Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Dogs of the Day: “Rocket” & “Tucker”

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Rocket

Pheasants Forever member Scott Draves and his German shorthaired pointers, “Rocket” and “Tucker,” had a successful November morning hunting pheasants on public land in south central Wisconsin. “I limited out and headed back to the truck. The dogs pointed another bird as we were passing a hunter who got a chance to shoot the bird,” Draves said. Five-year-old Rocket (forefront) is the father to the 1-year-old Tucker.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dog of the Day: “Sadie”

Monday, November 24th, 2014

Sadie

Andy Houser and his German shorthaired pointer, “Sadie,” found rooster success on and Open Fields and Waters Program tract in southwest Nebraska. Hauser, a Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever farm bill wildlife biologists based out of McCook, Neb., says Sadie is coming along nicely as a hunting companion.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dog of the Day: “Repo”

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Repo

Dennis Carey and his German wirehaired pointer, Chump Change’s Black Diamond, call name “Repo,” hunted up this rooster in the North Dakota uplands. Carey and Repo call Wausau, Wis. home.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

 

Dog of the Day: “Tucker”

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Tucker

“Tucker” the English springer spaniel stood proud after his first-ever pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota in November 2014. “We had a great time and can’t wait to back next year!” said owner Bob Mindemann, a Pheasants Forever member and volunteer with Wisconsin’s Dodge County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Rooster Report: Late Season Comes Early

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

 LabinSnow

Almost overnight, pheasants have had to adjust to conditions which turned the season from a warm, Indian-summer-type autumn into what seems to be the dead of winter. Where you were seeing birds two weeks ago – in light grasses along just-harvested fields – is not where they are going to be now.

Thanks to inches of fresh snow (or more in other stretches of pheasant country) and a very cold shift in the weather pattern, late season hunting conditions have arrived. So, even though it’s November, you’ll want to shift your tactics to adjust to where the birds are now located and hunt like it’s the end of the season. Using winter strategies now will fill the pouches in your game vest.

The Game Has Changed
It’s not uncommon as the end of the season approaches to have pheasants flush wildly, sometimes over 100 yards away. Having been on the receiving end of the autumn chase has made birds wise. The slightest sound – be it a truck door slamming, a command to a dog, or the crunch of snow underfoot – sends pheasants skyward. Many times, there is nothing a hunter can do about it; that’s just the nature of winter birds.

Cattails

However, by being as stealthy as possible, you can up the odds in your favor. Start by being ready when you pull up to your hunting spot. Remove the keys from the ignition before opening the door, and be sure the radio is off. When closing vehicle doors, don’t slam them; gently close them and press them shut. Quietly let your hunting buddy out of his kennel, and if you can direct him with hand signals or slight whistles, that will help your chances too. As you begin your pursuit, try to step on soft snow, as opposed to wind-hardened or melted and refrozen snow, which is crunchier and louder underfoot. Even the slight sound of snow can set birds off at a distance. Limit in-field conversations as well – the human voice is a big red panic button for roosters this time of year.

Tromping through Thick Cover
Just as you may add blankets on your bed as winter sets in, pheasants look for cover that will help keep them warm as cold temperatures become the norm and snow accumulations push them from lighter grasses. Brush and willow thickets, along with evergreen trees like spruce, juniper and cedar provide excellent buffers against the wind. With a good amount of grass around the bases and lower limbs, these windrows form perfect pockets where birds can hunker down, and walking these areas can help you identify staging spots for wily winter roosters.

snowtracksThick cattails also provide thermal cover, and the snow gives hunters an advantage in locating where the birds are in winter sloughs. Cold weather has not only started to freeze the water in these areas of cover, opening up more space for birds to run through, but it also provides hunters the opportunity to access places that were too waterlogged to walk earlier in the season. It’s a great chance to see what portions of a slough are being used frequently by pheasants, just make sure the ice you’re walking on is solid and provides firm footing, for you and your bird dog!

