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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


It's Good To See Long Tail Feather Sticking Out Of Our Packs.

Like I’ve said many times before, the Pheasant hunt opener is the “Christmas Morning” of my adult life. I love it. The past few years my enthusiasm for Utah pheasant hunting has been lessened by sub par hunts and sub par birds and overall the experience was not what I had become accustomed to. However, this year was a blast. My brother limited out on wild birds in heavy cover behind good dogs and good dog work. It once again lived up to my hopes and expectations.

Nice Young Wild Rooster

We didn’t go out until about 12:30 in the early afternoon. My brother went out for the opening morning circus with his sons and his boys bagged their 4 state released birds in about 45 minutes. I personally don’t enjoy that circus so I like to sleep in and avoid the mad-rush to get to the easy birds in the morning. My brother’s boys enjoy it and love getting into birds and getting the hunt done early so they can have the rest of their day to do whatever.

Shawn and I like marathon hunts that last for hours and covering a lot of ground following our pack of bird dogs. We like to hunt cover that most people aren’t willing to walk to and we have our spots around the state that we like to hit each season. Some years we do good some years… not so good. Saturday was a good day. We saw plenty of WILD birds and the dogs created some good opportunities. We limited out and ended the day with a nice rooster off Chief’s point just before dusk. It was a great way to end a enjoyable day.

I probably need to apologize to the Utah DWR. I’ve been harsh the past couple of years because of the added pressure and lack of wild birds that releasing birds seemed to have created. For whatever reason this year was much better. We saw more wild birds than we’ve seen in a few years and the cover was thick and able to hide the birds well. If we added some food plots the place would be awesome. If the DWR has a plan and this is the end result I’m stoked. Maybe this is just an up year. I don’t know.

Chief's Bird. He's Forgiven
Last Bird Of The Day
Chief had a strong day and did really well. He started the day getting lost from ranging out to far. I found him after 30 minutes but he immediately did it again but I was able to get him back pretty quickly. He started to run off a third time and I was able to catch up to him and corrected him with a few harsh words and a hat spanking. After that he was a rock-star. 

Hazel had a good hunt as well and hit the cover hard. She had some good moments and a solid retrieve. The trip to South Dakota did the dogs a lot of good. It was a warm day and the dogs were able to work long and hard because they were in good shape and were able to handle the heat and conditions. Pheasant hunting in the areas we hunt is hard on dogs and our dogs did great and had the stamina to last the day.

We had a ton of fun and we can't wait to get out and do it again.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Nice Point And Retrieve By Hazel
My brother and I have been talking about this trip for years and finally this year it happened. We had such a great time. To leave home, work, and all responsibility behind and have nothing to do but hunt for 5 days. It was awesome.

First Bird Of The Trip

South Dakota Sunset
We ended up in the northeast corner of the state. An area neither of us knew anything about. We went in flying blind. However, the morning of the opener we visited the local DWR office and the one of the area wardens happily walked us through the South Dakota hunting atlas and showed us several great spots to get us going. It was time well spent.

First we tried some CRP and Walk-In-Access areas. The first field was a bust. Nothing…. “we traveled all this way for this?” 2nd field…. awesomeness, we saw several birds and I blew a beautiful opportunity.  Shortly thereafter Hazel my pride-and-joy Pudelpointer had a point on a nice rooster that I was lucky enough to bag. 

After that the action was pretty consistent. We didn’t bag a ton of birds nor did we limit out everyday but we saw enough to keep us happy. It was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to go back. The dogs did great and all had their moments where they were top dog.

The Hounds Working It.

My dogs were trashed by the end of the week and are resting and healing on a thick bed in my back yard. They did great and I was proud of both of them. Chief became disoriented a couple times and got himself lost, but we quickly found him. Hazel had a blast and hunted as hard as I’ve seen her hunt in a while. She loves pheasant hunting and I think it’s what she is best at. She was yapping it up all week.

There Is A Setter On Point Somewhere In There

Chief had his moments as well. The last day we were there it rained and Hazel was foot-sore and done for the hunt. So I had a day with just Chief and we had a great time. He was foot-sore and beat up from all the cover he busted through through out the week so I armored him up with a neoprene body suit  and booted his feet. When I put him on the ground he ran like it was the first day out. He had some beautiful points a put up some birds. Within a couple hours we we’re soaking wet and tired and called it a day.

