Archive for the ‘Quail Forever’ Category

Build a castle with popscicle sticks

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Baby steps are best

Baby steps are best

Weaving our way among the sage and bunchgrass pigeon in hand, it hit me: dog training is like building a castle out of Popsicle sticks.

To be structurally sound, the sticks must lie flat. As they’re only about a millimeter thick, it takes a while to see a wall rise. Likewise our progress in the field. Tiny increments, often barely noticeable. An elegant find and front leg tucked might be worth two Popsicle sticks’ of height, but most times it’s less noteworthy. And just as you must raise tiny, utilitarian wooden walls before adding gaudy towers and flying buttresses, you’ve got to lay a firm foundation for the magazine-cover poses.

Add too much glue, a drop here, drop there piling up in millimeters and soon one corner is higher than the others. Use too much correction (or praise) and your training might tilt to one side. Put the balustrade up without a well-engineered wall, and it will assuredly come tumbling down. Skip a step in training, and a dog will disappoint you some time, somehow.

Day by day, Popsicle stick by Popsicle stick, the castle takes shape, or the dog (and human) grow. If we have to buy another pack of frozen desserts and it takes a few more days to finish, I prefer orange.

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He deserves it

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Just in case ...

Just in case …

With the season in full swing, a little reminder:

This little kit won’t take up much weight or space but it could possibly save your dog’s life. Do your best hunting buddy a favor and carry it every time you get far enough from your truck you wouldn’t want to carry him all the way back.

Cotton swabs: clean wounds, remove seeds from eyes

Benadryl or other antihistamine: reduces windpipe swelling from snakebite or insect sting

Duct tape: all-around bandage, emergency boot

Blood-clotting gauze

Triple antibiotic ointment: prevent infection in wound

EMT Gel: stops most bleeding, speeds healing

Hemostats: pull porcupine quills, foreign objects from wounds and nostrils

Phone numbers, open hours and locations of nearest veterinarians

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What I learned on my grouse hunt

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Pay attention in the grouse woods. You'll be a better quail hunter.

Pay attention in the grouse woods. You’ll be a better quail hunter.

Shut up. Listen carefully. Trust your dog. Live in the moment. These are lessons it took a ruffed grouse and woodcock hunt to remind me why we go hunting.

Is is relevant to quail hunters? Hell yes.

Your dog is your best hunting partner. When he’s virtually invisible in the trees, you’ve got to know he’s working for you. If not, head back to the yard for more training.

When pup – or your partners – are working (or for that matter, out of sight or right next to you), pay attention. You’ll hear new sounds, learn from the woods, and you might see a pileated woodpecker. It’s how you find your dog, too.

But most important is the low-level adrenaline rush that starts when you leave the truck and only ends when your head hits the pillow that night: Where are the dogs? What was that roar – a flush? Is pup on point? Where? Where am I? Woodcock or grouse? The anticipation preceding every step, every stumble, branch cracks and leaf crunches is inestimable.

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Dog of the Day: “Deen”

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Deen1

Deen2

“Deen” is Curtis Niedermier’s 3-month-old Vizsla. “He looks good on point and his retrieving skills get better every time out,” Niedermier says, “Man, he’s fun!”

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

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Acoustics & obedience

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

A giant, natural echo chamber

A giant, natural echo chamber

Whistle blasts, yells, nothing was getting Buddy back to me. It looked like he was actually running away – each command got the opposite reaction from what I wanted.

One more toodle on the whistle and the echo hit me in the face, the problem now quite obvious. Sound waves left my mouth, traveled the hot dry canyon and bounced off the massive basalt walls. That’s what Buddy heard. No wonder he streaked away – he was eagerly trying to please me but headed for the nearer source of the command – the rock, not me.

Wow, that sure changed the way I look at (er, hear) dog commands. Further experimentation showed that knolls, thick forest, even water will all affect what your dog hears, and where he thinks that sound is coming from. It’s a wonder they ever come back to us!

These days I’ll sometimes turn and call or whistle in the opposite direction from my dog so the original sound – and any echoes – are both coming from the vector I want him to take. Other times, lower volume precludes an echo. By default, my dogs have learned that a beep from their collar means the same as “here,” so that works also.

Now that I know this, my dogs seem to be much more obedient.

(Find my training gear and book here.)

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Don’t Miss Your Shot at Quail Forever’s 2014 Gun of the Year

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Quail Engraving Close UpEach year, Quail Forever produces a custom engraved, limited-edition Gun of the Year. These collectible works of art are specially produced to support the organization’s habitat conservation mission and can ONLY be found at participating Quail Forever chapter banquets.

 

The 2014 Quail Forever Gun of the Year is a Remington 11-87 and features a beautifully engraved receiver capturing Michael Sieve’s 2014 Quail Forever Print of the Year, “The Comeback Call.”

