Posts Tagged ‘KFAN’
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
I learned to bird hunt behind a Brittany. I don’t remember my dad ever teaching me how to “approach” a pointed bird, but it has always felt natural because it’s how I got my start. What’s interesting and more than a little humorous is watching my various hunting partners the last few years who have only hunted behind flushing breeds react to my German shorthair on point.
In almost every case, I’ve witnessed “human vapor lock” as these friends look at me with twitching eyebrows, tip toe with caution as they approach the dog, then stop behind the dog and look at me again. Are they waiting for the weasel to go pop? Honest to goodness, I’ve witnessed pure fear on the face of a fellow hunter.
“When a rooster flushes in front of my Lab it’s all instinct and excitement,” one friend explained last season. “With your darned pointer, it’s like watching a Friday the 13th movie and you know Jason is around the corner with an axe.”
I’ve also been told by pointing dog purists to never walk up directly behind a pointer, but rather come in from the front or at an angle. The pointer purist worries about inadvertently causing “creeping” by approaching a dog from behind. “Creeping” being the unwanted broken point and creep forward of the dog toward the bird.
With this subject in mind, I called Purina’s “top dog” and pro trainer Bob West for his guidance on how best to approach a dog on point. “There is no clear cut, best way to approach a dog on point. You have to factor in the dog’s level of ability, the scenting conditions that day and the species of bird you anticipate being pointed to properly make the best approach for the situation,” explained West. “When hunting pheasants, it’s not uncommon for me to make a big 20 yard circled approach in front of a dog on point in an attempt to prevent a rooster from running.”
West went on to explain to me that he does believe young dogs could be caused to creep by approaching them from behind and an angled approach would be advised; however, he didn’t think a seasoned bird dog would be susceptible to the same problem. He stressed repeatedly in knowing your own dog’s tendencies and making the best decisions with your dog in mind rather than what some “expert” advised.
West did add that “perhaps more important than what angle to approach is the speed at which to make your approach. It’s critically important, especially with pheasants, to approach a dog on point at a pace as fast as safely possible. That bird isn’t going to hold all day and the conditions of the scent and scenario are also constantly changing for your dog.”
Lastly, West reminded me that the bird isn’t necessarily where the dog is looking. “It’s important to be ready the entire time you approach a pointed dog and be alert in all directions. The bird may be exactly where the dog is looking, but it oftentimes is not. Where the dog is looking simply is where that dog picked up the scent to lock into a point. That dog has been trained not to move any closer than the moment the scent reached a level to cause the dog to freeze. Its eyes should have nothing to do with it.”
To learn more about the pointing instinct and a variety of dog training questions, tune in to FAN Outdoors radio this Thursday evening at 7:45PM (CDT) as Bob West joins the show for a live interview with me and host “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand. FAN Outdoors airs live on 100.3 FM in Minnesota and can be streamed live across the globe at www.KFAN.com.
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
Every Saturday morning, I wake up to a 4:30AM alarm clock to voluntarily co-host an outdoors radio talk show called FAN Outdoors on 100.3FM based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul. My weekly appearance on the show provides me a great platform to talk about Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, conservation, bird hunting and bird dogs. I also have a great time chatting with the show’s host “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand about fishing and other outdoors related topics.
Over the four years I’ve been on FAN Outdoors, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in live remote broadcasts from the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Ely, Minnesota as well as from a fishing lodge on Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. Later this week, my wife and I will depart for the Minnesota/Canadian border for a six-day fishing trip with Rainy Lake Houseboats on behalf of FAN Outdoors. Without doubt, this is a “bucket list” trip for anyone and an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass by; however, there was one commitment I had trouble figuring out how to handle before I firmly committed to participating in this Rainy Lake adventure. The commitment I’m referencing was to my two bird dogs.
