Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fog and Cheatgrass

Today was spent climbing hills through fog banks and sunshine chasing chukars. It was pretty crazy, at the bottom of the mountain there was maybe 100 yards of visibility. Everything was coated in whores frost. It was quite beautiful. Hazels eyebrows and beard were covered in white, it looked pretty cool. It wasn't until I was near the top that I broke through to a beautiful sunny day. It was in the 20 degree range down low in the fog and mid 40s on top in the sun. The exact opposite of what we experienced a couple of weeks ago. Hazel did great. Nice range, a lot of great casts. We moved a few birds and Hazel had a nice point on a small covey. Unfortunately I can't hit sh!t lately. (lately?) But the opportunity was there and the dog did good so I was happy with that part of it all. We are supposed to get hit this week with a snowstorm and the tempature is supposed to plummet to the teens. I was hoping to get another hunt in over the holiday break. We will have to see.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Present for Me!

I finished up my work assignments for the year so I was able to take off Christmas Eve and enjoy an awesome morning on the mountain chukar hunting. Nothing like losing your dog in the fog only 500 yards after leaving the truck and then finding her a few minutes later holding point and chukars for the gun. It was so cool. Look close on the skyline of the photo (you may need to click on the picture for a larger view) and you can see her on point. That's how I found her. Merry Christmas for me!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold Day on the Mountain

Went Chukar hunting with my brother today. The initial climb up the mountain was fine but once we were on top it was bitter cold. We were prepared for the most part and were able to cover up so we were fine. We kept a close eye on the dogs and didn't stay on top very long. If we stopped for even a moment the dogs all started shivering and shaking. The temperature was hovering in the mid 20s but there was a wind chill factor that made it very uncomfortable. It even froze up the tube of my water bladder.

Even with all the hiking we did it was a slow hunting day. Hazel busted a covey at the very top of the first ridge we climbed. We didn't see it but by Hazel's reaction we were sure of what had just happened. Hazel yips at birds after they fly. I hear the Germans breed for it. Its a crazy bark that sounds more like she's been lit on fire. I was kind of perturbed by her busting the covey but Hazel works hard and sometimes she pushes birds a little too hard. She is such a good bird finder and is getting better all the time at holding her birds but not that time. It was really frustrating last year but she has improved so much I will take some bad with all the good she does. The only other birds we saw was one single Shawn's dog Sage pointed on top and another single Hazel pointed almost at the bottom on the way back to the truck.

Hazel's was a beauty of a point all stiff with one of her back legs raised. She held that bird for a long time. Unfortunately for Hazel her master is a dumb-ass and walked into the point from the side, which is the proper thing to do, but I did it way too far out in front of her. There was a juniper tree and I thought I better get around it on the far side so It wouldn't be in my way. I was thinking the birds would fly downhill and away from us. Problem was the bird was on the opposite side of the tree closer to Hazel than I thought and it flew uphill. 2 strikes. I got all spun around and missed twice and threw a last desperation shot to no avail. 3 strikes your out. The bird was about 10 yards in front of her and I was about 20 yards out. I made a big fuss over her for her great point and I don't think she's going to hold it against me. I still should of hit it. Lessons: pay more attention to your dogs body language, (looking back Hazel gave me a look like "where you going?" when I started going too far in front of her. Take your time, move, FOCUS, swing, shoot. It may be the only chance you get all day. Still fun even with the bad shooting and the bitter cold.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chukar Gun

I have an old New Haven 600 20 gauge single rail pump that I received for my 13th birthday. I haven't been using it the last several years because it had developed a terrible double feeding issue. I had almost gave up on it. This last summer I had my friend Jeff, who is an amateur gunsmith, look at it and he was able to fix what others could not, including Mossberg's own gunsmith shop (twice). Now it runs like a top, is very smooth and is my go-to chukar gun. With the plug pulled and one in the chamber I have 6 shots available, which is great for those late risers in the coveys. I'm admittedly a horrible chukar shot and I will take any advantage I can get with these birds. Its just a utilitarian, inexpensive pump but it is well made in the U.S.A. I can take it up the mountains among the rim rock and not worry about dinging it up. I have always been pretty meticulous with my guns and I take really good care of them ever since I was young. This gun is well used and has a lot of wear but it is still in rather good shape. The wood is pretty rough and scratched and the bluing is wearing out in places. But this old gun has a lot of memories hidden within all that wear. I had to add an extra thick butt pad to extend the LOP so it fits me half decent. It's not pretty but it does the trick. I love it. Hopefully my kids will also get good use out of it.
Before I started using this gun again, typical days of shooting chukars with my doubles was empty both barrels at a bird on the initial covey rise just to watch them all fly away while a single or two come up a few seconds later and me standing there with an empty gun fumbling to reload. Not anymore. I still have been missing my first couple of shots but now I can quickly back them up. Hopefully the success will continue.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Chukar Hunt

