The Photos will be after the story of our 2022 Traveling and Hunting Trip.
Summer Trip, 2022 Part 1. The summer heat of Arizona and Northern Calif. along with the rattlesnakes got the best of me, so a trip to cooler weather was in order. The hot weather was bring out the rattlesnakes and there just seemed no way for the dogs to get out and be happy. The last straw was when Douglas the puppy got bit by a rattlesnake. He lived but it was very stressful.
On August 12, one day after Kim's birthday Martha gave birth to two puppies, Donny and Marie. Donny is a black boy and Marie is a liver girl. Both pups had a hard time coming out, and had to be pulled out by me. However they are both big and very healthy, and growing like weeds.
Also the day before we were to leave we were to pick up another pup. This would be a Jackson daughter, a pick of the litter of the mating between Jackson and Gertie, one of our girls who was now owned by Megan. We would name the pup after Megan. Our pup Megan was a pretty liver ticked girl with a blaze. She proving to be quite tenacious, a real firecracker, who is bold and confident. We had to postpone the trip a week to let Megan reach the five week mark. I did not feel comfortable taking her any earlier. So Megan was 5 weeks and 1 day old when we headed out. She would be held most of the time by one of the girls or I during the trip.
The next day after a few days of hot weather and the hard work of packing and getting everything ready we were off on our trip. The trip would be to Port Angeles to pick up two Desert Point Rob pups, then a visit with relatives and then points west. Montana for an early bird season was in the works.
The first stop was in Sacramento to have lunch with Kim, and say our goodbyes before the girls and I headed future north. We decided to travel in the day instead of the cooler night for a more scenic drive. Even though it would be in the med 90s we were set up pretty good. We have four generators with us. The 3500 watt is at the back of the trailer on the spare tire which is mounted flat and can run the trailer's main air which will keep Martha and her 2 pups cool inside the trailer. The 2200 watt generator is at the front mounted above the batteries on the trailer, this generator can run either the main trailer's air or the dog box air, the 1500 watt generator is mounted on top of the dog box and runs the dog box air. There is also a 12 volt car radiator fan that puts out a lot of air in the dog box and that is wired up to either the truck via the trailer wiring, or the trailer solar battery.
The dog box is not exactly what I want, due to the many dogs. It's not bad, but I will be trying to improve on it, so stay tuned and see if I get it done.
The trip to Washington would consist of trying to find a place to let the dogs out, and staying cool. We would make it a two day trip with one overnight at the Love's Truck stop. Most Love's now seem to have a fenced in dog area, and water for the trailer and a place to park and sleep for the night. We did find a place for the dogs to swim and cool off each day. The first was in a water canal, which the girls thought was pretty fun to swim in too. The second was at a beautiful river in Washington that we all really loved.
We made it to Port Angeles on Monday the 15th, in the afternoon to pick up Perter and Jane, the two Rob pups. They were 9 weeks old. There was only one slight hiccup, and that was when the young owner wanted to charge me $350.00 for watching the two pups for a week. That was quickly rectified and the two pups were picked up. One pups was free because it was the pick of the litter and a gift. The second one we paid $1500.00 for. This was the most I had ever paid for a puppy. The pups were a little shy, and we would be working to improve that.
We would spend the night in the pines, and move on to new adventures.
The next day would find us at the Bremerton Dog Part and then to Kitsap Lake. We were then invited to stay at cousin Tina's. It proved to be a most wonderful stay. It was cool, and we had a great spot on the lawn in the shade under some big old trees.
We would end up spending a week at Tina's with her and her friend Wayne. We were able to visit a lot of family and one of the reasons for the trip was to visit aunt Florence which is my dads sister and one of the most wonderful people I have ever known. It was a wonderful visit and I was able to get some great photos, and video her telling a few stories. At 92 Aunt Florence is as sharp as a tack. It was nice that the girls got to visit so many family members and everyone was so nice to them. They loved Tina, Wayne, Marv, and Marlene above all. Another great thing for me was being able to re-organize the trailer. I had hurried the packing, as well as over packed before we left, and this would give me the needed days to get organized. The down side is the new T Mobile service would not get service so it was a little hard keeping up.
We were able to work with the dogs and pups everyday, and the girls did a great job. The girls loved the bay, swimming, jumping off the bridge, putty puzzles together with the adults, drawing with the jell pens, learning the guitar, and overall just being two young girls. The girls love being around adults and really love the ladies. They were very fond of Wayne, Scarlet more than Hailey, Wayne took them to church and spent time with them. Tina's dinners were the highlight of the day. Setting down to dinner and eating after a prayer.
I really want to get the dogs out of the dog box and we did look at a box van but we would not come to an agreement on price and trade in. We will keep looking. The dogs and pups are getting into a routine, and Peter and Jane are less shy, but still have a ways to go. Douglas and Megan are doing great. Megan is extremely bold and outgoing. The two 12 day old pups Donny and Marie are growing like weeds and have their eyes open. I weigh them and take a photo everyday.
