A hunt with a little bit of everything

I called it a Pheasant hunt, but it was more a case of shooting whatever I could – ducks, geese, Pheasants, even partridge. It was also a sentimental hunt, as I took Elvis to where Doc had his final hunt.

Elvis isn’t ready to quit, but I wasn’t dressed for the occasion

Elvis and I went hunting the week before and despite the dire weather warnings, I didn’t dress for the occasion yet was comfortable with my winter gear of tennis shoes, flannel shirt and camo jacket. Even with a 20-plus mph wind, it still wasn’t too bad when the rain began. It was a different story when the snow hit.

Snow and wind during our Nov. 13 hunt

We hunted for about three hours, kicking up a hen Pheasant and watching a rooster flush wild about 100 yards out. Unfortunately, I never trained Elvis to point ducks as I had with Doc and Mia, so when he saw a couple sitting in the river, broke and charged them. Oh well, it was all in fun.

The previous week’s snow is all gone

Once the snow began, I decided to hunt closer to home in case the roads got bad which was a good decision, as we were detoured when the I-86 eastbound was closed, which I later learned was due to a fatal accident. We hunted in the snow for about an hour although I hadn’t dressed for snow. Elvis wasn’t ready to quit but I knew he’d pay the price for it later.

This last Friday, Elvis again went hunting for whatever we could find, and it was a hunt of “almosts”. We spent three hours hunting brush and up and down hills, covering 5.16 miles according to my Fitbit.

After hunting along the river for a couple of hours, we climbed the bluffs and hunted partridge. By now, Elvis was tiring so we spend another hour hunting our way back to the truck, encountering a flock of partridge three times before they disappeared for good. I did get one shot, but it was a long one and I missed.

Elvis pauses to enjoy the view

Tired as he was, there was no quit in Elvis and despite of my lack of success in bagging birds, Elvis and I had a couple of nice outings.

Elvis enjoying a quiet Saturday night

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Hunting without a gun

It sounds counterintuitive, but that’s exactly what I did last Friday. You see, I went grouse hunting with Elvis and took a 16 ga. shotgun along with 12 ga. ammo. That’s not going to work any way you look at it.

Rather than waste the trip, we went on a 3-mile nature walk and I let Elvis hunt along the way. It gave me something to think about, however. There are a lot of non-hunters who own hunting dogs, and many of them have been trained for hunt tests in order to boost their pedigree and resume. Unfortunately for many of those dogs once they’ve earned their title, never hunt again.

But that doesn’t need to be the case.

As I did with Elvis, your hunting dogs can be taken on walks and allowed to hunt along the way. Other options, and I’ve done them all, is volunteering to handle your dogs for youth hunt clinics, demonstrate their abilities with “meet the breed” type of events, or let them hunt up birds for other hunters – Doc, Mia, and Sophie have all found birds for dog-less hunters who downed birds but were unable to find or retrieve them. And thanks to one terrific person who trusted me with her dogs, I was able to take Elettra and Perla hunting several times a year.

So even though you may not be a hunter, there are opportunities for your dog to continue living that passion so deeply bred into their very soul.

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Elvis’ First Swim

The second installment of my series of “firsts”, is Elvis’ first swim on July 2, 2009, just three weeks before we got Mia.

Who better to teach Elvis to swim than our two Labs, Sophie and Dakota. I began with encouraging Elvis to wade with them, then let him watch the girls retrieve sticks, and finally he joined them. He’s been a powerful swimmer ever since.

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Elvis hunts Ruffies

The second bull moose we encountered

One of the bull moose we encountered

Friday morning, I took Elvis up Wolverine Canyon for a morning grouse hunt and try out my new GoPro. It wasn’t exactly an early morning hunt since Elvis likes sleeping in these days, but we still hit the trail about 9:00.

Fall colors

We saw one bird however I wasn’t able to get a shot. Since the brush is so thick, we hunted the edges, following a trail for some distance before following an abandoned road. I’ll often follow the trail for a mile or so to where it comes out on top of the ridge, but it’s a steep rocky climb and wasn’t sure how far Elvis, who hasn’t had any conditioning, could go

Elvis hunted the full two hours without slowing down, but I didn’t want to push him and at the age of 11, I’ll ease him into the hunting season. Afterwards, he got a nice warm shower at the local dog wash, which is a lot easier and less mess than bathing him at home.

Elvis cools off in the creek

Elvis doesn’t know what to think of the dog bath

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Mia’s First Day

While copying and converting old videos, I compiled these clips of Mia’s first day with us, July 25, 2009, so I’ve decided to post a series of “firsts” videos that I find.

