Goodbye Dakota

With heavy hearts and a lot of tears, Carrie and I were with Dakota when she crossed the rainbow bridge Friday night.


We noticed that she was bloating and immediately took her to our vet, knowing that there was nothing we could do for her.


We knew this day would come when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure a year ago, but assumed it would be from a heart attack as with Sophie. However her bloat was associated with her heart condition.

Dakota retrieving a duck in 2010

We’ve never seen a dog with more love in their heart, nor a dog that was truly happy every day of her life. Everyone who met Dakota wanted to take her home with them.

Her joy was that infectious.

When we got her at the age of 18 months,  a wire cable had been her collar and leash, and that damaged her throat.

She didn’t know how to chew on a bone or play with toys. When she did learn to play with toys, nothing brought her more fun than catching frisbees.


Just shy of her 13th birthday, our wild, rambunctious, eternally youthful girl who never slowed down a day of her life, has taken her last step, dug her last bumper from my hunting closet, and curled up on our laps for the last time.


Run free, Dakota. You now have all of Heaven to share your love with.





We discourage Dakota from unnecessarily following us up and down the stairs due to her heart condition, so she’s contented to wait for us.


Porcupines and partridge

The wind and snow that blew in on Saturday created perfect hunting conditions, however as with my last hunting trip, no birds were flying.

Spinone camouflage. That’s why my guys wear GPS collars while hunting.

I took Doc to an area called “Duck Point”, which has became our go-to hunting area. There were more hunters than ducks, so I drove up to my old hunting grounds at Lake Walcott. The roads were in bad shape so it was slow going.

I expected ice along the shoreline, not the entire reservoir to be frozen over.

I expected to find ice along the banks of the reservoir, but was surprised to find it completely frozen over except for several channels of open water. We didn’t find any ducks here either, so our duck hunt became a pheasant hunt.

This is the reason I carry a backpack of emergency and first aid supplies while hunting.

Doc worked the heavy brush but instead of finding a bird, he found a porcupine and returned with quills in his nose. I didn’t find any quills inside his mouth (until we returned home) and those in his nose weren’t deeply embedded so I quickly extracted them and we continued hunting.

Doc checks out the reservoir.

It wasn’t snowing here, but a wind was blowing and the wind chill was 14 degrees (F). We were hunting with the wind was to our backs when Doc whirled around and began working back into the wind. No sooner did he go on point than a covey of partridge flushed.

Doc makes a nice blind retrieve on a Hungarian (Gray) partridge.

I dropped one of the birds and Doc made a nice blind retrieve. We hunted our way back to the Toyota, and knowing how bad the roads were, I decided to return home rather than continue hunting and counted six slide-offs and a wreck on the way back.

Doc with the partridge he retrieved.

While grooming and bathing Doc, we were able to do a more thorough check and found a porcupine quill deeply buried in his gums just above his front teeth. A pair of pliers were needed to remove this one, but Doc Savage the Puppy of Bronze hardly flinched.

A porcupine quill we found deeply embedded in Doc’s gums while grooming and bathing him.

Doc in the water

I took Doc duck hunting last weekend and it was pheasants galore. Understandable, since pheasant season for this region ended two days before.

The river upstream from the bluffs

Not many ducks were flying so we hunted our way up the river hoping to jump shoot some along the shore. The shoreline was a sheer drop-off of about 4-5 feet and Doc tumbled off the bank while exploring it.

Doc taking a dip not far from where he fell off the bank and into the water.

I guided Doc to a spot where I could help him back on land, and after that I couldn’t keep him out of the water. Three Mallards flushed a distance ahead of us and I dropped the greenhead, sending it tumbling into the water.

Doc looking for ducks

It was a long shot and a longer retrieve. Doc hit the water about the same time as the duck and made a very nice retrieve, and once again I had to help him up the bank and onto land.

We then headed downstream but with the water running as high as it is, it was too dangerous to allow Doc into the water so I took him up onto the bluffs to hunt partridge. I wasn’t able to hunt where I really wanted to, since being Saturday morning, dirt bikers were out in force.

Doc with the duck he retrieved

Doc looking down on the river. Here, it was too dangerous to allow him into the water.

Bourbon Buffalo Pheasant

Wow, talk about a delicious recipe! A co-worker gave me the following recipe and it turns out to be just as good with sage grouse as it is with pheasant.

