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.

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®
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



Columbia®
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.