Exploring

Mia and Doc come running as we start our hunt,.

Mia and Doc come running as we start our hunt,.

Friday was the last day of sage grouse season so I decided to explore some new areas and hopefully have better luck. Along with Doc and Mia, we began the morning hunting along the edge of lava flows and were greeted with a chorus of coyote yips and howls.

After hunting for an hour or so without any luck, we caught the attention of a coyote that barked and yapped at us. Doc wanted to go visit but I called him back, and from then on they ignored the coyote which was either curious or was trying to draw Doc and Mia back to the pack to serve as breakfast.

Standing on the skyline is a coyote who barked and yapped at us, then followed us back to the truck.

Standing on the skyline is a coyote who barked and yapped at us, then followed us back to the truck.

I figured that there wouldn’t be any birds in the area with the coyotes nearby so we returned to the truck with the coyote following us most of the way back, keeping a distance of a couple hundred yards. Other than the coyote and some pronghorns, we saw nothing but a number of jack rabbits and judging from what I’ve seen these last two weekends, we may be due for another population explosion.

It's rare to find green grass in the desert at the end of September.

It’s rare to find green grass in the desert at the end of September.

From there we went to another area and hunted until noon. In the good old days that kind of terrain would have produced a number of sage hen, but on Friday there was no sign either sage grouse or partridge.

The Big Southern Butte.

The Big Southern Butte.

The sun was intense in spite of the relatively cool temperature, so I was keeping a close eye on the dogs. During our last hunt, I watered them from the bota bags about every 10 minutes which also allowed me to check the color of their mouths to make sure they weren’t overheating. We didn’t hunt long due to the heat and that lava rocks are exceedingly rough on their feet.

Mia and Doc hunt the lava flows.

Mia and Doc hunt the lava flows.

After seeing nothing but more jack rabbits, I called it quits, loaded the guys into the cab of the truck and headed for home. After a close inspection of Doc and Mia’s feet and legs for cactus thorns, I took Doc to CAL Ranch and bought a duck stamp. Waterfowl season opens locally next weekend and hopefully we’ll have better luck with that.

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Opening day bird hunt

Saturday was the opening day of both partridge and sage grouse season, so I invited a friend to join me, Doc and Mia on a bird hunt. This year sage grouse season opened with partridge season and since we had sage grouse permits, both birds were fair game.

Doc on point, 9-20

Doc on point, 9-20

We hit the field about 7:30 and heard a little shooting but it it didn’t last long. After hunting a while we turned in to a brushy draw, which also put the wind at our backs.  It was there that we flushed a big sage grouse rooster but since it was downwind of the dogs they never had a chance to scent it. I took two shots and missed both times.

Doc on point, 9-20

Doc on point, 9-20

From there we worked our way back to the truck and while Doc had two solid points, nothing came of them.

Mia and Doc rest in the shade while hunting.

Mia and Doc rest in the shade while hunting.

We returned to the truck about three hours after setting out and by then the temperature was really heating up. A Fish and Game officer came by while we were taking our break and checked our licenses. We visited for a few minutes and found that he had checked six other hunters, and only one bird had been bagged.

Watering Doc from a bota bag, one of my best investments.

Watering Doc from a bota bag, one of my best investments.

Knowing that it was going to be hot, I came prepared with five gallons of water for Doc and Mia. After watering them, I put on their cooling vests and off we went again. This time we hunted for about another hour and despite the cooling vests, the heat was wearing on Doc and Mia.

Watering Doc from a bota bag, one of my best investments.

Watering Doc from a bota bag, one of my best investments.

After lunch, we transferred our gear to the back of the truck and put Doc and Mia in the cab with us since it was air conditioned, then began working our way back home while hunting along the way. I figured that we’d hunt until we ran out of water for the guys as well as limit the hunts to about half-an-hour.

Doc and Mia hunting hunting at day's end

Doc and Mia hunting hunting at day’s end

We made four more stops on the way back but saw no sign of birds. It was nearly evening by the time we returned home and after feeding the guys, I spent time going over their feet and legs with a pair of tweezers pulling out cactus thorns.

Doc and Mia relaxing after a long day of hunting.

Doc and Mia relaxing after a long day of hunting.

