Posts Tagged ‘Outdoor Life’
Thursday, August 9th, 2012
A buddy and I were talking the other day about the old days when we first started hunting (with shotguns and .22s that is…I started BB gun hunting earlier). For me, real gun hunting started in 1967 when I was 12. My buddy and I both grew up in far south central Minnesota, which was known then (and still is) as the “black desert” due to intensive farming.
Since no one in my family ever hunted, I first hunted by myself. I got my first duck that way. A neighbor took me pheasant hunting, and I got my first rooster that way. I eventually made a hunting friend at school who lived in the country (perfect!). There was no goose, dove or turkey hunting back then because there were no turkeys, geese were very rare and dove hunting had been outlawed (I’m proud to say I helped get it reinstated in Minnesota a few years back). We didn’t hunt deer in those days because we were young, inexperienced and lacked someone to show us how to take on such a big task.
We hunted what few pheasants and ducks there were on a few wetlands that couldn’t be ditched and when we ran out of those, we hunted the ditches. Thinking of it now, walking those barren ditches was pathetic. We were walking what was pretty much a biological desert, but we kept trying as only naiveté, over-enthusiastic youth with boundless energy can. We’d read Outdoor Life during the week and then would go out and look for that life on weekends. We never found it. We never shot limits of anything. Granted, we weren’t that good at hunting, but the opportunities were very limited.
I will never forget, and this happened several times, hunting a wetland in fall and returning to it the next fall only to find a ditch running through it, corn on both sides. In those days, the federal government paid farmers to drain wetlands and farm them. It was policy. So, when I heard about a group of local hunters starting an effort to “Save the Wetlands: Save the Ducks,” I joined up. Seeing those wetlands destroyed didn’t discourage me, it made me angry and motivated me to do something about it, and I did …and still am. I didn’t need to be spoon-fed hunting or bribed to do something about habitat loss to get involved: the beauty of nature and the adventure of hunting were motivation enough.
It’s heartening to see some young people today, many in Pheasants Forever’s youth programs, rising to conservation’s cause as we face another habitat crisis (well, let’s be honest: a human crisis foisted upon the environment).
Though I shot my first pheasant on a private corn field (which is probably still in corn), I bagged my first duck on a public lake that’s still public, and my first goose on a private wetland that’s now public (my buddy called the neighbors to come see and they came, it was that rare to see a goose, much less bag one). I hope these areas are still making memories for folks and they, too, take up the cause of conservation to keep our hunting heritage alive, if not strong.
Thursday, August 11th, 2011
While the search for the breed winds down (more on that soon), there are plenty of other considerations in preparation for bird dog number one: gear and equipment, lining up veterinary care, living quarters, schedules, brushing up on obedience and training techniques – it’s a lot more than just plopping down some greenbacks and bringing the cutie home. And it can seem a wee bit overwhelming. So while at a Purina (Pheasants Forever’s Official Dog Food) media event recently, I asked the gun dog experts in attendance (I was the odd man out) for the single best piece of advice they could impart upon any first-time bird dog owner:
Man’s Best Shrink
“The best piece of advice I can give for the first-time bird dog owner is that your new dog is not just a pet and hunting companion: He or she is also the cheapest, most effective therapist you could ever hope to find. In fact, your new dog is the Swiss army knife of emotional support. Lost your job? The dog understands. Girlfriend ran off with your best friend? The dog understands. No matter how bad things get, if you have a dog, then your life is never as much of a mess as you think it is. They’ll never judge, they’ll never criticize and they’ll never leave you. And they’ll never mind that you always drink all the beer. What, I ask, is better than that?”
- Chad Love writes for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever as well as Field & Stream’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog. He has a Chessie, a young English setter, and says, though his wife doesn’t know, there will be a new pup next spring.
Bank on the Basics, Part I
“When training, pay close attention to the fundamentals, they are key to a solid foundation and bases for advanced work towards the wonderful rewards of an obedient and productive hunting partner.”
-Bob West is the Director of the Purina’s Sporting Dog Group. He’s also put more than 100 titles on dogs during his 40-plus years as a professional dog trainer. In other words, he’s trained dogs longer than I’ve been alive.
This is Fun, Right?
“Lighten up! Don’t become obsessed with letter-perfect performance, and don’t be afraid to cut your dog a little slack during training sessions and in the field. Remember, this is supposed to be fun, for both you and your dog.”
-Rick Van Etten is the Editor of Gun Dog Magazine and has owned Irish setters since before they went out of style.
Bank on the Basics, Part II
“Retriever owners need control and that comes from basic obedience. Too many overlook the importance of sit/stay, heel and here, focusing instead on aspects of force fetch, handling and other advanced concepts. If you can stop your dog with a sit whistle and recall it under any circumstance, then at the very least you’ll have a dog that will put birds up within range.”