We headed out on Tuesday the 23rd, late in the evening and drove until 10:30pm. The next day we were up at 5am and got the dogs out for a break. We would then stop in a huge wheat field and let them run, then a swim for them and the girls, another break to eat and drink, and one last break and stay for the night off Hwy 90 in Montana just west of Missoula. Here at the Love's station we would eat, clean, and I would catch this up and post on facebook, and look into where we would be going from here.
We had decided to head toward Great Falls in the evening, and made it within an hour or so before we decided to spend the night on the side of the road in a thunderstorm. This was on the evening of Aug. 24, 2022. I see very few people boondocking, I do however see a lot of full RV parks. I enjoy the evening overnights and must make it a point to do it earlier in the evening.
We get setup, and try and get the dogs out one last time. We then figure out something for dinner and often put on a movie. After checking on Martha and her two pups Donny and Marie I head to bed and for some reason I have all four pups with me. Douglas, Megan and Perter and Jane. There is often to much playing and getting off and on the bed to suit me, but I enjoy the pups.
We were up early and found a place to run the dogs, then on up to Great Falls. Shopping and ice cream for the girls and then over to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Then a stop at the Black Eagle Falls.
Later we would head out of town toward Lewistown. On the drive we would see state hunting areas and decided about 2 pm to stop for the evening at one. I did not pick the best one, but it was good enough. Hilly open grass land and we were up on a high spot.
I have been wanting to work on the younger dogs on their collar work. Miracle and Debra being the youngest were the wildest. It's not that I could not let them out on their own, but more that they often tended to run a little wild before recalling.
First we put out all the chains, then put the dogs out and put the collars on the young dogs. I let Bajenks, Sophie, and Ms. Charlie run big before putting them on the chain. Then we worked with Debra, Ruby, Miracle, and Sunshine. It started to rain so everyone was put up and we went in and ate an early dinner or late lunch.
We were parked on state land so everything was good, however the landowner and his wife the owners of the adjacent land stopped by for a visit. Like often happens the conversation got around to politics. I've had the conversation with so many others around the country and it goes something like this: They can't believe the state of the Country, they are outraged about the open border, Afghanistan, the price of fuel and everything else, men turning into woman so they can do female sports, the rioting around black lives matter, the sad state of the education system, etc.
The one thing that stood out in the conversation was something I thought about but never heard anyone talk about before and that involved the idea of things not needing changing in the first place, and that if it feels or seems wrong that it probably is.
Both Tammy and her husband let Scarlett and I know that the area was filled with rattlesnake. Oh joy, more rattlesnakes. You have got to be kidding me. The truth is I knew that much of Montana at the lower elevations had rattlesnakes. A few years ago when grandson Kane and I hunted the state he stepped on one. He was not bitten, and this was at a little higher elevation than I expected to see rattlesnakes. Also in some areas there is cactus.
The morning of the 26th found us checking out some areas hoping to find something we liked enough to stay awhile. All the while killing time for the weather to change in Arizona so I could get some real hunting in.
We went through Denton, onto Lewistown, and up to Crystal Lake. We seen a lot of deer and antelope, as well as some beautiful country. I was able to take some photos of what ever caught my eye.
I stopped at an excellent sporting goods store in Lewistown called the Sports Center. I was told of a pretty good bird hunting spot but was told it was full of rattlesnakes, so we skipped it. We decided to go up in the mountains to Crystal Lake and let the girls swim and have a look see.
The area had only one paid camping area, and for the most part the upper area was un appealing, and the lower area was all private land. So we found a spot for the night early to edit photos, catch up on this story, and come up with a new game plan.
On the 27th of August we stopped in the cafe at Winnett Montana and was asking about the bird hunting. The boys made it sound pretty bad for the bird hunting. No water, and a hail storm in July. I was pointed in the direction of a bird dog field trial however. So off we went to follow the orange flags that were put out to show the route.
Five miles or so of dirt road took us to the Joe King and Sons ranch. What a sight when we dropped down into the valley to see this wonderful ranch. We pulled up in the afternoon and parked alongside big pickup trucks, horse trailers, staked out dogs and horses.
We had pulled into a Brittney Club dogs trial, but I could also see setters, German Shorthairs, along with a few dozen Brittney's. But it seemed that the 3 day event was over in two days. However many were going to spend the night and work dogs in the morning. And what a fabulous place to do so.
We were invited to spend the night and watch the dogs in the morning. So we chained out our gang, and made the rounds. The girls went their own way not the least bit shy.
Next to us I would find out later was Tequila Kennels out of Texas. We had a nice conversation the next day. They had quite the set up, and had about 18 Brittneys with them. They were Pro Trainers, and had their training camp a few miles from Winnett where they trained their string before hitting the trialing circuit. Their set up was a pickup with a horse trailer where their horses and dogs were kept, and another pickup that pulled a beautiful and very big fifth wheel toy hauler. What a life, living and working with dogs and horses in the great outdoors.