Got out yesterday for a chukar hunt. Just me, the dog and an entire mountain to ourselves. I was reminded why I enjoy chukar hunting so much. The solitude, wide open spaces and lonely yellow hills where the chukars live was just what I needed. The hike was strenuous but rewarding and my knees actually held up throughout the hunt.
My dog Hazel did great! She had good range, hunted hard and was always in control. She is such a good dog. Me, I was not so good. I totally screwed up and learned a costly lesson. She had a beauty of a point on top of a ridge. I walked up to her from the side approaching where I believed the birds would be. I was about 20 feet in front of Hazel and I walked around and around expanding expanding a circle about 50 feet out in front of her nose but no birds. ?! Hazel was still pointing solid and not moving so I kept looking around. Still no bird. I was confused and made the mistake of releasing Hazel from her point. I called, "Hazel, Free!" which is my release command and she took off like a shot past me another 50 yards and and locked up on point again just before 20 plus birds came up about 20 more feet in front of her. I shot in desperation but I was a good 50 yards out when they flushed and I missed with both barrels terribly. Lesson learned; trust your dog. I paced off where Hazel originally pointed the covey to were they flushed and it was approximately 65 yards! I was amazed. Hazel is really showing me something this year. She really has matured and is handling her birds better than ever. I need to have more confidence in her and her abilities. If only I would of followed the nose and left her in place I would of had a terrific opportunity. 65 yards though, I never would have thought. I was totally surprised and amazed.

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm still enjoying the leftovers.
Happy Trails,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Utah Pheasant Hunt Continued

Having a great time chasing pheasants this year. My brother and I are getting out as much as we can. The dogs are doing great for the most part. They are young so they still have their moments but overall I'm pleased. Pheasant hunting in Utah is a challenge. Reduced habitat, populations, and finding land available to hunt on make it hard. But, if your lucky enough to bag 1 or 2 it makes it all that more rewarding.

I've developed a healthy hate for phragmites. This invasive plant is taking over the shores of our lakes and wetlands. It has totally changed the landscape in the area we hunt pheasants. Its rough stuff that beats the hell out of your dog. Hazel looks like an MMA fighter after a 3 round beat down. The state has been trying to burn them out with some success. Hopefully they can come up with the proper solution.

Monday, November 8, 2010

2010 Utah Pheasant Opener

Had a great time hunting pheasants with my brother Shawn and his son Michael. It was a rough go in the morning but the afternoon made up for it. I must brag on my dog Hazel, she was awesome. She showed me a lot Saturday and I'm very proud of her. After lunch she was on fire. She hunted hard, had many points on wild pheasants, held her birds and gave us opportunities. I love that little brown dog. Shawn's shorthairs also did well. I wish I could say the same for our shooting but we killed enough and had enough excitement to satisfy. Can't wait to do it again. Pheasant fajitas for dinner this week!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chads First Ruffed Grouse

What a beautiful day. Temperatures in the 40s. Mountains practically to ourselves. And the pleasure of enjoying it all with a good dog and friend. Moved a few birds and Chad was able to bring this beauty home. Chad is an accomplished hunter but had never hunted ruffed grouse before and had never hunted behind a dog in the uplands. Hazel did great and showed him how great hunting behind a dog can be. I think I may have converted another hunter to this type of hunting adventure.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October Days in Utah

After watching my beloved Utah Jazz get pummeled by the Phoenix Suns during the first half of their game I decided I'd rather update my blog and watch the second half later on the dvr. That way I can fast forward through the bloodshed if it continues. The Jazz seem to be very challenged so far this season. Hopefully they will turn it around.

October is a busy time of year around here. We have a bunch of birthdays in the family, wedding anniversary, Halloween parties, fall festivals. October is my favorite time of year. The cooler weather, the leaves changing. This year has been too hot for my tastes until last weekend when we got a ton of rain followed by a snowstorm.

