Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Pheasant Hunt


I had a nice pheasant hunt with my family on Saturday.  2 of my brothers, 2 nephews and my dad all went out to a pheasant preserve in western Utah. My older brother Guy doesn't hunt as much as he'd like to so it was nice to get him and his son Mckay out for a day of hunting. It was Mckays first experience upland hunting. Even though it was released birds it was very enjoyable. 

We ordered a dozen birds and we bagged most of them. If we would of had more time I think we would of bagged at least that amount. We have a good relationship with this farm and they really accommodate us and they have good, strong flying birds. Plus it's roosters only. I like that. The ranch owner calls us odd. Most of his customers like their hunts to be quick, and easy. We tell them to spread the pheasants out and to release the birds in the thickest cover they got. We like the challenge of working for the birds.  I'm not sure how my brother and nephew felt about that  but it ended up being a very enjoyable day. We saw some nice shots, beautiful points and it was good to introduce Mckay to upland hunting. I think he really enjoyed it. 

Highlight of the day was watching my Dad double on pheasants. Another highlight was towards the end of the day. We all started hunting all together and we were all spread out  in a small valley along a river. I was up high on a hill  watching it all. Shawn calls out, "Chiefs really birdy!" just as a bird flew from the river bank about 30 feet in front of Chief's nose. The bird was behind a bunch of tamarack bushes so only I could see it from my vantage point on the the hilltop it crossed in front of me and I took a shot (a long shot I probably shouldn't of taken) and hit the bird. It flopped and swayed in the air and went down about 100 yard in front of me and then ran into a ditch bank.  I call to my nephews, "Mckay, Michael, get up here!" wanting them to get the bird. I hustled over there behind them. My dad was yelling at us from behind  "To your left! It went left!"  so  Michael and I go left.  I'm calling my dogs over to work the ditch as we start heading up the ditch bank. That's when Mckay calls out, "Hazel's on point".  He's standing right were the bird went in. "Where is she?", I ask. "Right here at my feet", replies Mckay.  "Good, she's got it then".  Mckay then asks  "what should I do?" I say, "Flush it". "How do I do that?", he asks. "Walk in front of her nose".  He does and a beautiful rooster flushes up and Mckay makes a clean shot and Hazel makes a soft retrieve to hand.  
I love this stuff I wish I could do it every day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

FRANCHI 48 AL My New Chukar Thumper

My New Franchi 48 AL12 Ga
I love my double guns. I love the way they feel, the way they look, the way they shoot, I wish I could afford 10 more. I also love hunting wild chukars more than about anything in this world (except grouse). A couple years ago I slipped on a muddy slope and my pride and joy Beretta over/under went sliding across a rock. The rock was as effective as a cheese grater at gouging my stock. I do my best shooting with my over/under so I wanted to hunt with it. I kept trying to tell myself that is what its for, a gun is a tool no need to get upset about it. I'm afraid that I'm just not wired that way. I've been that way about my stuff since I was a little kid. I've always been careful with my stuff. I like my toys (guns) nice and new and bright and shiny. I'm just too protective of my guns to watch them get scarred nearly each time I took them up the chukar slopes was to much for me.

New Haven 600 20 gauge 
Rather than buying a another double gun of lesser quality I came to the conclusion that I would start using my old New Haven 20 gauge pump for chukar hunting. Until recently this was my rainy day gun. I love this old gun. It is the smoothest pump gun I've ever shouldered. It is scarred and scratched from 30 years of use and It doesn't bother me a bit to add to the "patina" whenever I happen to bump it on a rock or put it down to help out a dog. In my mind it is the perfect gun for chukar hunting. It's cool to think that my first gun is still one of my favorites. Hopefully I can wear the rest of the bluing off within my lifetime.

After using my old New Haven pump the last couple of years I've decided I prefer a repeater more than a double gun for chukar hunting, for the following reasons: When hunting these birds you can hike for hours before you make contact and when you do it seems like the shooting is usually fast and furious. I've had many birds come up after the initial covey rise and I'm sitting there fiddling with my shotgun trying to reload to get off another shot. I like having 4 or 5 (6 with my New Haven) chances when opportunities arise rather than just the two shots you get with a double gun. Call me greedy, I don't care. It's enough of a challenge just to get to the bird. I want every advantage I can get once I find them.

