Buster has been carrying the load at the pheasant farm this past month as Annie has been out of service while caring for her litter of brittany puppies. The puppies started eating solid foods a week ago and I thought Annie could use a break for a few hours. This was Annie and Buster’s first time hunting together as a team and I was real pleased with the duo. Sometimes 2 dogs just don’t work well together and you can’t fix it. Other times two dogs can seem like they read each others minds and truly compliment the other. We had a great pheasant hunt even if it was a bit cold and snowy, the dogs did well and our clients got 10 out of 12 birds released. It was fun working the ditch banks on these large alfalfa fields and the birds were holding good with the snow cover. All in all it was a fun day but the pups were glad to see Annie when we got back.
We are so proud of Lizzy and how she is doing in the early stages of her bird dog training. She is a joy to be around and is great with my kids and other dogs. She likes to retrieve things and play fetch, and man is she one bird crazy dog. I have some bird pens in my barn where I keep chukar and quail and she will stand there for hours watching the birds. I usually have to physically remove her from the bird barn. It is worse when we go to the pheasant farm because the flight pens are quite lengthy and she goes round and round it pointing birds.
We have introduced her to clipped wing pigeons and some quail and she has the bird-drive in her. Can’t wait for a few more months when we can get a little more serious and start introducing the gun. She follows me around the yard when I do chores and loves to ride in the truck.
This week I guided three days at the pheasant hunting preserve. The birds get a bit silly this time of year and the roosters are running like crazy. The skittish birds and the sparse cover can make for some very challenging pheasant hunting conditions. Annie did well but I decided to take the owners seasoned shorthair pepper to help us out. Pepper has a unique talent that he has developed over 6-7 years of being a guide dog at the pheasant farm. When another dog goes on point, pepper circles around the bird to block their escape. This comes in quite handy when the roosters are running on us.
This is a picture taken after the successful late season pheasant hunt. Pepper’s blocking skills were much appreciated by the clients who ended up taking home a good pile of pheasants (mostly roosters). Another fun thing was a successful water retrieve by Annie when a bird was shot and dropped into the river. She is great with water retrieves as long as she marks the bird down. She hesitates a little still with blind water retrieves. We will work on this during the spring and summer training sessions.
I tried to get some video of Pepper demonstrating his unique skill, but I was a little late getting the camera out. The one thing I don’t like is that Annie won’t fight for a retrieve with a competitive dog. She will just let the other dog have it if they get to the bird at the same time. Sometimes I like to work Annie alone so she can do it all. Pepper is not one to share any of the retrieving duties. With all of our birds sold at the pheasant farm we are winding down for a few months until we get 5,000 day-old pheasant chicks in May and start the whole process over again.
This is a client dog making a pretty nice water retrieve at the pheasant hunting preserve today. The property has a river running through it and many times the birds flush across the river and sometimes when shot, drop in or on the other side of the river. Shorthairs are usually quite good at water retrieves but as quick as Sadie was to get across to the downed rooster, it took a little coaxing to get her to come back. The water was running pretty swift and very cold with the winter run-off. My Brittany dog Annie was the first one across the river but she didn’t mark the bird and had trouble locating and returned empty handed.
Guided a group of pheasant hunters this week at Rooster Valley Pheasants in Annabella, UT. The weather was beautiful and the dogs were dialed in and finding birds. There were 12 shooters in this large group of hunters, so Russ split them into 3 hunting groups. I took this small group and worked the canal and the river along the Northeast edge of the property. We had a good safe hunt with some good shooters who only missed a few roosters. I think we ended up with around 25 birds at the end of the hunt. Some real nice guys and a great day of hunting pheasant.
I really enjoy the opportunity to get my young dogs out on some more birds and get valuable experience. The roosters were running on us a bit more than usual and the dogs didn’t take long to figure it out. We had to hustle a few time to catch the runners but we only had one give us the slip. Abby looked sharp and was holding her points very well. The wind was just right and she was slamming on point about 20-30 feet in front of the bird. Abby and Annie fought a bit over retrieving but they always brought the bird to hand. Annie had a great find on a wounded bird that lit across the river. She hadn’t seen the rooster dropped so I sent her blind across the river. She was hesitant at first but swam the cold water and finally found the bird 50 feet back in the brambles. I was so proud. Not bad for a couple of young dogs. Annie (Brittany) is 18 months old and Abby (Shorthair) will be two in April.
Over the holidays I was lucky enough to enjoy some pheasant hunting with my two Brothers-in-Law Kyle Simmons and Phil Cherry. Phil is raising a pair of lab pups and is an avid shooter, but this was Kyle’s first time hunting pheasants.
About 20 minutes into the hunt Abby set up on a nice point and held tight. Kyle moved up from the right side to kick the bird out of the cover.
Kyle squared up on the flush and squeezed off a very nice shot. There were feathers flying everywhere and Kyle was all smiles. Abby retrieved the bird to hand and I was very pleased with her performance.
This past week Annie and I were able to tag along as co-guides at the Rooster Valley Pheasant Farm. The owner’s son Wade was kind enough to let Annie and I tag along with him and his very talented GSP Whitney. We guided a small group of hunters through some great cover along the river and up onto the sage brush flats. Wade had warned me before hand that Whitney was a retrieving fool and that Annie would likely be a spectator. Lucky for us the first point was solid with Annie and Whitney pinning the birds in. Even luckier two birds flushed, a hen and a rooster and both were shot. Annie bolted after the second bird and Whitney got the first so it worked out great.
As we continued hunting Annie was able to get a few more retrieves as Whitney was out of position or on another point. It was fun to watch the seasoned GSP work those pheasant and I believe Annie learned a bit from her. I was especially pleased that Annie behaved nicely and once even retrieved a bird to hand for one of the guests. Usually, she will only bring the birds to me. A big thanks to Wade and Russ at Rooster Valley for letting me and Annie get some more birds under our belts. We hope to get out on some wild chukar this week while the weather is still nice. Abby’s heat cycle should be finished by the weekend so I’ll be back to two hunting dogs instead of one.