Shawn's shorthairs also had a great hunt and had some great moments and awesome retrieves. His older female Sage is still recovering from a litter of pups she had late last summer and she showed to have more stamina then the rest of the dogs. She's one tough dog. I can see why Shawn is so proud of her and her daughter Oakley.

Last Day Hunt. It Rained All Day.

Tired & Ready To Go Home

It was a great week and I thank Shawn for putting it all together. I’m already excited to go back. It’s amazing the amount of land available and dedicated to bird hunting. They really make it a priority and it shows. Even on a down year we had a great time. We met a ton of great other hunters from all over the country. It was so fun to be with these people and just talk dogs and hunting with them. Not one of them acted the A-hole. Everyone was friendly and helpful. Made me proud to be a bird hunter.

I am inspired to do more of these out of state hunts. We talked about Montana and southern Arizona in the next few years. I’d like to give South Dakota or North Dakota another go as soon as I can. I would also love to go back to Michigan and grouse hunt. There really isn’t a better vacation in my opinion. It was so much fun and I would recommend it anyone who has the time or the means. 

Monday, October 3, 2016


Utah Mountains in All Their Autumn Glory

The Grouse hunt in Utah continues. I haven't been able to get out as much as I'd like but the few times I've been out have been great. The birds haven't been as plentiful as I've seen in years pass but we are seeing a bird here and there. My main goal is to get the dogs in shape for an upcoming  out-of-state pheasant hunt and the chukar hunting that will soon follow.

The dogs are doing good though. Saturday Chief worked a young ruffed grouse well and had a pretty point on it. I was just good enough to knock it down for him. It was his first retrieve of the year as well. He did good but was a little reluctant to let me have it. Eventually we worked it out. It was a good day even though we only brought home the one bird. The mountains are just gorgeous. It's a blessing just to be out in them.


Case® Bird Hunter
I’m a knife guy, I have loved knives as long as I can remember. I love the usefulness and the craftsmanship. The marriage of natural or synthetic materials with sharpened steel is a beautiful thing. I was only 4 years old when I got my first pocket knife. I was young but the times and kids were different back then. It was tiny folding mini trapper with 2 blades that had yellow handle scales. I don’t remember how I got it. I may have just took it off my dad’s dresser (my dad also is kind of a knife junkie) or I may have stole it from my brother’s room. Whatever happened, that was that and it was mine forever or until I lost it.
I used it to dig holes, cut the rope on the hay bales (the ones I could reach on the bottom of the stack much to the disappointment of my father), sharpen sticks and whatever else I could find a use for. I have no idea whatever happened to it. I’ve been hopelessly addicted ever since and it’s rare that I don’t have a knife on me. 

A couple of years ago I built a post on upland bird knives and it has become one of the most frequented pages on this blog so I wanted to revisit this subject. As with most  things in life, as we gain experience and try new things, our techniques and philosophies change. When I wrote my original Bird Knife article I had one philosophy of what a good bird knife should be. After trying a couple different techniques, new products and learning some new concepts on how to treat and care for my birds once they are in the bag, plus how I  prepare game for the table changed some of my thinking on what I need in the field and what works best for me at home.

Link to original post 

There are literally hundreds or thousands of knives that would fit the bill of a small game knife. You can butcher a bird with any small sharp knife. You don’t need a specialty knife for small game processing, it just needs to be sharp. But, some knives function in this philosophy of use better than others. That is always a good excuse to buy a new knife, let’s face it, knives are cool and if your a guy like me you probably can’t help yourself. 

Below are some of my favorite knives and tools that I use for field knives and what I use for game processing. These are all knives and shears that I own and have enjoyed using. I’m kind of a knife nut and have a decent collection. Most of them are modern every day carry folding knives with pocket clips but I also own several folding and fixed blade hunting knives, traditional grandpa folders and survival and bushcraft style fixed blades. 