Recently, I've tried a new experiment and bought myself a semi-automatic shotgun. I've never owned a semi-automatic shotgun before. I've used them plenty of times and usually borrow one when I go duck hunting but I've never owned one for upland hunting. I've always liked the Franchi brand. My brother has owned a couple Franchi's and absolutely loves his new Franchi I12 upland hunter 12 gauge. It's a real sweet lightweight shotgun. It's way nice. I bought a used Franchi 48/AL 12 gauge with a 26" barrel at an online auction (gunbroker.com). I've had a thing for the 48/AL for a long time. My friend Jeff owns a few of these in 12 gauge and absolutely loves the gun. He has quite a collection. I was impressed with how light the guns are and how nice they handled. These shotguns only weigh between 6-7 pounds in 12 gauge and are in the 5-6 pound range in 20-28 gauge. I think weight is very important when your lugging a gun up and down a mountainside. I think the Franchi 48/AL is one of the better looking semi-auto shotguns on the market. It uses the same type of long-recoil system as the famous browning A5. In that it only uses the bolt, barrel and a spring together as a mechanical system to eject and reload the gun. Its really an amazing, simple system. Browning was such a genius.

Franchi stopped building the 48/AL in 12 gauge a few years back and now days only build this model in 20 and 28 gauge. I like the fact that my new shotgun is a 12 gauge. I know that's not the sexy thing to say now days but I think the 12 is still the most versatile of all the gauges. What can't you hunt with a twelve? I know it may be over kill for quail and other small gamebirds but with lighter loads the 12 shoots very nice on the smaller gamebirds. I love my 28 gauge and will never give it up and I still like my 20 gauge and both will easily put birds in the bag. But I like the idea of a 12 for wild chukars. They are fast, tough, hearty birds and I like to knock them dead when I shoot them. Wounded chukars can be as wiley as a wounded pheasant. Without a dog you have almost no chance finding or catching a running chukar.

 I have to give a shout-out to BenelliUSA's customer service department. When I received this gun and it was missing the Friction Ring and Friction Spring in the recoil mechanism. I scoured the internet looking for these parts to no avail. I put an email into FranchiUSA (BenelliUSA) and a few days later a customer service rep contacted me by phone and ordered the parts for me at NO cost. This is a 28 year old gun and I'm obviously not the original owner and they gave me the parts for FREE. I told them I wasn't expecting that and the nice woman on the line said, "We just want our customers to be happy with our products". How about that?! I got the parts in about a week and the gun has ran flawlessly since. I absolutely love this shotgun. I told my friend Jeff and they helped him with some parts he was missing on his ALs.  I'm now a big Benelli/Franchi fan.

I've had the new gun out a couple times hunting and I love it. Its nearly as light as my doubles and shot just flows out of this gun. It runs like a top. It shoulders perfectly and has a nice swing. It does kick pretty hard with heavy loads with the long recoil system but on birds you don't even notice it. My only real adjustment has been with the safety on the right side of the trigger guard. I'm left-handed so I have to switch off the safety with my thumb from the "wrong side" of the gun. And it's not reversible. All my other shotguns have a top-tang style safety. The most natural place for a safety in my opinion. It is going to take some practice to get used to. I'm sure I will enjoy this shotgun for many years to come.

I got a smoking good deal and picked up this beauty for $279. You can't beat that. I added a new leather butt pad to add length of pull and a sling. It's in amazing good shape for a 25 year old gun. It's a beauty. I believe I now own the ultimate weapon for chukar hunting. We will see if any of this actually helps put more birds in the bag. I'm just excited I have another shotgun. Woot Woot!!

Hazel on a recent Chukar Hunt. Planning her strategy for the next slope.
UPDATE: 11/17/14
After 3 seasons with this shotgun I can totally say that I love this gun. This and my Beretta O/U have become my go to shotguns. It's my favorite for pheasants and chukars. I have used it on grouse and quail too. It swings well and I shoot well with it. It fits me like a glove with the leather recoil pad I added. 

The only complaint that I have is that I have to be more meticulous about cleaning this gun after each hunt. I think if I order a new spring that might help. If I keep it clean and put a drop of oil just below the friction ring on the magazine it runs like a top. If it gets dirty and I just clean the barrel after a hunt in about 3 outings it will start to misfeed. The funny thing about putting a dab of oil on the magazine below the friction ring is that printed right on the gun it says "do not oil - run dry". Sorry Franchi mine likes oil. In fact it likes it a lot. If I do run it dry it doesn't feed as well. 