The lady told me that she was living the dream, and had been doing this since she was 13 years old. She was living her dream of working with dogs and horses. I have to admit that I was a little envious.
There was a young couple also up from Texas that had their one Brittney, and they were very nice and came over and looked at our gang and the puppies.
I met Tom who had his Brittney, he was mostly a hunter and did the trials for fun. He came over the next day as he was pulling out. We had a nice visit talking about dogs, hunting birds, and maps and map apps. He shared with me that he believed that best bird hunting was in the North East part of the state, and that's where he would beheaded after doing some fishing and killing time until the 1st of September when the season opened. He said he would give me a call and we could meet up later.
It was interesting to watch the girls and see how they interacted with people, and how they handled things. Scarlett likes adults and gets along well with them, but given a chose she would rather hang out with kids. Hailey has a harder time with kids, she always has a harder time getting other kids to interact with her. This would be such the case.
Scarlett right off made a friend, an 8 year old girl who was quite cute. They played to beat the band. I am not sure how many grasshoppers they caught but they spent a lot of time chasing them around. They made a blanket fort, played with dolls, and were having a grand time, right up until the time they weren't. The girls mom came to find her, and it seemed that the Scarlett's new friend was told not to be in the trailer, strike 1, and Scarlett had put makeup on her, strike 2. Mom was not happy and I could see her giving the girl the what for all the way back to camp. Scarlett was pretty sad when they left and she was not able to say goodbye.
Hailey on the other hand spent her time going from camp to camp and visiting with the adults. I would find her walking with a lady while the lady was walking her dog, and the two of them having the best of a visit. Or she would be setting in a chair telling a story, or listening to other tell them. Scarlett did most of the camp work, while Hailey did most of the visiting.
After dinner I joined in with a group setting around talking, and I spotted to very very good looking shorthairs near a horse trailer. I would find out that they belonged to John Simmons from Placerville Ca. And the two females were from the North Mountain Kennels owned by Carol Chadwick also in California. One of the GSPs was a dual champion. We talked of dogs, trials and such. John was a Judge and went all over. An extremely likable big fella who I doubted many people argued with.
The most interesting conversation was one of the first ones I had. I will not mention names. A bird hunter and a dog handler who looked the part. Someone who hunted and traveled all over to both hunt and trial. The conversation revolved around Shorthairs because that's what we both had.
Now I know that people who field trial off horseback like big running dogs, and I understand that these type of dogs are needed to when. I also understand that many of such dogs have had English Pointer breed into them and many lines are heavy in Pointer.
I am not sure just how this man got started on the kind of Shorthairs he liked and the kind he did not like. But what was crystal clear was how open he was and how excepted this belief must be with the field trial shorthair owners.
I was given a viewpoint that I had not though of before. I had always thought that English Pointer was breed into the German Shorthair to make them bigger runners like the Pointer, and his is somewhat true. I could never understand why they did this cross instead of just getting a Pointer, but now I understand.
What this person said was that he likes white German Shorthairs which in the Shorthair field trial world means English Pointer. So why the Shorthair instead of the Pointer? Because the Shorthair puts into the Pointer the love and desire to please the owner that the Pointer does not have. That was the explanation I was given. They want a better English Pointer, clear and simple. The Pointer wants a ride to the hunting field and to be left alone to hunt. A Shorthair Pointer cross wants a ride to the field to hunt like a pointer but who also responds to the owner.
It seemed pretty clear that just enough GSP was wanted to make this work. This person said that Americans are bird hunters, and they want the American Shorthair, not the German DK type Shorthair. If I wanted a dog to chase a deer for miles I would get a German dog. Then he asked me if I had a German dog, and when I said yes, he asked me why? But the way he asked clearly showed the low self worth he placed in German dogs. I told him I liked their waterwork and drive the how well the German dogs cross with the American dogs. But I had to admit that I did not think some of the German dogs were very good pointing dogs. But I felt that the German Dogs Crossed with the field trial dogs that he liked improved both the German dog and the Field Trial dog.
I did tell him that when we bred Buck and Sophie two Germand Dks that the the dogs were excellent and that one of the bird guides loved his for wild Az. Quail. I was then asked if I hunted rabbits, like it was some kind of sin, and I guess for some it is. I said yes, and again I was asked why? I said because the dogs love it, and if you are going to hunt more than 300 days in the field than you are going to have to hunt rabbits.
Anyway I thought the conversation was interesting to say the least.
We would get packed up on Sunday the 28th and head to Petroleum Lake just outside of Winnett. Still hard to believe we are in a county that has a population of 500 people.
The lake was nice size, and we found an excellent campsite under the cottonwood trees. We chained the dogs and then let them run free. Most of the day was re-organizing and cleaning. Pups, girls and gang are doing very well.