Before I accepted the dream getaway, I had to figure out who was going to care for the safety and well-being of my 5-year-old shorthair, Trammell, and my 14-week-old GSP puppy, Izzy. I’m sure many bird dog owners planning a summer vacation have encountered similar quandaries. While I could find any number of friends and relatives to care for my low-maintenance older dog, asking someone to welcome my semi-potty trained puppy into their home seemed like a good way to strain a relationship.
Crossing friends and relatives off the list, I started sourcing dog boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. For a 6X6 space and some play time socialization with other dogs, I could board my dogs for about $45 a day for the first dog and another $22 for the second. Not ideal. So my next thought led me to consider the folks I know in the dog training and breeding business, which led me to think about Chad Hines, owner of Willow Creek Kennels of Little Falls, Minnesota.
A quick search of the Willow Creek Kennels website informed me that boarding was a service they provided that also included some gun dog training for roughly a third of the price compared to Twin Cities boarding options. I followed up my web search with a phone call explaining my training priorities for Trammell & Izzy to Chad and my dogs were booked for a two-week stay.
I drove Trammell & Izzy to Willow Creek Kennels on Saturday morning where I met Chad and some of his staff. The drop-off was exactly the scenario every bird dog owner hopes for when leaving their pets in the hands of another. Chad and his staff took the time to evaluate both of my dogs, talk through my expectations and show me the kennel’s entire facilities; including the specific kennels where my dogs would be staying. He even took some time to run the young pup, Izzy, through the beginning paces of bird introduction.
Another benefit Willow Creek Kennels provides to clients with dogs being boarded are short videos. Using iPhones, the Willow Creek Kennels staff shoot countless videos of the training process which they upload to YouTube and Facebook for their clients’ viewing pleasure. Imagine – fishing on the Canadian border and receiving video proof of your beloved bird dog’s safety and training progress. Pretty awesome!
If you have a fishing getaway of your own, or are planning that family visit to Disney, take the time to check out the boarding facilities of the local bird dog trainers and breeders in your area. You may be surprised to find a more affordable option for your bird dog’s boarding accompanied by the added benefit of a little training to sharpen the pup’s skills come autumn.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
As I embarked on the adventure of adding a second bird dog to my family, an age-old question hung in my mind: “Do puppies learn from older dogs or are they simply clay in the hands of a human trainer?”
For years, I’d heard opinions on both sides of this argument, but having never owned more than one dog at a time, I found it hard to pick a side to believe in this debate. However, after just a few days of owning two bird dogs, I have formed a very strong opinion that puppies ABSOLUTELY mimic older dog’s mannerisms, actions and behaviors. There is zero doubt in my mind that my 5-year old shorthair is constantly “training” my 12-week old GSP puppy.
I’ve watched Tram (the 5-year old) pick up a stick during a walk. Moments later, Izzy (the 12-week old) was carrying a stick of her own. When running a field together, Izzy measures the distance Tram works away from me and stays at a similar distance. Every cue Tram drops, Izzy mimics.
Recognizing my sample size in formulating this opinion was extremely small, I asked renowned dog trainer and Purina pro-staffer Rick Smith for his opinion in the debate during a FAN Outdoors radio interview. You can Podcast the interview by following this link; listen for my question on the topic at the 19:12 mark of Hour 1 of the program originally airing on May 26th.
Without hesitation Smith confirmed my quick-formed opinion that young dogs learn a lot more from older dogs than from people. “I like having a young dog with an older dog,” added Smith.
The caveat Smith made special point of noting, however, was to keep in mind that young dogs are going to learn good AND bad habits from your older dog. That hit home with me as well. Izzy is now a dinner table beggar thanks to Trammell’s habits (obviously my fault to begin with), and Izzy also enjoys sleeping on the couch as opposed to the floor (guilty as charged).
This entire sequence of observations has me even more eager than normal for bird hunting season to see how much Izzy mimics Tram’s hunting expertise. Izzy has already honored Tram’s point of a mallard pair, so I’m hopeful that’s a sign of things to come . . . yes, I realize there won’t be much need for either of my duck pointers. Laugh it up!