So the gun is a little temperamental but if I'm disciplined on my maintenance I have no troubles and it is reliable. I'm meticulous about maintaining my guns and actually enjoy tinkering with them so it is not a problem for me.  It's cool looking and I get compliments on it all the time. I scored on this gem. I'd buy another Franchi 48 AL in a heart beat. I got my eye on the 20 and 28 gauge models but I love the one I have in 12 gauge so it's hard to justify. Maybe my daughter will need a shotgun when she turns 12 and I can justify it that way. And there you have it, problem solved.




Saturday, November 26, 2011

November Hunting

My brother Shawn walking the rimrock during a chukar hunt
I've been fortunate this month to spend a few days afield in pursuit of pheasants, chukar, and ducks.
The dogs working the edge of the phragmites
I've had some great times with friends and family. We are truly blessed to live in a place that gives us these hunting opportunities. I always hear that Utah doesn't have the opportunities of other states for bird hunting. That's true but there are birds available if your wiling to put in the time and the shoeleather.
My nephew Mike on the pheasant hunt
This year we haven't put a lot of birds in the bag but the hunting has been enjoyable and we are getting enough contacts to keep it fun and exciting. Enough birds and excitement to keep us coming back for more. Isn't that what it's all about? (at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself every time I come home with an empty vest)
The amazing, talented Pudelpointer Hazel
Were coming home empty more because of poor shooting. We've had our chances each time we go out thanks to the dog work. Hazel has been awesome this year and Chief is having his moments too. And my brother's shorthair Sage is also a ton of fun to hunt behind. We have a great mix of dogs that all compliment one another. It's a lot of fun to watch them all get on the ground and work some birds. We had a chukar covey on the move yesterday and Hazel went up high and cut them off while chief worked the covey below and Sage tracked and stalked them from the rear. We had them busted (or at least the dogs did) we complimented it all with missing 5 shots on the covey. :) Holy crap we suck. We had a good laugh about that one. Good times.
The rookie Llewellin Chief. 
Hazel taking a rejuvenating roll in a patch of snow while chukar hunting

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 Utah Pheasant Hunt Opener

Chief's first Rooster Pheasant
I Had a beautiful opening day of the pheasant hunt this year. My dogs both worked well. Hazel busted the first rooster we encountered but she soon calmed down and was simply amazing the rest of the day.

It was a brag on your dog kind of day. I hate to brag because as soon as I do I know the next time I take out my dogs they will do something awful but I can't help it this time.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the DWR released a bunch of chukar partridge a few weeks ago in the same area I pheasant hunt. We had our limit of chukars within an hour. This particular area butts up against some mountains that are very good chukar habitat so I think the may have been trying to supplement that area or maybe just adding some birds to get more action for the pheasant hunters. Maybe there was a youth hunt in the area. I'm not sure. I have to footnote this with the fact that I didn't get into the field until about 11:00 in the morning. When I pulled in, there were 6 trucks and SUVs leaving the area. The entire place had been thoroughly worked by many hunters and dogs throughout the morning. Footprints in the snow everywhere. One hunter even said "I don't think there is anything left. We hit it pretty hard and we only got up 2 chukars. Good luck but I think you've come too late." I thanked him and went on my way. Within 2 minutes Hazel put up a rooster, I didn't shoot and I could hear the guys in the parking lot guffawing over our find. I loved it! We then started to clean up on the chukars. I got my limit and helped other hunters get 3 additional birds. Throughout all this we were getting points on hen pheasants. I was calling hunters over to Hazel's points. If it was a rooster I asked for the shot, if it was a chukar it was theirs. We had so much fun. Chief, the 7 month old Llewellin, got up the only rooster I bagged for the day. (pictured above) He retrieved it too! He is awesome. It was Chief's first wild rooster, what a special moment. He also pointed and retrieved a chukar. I had other opportunities on pheasants but I sadly I missed the other rooster Hazel found for me. I was back home by 3:30. It was a very fruitful opening day.