The snow hasn't hit too hard and I'm hoping to get up into the mountains for at least a couple more hunts. We will see what this weekend brings. Hopefully light showers. I'm praying that the snow stays light for at least a couple more weeks. Next week is the pheasant opener and I'm looking forward to that. After that the Chukar marathon begins. I better start climbing on the treadmill or that is going to be a long day. I'm also hoping to go down south and get into some desert quail. On top of all that I have an invitation from a friend to go hunt at his place in South Dakota. I don't know how I'm going to swing it. Bills, Christmas, Private school tuition are taking their toll on the bank account. But that is what it's all about. Hopefully the kids appreciate it. I will definitely get out to the midwest next year. I'm planning on getting a new hunting pup next Spring and I can't think of anything more fun than Hazel, a 6 mos old setter and me chasing pheasants and shartptails. Yee ha. Utah will have to do for now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Grand Day in the Forest

Hunting season is in full swing and I'm loving every minute of it. Although the days are way too hot we are still getting into birds pretty consistently. Hazel is giving me enough opportunities to keep me happy. She handled the bird in the photo above perfectly. She found it and stuck the bird long enough so I could move in position for a good push in a direction where there was a shot. She is improving all the time. Sorry about the crappy photo. I really need to remember a camera. The phone camera just doesn't cut it. This photo was so poorly focused I turned it black and white. I figured it at least has an old-timey vibe now. It was a good moment though so I'm glad I was able to capture it.

My daughter Lindsey came out with me the other night for a quick hunt after school. She did great! We had a good time. We saw a couple birds but never had a shot. We were on our way to one last spot when we ran into a family of moose. A large bull, a cow and a calf. I called in Hazel so we could watch them for a few minutes. The bull was not moving and he was giving me a pretty hard stare down. We were about 75 yards away in the thick trees but he was giving off a pretty powerful vibe to stay away from his cow and calf. We obliged and did an about face and called it a night. Nothing can stare you down like a full grown Bull Moose. Again I wish I had a camera. I wish you could see him and his antlers better. He wasn't "huge" but he was big enough. I'm hoping Lindsey was able to get a photo of him. If she did I will repost. Fall in the mountain west is pretty grand!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hunting Season Has Arrived!

Hunting season is here and I couldn't be happier. We've been out a couple times, moved some birds. Bagged a couple. I love Fall!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chasing Grouse

I'm happy to say that Bird Hunting season is only 9 short days away and I'm excited from what I've seen this year. There seems to be a good amount of birds (for Utah) in the mountains and this year appears to be promising from my perspective.

I wanted to rush home tonight and get a dove hunt in. The powers that be (work), didn't seem to want the same thing. I still managed to grab the dog and head up the canyon for a look into one of my favorite coverts. I call it "The Bank" because this place is "money".

Its a small little valley between two ridges. The ridge on the south is covered in old pine timber. To the north, Oakbrush so thick you can hardly walk through it. In-between is grouse heaven. Berries, berries and more berries. Thorn apples, elderberry bushes, mountain blueberries, snow berries, berries that I have no idea what they are. This is all surrounded by Aspens with young aspens growing thick on the East and West ends. A brook snakes down the south side at the base of the hill and cascades off a cliff into a steep ravine that is hell to climb out of once you go down into it. The trick is to get around and in front of the grouse before they run to the edge of that cliff and fly into no-mans-land. Then you can work up the ravine and pin them where they don't want to be. For whatever reason the birds all want to go towards that cliff and fly that way to safety. If you sneak into the covert from the west and cut off their natural escape route it can get fun. (Fun if your Pudelflusher feels like pointing that evening) I've only killed one bird ever at The Bank but I've definetly had many opportunities. Maybe this is the year. This sneak around them technique only seems to work once or twice and then the birds get wise and scatter up into the oak brush where its nearly impossible to get to them.