 

Although we all know a gun is only as good as the person operating it, the Remington Model 11-87 offers the unquestionable reliability and versatility that you would expect from anything carrying the Remington name. Added to this, Quail Forever’s special Gun of the Year comes as a 20 gauge with a 26” barrel, 2 ¾” or 3” shell capability, and the distinction of having only 50 produced.

 

“We are extremely proud to add Quail Forever’s exclusive Remington 11-87 to the selection of items chapters use at banquets to raise funds for local conservation efforts,” states John Edstrom, Quail Forever’s director of merchandise. “Considering the partnership we have with Remington and the strong reputation of their brand, we are confident this gun will break clays and drop bobs for our members with both speed and style.”

 

With more than 130 Quail Forever chapters hosting banquets nationwide and only 50 guns to go around, don’t miss your shot at owning one of these exclusive collectible shotguns! Ask your local chapter if the custom Quail Forever 2014 Gun of the Year—the reliable Remington 11-87—will be at your upcoming banquet.

QF Gun of the Year

 

 

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The downside to training with frozen birds

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

This one is easy. Frozen ones, not so much.

This one is easy. Frozen ones, not so much.

Ice cream headache. Did you ever think your dog might have one?

If you train with frozen birds, he might. He’ll never admit it, but the outward manifestation might be lousy retrieves. Thanks pro trainer Larry Lee, for pointing out the obvious – to everyone, apparently, but me. I was lamenting the goofy way Manny would approach a frozen pigeon, then daintily pick it up by a wing and drag it back, sort of.

It was Larry who asked what I would do in a similar situation.  I pondered that. Now, so will you: open the freezer, pull out an ice cube and hold it between your teeth for oh, say the length of a 200-yard retrieve.

It’s no wonder Manny was less than enthusiastic. So was I. Carrying a pigeon by one wing isn’t easy.

(Scott’s line of dog training gear is available here.)

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What signals fall for you?

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Leaves are a pretty good signal.

Leaves are a pretty good signal.

Hiking in the desert, of all places, it hit me when I noticed the dried leaves carpeting the sandy ground. Last fall’s remnants kindled anticipation of this fall’s hunts. Wrong leaves, wrong place, but the die was cast – I’m ready for hunting season.

What is your trigger-tripper? A training milestone? Weather change? Test season? Youth hunt?

Something pushes you over the edge, inescapably heralding the Most Important Time of Year. But do you know what it is? And if you don’t have one, you have several months to pick one.

Go.

(Scott’s dog gear – collars, leads, retrieving bumpers – is available here.)

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Thankful … on each hunt

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Sometimes, even the view is something to be thankful for.

Sometimes, even the view is something to be thankful for.

That first long walk without a hunting partner is when it usually hits you: Boy, am I lucky. It’s funny that our “thanksgiving” comes earlier than the one on the calendar … mere days into hunting season.

We sit, scratch a dog’s ear, and reflect. It might be perfect weather, or surprisingly good shooting. Maybe your dog nailed that last covey, staunch as a magazine cover painting. It could (should, would, ought to) be gratefulness at the limp feathered body held in your hands, life gone but soon to sustain life as food.

There’s no reason it needs to be restricted to a single date. In the fields and covers there is always something to be thankful for. I’ve uttered thanks for an ankle untwisted after a leap off a basalt column. Toasted silently with a smoky draft of single malt, glad for the company sharing my campfire. Smiled inwardly at the warm welcome in a small-town’s café-post office-general store where everybody does know your name.

I don’t need a federally-funded study to tell me a better outlook on life starts with being appreciative of things large and small. My dogs, my hunting partners, my surroundings remind me every day, all season … not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

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Michael Sieve’s “The Comeback Call” Named Quail Forever’s 2014-2015 Print of the Year

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

TheComeback_Call

Minnesota wildlife artist Michael Sieve has had his painting of a calling bobwhite quail named Quail Forever’s Print of the Year. “The Comeback Call,” Quail Forever’s 2014-2015 Print of the Year, will be available at Quail Forever chapter banquets to help raise funds for upland conservation efforts.

Sieve’s studio is located on his 40-acre homestead in southern Minnesota, an area where Sieve makes Quail Forever’s mission of improving wildlife habitat a reality. “Mike is a conservationist. He doesn’t just paint, he practices what he paints,” says Randy Eggenberger, president of Wild Wings—a company that publishes/produces/distributes wildlife art and represents some of America’s top wildlife artists, including Sieve. “Mike frequently includes farms or elements of farm life in his paintings. This is very important to him because he grew up on a farm. In fact, Mike grew up on the prairie, so naturally he is an upland bird guy.”

Since 2006, Quail Forever has selected an annual Print of the Year—limited-edition prints that local Quail Forever chapters have used to raise funds for their area conservation efforts. Artists including the late James Meger, Rosemary Millette, and Jim Hautman have contributed to Quail Forever’s wildlife habitat mission as Print of the Year artists.

Hand signed and numbered prints of “The Comeback Call” are also available in limited quantity at Quail Forever’s online store.

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Quail Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@quailforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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