-Brian Lynn and his black Lab, Kona, cross a few time zones each fall in search of birds and material for the Gun Dogs blog at Outdoor Life.
This is Fun, Right? Part II
“My advice to first-time gun dog owners would be to stop worrying so much and just make it fun. So many beginners read a book or two, or maybe attend a seminar, and they get all caught up in thinking they HAVE to do things a certain way, hit certain benchmarks, etc. Then when things don’t go exactly according to the blueprint (which they almost never do) they fret, stress out, put more pressure on the dog than it’s capable of handling…You get the picture. In short: Take it slow, take it easy, and keep it fun for both of you.”
-Tom Davis, among his many contributions, writes the “Gun Dog” column for the Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation. If a sporting dog or outdoor publication hasn’t showcased his work, shame on them.
Get Used to Gunfire…The Right Way
“I’ve been in business as a trainer since January and I’ve had five clients bring me gun-shy dogs. I’ve fixed two out of four, and number five is here now. Obviously this is a problem. Here’s my advice: Don’t take your puppy to a trap shoot to ‘get him used to gunfire.’ Instead, introduce him to gun fire beginning with the blank gun, and make sure birds are involved. Find and join a training group (one way to find one is to go to www.akc.org, go to “events” and check hunt tests and/or field trials for your breed, and contact the host club secretary) For this very important step, you’re best bet is to enlist the help of an experienced person or training group.”
-Lisa Price is Pennsylvania-based pro trainer and field-trialer. She loves working her German shorthaired pointers and her good sense of humor.
Breed Matters to You
“When you select a breed, carefully consider how that upland dog or retriever fits your situation. As a novice trainer, it’s wise to pick a breed that takes to training well. For me, a female golden retriever fit my training and hunting needs, as well as fulfilling my desire for a great family pet.”
-Paul Wait is the new Editor at Delta Waterfowl and is beholden to a 15-month-old golden retriever
Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
There’s nothing like stumbling across an old magazine to timewarp you back into the mists of the distant past. Such was the case recently when I was given a copy of the October 1935 edition of Outdoor Life. What’s neat about this particular issue, besides that wonderful cover art, is the fact that it features a compilation of all the states’ game laws.
So being curious, I looked at what the quail hunting regs for my home state of Oklahoma looked like in 1935. It was an eye-opener. Here are the season dates and regulations for Oklahoma’s 1935 quail season, verbatim…
Quail….Nov. 20 to Jan. 1. Note: Quail may not be hunted except on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week during open season and on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, or, if these holidays fall on Sundays, on the preceding Saturdays.
Bag and possession limits: 10 a day, 50 a season.
I would have needed a cheat-sheet to keep those days straight, and believe it or not, the laws concerning what days of the week on which you could hunt quail persisted well into the 1980s or even the early 90s. I can’t recall exactly when Oklahoma decided to take the great leap forward to something resembling a normal quail season. Maybe an old-time Okie bird hunter could chime in and refresh this youngster’s memory.
But it got me to wondering if any other states ever had equally convoluted and confusing quail seasons?
Chad Love writes for Quail Forever (Pheasants Forever’s quail conservation division) from Woodward, Oklahoma. He is a lifelong quail hunter and “bird dog guy” who also writes for Field & Stream, including the magazine’s “Man’s Best Friend” gundog blog.
Friday, September 10th, 2010
I’ve spent most of this short week trying to figure out what, exactly, to do this weekend. A weekend sleeping in sounded good, until I heard the honkers hovering above the Super America convenience store on this morning’s doughnut run. Change of plans, change of alarm time.
As I tried to “come to” at my desk this morning (slack warranted, Minnesota Vikings season opener last night), I, at the request of my brother, checked out a waterfowling website I’d never previously surfed. Nothing starts a Friday like the smelling salt substitute of a cream filled Bismarck, Monster energy drink and some duck videos.
One video proved to be enough. This sea duck hunt started with a joker popping a bird right off the water (I’ve heard enough country witticisms in my day, but one of the better ones is never shoot a pheasant on the ground or a duck on the water). Fast forward to the end, and the “lead” hunter stated they needed one more diver to fill their limit, despite having a cripple a few hundred yards out.
The best two ways to prevent cripples, of course, are to take and make good shots and have a darn good retrieving dog. Those points aside, any wingshooter, regardless of talent level, will have a moment where a crippled bird goes unrecovered (the average crippling loss of pheasants is estimated at 10 percent).
I know a few hunters who, after making wholehearted yet unsuccessful efforts (think the better part of an hour searching) to retrieve wounded birds will still count those unrecovered birds as part of their daily bag. It is not a matter for the hunting regulations to decide, but a personal code of conduct. In my opinion, a better way to operate.