I've been out a couple more times this week with moderate success. We've bagged a couple and missed a couple but are having a ton of fun the entire time. Any success hunting pheasants in Utah is a very positive thing. We were hoping to get to South Dakota this year but things fell through and we didn't get it done. All the usual excuses apply – Work, timing, money. Oh well, we do what we can.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the the fall. If your hunting, I wish you the best of luck.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Keeping Your Hunting Dog Hydrated


Throughout the years I've tried many different ways to keep my dogs hydrated while in the field. Living in a relatively dry state like Utah, we don't always have the luxury of having a stream or other means of water nearby when we're out and about. If your not careful, it can become a very dangerous situation and deadly for your dog if it gets overheated.

I've tried everything from water bladders to collapsable bowls to keep my dogs watered. Sharing my water bladders doesn't work for me. I don't like sharing the spout with my dog. That is just gross. Call me selfish or whatever but after seeing the things my dogs eat and put in their mouths in the field I don't want their mouths anywhere near my personal drinking water.

The last couple of years I've exclusively used gatorade sport top bottles to water my dogs when I'm in the field. I really like them. They are cheap, last forever and are strong enough to hold up to my dogs teeth. They hold 24 oz of water. For long hot days I will carry 2 per dog. That's 96 oz of water, enough for the worst water pig of a dog. I have several bouncing around my truck bed at all times. And as a bonus is my kids think I'm the coolest when I buy them a bottle of Gatorade before we go hiking or whatever. When the kids finish it I just rinse it out and then I have another water bottle for the dogs.

I also carry a 96 oz water bladder during most chukar hunts, so all together that is 192 oz. of water at my disposal. It weighs a lot and I usually dump half of it out at the end of the day but if I ever need it I'm happy it's there. For short hunts or cold days (below freezing) I usually only carry half that amount. One bottle for each dog and a 64 oz. bladder.

One thing you need to remember about hydrating your dog with a squirt bottle is you need to hold the bottle low enough so that the bottle is level with the dogs face while the dog is drinking. If you hold it too far above your dog's mouth the dog could easily choke on the water and will spend the next minute or so coughing it up. Hold it level and let the water drain out into your dogs mouth rather than squirting it. The dog will drink more water and waste less. The below picture illustrates the wrong way to do it. Hold the bottle lower and it wont be a problem.

On hot days I'll water my dogs about every 15-minutes or whenever they ask for it. Both of my current dogs will actually run up to me, sit down and wait for a drink. It can get annoying but I'd rather have them stay cool and keep their noses wet then to be overheated and get themselves into trouble.

Another great trick to use on really hot days is to bring along a standard spray bottle full of water and mist your dogs undercarriage (belly and chest) after watering them. The more water evaporation off the dogs skin the cooler the dog will stay.

Stay Safe and Happy Hunting.

OCTOBER HUNTING




It's been a slow month of hunting but towards the end of the month things started picking up and the bird contacts started to increase with the demise of the summer foliage.
Chief is still growing and developing. I think he is going to be great. Hazel is keeping every outing very exciting and fun. I love these dogs and love hunting with them. The future of my upland hunting seems bright.
A big thanks go's out to Cedarwood Pudelpointers of Idaho and Laurel Mountain Llewellins of Pennsylvania for breeding such wonderful hunting companions.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hunting Dogs and Avoiding Moose

Last night was one of those hunts that I was happy when it was all over. That is a very unusual statement coming from me but it was was how I felt.

I headed up for a late afternoon grouse hunt with just my young setter Chief and myself. It was a beautiful day in the mountains. 60 degrees and sunny with a nice cool breeze coming through the canyon. Everything started out perfect enough. Chief was working well and I was enjoying the walk through the aspens and pines. We were following a game trail used by moose and elk. Easy walking with tons of cover on either side. I remember thinking, "how great is this place?" when everything fell apart.

Chief started to get real animated and acted in a way that I interpreted as "birdie". Chief then stopped hard, I was hoping it was a point but his tail was flagging hard. I had never seen him behave like that before. ? "What you got Chief?", I asked. Chief then took off in a dead sprint that led to a chase of a snowshoe hare up and over the hill and out of site. So far out of site that I could no longer hear his bell. Sh!t!