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Elvis Hunts Grouse

Deer crossing the road

For an eleven-year-old, Elvis ran like a pup on our first grouse hunt of the year. It was a relatively short hunt by my standard – three hours and covering 3.5 miles according to my Fitbit. I also tried out my new GoPro, but not being familiar with it, was unable to record any video.

Elvis hunting at our first location

We hunted two areas where Doc and I had good success last year. At our first location, Elvis kicked up some Ruffed grouse within minutes of starting out. Unfortunately, the cover was so thick that I never saw the birds, just heard them flush.

A couple of hen turkeys with their broods running up the road

We followed the trail for a half-mile and encountered a jogger, then while I was combing burrs out of Elvis’ face, a dirt biker headed up the trail. Time to find a less populated location.

Whether intentional or not, Elvis found himself chest deep in mud

A few years ago, only hunters could be found this time of the year, but now it’s used mostly by dirt bikers, an occasional horseback rider, and now apparently, joggers.

Dirty dog

At our second stop, Elvis was running the field like a pup. He kicked up several Blue grouse and while I was able to see these birds, was unable to get off a shot.

Autumn colors

A couple hours into the hunt and Elvis was beginning to wear down, so we made a wide loop and hunted our way back to the truck. Although he was slowing down, Elvis was just a committed to finding birds as when we started, but for his own good I called off the hunt.

A grooming and bathing has his hair standing on end

After another tailgate grooming, we returned home where he got a thorough grooming and warm shower, and a Rimadyl for stiffness. Elvis was achy during the night and got another Rimadyl, but Saturday morning showed no effects of Friday’s hunt and was raring to go on his morning walk.

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Goodbye Doc

I’ve taken a break from social media and am now ready to let everyone, other than close friends and family who have known from the beginning, that we took Doc to the vet on January 19 to cross the rainbow bridge following an accident.

For the second time in my life, I’m not looking forward to hunting season. The first was when we lost Miss Mia, but then I had Doc and Elvis to get me through.

While Elvis is an accomplished hunter in his own right, at the age of 11, we won’t be going on any of the rugged marathon hunts that I enjoyed with Doc and Mia. When Elvis’ hunting days are over, so are mine.

We will get another Spinone pup when I eventually retire, to whom we can devote our full attention, and I can get back into training and hunting. Those who know us know that our Spinoni are not hunting dogs, but family members who hunt and share in every aspect of our lives.

Goodbye Doc Savage, my puppy of bronze, my devoted furry friend and hunting companion, until we meet again.

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4H Dog Show 2020

Judging a Lab with an amputated tail

I had the pleasure of judging the 4H dog show again this year, and what a great group of young handlers. The dogs and handlers were judged by their age and experience in categories: showmanship and obedience.

judging a Corgie

The winners will be participating in the Eastern Idaho State Fair, if everything goes according to plan. With the COVID-19 pandemic and all, the fair will be scaled back to its original roots – a few food vendors, the rodeo, and 4H.

Judging a shepherd

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Handguns in the afternoon

Carrie warming up with a .22 revolver

I haven’t done any blogging since this whole Coronavirus pandemic hit, but thought I’d post some pictures and videos of our target practicing session today.

Carrie warming up with a .22 revolver

I recently joined the local gun club after years of procrastination, and a good friend met us there to train us on a couple of guns we had recently purchased. Carrie’s is a .25 caliber Astra, and mine a .45 Navy Colt.

I’ve always wanted a Navy Colt and this one is big enough to make me feel a little more secure when grouse hunting in bear and wolf country.

Carrie started out using our friend’s .22 revolver before moving up to her .25. As for me, I hadn’t shot that large a caliber handgun but was pleasantly surprised at what little recoil it had. After creating a lot of dust, we got our aim and was hitting the targets on a regular basis.

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Pheasant salad

Pheasant salad

I had one salad over the holiday season, so at least I made an attempt at eating healthy. I defrosted my Pheasant along with the ducks, but didn’t think I’d cook it before it went bad, so I poured some bourbon on it (Devil’s Spit). It marinated in bourbon for a couple of days before I got around to cooking it.

It was a simple recipe: sprinkle the bourbon-marinated meat with my favorite new spice, Everything Seasoning for bagels and more, fry it in olive oil then dice it for salad. Except for Chipotle dressing, all our other dressings expired months ago.

Throw in some green olives, carrots, pickled green beans, shredded cheese, and crushed crackers for croutons, and it turned out pretty darn good.

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