Tonight I didn't get up the mountain in time to sneak in the way I would of liked to but the birds were there. We had 5 flushes and 2 decent points. Hazel was once again pushing too hard on these birds. You would hear her bell stop (flush), yip yip, - stop (flush) yip yip- stop (flush), finally I yelled whoa. I got up close to her and threw my glove about 5 feet in front of her, she broke and I corrected her. and made her stand for a good 2-3 minutes. I released her and she immediately got birdy again, she busted through some oak brush on my right and her bell stopped again, I whoaed her immediately and tried to go up and around so I could see what was going on. Before I could get into position the bird took off. I was pretty happy with that so I called her over, watered her and told her what an amazing creature she is. We snuck down by the cliff and she got birdy again. After some milling around I was starting to think she was on old scent when slam a beautiful stretched out one legged point. The grouse got up and moved on us. It was a beautiful cock bird. He fanned out his tail and stuck out his ruff. He brazenly walked and then ran up over the hill right in front of us. It took a lot out of hazel not to bust him, she was shaking so bad. I whoaed her and waited a moment and snapped this crappy photo. "Turn on the flash next time Brett".

I released her and for a moment I thought we lost him but she found him. He took off with a perfect straight away flush and was gone. Good Dog Hazel! I'm going to save this covert for a special day. I love to chase grouse with a bird dog.

I came home to a great dinner of homemade eggplant (no meat) meatballs with pasta and sauce. Delicious. For desert I had a peach right off the tree. Thanks Amber for the awesome meals you provide us. Amber has a wonderful vegetable garden and were really enjoying all the fresh tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, fresh herbs and squash. I love this time of year. What a great evening. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Training Day

Woke up at 5:30 this morning to get some training in before the sun cooked us out. We've been trying to get out as much as possible before the season starts. We had a good time and the dogs had a decent showing. Shawn brought his older GSP Callie along this time. It was good to see her out and about after all the health problems she's had this summer. She looked good. Both of Shawn's dogs back naturally. It's really cool to watch the intensity that they have even on a back with some training pigeons. Hazel is still a work in progress but I see progress all the time. 28 days until the opener. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Before and After

Shaved some of the extra "udel" off my pudelpointer. She looks like a totally different dog. Takes a little getting used to. Personally, I like the "before" look better. She reminds me of a muppet teddy bear or something with all that shag. It adds to her personality and uniqueness. I do admit that it's much easier to take care of with a trim. My girls wanted me to take off her beard and mustached too but I cant do that. I have to leave a little "fringe".

I used to tell myself that I would never cut Hazel's hair, but after a couple scouting/training days last summer, she became so covered in green, sappy hitchhikers that she couldn't even open her eyes. On one of those days the poor girl came running up to me crying and nearly knocked me over because she was so blinded by all the burs on her face. Hazel is a hard charging dog. She go's where the birds are and she wont let some stickers and burs get in her way. A haircut was the only logical option. I gave her a haircut last year right before bird season and it worked out perfect. We didn't have near the bur problems we usually encounter at the first part of the season in the mountains. By December when we are chasing chukars her hair had grown back so she had a nice heavy coat for those winter hunts.

And with all that being said I have ordered a Llewellin setter pup next spring so I will be dealing with more burs and dog hair in the future. I guess I'm a sucker for the long hair. At least the setters don't have all the long hair around their eyes.

It's time to get serious about our training, conditioning and scouting. Bird season is only a little over a month away. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dreaming of Fall

Just 45 days until the grouse opener. I'm so excited for this upcoming season to start.

I'm tired of these hot, sticky summer days. I need to hike among the colored leaves and feel the crisp, cold fall mornings on top of my head. I'm tired of the dog training and I want to see my dog handle a wild bird for the gun. I'm tired of the crowds up the canyon and want them dispersed due to colder weather. I'm tired of walking the trails. I want to step into the forest, see a new covert for the first time and look at it with anticipation of what possibilities could lurk behind every bush. I want to feel the rushed excitement of a grouse flush and the hurried shots that follow. I want to see the site of my beauty Hazel delivering a bird and sharing that special moment with her. I need to go hunting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

T-Ball for Bird Dogs

My brother and I have started a summer training regimen for the dogs. Just working on the basics so our young dogs can stay sharp for the upcoming hunting season. I had my Pudelpointer Hazel and Shawn worked his GSP Sage.

Today we worked on steadiness and backing. We placed some pigeons on the lawn and let the dogs find them and point them and then had the other dog back at a distance. After both dogs did well in the back yard, we took them to the park and did the same thing where the dogs had much more room to search and find the pigeons. They did pretty good but with such an easy drill they should of. Both of these dogs have a lot of prey drive and need to learn better manners around game. They push the birds a little too hard. They will get there though. They are both young dogs. Its just a matter of time and experience.

