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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Icy waters

Doc searches for ducks from above

I never trust ice and normally avoid it, however the ice lining the riverbank was over shallow water and there was no current that could have swept Doc under. With that in mind, I dropped a Whistler (Goldeneye) and Doc did a nice job of retrieving even though he had trouble negotiating the sheer bank.

Rather than returning directly to the truck, I detoured about half-a-mile to hunt some lava ridges for partridge. Doc found one covey for me, but I missed the shot.

Doc with his retrieve

The last two outings haven’t been productive in terms of bagging birds, but I couldn’t say they weren’t successful. In my book, any time both you and your dog enjoy the hunt, then it’s a success.

A bald eagle watches us, 12-27

Doc searches for a duck after I missed my shot, 12-27.

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Roasted duck breast

roasted duck breast

One of my favorite duck dishes is a simple sandwich of roasted duck breast on buttered bread, and today’s roasting experiment turned out quite well.

After lining the roaster with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, I poured in about ¼ cup of water along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter – I skin my ducks so they can be dry.

After deboning all the ducks I’ve gotten this year, I layered the meat in a roasting pan. The breasts will be used for sandwiches while the wings, thighs and legs are saved for duck gravy.

I liberally sprinkled each layer of meat with “Everything Seasoning for bagels and more”, then baked it, covered, at 350 degrees for four hours.

The duck breast turned out very tender, and although slightly salty, they nonetheless had great flavor.

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Snowy duck hunt

Snow made it too dangerous to try making our way down to the river at this location.

Storm warnings and treacherous roads weren’t enough to stop me from taking Doc duck hunting Saturday morning.

Doc on the hunt. I hoped to find partridge in the heavy sagebrush.

The snow made it too dangerous to try descending the canyon to the river, but we stayed awhile to see if anything was flying. I didn’t see any birds but heard occasional shots from some duck blinds, so I decided to drive a couple of miles up the river where it was easier to access the river and try jump shooting any that might be along the banks.

Doc looks for ducks at a small inlet.

We found a few diving ducks but nothing that I could get a shot at. Continuing along the river, I flushed a green head from the shore and dropped it out into the river. Meanwhile, Doc found a wounded duck in the brush and was trying his best to catch it.

I was finally able to recall him and sent him after the duck I had shot. After retrieving it, we went after the wounded one and Doc was able to flush it out into the river where I dropped it, giving Doc his second retrieve of the day.

Doc continues to search the river for ducks while I take his picture.

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Northern flights arrive

very very interesting

It’s really nice having a bird dog like Spinoni that can transition from duck to Pheasant in the same hunt. Or partridge or grouse for that matter.

Doc retrieving the teal

I took Doc duck/Pheasant hunting this morning and as the video shows, the duck migration is coming into the area. We watched large flocks containing hundreds of ducks join hundreds more on the water.

These thorns go right through your pants but don’t faze a Spinone.

I was able to get a Greenwing Teal, which Doc retrieved and at the rate they were coming in, I might set out a few decoys tomorrow morning.

After our duck hunt, we stopped at the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on the way home and hunted Pheasant for a few minutes, but Doc got into a patch of cockle-burs, so I cut the hunt short knowing his grooming would be extensive.

Doc with the teal he retrieved

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A Ruffie for Doc

Doc makes sure I don’t forget him.

I stopped hunting grouse in Inman Creek a few years ago because they drove sheep through the area, and that chased out all the birds. That didn’t seem to be the case a couple of weeks ago when Doc found a number of Ruffed Grouse, so I took him back for another try.

Wild strawberries

The road above the trail head seems to be used mostly by 4-wheelers and hunters these days, and one had already claimed the spot I wanted to hunt. I drove up to another location and we hadn’t hunted for long before I heard a bell clanging somewhere on the hillside and getting louder.

We hunted inside the tree line

A band of sheep were being driven towards us, so I turned around and hightailed it back to the truck. The last thing I wanted was for a bunch of sheep dogs to consider Doc a threat and go after him.

Doc on point

I drove to another location where I’d been told there were Blue Grouse and hunted a canyon where the trees opened onto a creek and sage covered hillsides. By now, the grouse would have gotten their morning water and returned to cover, so we hunted our way up a draw that led from the creek into the trees.

Doc cools off in a small beaver pond

Doc went on a nice point, and I moved in, flushing a pair of Ruffies. Unlike my first bird hunt of the year, my aim was on and I dropped a bird at the foot of a pine tree. Doc did a nice job of finding and retrieving it, although we could still brush up on his retrieving.

We continued on and Doc went birdy. I saw the grouse running through the brush before flushing but was unable to take a shot. Not long after that, Doc went birdy and began working the brush, then went on a nice point. I was unable to flush a bird, so I gave him the “track” command and moved into a small clearing, and waited for him to track the grouse.

Doc with his Ruffed Grouse

Unfortunately, the grouse wasn’t cooperating and flushed through the trees, not allowing me to get a shot. We searched for it, but it must have flown up into one of the pine trees. We continued hunting down the canyon before turning around and hunting our way back to the truck. Doc did a great job and I was hitting my shots, but more importantly, I found a new place to hunt.

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