Morning of the 29th finds the lake and area just coming alive. Two pelicans are on the lake. I watch two eagles in a tree as a third one comes in and dive bomb one screaming at it, and a fourth one is in another tree. Thinking about changing the name to Eagle Lake.
Breakfast and a zoom with Kim, and finished this up, and then working with the pups and gang. I weigh Martha's pups at 19 days, and they are at the 5 pound mark.
Scarlett has been doing some fishing which she loves.
8-30-22, Not the best of days, but it did end ok. First the weather reported to heat up each day, and today would be in the 90s, and in a few days it would be up to 100 degrees.
The problem actually started yesterday when we ran out of dog food at the end of the day. I had drove by Tractor Supply at Lewistown and for some reason I did not stop and supply up. So here we were on the 29th, low on supplies, and dog food. As well as the water in the lake was not as clean as I would like, and we found ourselves low on water for both us and the dogs.
So on the 29th we packed up and made the 61 mile trip back into Lewistown. We stayed in the parking lot of Tractor Supply and we all slept well.
On the morning of the 30th we did the shopping needed, got a hunting license, found water, and ran into our first snag. Tractor Supply was taking cash only, so we had to find a feed store.
We were back on the road and looking for a new camp. The problem with this many dogs and the girls who loved water, was that we needed water. Preferably clean, cool, running water. We wanted to get up in the Charles Russell National Wildlife Refuge, or at least head that way. And armed with the new maps and the Onx app. On the phone I thought I was ready. But after about 16 miles of dirt roads and a couple dead ends, along with some hot dogs in the dog box because generator kept popping the breaker I decided to head back to the lake we were at yesterday and wait out the heat wave.
There had been one area on the map that looked pretty good, was some state land that the Mussel Shell ran through. The problem however arose when we got there. The gate was locked, with a sign that said walk in area only, and no place to make camp.
So we back tracked back to Lake Petroleum.
Meanwhile back at the lake all is well. The girls and dogs have been to the lake a few times, we have the chains in the shade of the cottonwoods, and all is good. Now to spend some time advising a new plan.
August 31, finds me up at 5:30 Montana time, and I feel energized. It's a cool long sleeve morning, but by 9am I was wishing for my shorts, it would reach 100 today. The dogs are ready to go, as they are each morning. They are fed and watered and I put the collars on 9 of them. This would be our first real trip and the first time in a while that I get to walk somewhere.
I decided to keep it easy, and go around the lake. This really was almost perfect for the young dogs and pups. Easy walking on the beach most of the time, and water on the left and some cliffs on the right. This would not keep the dogs completely boxed in but would be a great start.
So off we went and 16 of the 18 Gang members would start out with us, even Dusty would start the outing, but she would turn around and head back to camp soon. Only Donny and Marie would not go, at 19 days old they were to young.
What a nice morning, this was going to be fun. It was Crystal clear when we got to the beach. There was an Eagle in the tree in front of us, and another one across the lake. The Gang was Jazzed, the younger dogs from Martha down to Douglas were running and playing a kind of tag in the water. They would go from the water to the edge of the cliff where they would do some hunting. The older dogs wanted nothing to to with the water yet, they were all about the likely game areas. So they went from the grass, checked under the trees, and headed to the top of the cliff to more grass areas, back down and looking under every log, rock, and crevasse.
This would be the first outing for the 4 puppies, Petter, Jane, Douglas and Megan. Megan being 8 weeks was at a good age to start these morning outing as long as I was careful. She would get tired and a little cold and I would pick her up and hold her until she wanted down, which was pretty quick.
Starting the pups on outings with the older dogs is extremely good for them and the way I have been doing it for a lot of years. Pups seldom roam very far, they do go out and explore a bit, and play with each other. The reason to take the pups out is to get them into the routine of going out. They can't help but use there nose and start their hunting career.
I love pups and watching them, and this morning was no different. At one point they got into hundreds of butterflies. It was super cute to watch them hunt and point them and then try and catch them.
Sophie and Bajenks found a skunk with I did not see, but the smell gave it away, and Bajenks had a cut on his head. Then there was Ms. Charlie who was doing her best to point some kind of sand piper bird. She would go out in the water and point, then try and creep up on them.
At one point we came upon four mule deer eating where the lake edge used to be. They saw us, but the dogs did not see them. They were about 300 yards away but did not run away. I turned to dogs around and we went back to camp.
I cooked some hotdogs and burgers for a late breakfast. The dogs rested for a while and we took them all down to the lake. The girls swam, I took dip then I hit the tennis ball in the water for quite awhile. It was enjoyable to watch a dozen dogs enjoying the water. We also got the 4 pups in the water. Petter and Doug seem to like the water best. Megan is a very good swimmer but still a little young.
Ryan Sparks the editor of Strung Magazine made camp just a bit away from us. A very nice young man with his English Pointer, here to meet up with a friend and do some hunting. I was given a copy of the magazine, which is a hunting magazine of the first class.