At home or back at camp when I'm ready to clean the birds and prepare them for the table I've found a small sharp knife and a pair of kitchen shears is what works best for me. I usually use the shears to remove the bottom of the legs, the neck and the wings at the elbow. Usually I skin my birds but occasionally if its a clean bird that doesn’t have too much shot damage I will pluck them and leave them whole. My birds usually go into the refrigerator in 3 pieces, the breast, 2 legs with thighs attached. Sometimes I save the heart and clean out the gizzard. At that point I let the bird meat age in the refrigerator for about a week  before I cook it or put it in the freezer.

My criteria for a bird hunting field knife is that it needs to be rather small in size, comfortable in the hand, lightweight, easy to carry, have a needle like, pointy tip to easily open birds crops and such, and the knife must be sharp and easy to resharpen. Also for my use and budget it should be rather inexpensive.

Field Folding Pocket Knives with Bird Hooks

Böker Bird Knife
Böker Bird Knife - I carry this knife nearly every time I go into the field even if I have another knife on me. I carry it mostly for the gut hook in case It’s a hot day or if the birds are going to sit in my vest for a long time. It’s a beautiful small, slender knife that is a joy to carry. The 440c stainless steel holds an edge pretty well and once it dulls it is easy to sharpen. The gut hook works great and is a good length. The blade does not lock but for what I use it for that is fine. It does have half-stops on the blade and hook. It’s a great little knife that if was ever lost I’d replace it with the same model the next day. Eventually I will do a post on how to properly use a gut hook. $55 - $65. Made in Germany.

Great Eastern Cutlery #48 Woodcock
Great Eastern Cutlery Woodcock - Just look at it. What is left to say. The woodcock comes in a variety of handle materials but I purchased the micarta version. It comes in either a stainless 440c steel or 1095 carbon steel blade. Mine is stainless just for easy clean-up and less maintenance reasons. This is a very well built folder that is a step above what you normally get in most folding pocket knives now-days. Materials and craftsmanship are top knotch.  My only issue is how it feels when your using the knife and the hook is closed. There is a sharp edge on the back of the hook that isn’t comfortable to hold. I have to adjust my grip back on the handle to avoid this spot. This 440c holds it’s edge better than most traditional pocket knives I’ve owned. Cost is around $85 at knivesshipfree.com. Made in USA.

The Case® Bird Hunter (pictured above) Case creates a wonderful bird-hook knife. This is also a very good option. I have this model in derlin yellow and amber bone. Out of all my bird hook knives the Case models are the most comfortable to use with the hook closed. On the the Böker and Great Eastern knives the hook sticks out of the knife handle quite a bit when it’s closed. The Case bird hunter is more flush against the handle scales. All angles on this knife are rounded and highly polished. Rumor is Case is may be discontinuing this model. I’ve noticed they have stopped producing these in some options. You may want to get one before they are gone. Case bird knife in amber bone at this time is $45 on bladehq.com. Made in the USA. 

I own all three of these bird hook traditional folders and my favorite today is the Böker. I just love using it. GEC bird hook however grabs entrails better than the other two. Case is the most comfortable to use but the steel on the other two is better. All three are great and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Other Folders without bird hooks

Blurry Spyderco® Delica
Spyderco Delica - I’ve created a habit of almost always having a folding knife clipped inside my front pocket. I’ve had a pocket knife on me as long as I can remember and once I got my first Spyderco back in the early 90’s I’ve always had a knife with a pocket clip in my front left pocket. In the field I’m no different. I have my favorites but I also have my favorite folders that I like to take bird hunting. My criteria for a field folding knife is it needs to be lightweight, have a fine, sharp tip, have a very good pocket clip so it doesn’t inadvertently fall out when I reaching in and out of my pockets, I’ve lost a couple knives in my time so I like them to be on the inexpensive side. It also has to be tough and durable.
The Delica fits all those parameters. It is a great lightweight, somewhat inexpensive, multi-purpose folding knife that is great for many uses other than a bird hunting knife. Great as a every-day-carry (EDC) but I’ve found it does a great job as a small game knife. With it’s delicate (delica) very sharp tip it does a great job opening fish and game. The 2.875” blade is made from VG10 steel. The leaf shaped blade has a jimped upsweep on the back top part of the blade that helps locks the knife into place when your working with it.  VG10 steel is very tough and the edge lasts for a long time. Slightly longer than 440c or most other steels that I own. It weighs only 2.8 ounces so it’s perfect for anyone watching ounces such as backpackers and climbers.  It has a nice, grippy, reinforced nylon handle and comes in a variety of colors, even bright orange. It’s a great knife to own even if you don’t use it as a bird hunting knife. I’ve bought two because I like it so much. I own a gray and the orange version. It comes in plain edge and serrated versions. I prefer plain edge because it’s much easier to sharpen. It has a very solid lock up system that I trust completely. I love this knife. $60-$70. Made in Japan.