I've lost dogs in the woods before and it's never fun. I've never lost-lost a dog before but know people who have and it's heartbreaking. I wasn't too nervous but still very concerned and proceeded in pursuit up the hill. After a couple minutes I started calling and whistling. Nothing happened. I whistled louder and then started really calling. I realized that over that hill is a pretty deep drainage and at the bottom of that drainage there's a fairly busy mountain road. I made it up to the top of the hill and I could hear quite a few cars traveling on the afore mentioned road. Thats when I really got concerned. I called and called and was whistling as loud as I could, praying for the sound of Chiefs bell to come back to me. I make it to the top of the hill and I couldn't see any sign of Chief as I was whistling (loudly) I turn to my left and look smack right into the face of an adult cow moose. Holy crap!!!..... Imagine that. If you follow a moose trail it may lead you to a moose. :)

I love moose but they make me very nervous. I've had a couple encounters with these large beasts and let's just say I have a deep respect for these animals. If you've ever had one pin back their ears and come at you with angry intentions you understand where I'm coming from. Moose are pretty prevalent in this particular are that I like to grouse hunt and I run into them 2-3 times a year. I try to keep my distance and be as respectful as possible. I usually feel pretty safe around them but you never know how they will react when you can catch one by surprise.

Slowly I turned and walked away from the moose until I had put some distance between us. All the while trying not to create any eye contact and trying to look as non threatening as I could. This moose was giving me the hard stare all the while. She didn't move a muscle, she just stood her ground. Once I felt like I was a safe distance I end up walking into her friend, Mr. Bull Moose. The Bull was much more nervous and he had started to walk off... slowly. So here I am between a pair of moose and that's the moment when I heard Chief barking for help. So keeping a close eye on both moose I whistled and called for Chief. The bull stopped, the cow still didn't move. Chief is still coming and barking every now and then so I respond until I work him back to me. I get him and I proceed to go back down the hill away from the moose. We get back to the bottom and we take a break. I make sure Chief is OK and watered, I shared a granola bar with him and we proceed to go on with our hunt when... Chief chases another rabbit up and over the hill.................................%$#$&*_!@$^%*

All's well that ends well. I got him back again and we got out before dark and we made it home. I can't really blame Chief. He is a 5 1/2 month old pup and full of it. I haven't been able to get him into many birds so far this year so when he had his chance for some real excitement he took it. We will be introducing Chief to the electronic collar the next few weeks. We will need to do some trash breaking I'm sure. I'm just glad it wasn't a baby moose that got his attention. Things could of got ugly quick. Over all he's doing really good and has worked up a bird or two for me. No hard points and no birds shot over him in the field yet but that will come. Hazel was just spaded so she is out of commission for a couple weeks. I really missed hunting her last weekend. We could of used her. So its just me and the Chief for another weekend. It's good for him though. You ought to see this young dog work a cover. It's impressive. Around the house the best word to describe him is bouncy. He is always happy to see you and makes sure your aware of his excitement. He's a good boy, he just doesn't know yet how to handle all of his energy. Get him on the training table or your lap and he just melts in your hands. He's a sweet little guy.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Bird Hunting Knives

This post is a few years old.I recently built a new post on this subject and have updated my thoughts and have shared a few new knives I've purchase since this original post. Link below.





 The knife is an essential hunting tool and it's not just for just cleaning birds. I've use a knives to cut homemade dog boots, remove heavy burs, cutting tape to dress wounds, fix shotguns, cut rope, cut shoelaces, fix electronic collars, fight bears😀,etc. etc... I also always carry a small leatherman type tool with all the screwdrivers, knife, hole punch, files, scissors and the all important bottle opener. But more often than not, I just reach for my knife.

I like having a gut hook on my bird hunting knifes. Somedays birds can sit in my game bag for several hours before I get a chance to clean them properly.  It's not pretty but I believe a quick initial cleaning to get the innards removed helps the flavor of the meat before the bird sits too long, especially in hot weather. I carry baby wipes for not only the obvious reasons but also to clean off my hands and knife after I gut a bird. 

I carry the Beretta® Stag Bird Knife. It's a very nice, well made knife. Very sharp and holds it's edge well. Its easy to open and close with its tear drop design. The hook binds the birds intestines well and with the heavy handle they pull out easily and cleanly. But sometimes I wish it was a little longer. Beretta makes it with Deer Stag or Buffalo Bone handles. I scored on this knife and got it for around $68 at knifesupply.com. The price was reduced for some reason and I jumped. Usually the Stag Version costs well over $100. You can find the buffalo bone handle ones for cheaper. It's a very nice knife but not worth that kind of money in my opinion. There are many other nice options for half the price. But… it is beautiful and if you have the money I recommend it.