By 9:00 am both dogs were getting too hot so we called it quits and walked back over to Shawn's house where both dogs took a dip in his pool.

Congratulations Shawn and Sage

A few weeks ago Shawn ran his young dog Sage in the Wyoming NAVHDA Natural Ability hunt test. She did great and achieved a prize lll 106 pt score. It sounds like she aced everything but had some trouble on the tracking part of the test. No worries, we know she can track and have seen her do it.
That is one of the faults of the NAVHDA system. You get one shot and thats your score. What can you do?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Hiking with Hazel

I have a goal to get at least one good hike in every week this summer. Late Sunday afternoon seems to be the best time for me to get out. Its been a very wet spring so the mountains are just lush with new growth. Hopefully the grouse are handling it alright. With all the snow and rain I'm hoping that they have put off the nesting season until drier weather. I heard my first drumming just last weekend so we will see. I'm trying to keep Hazel in closer and I'm not going to my usual hunting spots to avoid harassing the grouse. Hazel still manages to get into a few. I will have to go up higher in elevation, up into the more barren tundra flats and avoid them for the next few weeks.

Its a great time of year. The mountains are green and the meadows are covered in flowers. The trees are all growing their leaves and the berries are all flowering. Hummingbirds and rabbits are everywhere and the deer, elk and moose are up and moving. Hazel loves the mountains. Up high she spends her time chasing the snowshoes hares and marmot's back into their holes. I just love it up there.

I can't wait until September. I have a really good feeling about this years hunting season. Hazel is impressing me more and more the older she gets. Its her big third season. She is going to be great!

We are getting back into hunting shape after the post hunting season slowdown. Hazel is already in pretty good form. Me not so much. But I will get there. My knees are feeling much better than they were at the end of Chukar season. I guess I will need to brace them up when I go out from now on. It sucks getting old.

Took these photos with my phone. I need to remember to start packing the camera.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turkey Hunt 2010

I enjoyed my very first turkey hunt this spring. Interesting birds with interesting habits that I've really enjoyed learning about. I have a long way to go and much to learn but so far it has been a lot of fun scouting these birds trying to create opportunities to take one.

I went out on the opener with my brother Shawn and brother-in-law Chad. It was a long day with not much action but we did get one Tom to answer to some cuts in the afternoon. We were able to suck him in but not close enough for a shot. It got our adrenaline pumping and since then I've been hooked.

Late in the day Shawn had left so Chad and I separated from each other in an area that had a lot of turkey sign. We sat still (took a nap) for an hour or so. After a while Chad made some hen calls and suddenly the whole forest came alive with turkeys. We had toms gobbling all around us. Chad made a few more cuts and called into himself 2 toms with a hen in tow. They came close enough that Chad was able to take a shot and got himself a real nice bird. I sat there the whole time hoping that a tom would come within range but none ever did. Congratulations Chad on a nice hunt.

We went out a couple more times moved some birds but never had an opportunity for a shot.

Last Saturday it all came together again. Shawn, his son Michael and I got out to our spot at first light and some toms were already gobbling. We snuck in on them and got pretty close without being detected. We picked our spots. I went high while Shawn and Michael went low. We had good positions if we could only talk one of these birds into coming our way. Shawn made 3 quick cuts on his box call and we got an answer. We waited a minute. Two Toms were still enthusiastically gobbling just below us. Shawn made 2 more cuts and then went silent. One of the Toms came up the hill gobbling the whole way.

We waited.

A couple of minutes later that tom came into my view strutting up my side of the hill. I had a nice window between two heavy oak brush branches. He strutted for a moment but I held my shot, hoping that the other tom would follow him up the hill. I had my bead on him and waited for a few more seconds but nothing else seemed to be happening. I was pumped, my heart was pounding, I was trying to control my breathing as I looked down the barrel at this beautiful bird. I decided this was my opportunity and that I couldn't wait any longer and took the shot. It was a clean kill he went down quick.