Case® Large Stockman
Large and Medium Stockman Pattern - I like the stockman pattern for bird hunting because I really like the the spey and sheepsfoot blades that come with a nice clip point blade. I use the smaller blades for de-burring my long haired dogs. I put the bur between the blade and my thumb and easily cut them out safely and painlessly for the dog. There is no sharp pointy end to accidentally cut the dog with. Works really well for the big spiky cockle burs we come across during the pheasant hunt. Case and a bunch of other companies build this pattern and you can get them from between $30 and $70 depending on the manufacturer and the steel used. I like the Case and Böker models. My favorite for bird hunting being my Case large stockman in Chrome Vanadium steel. The blades seem to be perfect sized for my needs.

Small Bird and Trout Fixed Blades

Ruko Bird & Trout Knife - This is a nice small fixed blade that makes a good small camp knife but I think it’s best use is as a game and fish cleaning knife. I like having a fixed blade on hand while hunting.
It’s convenient to just pull a knife from a sheath - do your work and then put it away without having to mess with folders and locks on other knives.  Like the Böker above it is made of 440c stainless steel that holds a very sharp edge, doesn’t retain it very long but it easily sharpened. It has a nice sharp tip that is great for opening fish or small game. It has a traditional stag horn handle that is actually very comfortable to use. Being a fixed blade it is super easy to clean and it comes with a nice leather compression sheath. I keep this in my truck or at home and use it mostly while cleaning birds. It has a beautiful classic look to it. Priced between $55 - $65. Made in Spain.

Case Leather Hunter M3 Finn - This is a cool old style knife that is a useful small companion blade as well as a hunting knife. It’s smaller than it looks and not the most comfortable knife to hold. If the handle was a half inch longer it would be perfect in my opinion. The blade is similar to the Ruko Bird and Trout knife but has some jimping along the spine that is nice to have especially with cleaning slippery fish and while cleaning birds.. There is just something cool about this knife that I just dig. The classic look and feel of the leather handle the odd style leather sheath, It’s like stepping in a time machine whenever I use it. It’s just fun for me. Opening crops and cleaning birds with this knife is an enjoyable thing. Case is a classic American knife company, everyone should own at least one Case knife in my opinion. Made with Case’s Tru-Sharp® steel it sharpens and holds an edge about the same as my 440c steel knifes. I believe I paid around $35-$40. Made in the USA.

Heavier Duty Wilderness Blades .

Kershaw Skyline with Aftermarket Kydex sheath
Kershaw Skyline Fixed Blade - I have this knife attached to my hunting vest with a bladetec lock system and kydex sheath. Its a nice, comfortable, light-weight,  smallish size fixed blade that I feel I can easily carry and have available for whatever I may need a knife for while grouse or chukar hunting. I don’t pack it while I’m pheasant hunting. It’s more of a woods knife but it’s small and delicate enough to open crops and other small game chores. It’s also strong enough that I could count on it for heavier tasks if a situation need it. I could use it help build a fire, makeshift shelter or whatever. It’s a nice, strong back up knife. Unfortunately it is out of production by Kershaw. But I wanted to share it for the philosophy of having a strong, lightweight knife with you while out in wilderness situations. Not quite a “survival knife”, whatever that means to you, but a blade I could do heavier chores with if needed.