Drawbacks of the Beretta Stag knife is that it is thick. Meaning that  the design is a little wide with both the blade and the gut hook. It is a little too thick to sit comfortably in the your front pocket. The sheath it came with is nylon and is nothing special. I stopped carrying this knife on my belt because I don't trust the sheath to stay closed or even stay on my belt. I stick it in my bird vest/pack. My Mother® packs have zipper compartments inside the shell pockets on the belt that secure items well but keep them easily accessible. Overall it's a very nice knife and I love it. It's an heirloom type instrument. Thats why its carried in my pack and not on my belt. I would love to pass this beauty on someday.  

It appears that Beretta  has stopped producing this knife with the gut hook so supplies are extremely limited. There are a few around the web if you look.


A nice more affordable bird hunting-knife that is the Case® bird hunter. It comes in a variety of handle materials from bone to classic yellow and even hunter orange. I gave the yellow handled version of this knife to my brother for a Christmas present and he absolutely loves it. Its slender and fits easily in your front pocket. I love Case knifes. They are classics. You can pick these up all over the web between $30- $50. 


My new favorite bird hunting knife is the Boker® Bird Hunter. I just purchased this knife a couple months ago. I've had my eye on it a long time. 

I absolutely love this knife. It's the perfect design for a bird knife. The right tool for the job, slender enough to fit in the pocket but long enough to do the job. And who doesn't like a rosewood handle? I can't wait to use it next season. It doesn't take a lot of knife to clean a bird and unless I start hunting ostriches I think the Boker® Bird Hunter should do the job for a long time. Prices vary between $49-$59. 

Below are some images of how the Böker compares to the Beretta Bird Knife.



This past season I bought a fixed blade bird hunting knife and I've totally enjoyed it. It's the Ruko Bird and Trout Knife.
It is a Spanish made 3" blade with a stag antler handle. It came with a decent leather sheath that retains the blade snuggly in place . It wasn't very sharp when I received it but once I refined the edge it's one of the sharpest knives I own. It took an edge very well and seems to hold it for a long time. I've cleaned almost all my birds since November with this knife and have grown to love it. I like the fixed blade for it's strength and ease of use and it's easier to clean. I bought mine on Amazon for around $60.

It's a very handsome blade and I really like using it and having it on my belt. It's definitely a keeper.





I recently built a new post on this subject and have updated my thoughts and have shared a few new knives I've purchase since this original post. Link below.


Upland Bird Hunting Knives Revisited








Sunday, September 11, 2011

Empty Tailgates

I have to admit that this years Grouse Hunt has not been what I was hoping for. Out of the four times out I've only been able to move 4 birds and have had 0 shots. Very frustrating. Yesterday, we went to a spot that we have never been before. We heard good things about it from a fellow turkey hunter last year and the cover looked awesome. We hit it hard but no birds were produced.
The Dogs are working hard and doing all I could expect but it is just a strange year. Everything seems to be behind. It just doesn't feel enough like fall here yet. I'm not ready to admit that last winter and spring decimated our Grouse population but I may have to. The DWR claims that it didn't. The bow hunters I've talked with haven't seen any birds either so something is up. Or I must be doing something wrong. We are still having fun and it is nice just to be out.
I guess it's time to do some preserve hunts and get my young dog Chief some experience that way. This boy needs to get some birds other than pigeons dropped in front of him. I'm so excited to get this young dog into wild birds. He has an awesome nose, staunch points and great range for a 5 month old dog. Most of his experience has been with pigeons and I really want to see him handle some wild birds. Personally, Im not the biggest fan of the preserve hunts. It all depends on the how the birds behave. Wild birds have the strong survival instincts that challenge the dogs. But experience is experience be it wild birds or pen raised pheasants and chukars. We can get after the grouse after the weather cools and the leaves start changing. It's coming though, you can feel it, it's coming. And Maybe that is all we need to change our luck with the Grouse. If the grouse numbers turn out to be low – let it snow, Chukar hunting starts at the beginning of October and it should be a good year!
Best of luck to all the other hunters out there. I hope your doing better than we are.