I then spent over an hour on the phone before sending the caller to Rashawn for a white dog. Richie Marendino is 76 and the most interesting of people. He has had both English Pointers and German Shorthairs for just over 50 years. Richie it seemed was quite the bird hunter at one time, because of his experience with both breeds over so many years, I had a lot of questions for him.
We talked of German lines, and American lines of Shorthairs, and show lines, and field trial lines of English Pointers. He was not a fan of the Elhew Pointers, and not a fan of his first German Shorthair which was a German import. He loved English Pointers and could go on about how loveable and wonderful they are. He talked so loving and enthusiastic about the Pointer, how graceful, and elegant they looked in the field.
He could not really explain anything that he liked about the German Shorthair over the English Pointer, but here he was wanting one. I did not have the white color he wanted so I sent him to both Rashawn and First Point Gun Dogs, but told him to call Rashawn first because I felt he would have the kind of dog that Richie wanted.
I got a call from Tom who I met at the field trial and he gave me the location of where he was in the North East Montana and said he was seeing a lot of birds and recommended that I head his way. I explained that I would have to wait until after this heatwave.
Around 1 pm, I found Bajenks on point near the pick nick table where we had breakfast. He looked pretty serious so I walked up to where he was pointing which was about 20 yards in front of him at a big old shade tree. I was pretty surprised when a sharp-tailed grouse flushed from the shade of the tree and landed over by Ryan's camp. I went over there and got a video of the bird. Ryan figured the bird was trying to escape the hundred degree weather.
Donny and Marie were getting a little hot in the trailer, as well as the girls so I started the generator and turned on the ac. I typed this and edited some photos. I also found out that Peter is a fly hunter and takes his job very serious.
Welcome to the first of September, 2022. It's a hot day, around 95 or so today, the same tomorrow, and 103 Saturday, and back down to around 95 each day until the weather breaks on the 7th. So we have decided to hunker down here by the lake for a while. All the dogs are in the trailer with us asleep tired from the Morning Outing.
So how was the Morning Outing you might ask? There is just something about the morning outings, they are so enjoyable and relaxing to me. I love watching the dogs, and especially the pups. The pups are so much fun to watch. You just never know what they are going to do. They really don't have their sea legs, they have no idea what they are doing, and most everything is instinctual. They also gain so much of their confidence from who ever they are on the outing with.
However I feel that outing are very important for pups, and almost always overlooked by new owners in the pup's training and development.
At first Megan did not really want to come with us, she was cold and just did not want to go. We had to carry her for a bit, and then she was fine. She is just 1 day short of her 8th week birthday. I was thinking she was eight weeks but that's not the case.
Pups are predictable however. Pups almost never venture far from the owner for two reasons, one is they are a pack animal and you are their leader, two is they are somewhat insecure and feel safe when people are close. These are the reasons to take pups out: To build the pups confidence, to get them to love outings, and love hunting, to learn from the older dogs, as well as learn for themselves. They will learn how to handle terrain, such as water, grass, sand, hills, and brush. They will also build muscle and endurance.
So what does a puppy actually do? If there is another pup the two will do a lot of playing with each other. If not they will try and play with the other dogs when the older dog checks in. Pups are very curious, and can't help but explore and this is the first step to hunting. They also can't help but explore anything they see or smell. Their sense of smell is a huge part of what drives them. So getting their memory bank full starting when they are young can't hurt. Another thing is like babies and young kids everything goes into their mouth. Also butterflies, grasshoppers, lizards, small birds or anything else that moves gets their attention. They will chase, and point like little big dogs, and it's amazingly fun to watch the development.
So with pups and big dogs on an outing it's very interesting, add to that the scenery, and wildlife and you have something that I can't really explain. My dad used to work on cars almost everyday and he loved it and I could not really understand it until these outings with the dogs. I figure that I have been on more than 5,000 such outings, and I never seen to get tired of them.
This morning was no exception, except that Scarlett wanted to go. The sunrise was beautiful, and Jane and Peter started with a game of fish keep away. Then one of the Eagles we have been seeing was in the usual place. However this one did not fly. We kept getting closer and it just stayed in the tree.
Even though it was the first day of hunting season I did not bring a shotgun, I did have a pistol with me. As we got closer to the Eagle I was thinking about the stories I have heard about Eagles catching small dogs. There is one thing that outing give you and that is time to think. I wondered if an Eagle did swoop down and try and kill a pup if I would shoot the Eagle. Well I will leave that one to you to think about, and decide what you would do.
The Eagle was beautiful, it would tilt his head and look at the dogs beneath it. At one point I found Martha standing there pointing the Eagle. And I thought wow, how many other hunters can say their dog pointed an Eagle, and to put the frosting on the cake I got some photos of it.