After things settled down and we decided nothing else was happening I went and got my bird. It was a happy moment to take a bird my first year out. I paced it off and estimate that it was about a 25-30 yard shot. I took him with my old 20 gauge loaded with winchester Xpert turkey load 6's. What a great hunt. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity. These birds are amazing beautiful creatures. After holding him and seeing his beauty up close I had my normal meloncally moment that occurs whenever I take an animal. Its a combination of elation to have killed and taken the animal with a sadness that this rambunctious, gaudy tom will never strut again. I pray he was able to pass on his genes to the next generation so that his memory will remain in those mountains as long as turkeys strut across its hills. It does the soul good to dip into mother natures well and occasionally come up with a gem. We need to respect what we are doing as hunters and never abuse it. It was so much fun. I cannot wait for next years hunt.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Handgun

Just bought a new hand gun. A Springfield Armory XD 45. Sweet gun that packs a punch. I've only put a few magazines through it but so far I really like it. Seems to shoot accurately and the recoil is not bad at all. It is lots of fun to shoot. I've always wanted a 45 handgun and had my heart set on a 1911 (too many WWII movies) but I couldn't find one that I liked within my price range so I decided on the XD.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canned Hunting

Another upland bird season is behind us and the season ending ritual of the canned hunts is upon us (released birds on private property). In Utah the private game preserves are allowed to stay open until the end of March. You can get a couple of months of this type of hunting after the wild bird seasons have ended.

My brother found a great place out in Lemington Utah that has provided us with some pretty fun hunts. It's called the Mc Ranch. They have a beautiful place along the Sevier River. Its a pheasant and chukar operation. The terrain provides the birds with good cover so if you don't get on them the birds have a good escape route across the river. Which is kind of nice and adds to the challenge of the hunt because then you have to cross the river and track the birds down. The pheasants are roosters only so thats nice. So far the birds have been good strong flyers and act pretty wild. The staff is very friendly and accomadating. Overall we've been very pleased.

Personally, I would much rather hunt wild birds. I love the challenge that wild birds provide. Whenever a bird is bagged it is such of a victory. Wild birds are the best teachers for young dogs and provide all the fun and challenge that hunting should be.

In Utah the last species of the upland bird season is the chukar hunt. The season usually ends around the end of January or the first part of February. I personally have not had a lot of success chasing chukars. Although we go a lot and usually see a covey or 2 when we go, we don't put many in the bag. It can be frustrating for both dog and hunter. But the chase is still great fun. It's a lot of hiking, watching the dogs work and some difficult shots all in difficult terrain. Hardest bird hunting there is in my opinion. Can't wait until next year to do it all over again.

In contrast to that, these preserve hunts do have their place. One thing is they can be great for the dogs. As long as the birds are strong flyers and have good survival instincts it can really help a dog along. If the birds are not up to snuff you might as well leash your dog and go home. There is nothing worse than getting into released birds that are weak, won't fly or have no survival skills. If the dog has a strong prey drive it will figure them out pretty quick and will catch the birds themselves. That's about the worst thing that can happen to a young pointing dog. Its happened to me and it really created some problems for my dog. It really soured me on this type of hunt. In hindsight I should have ended that bad day much earlier than I did. But if you do find the right place with good strong birds and good terrain it can make for a very enjoyable day.

The reason a good quality canned hunt can be great for young dogs is that they get a lot of bird contact. The birds usually hold well for the pointing dogs, are usually shot on the flush so the dogs get the opportunity for a retrieve. You can watch a dogs confidence grow with these easier birds. It's good to end the hunting season on a positive note rather than a skunked day with a bag full of empty shells. The dogs don't know the birds are released and they are just as excited to point a farm raised rooster as a wild one. The end result for them is the same. The amount of bird contact is much more than what they usually see in the wild. (At least what I usually see around here in Utah) And the biggest plus is it creates good training opportunities to help your dog along. You can concentrate more on the dog than the game and really hone in on what your dog needs. Plus its great fun. It's kind of like the opening morning of the pheasant hunt when the birds aren't running and flushing wild yet. Not near as rewarding as the wild birds but still fun.

Another positive is we are able to give some family and friends the opportunity to experience our sport that usually wouldn't have the opportunity. Those that haven't done a bird hunt in years because they are unable or unwilling to battle the terrain where we find wild birds or just don't hunt anymore because it's not like he good ol days. Have had some great times on these preserve hunts. It also helps with the cost to have more people paying for the birds.

The best part is we are able to take our dad hunting. He bought us our first shotguns, used to drive us all over the state, and fed our dogs so we could hunt when we were younger. He and my older brothers introduced me to bird hunting. A little payback feels very good.