Brett

Friday, September 9, 2011

Upland Hunting Pants

Hunting gear to me is a very personal thing and I would like to share what I've learned and what I use with others. I spend enough time hunting and outside that I feel if something works or doesn't, I can share that opinion and hopefully help someone out. Personally, I am a gear guy and I like my stuff to work well, look good and serve a desired purpose. I'm also kind of a cheap bastard (if you ask my wife, I'm sure she would argue otherwise). I enjoy quality but my budget usually requires that to find quality I need to acquire items on sale and at a discounted rate. I buy most of my gear online or on sales racks in the late winter or springtime when they are out of season. I also like outlet stores and hate to pay full-retail for anything. I've found my best bargains online at sierratradingpost.com and believe it or not on Cabelas.com in their bargain cave section. In the late winter and springtime you can find items that you thought were out of your price range for less than half and sometimes 70% off at these places. Also once you buy items from these sites and get on their email list you usually receive coupons and such via email that discount products even further. Hunting gear is expensive enough even discounted. Never pay retail if you don't need to. Today, I'm going to focus on my favorite hunting pants.

Cabelas Early Season Upland pants: (above photo taken from cabelas.com)
Out of all the hunting pants I own (and I own many) these are my favorite. They are light-weight but tough enough to handle the brush I wade through during the early grouse season here in Utah. I absolutely love these pants. I wear these nearly all season but I really appreciate them early and late season when its warmer. They are also perfect for Chukar hunting. Lightweight yet tough and durable. When your doing a lot of hiking you don't want heavy canvas pants dragging you down. I will even wear these hiking in the summer time if I plan on going off-trail. I like the cargo pockets with zippers and the zippers on the back pockets. I've worn these for 2 seasons and and they are still wearing great. These probably wouldn't hold up in the woods of the Northeast for more than a season but for what I do here in Utah they are perfect. If someone knows of a better chukar hunting pant please let me know.


$49.99 on Cabela's website. They've gone up recently. I got mine in their bargain cave for $19.99 2 years ago. Unfortunately, they haven't been discounted since I bought mine (I've been watching). If you want a nice pair of lightweight upland pants these are great.

Columbia Grouse II Upland pants
In colder weather I really like my Columbia Grouse II Upland pants (above photo taken from sierratradingpost.com). Heavy canvas with the protective heavy polyester overlays on the pant fronts and bottoms. Plenty of protection for what I deal with here in the west. I don't wear chaps although I've considered getting some for wet conditions (I hate walking around in wet pants). They are a little baggy but I kind of like them like that. If you happen to wear suspenders they have built in suspender buttons. These are nice heavy pants. I'm on my 4th season with mine and they are starting to fray some at the bottom and I have worn some holes in the bottom of the legs on the back side where there is no nylon but there is still plenty of life in these pants. I just need to patch them up. Sierra Trading Post always seems to have these on sale and I got my pair for $21. Recently I bought the Columbia Grouse III. They look and fit exactly like the Grouse II's but have the Omni-Shield protection and the fabric is more polyester. Much lighter pants than the Grouse II. We will see if that makes a difference. I also bought these at sierratradingpost.com. I believe I paid $26 for them with an online coupon. Once you get on Sierra Trading Post email list you can get some rocking deals if you have the patience to wait for the good sales.

NOTE: I wore my Columbia Grouse III pants for the first time yesterday and I really liked them. They were heavy enough to protect me from all the brush and briars and light enough that they weren't overly hot or heavy. Like I said above they are a little baggy but I didn't mind. I think overall these will be great pants.

NOTE 2: I've worn these throughout the 2011 season in all kinds of conditions and I love the Grouse III pants. I wouldn't call them water-proof but they have kept me dry in some wet rainy conditions. They fit me great and are wearing very well.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Utah Forest Grouse Season Opener 2011