The light colored strips are Pheasant and the dark strips are Sage Grouse.

I used Jim Bean Devil’s Cut for my bourbon and my ranch dressing was Chiz’s, locally made and our favorite. The strips were fried in extra virgin olive oil.

Bourbon Buffalo Pheasant Strips

4 to 5 pheasant breasts

For bourbon sauce
1 yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup bourbon
2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar

For seasoned flour
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Dice up half a yellow onion. Place onion and 2 tablespoons butter in a saute pan and cook over medium-high heat until onions become translucent (about 3 minutes).

Add 1/4 cup of bourbon and be careful with the flame. Add 1/3 cup of brown sugar and cook on low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and simmer on low heat for a few minutes.

Note – I added the hot sauce before the bourbon to cool the pan.

Check 4 or 5 pheasant breasts for shot. Cut breasts into strips (about 5 pre breast).

Dredge the strips in seasoned flour: Shake any excess flour off the strips and fry in 360-degree oil until golden brown. Toss the strips with bourbon sauce and enjoy with ranch or bleu cheese dressing for dipping.



Family Outdoor Festival 2017

Doc and Mia on point

A winter advisory greeted participants of this year’s Family Outdoor Festival, with rain until about 10:00 a.m. then turning to snow. The afternoon hunts were cancelled due to bad weather.

Doc on point as a junior hunter and mentor move in to flush

I ran Doc and Mia for two junior hunters. We had a good hunt with both hunmters bagging two birds apiece. Mia decided that she wasn’t going to honor Doc after his second retrieve, and began stealing his birds.

Doc and Mia with the bird between them, as a junior hunter moves in to flush.

Doc did make one impressive blind retrieve. The junior hunter flushed the pheasant and hit it hard enough to knock out a few feathers, but not slow it down. The bird flew over the ridge we were hunting with both Doc and Mia in pursuit.

Doc and Mia on point, which will be Doc’s blind retrieve.

When neither dog returned after awhile, I climbed the hill to look for them. Mia came back but no Doc. I neared the crest of the ridge when Doc came over it with the bird in mouth.

Doc on point

Doc making a nice retrieve

Later, one of the hunters winged a pheasant and it gave both Doc and Mia a merry chase through the brush. From time to time they lost the bird and had to track, but eventually they ran it down and retrieved it. It was poor form but humorous to see both dogs retrieving the bird, Doc with the head and Mia with the tail.

Mia on point

Our hunt ended, and I was leaving when an officer asked if I’d handle the dogs for a junior hunter who had not gotten a chance to hunt. I agreed and after new birds were planted, we headed out for another hunt.

Mia retrieving a pheasant

The guys did very well and the junior hunter limited out, although Mia continued stealing Doc’s retrieves so that’s something we’ll have to work on.

Mia retrieving a pheasant

Doc and Mia made a big impression on both the mentors and Fish and Game officers. Specifically, they loved the pace that Spinone hunt, the way they work the bird’s scent before going on point, and as one officer told me, “these dogs are very thorough, when they hunt an area, you know they didn’t miss a bird.”

Mia follows Doc on a retrieve

A blustery bird hunt

Mia on point

Both wind speed and temperatures were in the 30’s for our pheasant hunt last Monday and perhaps invigorated by the cold, Mia brought her A-game.

Mia exits the slew with the pheasants

Mia retrieves the pheasant

While hunting cattails near where I had parked, Mia went on point but lost the scent in the heavy wind. She continued working the cattails and kicked up a nice rooster. I dropped the bird in the slough and it took Mia awhile to find it, but she did and made a nice retrieve.

Mia refuses to come off point, but no birds

We continued hunting and Mia went on point again. I searched the brush and found nothing, but she refused to come off her point. It took awhile before I was able to convince her that there was no bird, and after doing her own search just to make sure, we moved on. It must have been a real hot spot.

Mia on point

Mia quartering nicely with the wind to our back

Hunting with the wind to our backs, we put up two hen pheasants and a rooster. By the time I put a bead on the rooster, it was flying away with a 30 mile-per-hour tail wind, so I let it go.

Mia on point in a grove of Russian Olive trees

We then hunted a grove of Russian Olive trees and put up two more roosters, but the trees were too thick to afford a shot.

muddy Mia and her pheasant