Therapy visits and more

It was an interesting day of therapy visits, starting out with a fire alarm at the court house, which is across the street from the rehab center that we visit. It distracted Elvis who, although he did well with his therapy visits particularly his “favorite” residents, at times focused his attention on the windows and whatever was happening outside.

Following our visit to the rehab center, Elvis was still in a distracted state of mind upon starting his visit at the assisted living center. However it it didn’t take long for him to settle down and focus on the residents, and we had some very good visits.

Sophie took the afternoon shift at the Veterans home and did an excellent job negotiating the laminate and tiled floors, which normally make her nervous; today she walked on them without any hesitation. We currently have Sophie on a diet, but one resident got a lot enjoyment from feeding her Goldfish cheese crackers. There appeared to be some activity at the mall we passed on the way home; I part of the parking lot was blocked by a Bearcat with lights flashing.

We stopped at the vet’s on the way home to weigh Sophie. She’s been on a diet for the past 3 weeks or so, and has lost 2 pounds. Thanks to her diet, we’re going through the carrots and apples much faster.

Finally, I counted the number of visits that Sophie and Elvis have made, and they are nearing 50 visits each. When they reach 50 visits, I’ll submit the paperwork for their AKC therapy titles.

Grouse hunt with Elvis

I took Elvis grouse hunting the other day with hopes of repeating the success that I had with Doc and Mia; I also wanted to field test the new Garman Astro 320 GPS collar that I’m reviewing for HuntinDawg.com. Unfortunately someone was already parked at my favorite hunting spot, so I went on up the canyon to another location where I’d run into grouse before.

A warm day to hunt

A warm day to hunt

I normally hunt the north side of the creek at this new location, but since cows were still ranging there, I decided to hunt the south side instead. We made our way up the creek until the brush became too thick, then crossed over on to the north side.

Elvis contemplates the deadfall and steep hillside.

Elvis contemplates the deadfall and steep hillside.

We hunted for a bit without any sign of birds before returning to the truck where we hunted the hillside of another tributary.  I had been wanting to hunt that area for several years but had never gotten around to it, so we hunted it for a while, again without any luck.

Elvis grouse hunting in Wolverine Canyon

Elvis grouse hunting in Wolverine Canyon

Last week I forgot to spray Doc and Mia with Showsheen and spent over an hour grooming seeds and burrs out of them. This time, I sprayed Elvis before  hunting and although we were in the same type of foliage as last week, his grooming took about 10 minutes.

USDA regulations on dogs imported for resale

Thanks goes to one of my blog followers who sent me information regarding new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations on importing puppies into the United States for resale. While I know breeders and fanciers who import dogs and puppies, particularly rare breeds, I’ve never thought of importing dogs into the United States strictly for resale.

Truthfully, I disagree with a variety of USDA policies and believe that at times they overreach their boundaries, however this seems to be one regulation that I can support. Granted, there are probably extenuating impacts that I’m not aware of, but taken at face value, these new regulations seem to be for the dog’s benefit.

The new USDA regulation applies to dogs imported for resale – not those imported for research purposes, veterinary medical treatment, or for personal companions. This regulation requires that dogs imported into the United States are healthy and vaccinated, and be over 6 months in age. To understand the relevance of this regulation, you must first understand the conditions under which dogs are shipped.

Each airline has its own policies and facilities and the Animal Defense Legal Fund strongly recommends against shipping dogs, particularly during the summer. Shipping dogs subjects them to dangers such as delayed flights that sit for extended periods of time; crated pets may be left on the tarmac; others are accidentally freed while being transported to and from the plane.

Although the USDA fines airlines for the deaths of animals and owners may be able to sue as well, there are allegations that airlines accept this as the “cost of doing business”. About 15 major carriers provide information to the Department of Transportation (DOT) however this only applies to owners traveling with pets: not breeders or individuals shipping animals. A proposed rule may require airlines to report on the total number of animal injuries, deaths or lost.

However there is some information is available regarding the number of animals killed, injured or lost but compiling information can be time-consuming. From May 2005 to June 2014, 209 dogs died, 117 injured and 11 lost; information does not include the total number of dogs transported, so the percentage of dogs killed, injured or lost can’t be obtained. But to those whose dogs were lost, killed or injured, statistics are no consolation.