Outdoor Life’s Gun Dog blog guy, Brian Lynn, pimped me for some insider pheasant hunting information yesterday. Knowing him, no doubt the information will be for his personal use, but he is kind enough to share in his new post Sleeper States: Beyond the Pheasant Forecast.
I started with geese, and that looks like a good spot to end for the week. I had the good fortune of harvesting my first banded bird last weekend, which I wrote about in my other blog at the Star Tribune’s Club Outdoors site. It’s the weekend again, with a little luck, another Weekend at Band Camp.
Monday, June 28th, 2010
Here are some quick hitters for this Monday morning.
- Listen back to this podcast for great bird dog training advice from Steve Ries of Native performance dog food & Top Gun Kennels during his Saturday morning radio interview during Hour 1 of FAN Outdoors. Steve talks about how to avoid making your dog gun shy, 4th of July fireworks, water training, and “roading.”
- Also last Saturday on FAN Outdoors, Ben Bigalke (Pheasants Forever’s Regional Wildlife Biologist for South Dakota) gives an early look at the pheasant forecast in the “Pheasant Capital” during the end of Hour 1 and the beginning of Hour 2. Ben tells us it’s been wet during the peak of the pheasant hatch across SoDak, NoDak, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Bummer!
- I spent Sunday on the lake with my good friend Matt Kucharski. The fishing was slow, but the sun was out and the laughs were fast and furious. Good friends & the outdoors, always a good time.
- Check out the story of Rick Oliver. He’s a North Carolina dude who has been struck by lightning and mauled by a bear. No mention of any deep sea fishing plans.
- Cougars in the U.P. Yep, the Michigan DNR has their 7th confirmed “Yooper” cougar in my homeland of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I have yet to see a mountain lion in Michigan or anywhere else, but I have had the pleasure of tasting them at wild game dinners. You may be surprised to know they are a very delicious white meat that reminds me a bit of pork. They are legal to hunt in many western U.S. states.
- Speaking of tasty . . . Minnesota’s snapping turtle season gets underway on July 1st. Check out the Minnesota DNR’s fishing regulations book for the rules around snappers. Be careful, they can snap off your finger, but their sautéed flesh is worth the risk.
- July 1st also marks the beginning of the new season of Pheasants Forever Television on Outdoor Channel. I’m predicting this year’s premier episode will be Matt Morlock’s Hollywood coming out party. Matt is an “Acre Maker” Farm Bill Biologist for Pheasants Forever in South Dakota and makes appearances in two segments of the PF TV season premier. He’s also a helluva good guy, a cracker-jack hunter, and grows the meanest beard on the Pheasants Forever staff.
- If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a gander at For Love of Dogs, an Outdoor Life group of essays I was honored to participate in writing. I wrote about my love for German shorthaired pointers, while other hunters extolled the virtues of their favorite dog breed; including, a compelling essay on Labradors from my good friend John Devney of Delta Waterfowl.
- Of interest from Field & Stream’s Chad Love; 1) Immortal Jellyfish . . . what? And, 2) Chad’s take on my blog “Does Pheasant Hunting Need Brad Pitt?”
- And to end today’s hit list, I’ll ask the same question Field & Stream’s David Dibenedetto asked last week: Do You Feed Your Dog Table Scraps? I will admit that my pup, Trammell, has been known to find a few nibbles after most dinners in the St.Pierre household. What about you? Does your dog get any table treats?
Friday, June 4th, 2010
“For the Love of Dogs” can be read at Outdoor Life and features well-penned pieces by Pheasants Forever’s own Bob St.Pierre (GSPs) and our friend John Devney from Delta Waterfowl (Labs). Now I’m awaiting the call from Outdoor Life to write an article on how awesome it is to have friends who own such dogs, and invite your dog-less self to hunt with them anyways.
- Having formerly umpired V.F.W. and American Legion baseball, I empathize with embattled MLB umpire Jim Joyce a bit more than others. But I did find these tweets, amusing, especially the one about quail hunting.
- With the help of Michigan Pheasants Forever, these students applied themselves more than I ever did.
- The theme to one of my prom’s was “Captured in a Dream.” I’ve spent the last decade trying to figure out what exactly that meant. But if I could do it over again, this is the girl I’d ask out.
- More outdoor programming bites the dust. Because you need more SportsCenter and English Premier League soccer…
- Navigating their previous site was like living in a vacuum in 1997, so kudos to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department’s Website makeover.
- I’ve never fly fished, but should I, I’ve found the right guide. I just hope she doesn’t make me wear a scarf, too. By the way, sorry, April, but if you want to be the “Official Pheasant Chick of Anthony’s Antics Afield,” you have to be handy with the steel, and I don’t mean steelhead.