It had warmed up some by now and the pups were feeling pretty good, and they were doing their puppy magic. They were arguing over different finds, mostly dead old fish bones since we were by the lake. Then when we got to the sage brush where there was always a little of a magic feeling. Sage is where the birds and deer live, and it's just beautiful to me. Not only was it visibly beautiful, but the openness of the ground made watching the dogs that much more enjoyable.
We than found an old abandoned homestead, but because it was just over the fence we did not get to explore it.
Then we got to the area where all the deer were, both Mule deer and Whitetail does were busting out all over. At one point we were in a low area with tall greenery. The deer held tight and would have let us walk by without rising, but the dogs were to much for them and they had to bust out.
One sight that caught my eye was way up on the cliff, it was not at the top, but a little lower, and from around the edge of an embankment was a doe looking at us from the partial concealment of the cliff. Her curiosity got the better of her. Want to make a bet as to a whitetail or muledeer? Yes of coarse a muledeer, a whitetail would very seldom do that.
The cutest part was still to come. There was an area that was filled with butterflies. The puppies delighted in them. Not Megan so much but Douglas, and Perter and Jane. Douglas not so much as Peter and Jane. Watching perter and Jane was like watching a tiny episode of big dog bird hunting. It really was a complete little hunt. First they would pick out a butterfly and when it landed they would go on point. And much of the time it was excellent little points with a foot up and everything. Then they would creep up and try and get as close as they could. If the butterfly did not fly then the pups would pounce. If they did fly and the pups were close enough the pups would make a leap often in the air and try and catch it, like a big dog would on a pheasant rise. It really was very enjoyable.
From there it was back to camp, Scarlett did very well on the 3 hour outing. She had rubber boots with no socks. Seemed like a recipe for disaster to me, but it did not bother her in the least. She never complained, and seemed to really enjoy the Outing.
Later we would get the dogs to the water a couple of times, and the girls and I would go swimming as well. The dogs love chasing the tennis ball in the water.
Overall we are having a good time. Two groups of hunters are in camp, and one group got into both Sharp-tailed and Sage grouse, and the other nothing. The second group is a young male and female from New York, with shorthairs, a German blend, and a handsome young black and white male from the Man in Black line. Very nice couple here also to bowhunt Antelope, which there was one very close to camp this morning that they did not see.
For me, I'm in not hurry to get out and do any real hunting. We will be on the road hunting for maybe a month or two, and when it's cools off in Az. We will probably be there to hunt as well, so I will do some really hunting when I feel the dogs are ready and the weather cools off. Right now it's all about the pups, and after that it will be all about the Pups.
9-2-22 One never knows what may send them to the Emergency Room. But a moth is never at the top of anyone's list. However it was just that, a common moth that one finds flying around a light. On the moth's part I'm sure that the cause of death for him was just as odd.
I was having a very relaxing evening and was up an hour or so later than usual. A few folk with kids were in the camp next to me and the girls were having a fun time playing with them. I had turned on the outside lights and was enjoying the peaceful evening. It really was nice, I was facing the lake, the pups Peter and Jane were laying in my lap and I was reading a story in Strung magazine that our camp neighbor Ryan wrote when a moth flew into my left ear.
I tried to shake it out but it had went in to far. I tried a broken off piece of Qtip but probably pushed it in further. I was starting to get a little worried by this time. I did not know what it was at that time and thought it was one of the smaller hard shell bugs. The problem I was having was the buzzing and moving around in my ear which was quite freaky. Also I had no idea how far it could go inside my ear. I found the forceps used for the dogs after trashing around in the dog box. I was still unable to get the dang thing out of my ear. I went to the camp neighbor and he said he got it but it was still there.
I decided that I would have to make the hour drive into the Hospital in Lewistown Mt. This proved to stressful in two ways, the first one was that the bug was a live and was vibrating my ear which was quite disturbing. It was a little better when I figured out the bug probably could not go any deeper, and was not going to bite or sting me. But still I wished I would have killed it with some alcohol. I tried to kill it by putting my finger in my ear to shut off the oxygen. That did not work either and just made my arm sore. The second problem was that there were so many deer on the side of the road. I did see a couple of nice bucks.
I knew it could be worse, it could be the middle of winter with a lot of snow. The radio was on the Christian station as it often is, so I just drove. The hospital ER was pretty much empty, there were 3 people in charge. An older Lady Faye who was the receptionist, Paul the nurse, and a young female doctor who's name was Doc., I did not get her name for some reason.
I was a little concerned when they told me that sometimes they can not get it and if so they would have to send me to a specialist. Doc said she could see only the legs of the bug. She dripped lidocaine in my ear to kill the bug and numb it up some.
On her first attempt she grabbed the inside of my ear and pulled. Ouch! She had long forceps. On the 3rd attempt she pulled it out, which was an odd feeling. It was clearly a moth about as long as a dime. I was pretty happy. I got back to camp at 1:30 am, and sleep until 9am, only getting up once to get the dogs taken care of and the girls lined out in the morning.
