Doc and Mia brace on Pheasants

Doc and Mia work the reeds for Pheasants

Doc and Mia work the reeds for Pheasants

I braced Doc and Mia for the first time this year. I waited until after lunch to go hunting, after the morning rush of hunters had left and before the late afternoon crowd arrived.

Doc and Mia work into the wind

Doc and Mia work into the wind

We came onto a rooster just after starting out and the guys caught it out in the open as it was crossing some very thick deep mud. Maybe that’s why it didn’t flush at first, instead it hunkered down and tried to hide.

Doc honors Mia on point, the Pheasant trying to hide in the open

Doc honors Mia on point, the Pheasant trying to hide in the open

Mia was returning from some cattails she was hunting and went on point, which Doc honored nicely. They held the bird well enough for me to take several pictures before flushing it, and Mia made a nice retrieve.

Doc leads Mia back on her retrieve

Doc leads Mia back on her retrieve

We hunted for another three hours with no sign of birds. Even though the temperature was in the upper 50s, it was sunny and the guys were becoming hot so Doc cooled off by taking a swim in the drain ditch that we were hunting.

Doc cools off with a swim in the drain ditch

Doc cools off with a swim in the drain ditch

I was glad that I sprayed the guys down with ShowSheen before hunting because they really got into the cockle burrs and mud, but grooming them out was relatively quick and painless.

Doc and Mia pose with their Pheasant

Doc and Mia pose with their Pheasant

The guys enjoyed a lazy Saturday evening, Elvis from his therapy visits, and Doc and Mia from their Pheasant hunt.

Elvis doesn't want to get too close to the skeleton dogs

Elvis doesn’t want to get too close to the skeleton dogs

Mia, Doc and Elvis tired from a busy weekend

Mia, Doc and Elvis tired from a busy weekend

Doc’s double

Doc ended Saturday’s bird hunt with a double retrieve and seemed to find the swim refreshing and invigorating. It’s a popular hunting area so I was surprised that for a Saturday morning, there were only two other hunters. I was also surprised by the number of birds in the air for this time of year.

Doc works the cattails for ducks.

Doc works the cattails for ducks.

We began the day hunting some backwaters that are normally dry this time of year. I had several shots at some fly-overs but missed and regretted not bringing decoys, given how the ducks were coming in. I then turned our attention to Pheasants as we hunted our way over to the river.

Doc returns from chasing mud hens in the water

Doc returns from chasing mud hens in the water

I also regretted not having any shells loaded for goose. A flock of geese flew directly overhead and would have been in range with goose loads, but I didn’t want to take a chance wounding one with my duck loads.

Doc waits while I stalk ducks, honoring of a different kind.

Doc waits while I stalk ducks, honoring of a different kind.

The ducks had pretty much stopped flying by noon so I drove to another hunting area several miles away. Even though it was a light wind, the water was choppy and intimidated Doc, so I encouraged him to chase some mud hens (Coots) that were swimming nearby.

Doc swims out for the first duck

Doc swims out for the first duck

Doc retrieves the second duck

Doc retrieves the second duck

We hunted along the river bank for couple of miles when I finally dropped two diving ducks and Doc made a nice double retrieve.

Doc with the two ducks he retrieved.

Doc with the two ducks he retrieved.

Mia gets the blues

Mia had the blues last Friday – well, one anyway, a Blue grouse (officially Dusky Grouse).

Mia waits for us to catch up

Mia waits for us to catch up

Wade, a friend of mine, and I went grouse hunting in Wolverine Canyon but being deer season, most of the locations were already claimed including the canyon in which we were intending to hunt Ruffed Grouse.

Mia in Wolverine Canyon

Mia in Wolverine Canyon

We drove up to a box canyon where I’ve occasionally seen Ruffed Grouse but today hiked all the way up to the top. We ran into a Blue near the top and Wade dropped it.

Mia was able to find it in the heavy pines and although she didn’t retrieve it to hand, she did the hard part. We ran into another Blue grouse but weren’t able to see it long enough for a shot.

Mia on point

Mia on point

While returning to the truck, we spooked a deer in the timber and since it was deer season, spent a few minutes looking for it. Although we could hear it in the trees, we never did see it.

Wade and Mia with the Blue Grouse

Wade and Mia with the Blue Grouse

The weather forecast was for heavy showers, so with the wind picking up and light rain beginning to fall, we decided not to press our luck and called it a day.

Elvis hunts Mink Creek

Elvis surveys the countryside

Elvis surveys the countryside

I took Elvis with me to check out some new hunting areas along Mink Creek, just outside of Pocatello. I’ve never hunted it the area but seeing that the Department of Fish and Game placed a bird wing barrel next to the road was encouraging.

Elvis blends in with the rocks

Elvis blends in with the rocks

It was a steep hike that took over an hour to reach the top, but not knowing what kind of birds lived in the area – sharptails, partridge or forest grouse – we hunted both the brushy hillside and growths of pine trees. At one point ran into a large herd of deer and Elvis just sat and watched them run through the trees and across a distant hillside.

Elvis works his way up the hillside

Elvis works his way up the hillside

When we reached the top I saw two moose crossing a hillside about half-a-mile away, then came within 50 yards of a cow moose. She had been sleeping under a pine tree and stood up as we approached. I don’t know how Elvis would have reacted to it, but don’t think he ever saw it. The moose was downwind of us and the brush was waist-high, so I paused long enough for a couple of photos.

A moose we encountered while hunting

A moose we encountered while hunting

Moose can be very deadly animals. A trail biker whom I was talking to after our hunt, told me that a friend of his was biking on a nearby road and came across a moose that kicked him in the head. The only reason he survived was because his helmet took the impact.

elderberry-bushElderberries were a refreshing shack during the hunt

We continued on and Elvis suddenly began working a scent. A Sharptail Grouse flushed but unfortunately, I missed. We also flushed a Ruffed Grouse in some scrub aspen trees but they were so thick I was unable to get a shot.

The only bird that I came home with was fried chicken from the store, but the area is certainly worth a second visit.

Labradoodles and noodles

Elvis joins mom and me for lunch at Noodles and Comapny

Elvis joins mom and me for lunch at Noodles and Comapny

The Idaho State Veteran’s Home will be getting a live-in PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) dog sometime in October or November, which will be an incredible benefit for our veterans. She’s a Labradoodle pup who will have undergone about four months of training by the time she officially arrives. Although still in training, she has already made several visits to the VA Home and some residents asked if Elvis was the new PTSD dog, indicating how excited they are for this new four-legged staff member.

Elvis and I will still be making our regular visits especially after Friday. We spent a long time talking dogs and hunting with one resident who had hunted with setters, as well as an Australian Shepherd that he trained to point and retrieve. He thanked us for our visit and said, “You rekindled a lot of memories. That’s important for someone like me whose had a stroke.”

Following our therapy visit, Elvis joined my mother and me for lunch at Noodles and Company.