maui after a flash flood. Suck Suckity suck suck. I had to spend the last 3 days of my trip with my foot elevated with an ice bag. 

That's an ugly foot. I really should cover them up.
So eventually we made it back home but my foot was still not feeling very good. I went through my anti-biotics and my foot was still not right. I went to my local doctor and he basically just increased my dosage of antibiotics. 

So I’ve been on pills for about a month and finally my foot is looking normal again. However I’ve suffered some damage to my foot tissue and it’s sore and painful after only few minutes of walking. Thus no hunting for me until I can get this foot right. I’m so not happy about this because I was really pumped for Chukar season this year. Maybe I will be able to get out in the next couple of weeks for at least one hunt.

Also Chief the idiot-savant setter of mine is so bored that he’s decided to make a break for it and has learned how to dig himself out of the yard. Luckily we have awesome neighbors that caught him so we got him back both times he’s escaped unscathed. We took some precautions and I’m hoping we’ve fixed the problem areas. Poor guy just needs to run and I haven’t been able to help him.
Hopefully our luck changes here quickly.

Anyway I wanted to share my excuse for no chukar hunting this year. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

More Utah Pheasant Hunting

Hazel On Point. Sage Backing

More pheasant hunting last weekend. Our success has continued. We were fortunate enough to limit out again. It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve been lucky. However we have put in a ton of miles in pursuit of these birds. Plus we have a pretty good pack of dogs that are finding these birds for us. 

I’ve really enjoyed hunting behind Hazel the pudelpointer this pheasant season. She loves pheasants and she’s pretty good at it. It’s a strength of hers and at 9 years old she has seen it all and knows how to work and find these birds. She has worked herself into shape and is really hunting hard and doing all I could ask of her. 

Last week I voiced my frustration at losing a couple birds. This week Hazel found a wounded pheasant in the same area we lost one the previous week. I was standing there talking with my son when suddenly, like a bolt of lightning, Hazel flies past me in hot pursuit of something I couldn’t see. I was worried it was a cat or some other critter but soon I figured out she had a wounded pheasant. It juked an jived in the waist high cover with Hazel in pursuit, hopping like a jack-rabbit and voicing her excitement. Finally she got a hold of it after stomping on it’s tail feathers to slow it down. It was a cool retrieve to watch. She was so fired up.

Jack, Chief & Some Fat Guy With A Nice Rooster
Soon after she found the last bird of the day in some thick tamaracks and retrieved it to hand. It was a good day for her and overall it’s been a great pheasant hunt this year. Hazel is now 9 years old, I’m starting to see her slow down and I see her recovery time after a hunt get longer and longer. I can’t predict the future but my guess is I only have a couple more productive seasons with this girl. That’s a really sad thought.  She’s a fun dog and I’ve really enjoyed owning her. She’s taught me a ton. Lessons I will use on every dog I own for the rest of my life. She was a hard one. The first couple of years were tough and required a ton of patience (which I’m short on) but once I let go of all the things I thought she was doing wrong and started enjoying what she did right, I realized I had one hell of a hunting dog. She won’t win many style points or trial ribbons and she may flush a bird or 4 she should of pointed, but she puts birds in the bag. She's pure hunting dog and lives to hunt. She has so much personality and communicates better than any dog I've ever seen. Mostly because she is so vocal. If she's on a bird in heavy cover she will bark ( it used to drive me crazy but I've found it quite useful on many occasions). If she's excited she'll bark, If she's confused she will come and seek direction. It's pretty cool and makes the hunt more enjoyable to have such a hunting partner that works with you in this unique way.

My son and her were born only a week apart. My goal is to have him shoot his first bird over Hazel’s point. I don’t know if it will work out that way but that would be an awesome final chapter to her career. time will tell. 

Again, it's been a really enjoyable hunting season. It's been a blast to work these dogs and spend time with my brother, my son and friends. Just to be out in it, doing what we love to do. We are blessed to have these opportunities. Days like this make up for those days you don't see a thing and you feel like your wasting your time. Wait... scratch that.. I never feel like I'm wasting time while bird hunting. 

Shawn Packing Out A  Limit Of Birds

Monday, November 14, 2016


The difference between the pheasant hunt opener and a week later is pretty substantial. The pheasants have now experienced hunters and their dogs and are savvy to what that means. All of their survival instincts are now on high alert and if they are smart, they know to get the heck out of dodge when we approach. Occasionally we get lucky and find a bird that took the gamble to hide rather than run and if we’re fortunate our dogs will catch a whiff of them as we walk through the area and hopefully the bird decides not to fly until we get close enough for a shot. As the season progresses it gets more and more challenging as a bird hunter to put one of these birds in the bag. A lot of things have to come together to make that happen.

I’ve been schooled enough times by these wild roosters that I try to take a careful approach while hunting these wiley creatures. Sometimes it all just works out and you find a bird that reacts just how you want but it’s been my experience that more often than not the birds are running and juking and jiveing and doing everything they can to escape you and your dogs. I’m constantly fascinated how these birds (and not only pheasants) that have a brain the size of a pea somehow find the best way to survive a situation where the odds are so stacked against them. There are those birds that find that small window to get away. It’s a challenge and that is what I like about it. If it was easy everyone would do it. You have to love it or it’s not worth it. It’s for us bird hunting weirdos who are willing to put in the time, the hours of walking that are occasionally rewarded with a rooster in the hand. When it all works out it's a special thing.

Below are a few things that I think help put more late season birds in the bag. And if your wondering I’m guilty of everything I’m saying not to do and I believe it has cost me on several occasions.