Gerber Strong-arm - Looking at this knife it’s obvious that one of these knives is not like the others. I look at this knife as more of an emergency preparedness tool similar to my first aid kit or an emergency blanket. It’s not for cleaning birds or checking crops. It’s a just-in-case item. I only pack one of these types of knives if I’m going to be miles from my vehicle and in country that could become dangerous if things go wrong. I will carry it chukar hunting or mountain grouse hunting. Not necessary during a pheasant hunt. This is a just-in-case item that will help build a fire or make a shelter if I get lost or hurt or whatever. I’ve had this knife for a couple years now. It’s a nice solid knife that can take a ton of abuse and doesn’t weigh a lot. Previous years I’ve packed the Tops BOB or another heavy fixed blade. I think the StrongArm is a nice compromise between a heavy duty knife and weight. It’s made from 420 HC steel and is tougher than I thought it would be. It holds a good enough edge but is heavy enough to baton through wood if needed to make kindling and feather sticks. After using it on a couple camp outs I really think its going to work out well and fits my need for a outdoor survival knife. I don’t carry it on my belt while bird hunting. This goes inside my pack. However it does come with a really nice versatile sheath. You can pick these up everywhere for between $50-$60. Made in the USA.

Mora® Companion
Mora Companion - For around $15 you can get a knife that can do anything most any knife costing whatever amount can do. Bush crafters love this knife with good reason. It has a scandi-grind that is easy to maintain. It’s make from good materials, it’s super comfortable, very lightweight and costs about the same as a 12 pack. The sheath sucks but works, throw it in your pack and forget about it. With the sheath it weights less than 4 ounces. Cuts through wood and other materials like butter. You can’t go wrong. I prefer the Stainless Steel version because it requires less maintenance. Made in Sweden.

Out of all these more utility wilderness knives I usually prefer the Skyline. There are a tone of similar products out there if you like the idea of having a knife mounted to your vest like I do. There is some companies making kydex sheathes for mora companions. That would be an awesome option.

At Home:

Pamper Chef - Professional Shears - Don't throw away that next invite to a pampered chef party. Go just to get yourself a pair of their kitchen shears. These are the best kitchen shears I've used. The spring loaded design makes fine work like cutting herbs and such a breeze but they are heavy-duty enough to shear through a Pheasant thigh bone. The handle is very ergonomic and doesn't bind against your hand even if your left-handed. Get a pair, they make bird butchery an easy chore. $26.50 on pamperchef.com

Wusthoff Kitchen Shears - These are the shears that came with a knife set I bought my wife a couple years ago. Nothing too fancy but it does a good job. They come apart for easy cleaning and sharpening and I can easily use them let-handed. Not much to say they are scissors that cut right through bird bone. Every kitchen should have something similar. $12-$16. Made in Germany.

Like I said I have many other knives that could fit the bill for a bird hunting knife but these are my current favorites. I have a few others on my radar and I’m sure I could write a whole other article in a couple years.

BTW my preferred knife shops are Utah’s own BladeHQ.com, they have a store front in Lehi UT, KnifeSupply.com, KnivesShipFree.com and Amazon.com. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Early morning hunt. Dreading the sunrise and the heat it will bring.

I’m giddy, sitting in my dark driveway at 5:30 am waiting for my brother to arrive at my home so we can head up the mountain for our first hunt of the 2016-17 season. The dogs are loaded, my beretta has a new coat of oil, e-collars are charged, boots have been cleaned and waterproofed, vest has been cleaned, shells have been purchased. We are ready to go. 

I feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

It’s been a long, hot summer and I haven’t been able to get into the hills as much as I’d like. We’re all out of shape but, our will is strong.  We arrive at our spot just behind the sunrise. I put booties on my Pudelpointer and a e-collar collar on my setter. I grab plenty of water because it’s going to be hot within a couple hours. I grab the gun and wade into the cover with hopeful feelings of anticipation. 
This is my happy place. This is my fuel for another week in the office. I love hunting over bird dogs.

Back at grouse camp

The hunting season is finally here. It seems like it’s been forever since last season. We had a decent opening weekend and was able to get out a couple times. We moved a few birds and were lucky enough bring a some home.

My brother, his family and my son and I camped out one evening last weekend and then had a morning hunt after wards.
It was a good time and hopefully we can do it again soon.

Oakley did most the heavy lifting last weekend. Good dog, strong instincts.

chain gang