So, for all those multi-dog owners out there, how much have your younger pups learned from your older bird dogs? Any special advice you’d offer me in this two-dog process?
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012
One of my absolute favorite new books of the last year is Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook. Shaw skillfully blends his personal narrative with unique recipes in this creative exploration of foraging, hunting, and fishing for nature’s “forgotten feast.” If you made it to National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic last February, then you hopefully had the chance to catch Hank’s fantastic presentations on the Outdoor Channel Cooking Stage.
It was with Hank’s ethos in mind that I prepared this evening’s meal. My cluttered countertop included one rooster from a memorable December pheasant hunt in Kansas, a few dozen wild morel mushrooms scored with the assistance of my FAN Outdoors radio partner “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand, and a few stalks of wild asparagus snipped at my secret railroad tracks spot not far from the Pheasants Forever national offices.
Here’s the skinny on my Hunt, Gather, Cook Pheasant Pasta
1 Cubed whole pheasant
4 Cups of fresh morel mushrooms
1 Cup of fresh wild asparagus
2 Cups of angel hair pasta
1/2 Cup of heavy cream
½ Stick of butter
1 tsp flour
Salt to taste
1) Sauté the cubed pheasant in olive oil until brown, lightly salt
2) Sauté the morel mushrooms in ¼ stick of butter till reduced (approximately 5 minutes on medium heat)
3) Boil the angel hair pasta till tender
4) Melt ¼ stick of butter over low heat, add flour and whisk until blended, add cream, simmer on low heat.
5) Boil asparagus al dente, so they are crisp
6) Combine pheasant, mushrooms and pasta
7) Pour cream sauce over the top
8) Add asparagus
Thanks to my sous chef and wife, Meredith, for helping me out in the night’s finished dish.
Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, women’s participation in hunting has increased by 36.6 percent over the last decade. That percentage represents 660,000 new female hunters busting cattails, climbing into tree stands and hiding in camouflaged pit blinds. One of those women is Georgia Pellegrini, author of the new book Girl Hunter.
Theories abound as to why women are picking up firearms or bows in greater numbers these days. As near as I can tell, women’s reasons for enjoying hunting are as diverse as their male counterparts. In Georgia’s case, her love of food was the genesis for her interest in hunting. She explains, “I’m an omnivore who has solved her dilemma; I’m a girl hunter.”
Like Steven Rinella’s The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine and Hank Shaw’s Hunt, Gather, Cook, Pellegrini’s Girl Hunter leads the reader on a variety of hunting adventures through the eyes of a chef first and a woman second. The end of each chapter also features a handful of recipes associated with the game she pursued during the chapter.
In the book, Georgia pursues upland birds, waterfowl and big game. She even slays a wild boar with only a knife in hand. All the while, her hunts are shaped by the people who serve as mentors, guides, and friends. There are also a few encounters with the kinds of unethical people who give all hunters and men bad reputations.
Girl Hunter’s characters are well-rounded and the stories move at a rapid pace making for a very fun read; however, it’s Georgia’s own thoughts about hunting for food that resonated most for me. In particular, the book’s last chapter about squirrel hunting stands out. I have never been a fan of squirrel meat or squirrel hunting, but the juxtaposition of this beautiful and intelligent city girl waxing poetic about her love of the nutty flavor of squirrel meat has made me anxious for September’s squirrel season.
Whether you’re a man or woman, long-time hunter or newbie, I highly recommend you find some time to read Girl Hunter.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of interviewing Georgia for FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN 100.3FM. Listen to the March 31st podcasts for Georgia’s own recount of the book and her introduction to hunting.
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
Are you ready to go bird hunting? Personally, I’m ready to hang up the fishing pole and shrink-wrap the boat in exchange for my over/under. My shorthaired bird dog is wagging her tail in agreement as well.