Eyes on the Ground
By walking the edge of thick cattail cover and keeping an eye out for tracks and wing or tail marks along the perimeter, you’ll know exactly where the birds have been entering or exiting the slough and where to start your dog on the search. Tracking bird movements, thanks to recent snowfall, is a hunter’s greatest advantage at this time of the year. The sign proves birds are around, shows where they are moving and gives insight into the daily habits of the local pheasant population. You’ll want to key in on places where you find a number of tracks and areas where the birds are holing up or scratching for food. From season to season, these areas of cover with super-highways of four-toed tracks will be places to check out on each hunt, whether early in the year or later on.

Ain’t Over ‘Till It’s Over
Just because the weather is colder and the birds are spookier, doesn’t mean hunting is done. Until the last light of the season’s final day, even the wariest rooster can be had with a few modifications to your hunting style, and awareness to pheasants’ seasonal needs. Try these tips to find success as late season hunting takes flight!

Photo credits: David Strandberg (top), Pheasants Forever file photo (middle), Craig Armstrong (bottom)

-Nick Simonson is a freelance outdoor journalist from Marshall, Minn. He also volunteers as the president of the Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever.

Dog of the Day: “Bo”

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Bo

“Bo” is Candi Nelson’s Weimaraner. “We just got back from our first hunting trip to South Dakota. Even though the weather was less than ideal, Bo was not about to let snow, wind, or freezing cold stop him from bringing home the pheasants!”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dog of the Day: “Trigg”

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Trigg

Jason Nollmeyer’s German shorthaired pointer, “Trigg,” has been on his upland game so far this season in Washington. “Here he is with three of the five roosters shot over him that day,” Nollmeyer says.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Dogs of the Day: “Abbie” and “Willie”

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Gordons

“Abbie” and “Willie” are Gordon setters owned and handled by Logan Burke (left) and his dad, Jerrod. Jerrod Burke is the District V Commissioner with Nebraska Game and Parks, and is an advocate of the Open Fields and Waters Program. Pheasants Forever manages the Open Fields and Waters Program in partnership with the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, at ahauck@pheasantsforever.org.

Rooster Road Trip Recap: Nebraska sets Public Access Standard for Bird Hunters

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Neb1

One of the reasons I look forward to the Rooster Road Trip every year is because it serves as my own form of a pheasant country survey. I enjoy comparing bird numbers, topography, geographic hunting differences, habitat conditions and access programs. As I reflect on today’s memorable 2014 Rooster Road Trip finale, I can say without qualification that Nebraska’s Open Fields and Waters Program is the country’s best template for opening up private land to public hunting access.

Like all the best ideas, the genesis for Nebraska’s Open Fields concept occurred during a hunting trip in 1996 between Jim Douglas of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Pete Berthelsen of Pheasants Forever. The next year, the Conservation Reserve Program-Managed Access Program (CRP-MAP) was created to open up private CRP acres for public access, but with a wrinkle unique from other states. CRP-MAP incentivized landowners to improve the habitat on those acres when qualifying for the access payment. The result was an economic carrot for landowners to create higher quality cover.

Neb2

A few years ago, the Nebraska Game and Parks Department changed the name from CRP-Map to the Open Fields & Waters Program for the purpose of creating access for other forms of public recreation, like fishing. The program has also added a scoring system to incentivize additional habitat practices on private land with higher landowner payments. In other words, the higher quality of habitat and the greater potential for hunter satisfaction on array of species, the bigger the payment available for a landowner.

I’ve focused my pheasant hunting on these acres during every previous visit to Nebraska over the years and this morning was no different. Led by Andy Houser, a Pheasants Forever farm bill wildlife biologist, we released our pointers into the frosty morning breeze blowing into a beautiful stand of bluestem. Two roosters received early warning of our arrival and flushed just out of gun range within minutes of leaving the truck.