Spinone on grouse

Trees starting to change colors

Trees starting to change colors

I was halfway through my second cup of coffee before realizing that I had planned on taking Doc and Mia grouse hunting, so I loaded my gear and dogs, and headed for Inman Creek. The only mistake I made was not spraying the guys down with ShowSheen ® and as a result spent over an hour grooming the seeds and burrs from them.

Doc and Mia in the early morning sun at Inman Creek.

Doc and Mia in the early morning sun at Inman Creek.

People I’d spoken with indicated that the birds were being found low, rather than higher up on the mountains. On top of that, they have been running sheep through the area higher up so I started hunting at the Inman Creek Trailhead. Doc and Mia couldn’t wait to get out and hunt and it wasn’t long before Mia worked herself into a nice point. I “who’d” Doc to honor, then moved in and dusted a Ruffed Grouse.

Doc honoring Mia on point with a ruffed grouse

Doc honoring Mia on point with a ruffed grouse

Since it was Mia who established the point, I gave her the retrieve and she did a nice job of finding and retrieving the bird. My philosophy is that the dog who establishes point gets the retrieve, unless I shoot doubles and then they both get to retrieve.

Mia retrieves the grouse she pointed

Mia retrieves the grouse she pointed

We worked our way up to the tree line and took about a half-hour break while I groomed the seeds and burrs from their heads and faces. From there we followed the tree line up the ridge before turning back into the trees and back down to the creek; I was hoping to run into some Blue grouse but saw no sign of them.

Doc and Mia waiting to be groomed while taking a break on the ridge

Doc and Mia waiting to be groomed while taking a break on the ridge

Doc on the ridge

Doc on the ridge

Mia climbs the ridge while grouse hunting

Mia climbs the ridge while grouse hunting

We followed draw  back down to the creek, where Doc went on a solid point and I “whoa’d” Mia to honor. I knew that any self-respecting Ruffed grouse wouldn’t hold as tight as Doc was indicating, but it could have been a fool’s hen, as we call them. Whatever had been there was gone.

 

Doc on point, but whatever had been there was now gone

Doc on point, but whatever had been there was now gone

Back at the truck, I spent nearly an hour grooming the seeds from Doc and Mia, shared my lunch with them, then drove further up the canyon to do some more hunting. As I had expected, they had run sheep through the area and chased out any birds that may have been there.

Doc and Mia cool off in the creek

Doc and Mia cool off in the creek

Doc and Mia pose with ruffed grouse

Doc and Mia pose with ruffed grouse

We hunted for about half-an-hour before I decided it was futile so I loaded the dogs and headed back home. On the way, I stopped at Sportsman’s Warehouse and took Doc and Mia inside for some window shopping.

Mia and Doc at Sportsman's Warehouse

Mia and Doc at Sportsman’s Warehouse

Elettra inaugurates 2014 hunting season

This year Elettra had the privilege of inaugurating the hunting season with a short hunt on Pine Creek Pass. Mia and I had success here two years ago, but I didn’t hunt here last year: just before hunting season opened, a pack of wolves wiped out a band of sheep and killed the sheep dogs about 6 miles away. Since the whereabouts of the pack wasn’t clear when hunting season began, I stayed away.

Elettra on point, unfortunately it was only the fresh carcass of a grouse.

Elettra on point, unfortunately it was only the fresh carcass of a grouse.

This year was a different story. It had rained solid for about 24 hours and then the storm broke just before I headed out with Elettra. Since everything was wet, I figured that the grouse would be in the heavier timber to keep dry so that’s where we began. Not long after working our way up a canyon, Elettra went on a solid point; however it turned out to be the fresh remnants of a grouse that had been eaten.

Elettra works the brush for grouse.

Elettra works the brush for grouse.

We continued up the canyon without any luck, so I crossed over to the opposite side which had fewer pines and more Aspen trees. The brush was much thicker and we slowly worked our way back down without any sign of grouse.

Elettra pauses to check the breeze while grouse hunting.

Elettra pauses to check the breeze while grouse hunting.

Elettra picked right up where she left off nearly two years ago. After her last hunt test, she went on the road and quickly earned her Champion title in the show ring before having a terrific litter of pups with Spumante. In all, it was fun to get back into the field with my “other” little huntress.