1 - Be Quiet
I see and hear it all the time. Hunters slamming their truck doors, shouting at their dogs, shouting to one another. Beepers and bells on dogs.  Rattling fence gates. All these things will tip off any bird within ear-shot. And once they experience hunters and dogs they remember and I believe their actions tip each other off to the dangers we bring.

Train your dogs to respond to noiseless cues. I use a tone button on my e-collars. It emits a small beep that is only audible within a few feet of the collar. My pudelpointer responds really well to this and it works really well when I want to be stealth and work a cover. Chief, my setter is a little harder to handle and doesn’t always respond to the faint beeping on his collar so occasionally I need to give him a little stimulation to get a response from him. Chief is one of those dogs that you release and let the chips fall where they may. It can be frustrating at times but he’s at his best when he feels free to hunt and do his thing. Only problem is keeping him in a range I like while pheasant hunting. If you must call your dog then at least do it with a whistle. I believe a whistle is less obtrusive and doesn’t put the birds on as high of an alert.

Good dog work was the only reason we saw this bird
If you like to run a beeper collar on your dog, than run it on point-only mode and if you have the option use a hawk-scream or bobwhite quail whistle for the signal sound. I run a beeper on Chief in Point only mode and have the point signal as a hawk-scream. However I’m thinking of taking it off for the rest of the hunt. I tend to use it as a remote “where the hell are you” noise and I believe I’m not doing myself any favors hitting the beeper whenever I’m concerned about where he’s run off to. 

When closing gates and talking and loading guns try to be quiet and stealth. It will increase your chances of catching a bird off guard and cause it to hunker down and hide rather than put on it’s nikes and run for the hills.

Another thing we do is use 2-way radios. If you use these sparingly and keep the volume low it can help you communicate with one another without shouting. However if the volume is too loud or if you over use them they can be more of a detriment than a help.

2 - Increase shot size. My preferred pheasant load is Remington Pheasant Load in 6 shot. 6 shot on the opener and increase my shot size as the season gos on. 5 is probably the perfect pheasant load. And 4 might be better towards the end of the season. However, when  I do most of my hunting on public land I’m required to use steel shot and I’ve decided to use heavier 2-4 shot on pheasants and I’m wondering if 4 is heavy enough. Especially on late season wild birds. We’ve had birds that were hit hard and folded up get up and run after being shot. If anyone has a steel load that they feel is best for pheasants please feel free to share.

3- Be strategic. Before you approach an area think it through. Look to where you believe the escape routes are and remember where you see birds fly to once they flush. Chances are you will hunt the same areas several times over the coarse of a few years. If you have 2-3 people in your party spread out and set up blockers or take the time to approach areas from different angles to increase the chances of pinching a running bird between you. If you have dogs let them hunt and range. Sometimes I feel our best advantage is our pack of dogs and how many layers of hounds we have working and area. My Hazel works rather close now days, Chief will work as big as I will let him and my brother’s shorthairs are mostly medium rangers so we have a lot of dogs causing chaos and confusion for the birds in the area. Sometimes you can tell the pressure is too much and you will see birds flushing wild at distances that don’t help us but if all works rights we get those birds that hold long enough to permit us within range and those are the ones that end up in the bag.
Take a minute and put together a game plan.

4 - Put in the time and walk the extra mile. When pushing a field or area walk to the end of it. Don’t stop short even if the area isn’t producing. Lots of times birds are running ahead and it just takes extra time to either catch up to them or to get them to move in such a way that the dogs can scent them. Hit the areas where most people aren’t willing to go. Actually…  nevermind, just stick to the places that are close to the road. Fields that are easy to walk through and places where everyone else has went. I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Seriously, this is the secret. If you want wild birds you have to put it the time and effort.

5 - Mark your birds. Why is this so hard? I suck at this. I get too excited and blow this simple thing. When you shoot a bird don’t take your eyes off the spot it went down and get to that spot as soon as possible. Hopefully your dog beats you there and soon you see your bird in the dogs mouth before you have a chance to get there. If not it’s crucial to know where that bird dropped and get your dogs hunting for a downed bird as soon as possible. A wounded bird can cover a lot of ground in a surprisingly short amount of time. Work on hunting dead and retrieving in heavy cover during the off months so when the time comes to find that bird that isn’t where it fell the dogs are prepared for it. 

Saturday was a productive day and the dogs gave us some good opportunities but we lost a couple birds that I thought were rather simple retrieves. I blame myself for not doing the things I’ve listed above. I didn’t mark the birds properly and I didn’t work on retrieving like I usually do in the off season and I feel like my dogs have grown soft where they were once very dependable. We had some things working against us. It was hot, there was hardly any wind and the cover was very heavy but I’ve seen my dogs pull of retrieves in tougher situations before. Nothing makes me more upset than losing a bird. I hate it. We spent a lot of time looking for those birds. I wish I could say we never lose a bird.  There was a time that it was very rare but to be honest it happens, it's not cool and I do make a strong effort to find anything I shoot.

Overall it was a fun day even with that frustration. If we would of found those birds we would of limited out again so I can’t complain. Hazel had some great moments that were fun to watch. Chief was not on his game but he hunted hard but just wasn’t as productive as the week before. I think I was being a little too restrictive on him and trying to keep him close and within range and not lost. He gets turned around in the heavier cover. I need to take my own advice and let the chips fall where they may and let him do his thing. Rumor is there is snow coming and I'm just giddy about that prospect. Pheasants with a few inches of snow on the ground.... there is nothing better in this hunters opinion. Can't wait for some redemption after last weeks failures.