Utah's upland game season opened with the forest grouse (dusky and ruffed) and doves September 1st this year. This is a couple weeks sooner than usual for the grouse. I've been able to get out a couple of times and enjoy some grouse hunting with the dogs.
We haven't been able to connect with any grouse but we've had some contacts. The dogs are working hard under very unfavorable conditions. I think we need a hard frost to come through and knock down some of the cover. It's still very green and thick here. On top of that it's been warm. Beautiful though. I have a theory that with all the green growth that it is making scenting conditions very difficult for the dogs. Plus walking through it all is very tiring. But we're having fun. I usually don't get rolling on the grouse until the end of September anyway. Right now it still feels a little early to me for grouse season. My pants are stained green and I was eaten by mosquitos and stung by ants all while sweating profusely. Not the usual fall grouse hunt I'm accustomed to. We will keep working it until we get it figured out. We always do.
Chief my Llewellin is doing great. He had a great summer of training. He was worked on pigeons in and out of launchers and handled both very well. He's a good little bird finder and has a beautiful point and shows signs that he will be a natural backer. I'm excited to get him on more wild birds. You can tell it's just going to be a matter of contacts with more wild birds and this guy will be awesome. He is really impressive how he works a cover for such a young dog.
My Pudelpointer Hazel has been working very hard and is doing very well. However, she suffered a pretty bad eye injury along with a nasty scratch on her chest. She will plow through this heavy cover fearlessly and I'm afraid she hurt herself. She's pretty sore today. She will be fine after after a little break. Her poor eye was scratched and along with that she picked up a nasty sticker we have here that become embedded beneath her eyelid. This particular sticker is about an inch long hard needle shaped pest with a barb on one end. They get everywhere. Annoying things. Usually I can get them out of the dogs eyes myself but this time Hazel's eye was so swelled up I couldn't get it there to find it. The Vet was happy to numb up her eye with some drops and was able to remove the intruder. Her eye looks very sore but much better than it did.
I'm looking forward to some colder weather and more days afield with these dogs. It's going to be a good year with these two.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

AHHHHHH FALL

The season is almost here. The kids are back in school, the garden is exploding with fresh vegetables, fruit is ripening on the trees and vines. The mornings are starting to become crisp and cool. And the evenings are amazing. Hunting season for me is only a week away. All is nearly right in the world again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beretta 687 Ultralight Matte 12 gauge

This is a unique, ultra cool, light weight over-under that is built on a light but very strong, titanium aluminum alloy receiver. I really, really like this gun, I can carry it all day without much effort. It's perfect for my style of hunting where I'm out and away from the truck for hours at a time. It weighs just over 6 lbs, but it still swings very well for a light weight gun. I feel like I do my best shooting with this shotgun. The engraving is unusual and non traditional other than the game birds (huns and snipes) but I like it. It came with a matte finish on a beautiful dark walnut stock with a Schnabel fore-end. The checkering on the wood is also unusual but very cool looking and fits well with the overall look of the gun. It has a 28" barrels with interchangeable choke tubes.
This is a lovely gun. The nicest I've ever owned or probably ever will. This is my favorite gun for pheasants and preserve hunts. It also makes a very nice grouse gun. I've used it for everything. I would use it on chukars more often but I just hate taking it among the rocks of the chukar hills. Those rocks are brutal on a gun. I have used it for chukar hunting in the past and the gun has some scars to prove it. I would say I slip and fall nearly every time I go chukar hunting. especially when there is snow on the ground. It's not that I'm clumsy its just that the places I go are usually steeply sloped and its winter time so the ground can be wet and slick. Or the surface I'm walking on is basically loose dirt and gravel on a sloped hillside. You slip and slide when your chukar hunting. You can't help it, or at least I can't. I just cant justify the abuse . When I'm older and don't care as much about that sort of thing I could see this becoming my hunt everything anywhere shotgun. For now I will use it exclusively on the flatter ground hunts. The price I paid still lingers a little. I don't like to damage my nice things. And I don't spoil myself very often so I will try to keep this gun as pristine as possible for the time being. Meaning that I will use it but try not to abuse it.
If your in the market for a nice over under I would highly recommend this gun. When you first pick it up you have a "no way" moment and it seems too light for a 12 gauge. But the balance is correct and I guarantee once you spend a day in the field you will appreciate the light-weight design. I've had friends complain about the recoil while shooting skeet but on birds I never notice it. If your hunting involves a lot of walking you will love this gun. I do.
MSRP from Beretta is currently $2175 usd. I got mine for $1450 at the Cabela's gun library about 4 years ago. The gun was perfect. I think I did very well with this purchase.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Sunday in the Wasatch

I had another great hike with the dogs on Sunday. I saw some new places I've never been before and I was finally able to get Chief swimming.
Hazel loves the water and will retrieve sticks all day. That green stuff stuck to her fur is all stickers and burs, not water plants. Those green stickers are a pain. Not only are they spiky and thorny but this time of year they are sticky and gooey. Not fun to get out of the dogs coat.
However I'm learning that the setter coat actually attracts less burs than my pudelpointer (at least at this age and this length) but the burs are much harder to remove from the setter than the pudelpointer. Just thought I'd share that.
Chief chasing dragonflys across the pond.
Alpine scenery. I love this place.