November grouse hunt

Elvis leads the way up the canyon

Elvis leads the way up the canyon

I normally don’t hunt grouse this late in the year, but Elvis and I went hunting in Wolverine Canyon in what was probably my last grouse hunt of the year.

Elvis works the hillside for birds

Elvis works the hillside for birds

We hunted a little canyon where I normally find Ruffed grouse but found no sign of birds. Elvis didn’t once get birdy and I didn’t see a single track in the snow.

Elvis checks the wind

Elvis checks the wind

Hoping to find Blue grouse, we followed a steep trail up onto the ridge line. While the canyon had been calm, the winds up on top were in the 30-40 mph range, strong enough to bend pine trees.

Elvis on the ridgeline

Elvis on the ridgeline

It was clear that we wouldn’t find any birds so I took the opportunity to check out the terrain and it looked like nice deer country. After hiking the ridges for awhile, we hunted our way back to the truck, and again saw no sign of birds.

Elvis re-certifies

Elvis passes his 2-year re-certification testing with Intermountain Therapy Animals.

Elvis passes his 2-year re-certification testing with Intermountain Therapy Animals.

Elvis was due for his 2-year re-certification with the Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) and last Sunday we made the drive to Salt Lake City, Utah for his testing.

Elvis receives his therapy dog certification  after passing his tests, 11-20-16

Elvis receives his therapy dog certification after passing his tests, 11-20-16

He passed his tests with flying colors and made some new friends in the process so he keeps his therapy dog certification for at least another two years. Great job, Elvis!

The birds are safe

No birds were harmed during Friday’s hunt, though it was no fault of Doc and Mia.

Doc and Mia work the tall grass

Doc and Mia work the tall grass

With the temperature in the mid-teens and a light wind, the guys were invigorated and hit the ground running. We hunted both duck and Pheasant, and unlike the Pheasants that are planted at the Wildlife Management Areas, these birds are smart and very wild.

Three of the deer we encountered while hunting

Three of the deer we encountered while hunting

We had just started out when I heard a Pheasant cackling, so we went after it. Mia was working her way towards it and bumped it out of range. She would later kick up a big rooster in heavy brush, but I was unable to get a shot at it.

Doc on point

Doc on point

I did get several shots at ducks we that jumped along the shoreline but missed them. Other ducks that we jumped were either out of range, or trees and brush prevented a clean shot. But such are the joys and frustrations of hunting.

Mia and Doc check out strange new ground

Mia and Doc check out strange new ground

We also encountered a number of deer throughout the morning but after a short chase, the guys were contented to simply watch them.

Doc and Mia check out the surf

Doc and Mia check out the surf

Pick up your toys

Doc retrieves his toy

Doc retrieves his toy

One of the games I play with the guys is the “pick up your toys” game. It’s actually their chore, but they think it’s a game and unknown to them, it’s also training.

Elvis comes running with his toy

Elvis comes running with his toy

I came up with this game during the summer when I had to pick up all their toys before mowing the lawn. Now they pick up their toys before rain and snowstorms.

Elvis watches Mia retrieve

Elvis watches Mia retrieve

I just cast the guys to a specific toys until they’ve all been retrieved.

Ruffed Grouse wrap

Ruffed grouse wrap with chips

Ruffed grouse wrap with chips

If you’re like me and your culinary skills are more like “Worst Cooks in America” than “Top Chef”, here’s a simple recipe that turned out pretty good. It was supposed to be a wrap but I overstuffed the tortilla and was too lazy to get another, so it ate more like a taco or gyro.

I sprinkled Italian Herbs (liberally) on my ruffed grouse breasts and then fried them in olive oil – no breading. For the wrap, I spread cream cheese on a fajita tortilla, added chopped tomatoes, then the fried grouse breasts that I had cut in strips.

I’m going to try the recipe again with Pheasant, and this time I’ll add some shredded lettuce and chopped olives. If you give this recipe a try, feel free to share your recipe and let me know how it turned out.

Mia, Doc, and the junior hunters

Family Outdoor Festival

Family Outdoor Festival

Doc and Mia did a great job at this year’s Family Outdoor Festival as they welcomed junior hunters to the joy of hunting. I was told by one of the organizers that several people asked to hunt with the “dogs with the funny name” so they’re getting a following.

Mia and the first group of hunters

Mia and the first group of hunters

We hunted with three groups this year, and you couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. I handled Mia with the first group and although they didn’t bring down any birds, everyone had a great time.

Mia on point

Mia on point

Doc went out with the second group and this time a girl dropped her first bird. Talk about an excited kid!

Doc on point

Doc on point

It was a blind retrieve for Doc due to the tall grass and slope of the hill. He cast very well to the bird but when he found it, went on point rather than retrieving it. Knowing when to retrieve and when to point will come with experience.

Doc and a junior hunters first bird

Doc and a junior hunters first bird

Lunch time is boring!

Lunch time is boring!

After lunch I braced Doc and Mia with our last group and we really got into the birds. A runaway German Shorthair from another group chased a Pheasant across our area. Upon returning to it’s own group, the Shorthair went on a beautiful point just ahead of us, and Doc and Mia honored nicely.

Mia and Doc honor a rogue GSP on point

Mia and Doc honor a rogue GSP on point

A kid from our group flushed and dropped the bird, the Shorthair was collected by his owner, and Mia made a nice retrieve. One of our hunters limited out while another got one bird.

Mia retrieves a Pheasant

Mia retrieves a Pheasant

Mia and Doc on point while a junior hunter moves in to flush

Mia and Doc on point while a junior hunter moves in to flush

Twice during the day, Mia went on point but we were unable to find the bird and the group continued on. Undaunted, Mia returned on both occasions to find and point the bird for us. She is one very smart and determined little hunter.

point and honor

point and honor

Doc retrieves a Pheasant

Doc retrieves a Pheasant

Regardless of whether the kids got a bird or not, everyone had a great time and they loved hunting over the “dogs with the funny name.”

Mia, Doc, and successful first-time hunters

Mia, Doc, and successful first-time hunters