The rest of the day was easy. No outing, and the girls played with the kids in camp, and road around on a kayak in the lake, and later some youturbe watching with one of the girls in camp. I took the dogs down to the lake and hit the tennis ball for them. They love that, I would hit it in either the deep part or skim it off the water in the shallow water. Douglas and I had our own routine. He love to retrieve but can't beat any of the older dogs, so I hit the ball hard for the older dogs and then hit the ball the other way for him. He retrieves very well out of the water and swims well.
Sept. 3, 2022. Today was like every other day, if you are camped by a lake in the middle of Montana with 18 dogs and two young granddaughters. It looks like it will be in the mid 90s, but not the 103 that was forecased.
Since my new dislike for moths I decided to take the pups moth hunting. This was really only an after thought after we got into the moth covered field. Just seems kind of funny to me when the pups hunt moths.
Great morning start around the lake. Today no dog would have on an e-collar, we would just head out on a walk about.
Very nice morning for a walk. It's such beautiful country. The usual water birds, the watching and sounds of geese, the other wildlife such as deer and antelope along with the natural beauty. Add to that the working, running, hunting, and playing of the Gang and you have yourself one grand morning.
Still no attempt at bagging any game, even though sharp-tailed grass are walking around and above camp I don't feel the time is right as yet. I did however change into a pair of my Danner hunting boots which is one step closer.
At the other end of the dam is where the dam deer live and this morning would not disappoint. A dozen or more muledeer does with a handful of bucks. One interesting doe had a side ways ear set, that was really odd to me, and along with the strange ear set she had a strong curiosity. She was found staring at us with two other does at the side of a bluff , and her sideways ears really looked odd. She watched us the whole time we were in the area, and on our way back when she could not see us she climbed to the very top of the bluff and watched us head back to camp. A lot of muledeer are shot because of their curiosity. They have a bad habit of of running or bounding away and instead to continuing to safety they stop and look back.
When we were a couple of hundred yards from camp there were 5 antelope in a drainage.
I got some good pictures and we had a good outing, and after the Morning Outing, the gang and I went for a short ride to look around about a mile out of camp. When we got back I stopped to visit with Jerry and Ryan who are a few campsites down. While we were talking we found a sharp-tailed grouse in the road just behind my truck. Jerry grabbed his Setter and long line to work him toward the bird. I grabbed my camera to get a few photos. I believe this group of grouse have been coming to the lake for water a couple of times a day. If they are still around after everyone leaves I will try and work the young dogs with them.
The girls are having a lot of fun with the kids that are camping around us.
September 4, 2022, Up early and a 4 hour Morning Outing. The amount of wild life in the area is amazing to me, and I'm getting some good photos and videos. I had to pull out the Canon Vixia video camera to get some close ups. Nice Antelope, whitetail, and Muledeer bucks, Hungarian Partridge, Sage and Sharptail grouse, Eagles, lots of water fowl, pigeons on the cliffs, rabbits, etc.
The outing was a little longer than I wanted, Jackson seemed to misplace us twice and when he does he howls like a baby, and after the first time he just waited by the water like he knew we were going to return that way. Megan did great, but wanted to be back at camp, so when we were about 400 yards out and she knew where camp was she ran back to camp in front of everyone. I found her asleep when we got back. I would hold her on the outing when she got tired, but she always wanted down.
Not much really to tell. We took the same route, and seen the same game for the most part. I did hear a pheasant but the dogs did not get it up. I did see 6 muledeer bucks, and 1 antelope. Two of the bucks were very nice. The dogs got up 1 rabbit, which I thought there would be more of. All the young dogs down to the puppies did great. Meaning the young dogs worked the huge fields well, and kept track of where I was and never had to be called for. Bajenks was seen on top off a bunch of cliffs.
The last couple of nights I have been driving a few miles from camp to get even more photos of bucks and other wildlife.
The girls are being pretty good. They have other friends here in camp. Their
attitudes could use some improvement, a little entitled. Hailey more than Scarlett.
September 6, 2022. The long weekend is over and the Memorial Day crowd is gone and all that is left is hunters. Our bird/antelope hunters are gone; however Ryan and Jerry are still here. They are doing great on most of their hunts and are having a great time. They did go into Lewistown for a shower and regular bed, and to do some hunting in that area.
They were back the next day with news that Lewistown was not to their liking, they have become somewhat attached to this area, learning the lay of the land. Also they were unable to find anything like this camp we are in. They too are waiting for the weather to break to the colder side. Having only one dog a piece they don't want to over do it so they go out in the morning for a few hours. They have had pretty good luck so far getting into birds most days. I check in with them each day to see how their hunt went, and how their dogs have done. I share any info that I may have as well. They are two very nice young men for sure.
Meanwhile back at our camp it's pretty simple really. A three to four hour Morning Outing most mornings, work around camp, get the girls going on some school work. Today is their official first day of school in their “My Academy” online school program, and already Hailey is behind.