Neb4

A third rooster was not so wise. He rose to the sky off my German shorthaired pointer Trammell’s nose and banked to the left before a load of Prairie Storm 4’s brought him back to the grass. Jerrod Burke, District V Commissioner with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, handed the rooster to me after his Gordon setter made the retrieve and alerted me to jewelry, a red band, on the bird’s ankle.

Houser explained that biology students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit net the wild roosters during autumn nights prior to hunting season. After capture, a leg band is secured and the bird is released. Then as hunters bag those roosters, researchers are able to determine many things like distribution and life expectancy.  After a phone call with the leg band’s number, Houser reported this morning’s banded rooster was indeed captured in this very CRP field earlier this autumn and was born this spring.

Neb3

Shortly after all photos of the leg band were complete, Burke added a rooster to his own game vest with a smart left to right crossing shot. And later at the far corner of the field, Trammell was able to equal her previous Nebraska retrieving feats by tracking down a rooster I had winged on a far straightaway shot (my nemesis). While our collection of pups and hunters searched the spot the bird “should be,” I watched Trammell on my Garmin Alpha screen as she zipped to my left 60 yards. With trepidation, I watched her get further and further from me. But this was Nebraska and Tram has a history of “delivering the mail” for me here.  After a few minutes, I’ll be darned if Pheasants Forever’s Colby Kerber didn’t yell to our collection of hunters “here comes a pup with a bird in her mouth.” As any bird dog loving guy or gal will tell you; that kind of retrieve makes cleaning up the puppy messes, the torn shoes, the begging at the table, and the veterinarian bills all worthwhile.

We worked a total of four Open Fields tracts between a cheeseburger and hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course) before calling an end to the official 2014 Rooster Road Trip. While there were plenty of roosters still to chase, photos needed uploading and blog posts needed composing. Plus, I submitted Thursday and Friday as vacation days before I left Minnesota. My own personal Rooster Road Trip, without camera or computer, starts tomorrow. Where? A Nebraska Open Fields & Waters parcel of course. I’ll be there at 8AM. I don’t drink much coffee, but grab me a hot chocolate with whipped cream and we’ll turn a couple of dogs loose into the wind together. Safe travels and see you on the Rooster Road!

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

All Bird Dogs Should Go to Heaven AND Nebraska

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

dsfsd

Pheasants Forever’s Bob St.Pierre and his late hunting partner, “Izzy,” were very fond of Nebraska’s uplands.

For nostalgic reasons, my most anticipated destination on the road is Nebraska. Over the years, “The Cornhusker State” has been a very fun place for me and my shorthairs.

My oldest shorthair, Trammell, and I have had some of our most epic hunts around

the Open Fields & Waters lands of southwest Nebraska. The incredibly well-managed habitat is as birdie of cover as I’ve ever encountered and the “bunching” of the grasses on these acres creates natural spots for birds to hold tight – perfect for a pointer. During our first-ever Rooster Road Trip back in 2010, Trammell locked up on six consecutive rooster points in an hour. Anthony, Andrew and I were thrilled to slip those birds into our game vests. One of those roosters in particular stands out as unquestionably the best retrieve of Tram’s life. On snowy evenings after the season, I’ve often replayed that field’s hunt, points and retrieves in my mind.

A few years later, I brought my young puppy “Izzy” to Nebraska for her introduction to the Rooster Road Trip.  Six-months old and all puppy, I watched Izzy become a bird dog locking up on a covey of bobwhite quail during our first walk in Nebraska. Magically, I dropped a double out of that covey and Izzy brought them one-by-one back to me. Sadly, Izzy passed on last autumn well before her time.

This year, I’ve got Esky, a new 6-month old puppy, along for the Rooster Road Trip. Esky is Trammell’s niece and Izzy’s half-sister. She was born in Iowa, lives in Minnesota, but I’m optimistic Nebraska will produce a moment with Esky I’ll remember forever.

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.