Yes, I know it’s only August, but hunting season can’t get here quick enough as far as I’m concerned. And judging by the comments on PF’s Facebook page, I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for pheasant season’s arrival.
While I’ve already got two ruffed grouse hunts and a sharp-tailed grouse hunt on my September calendar, I am also happy to report that I know where I’ll be spending my first pheasant hunt of 2011. For the 4th consecutive season, I will be hunting in central Minnesota on Saturday, October 15th with my FAN Outdoors radio partner Billy Hildebrand and a small collection of friends, family and bird dogs.
Where & when will your 2011 pheasant hunting season begin?
2011 Pheasant Hunting Opening Days
(These dates are tentative, please be sure to check your state’s regulations)
Colorado Still TBD
Iowa Saturday, October 29
Kansas Saturday, November 12
Montana Saturday, October 8
Minnesota Saturday, October 15
Nebraska Sunday, October 30
North Dakota Saturday, October 8
Ohio Friday, November 4
South Dakota Saturday, October 15
Wisconsin Saturday, October 15
Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
In case you don’t have it marked down on your calendar already, Sunday, June 19th is Father’s Day. For most of us, it was dad who brought us into the pheasant hunting fold. What better way to honor pops than with a new pheasant oriented gift. Here are a few ideas:
Special Pheasants Forever Membership Package ($35.00): Through this special offer (deadline is June 10th), you can purchase a year’s membership to Pheasants Forever for your dad. That membership will be accompanied by a year’s subscription to the Pheasants Forever Journal; including the new 2011 Pheasant Hunting Preview issue, a PF vehicle decal and a Pheasants Forever Running Rooster T-Shirt. NOTE: if your dad already has a current PF membership, this offer simply adds a full year on to his current membership’s expiration date.
Browning Polo Shirt ($42.95): You know he’d rather be bird hunting than golfing, but what’s a guy to do in July? This 100% polyester polo is the perfect pheasant hunter’s golf shirt.
Gamehide SST Hunting Shirt ($29.95): We’re closing out this shirt and it’s marked down 17%. That’s a steal for this high quality and comfortable shooting shirt that will become a part of your dad’s autumn wardrobe for the next decade.
Pheasants Forever Pewter Belt Buckle ($14.95): Does your dad wear cowboy boots all summer long? Then he probably needs a PF belt buckle to match those kicks.
Hoppe’s Shotgun Boresnake ($16.99): In my humble opinion, the boresnake is the greatest gun cleaning invention ever made. Your dad will be able to keep his treasured scattergun in tip top shape in less than 60 seconds with the boresnake.
Video Glasses ($149.95): Has your dad ever tried to explain the amazing shot he made on the other side of the hill? Now he can! I was pretty skeptical about these glasses when I first got a look at them. However, as you can see by the quality of this video, they produce pretty darn good footage.
Game Cleaning Table ($89.99): While Gander Mountain markets this as a fish cleaning table, it easily doubles as a bird cleaning station. Save your dad’s aching back and sore knees while keeping all the dead game out of your mom’s kitchen. Yeah, you should probably buy one for yourself too!
A Sand County Almanac Illustrated Edition ($29.95): Most consider Aldo Leopold to be the father of modern wildlife management. This is his signature work and the foundation for Pheasants Forever’s habitat mission.
Lucky Hunting Hat ($16.95): Does your dad lament missed shots around the Thanksgiving dinner table? Give the guy a hand with this bit of PF gear “guaranteed” to turn his shooting luck around!
Pheasants Forever Beer Mugs ($22.95): This set of 4 mugs is a must have for any pheasant hunter’s bar or rec room. Just in time for holding cold beverages during the hot summer months.
Note: all orders through the Pheasants Forever MarketPlace need to be made by end of business on Friday, June 10th to guarantee delivery by Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19th.
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob on FAN Outdoors radio ever Saturday morning from 6AM to 8AM (central time zone) at www.KFAN.com.
Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
You may have heard California’s Rapture-predicting preacher has revised his math. It turns out the world is going to end on October 21st instead of May 21st as originally warned. What’s that mean to a bird hunting fanatic like me? With some bird hunting seasons opening up in mid September, I estimate to have about five bird hunting weekends left before the planet explodes.
Here are the five hunts I’d like to make happen before the coming autumn Rapture.
1) Yooper Grouse Opener: It’s a family tradition to return back home to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to open the ruffed grouse season with Dad & Mom. If the world is coming to an end, this one is the most important for me to squeeze in one more time.
2) Hells Canyon: While I hope to be headed north, not south, following The Rapture, I have to chase birds in Hells Canyon one time before I die. While I’ve never been there, I’ve read about and been told stories of magical days in which hunters have shot pheasants, quail, grouse, chukar and Huns all in a single day.
3) Fort Pierre Prairie Grouse: In the last two seasons, I have fallen in love with the Fort Pierre National Grasslands. Although my pup has had close encounters with rattle snakes and porcupines, I have experienced some of my most memorable days afield in search of prairie chickens and sharp-tailed grouse.
5) A Walk Alone: I enjoy time spent afield with others; however, given my druthers, my most treasured hunts are alone behind my shorthair. It seems that if the world is going to end, I’d find peace walking a patch of prairie with my pup Trammell.
Knowing the world is coming to an end early this fall’s hunting season, what will be your final five hunts?
Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
Did you know that according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service study published in 2001 that one in five Americans are considered birders, or bird watchers? That ratio represents 46 million people! Compare that with the fact there are 2 million pheasant hunters and 1 million quail hunters in the U.S. Quite the difference!
Stan described a birder as a person that likes to be outside, is passionate about wildlife, is a conservationist and cares about the environment. As Stan talked about bird watching and the people that consider themselves birders, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in profiles to Pheasants Forever or Quail Forever members. The primary differences between the two groups are a birder collects his/her quarry with a list or a camera, while a bird hunter bags the targeted species with a shotgun, and both thinks the other is a little bit crazy.
Stan also brought up the fact that birders have been major beneficiaries of the hunting community’s financial contributions for decades. It has always been hunters who have contributed to wildlife habitat through license sales, excise taxes, and projects funded by conservation groups like Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Ruffed Grouse Society. Imagine if we could figure out a way to get 46 million birders to make even a fraction of the contribution that hunters do!
I’ve been thinking about the comparison between bird hunters and birders all week. As an admitted bird hunting addict and non-birder, I wonder if birders are subconsciously acting out the human instinct to be hunter-gatherers. Birders complete the entire ritual of a hunt, but ultimately “capture” in a photo album or on a list rather than in the frying pan. Although I’m certainly biased toward bird hunters, I believe a better understanding of each other would broaden hunters’ view while deepening the birders’ respect of us.
What do you think is the difference between a bird hunter and a bird watcher?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
My good friend and FAN Outdoors radio partner, “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand stopped by the Pheasants Forever office this morning. In tow was his new Brittany pup “Snap.” Snap joins his eight year-old golden retriever, “Tess,” as the Hildebrand’s newest hunting family member.
I currently have a 3 1/2 year old German shorthaired pointer named “Trammell.” If you’ve read my blog before, then you know how much I adore my pup. Last year about this time I started toying with the idea of adding a second bird dog to the mix. I went so far as to put my name on the first pick of females in a shorthair litter planned for April. As that litter’s birth neared, I had second thoughts about the timing of adding that second dog to the family and pulled my name off the list.
As I enter the mid-point of this hunting season, I’m thankful I did remove my name from that litter. While I missed out on the joys of having a puppy this spring, I am benefiting from focusing on Trammell as she enters her prime bird hunting years.
The more seasoned dog owners I talk with, the more consistent the advice: “Add dog number two when your first dog turns six or seven. That way, you’ll always have a dog in its prime.”
Do you agree with that advice or do you have a different opinion?
The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.