The weather was not suppose to break until Thrusday, but today was only 85, not the 95 predicted.
The gang is lining out very well. I feel a little lost not having my older dogs. Having them for so many years and hunting with them for so many years, I feel I have lost my A team. Jack, Lady, Dolly, Fancy, and Bonnie to name a few. I really only have Ms. Charlie to bridge the gap. She is so much like her mom and dad, Lady and Jack. Bajenks is pretty good, but I never worked on refining him like I did the others, Jackson and Tracy as well. They have the time in the field and love to hunt, and they keep track of me well but I simple have not shot enough game over them.
So now it's feels so much like starting over. All these really young dogs and puppies, they are all so young and inexperienced, Ruby Jane, Miracle, Sunshine, Debra, and the even younger ones who are really pups, Douglas, Peter, Jane and Megan. They have only begun going on outings and very seldom do they leave my side. When we look at Donny and Marie who are 3 weeks old and still in their whelping box.
So for us it's not really hunting time, I mean the Outings are hunting, but not in an area that has birds, and not in a more controlled manner. It's close for some of the older dogs but most are at the early age of pointing or just busting. I will say that the younger ones are all pointing well. It's not the easiest way to try and do it all with wild birds, it would be faster to used some pigeons and quail in some cases, but it's never been the way I've done it in the past. We will get there, and by the time we get back to Az. In a couple of months we should have made some major progress with some of the dogs.
You probably want to hear about something else that is more interesting like what is camping and traveling really about, and I don't blame you.
The girls and I have been living and traveling in this trailer for over a year now with the dogs. We were camped you might say in California for many months, but it was really no more than that.
It's not the hardest way to live by any means. We have had a lot of fun and adventures as well. The girls have really been able to see and do a lot. The dogs do not make it easy at times, and the challenge to take good care of them is always there. We simply are not set up the best, and even when we have a better setup like we did in Cali with land, fenced in area, water, and an extra trailer for the dogs, and friends and family there are challenges. There are either to much rain and water, or it's to hot and dry. To many rattlesnakes and or no good areas for the Outings.
We do not really have the right rig setup either. When we had the toy hauler it was to big and heavy and our pickup did not pull it well and it overheated when it was hot. The trailer we have now is light enough and the pickup big enough, but not a good place setup for the dogs.
The dog box on the pickup is really to small and hard to keep cool when it's really hot. There is also no contact with the dogs while we are traveling. When we had the bus it was nice, but that bus was under powered, and there is always a problem of the vehicle towed behind the bus not being big enough for the dogs after we are camped. There is always something, and I guess nothing is perfect.
I was thinking of a motor home with a garage or a bus with a back area for the dogs. The other option would be a box van that could pull the trailer, and be big enough for the dogs to have a good living area. Something where the girls or Kim could move from the front to the back while we are driving, maybe with some bunks or something.
What other challenges? Well there never seems to be enough money, Kim and I are split, me with the girls and her with her dad. While on the road there always seems to be a huge amount of food in the cupboards, but always the need to stop and get food. There is never enough ice, and why at this time with plenty of solar and batteries we don't have a 12 volt freeze and fridge is beyond me, or at least a 12 volt ice chest.
Water is also a huge deal with so many dogs, we go through so many gallons of water, and are always on the search for it. Here we get it at the lake and at the Winnett store's outside faucet, thanks to the owner Leonard.
Campsites, or overnight sleeping areas can be a challenge at times, since we never use RV parks, and we always boon dock.
Also finding a place to run the dogs, even for a few minutes. We use Loves truck stops a lot because they have water, dump station, fuel, and a dog park at many locations. City dog parks, open area behind gas stations or stores. There are a supersizing amount of area fields just off the highways and I have learned to spot them early enough to get over to them.
Phone service and wifi can be a bit tricky at times. We have been lucky even though in Washington State I had a little problem. Tire in the past have been trouble. We have had a lot of flats, the hot roads in Arizona can be tuff on tires. I see that some of ours now are getting past their prime.
Another tuff thing is being away from family and friends. You always have this yearning to be close to them, but to often even when you are there you really never get to see them like you hoped too because everyone is busy.
So there you have it in a nutshell!
September 7, 2022. Scarlett went on the Morning Outing with her blue dress and rubber boots with no socks. She sure is a talker. At one point I ask her to stop talking and then I told her to listen. Here that I ask? That the sound of peaceful. She said I don't like that. Either does any other woman I told her. Then Jackson came back with his paw up and Scarlett looked at it, and Scarlett told me it must have been something like a rope burn. Five of the dogs had tracking collars and Scarlett really liked looking at the tracking controller and giving me updates ever 5 seconds. I don't know how many times she told me that a certain dog was on point.
Later when she went into Winnett with me to get some items, I asked her who she thought was going to be prettier, her or her sister Hailey? You have to realize how quick witted she really is. She said, “I don't know, but you should ask who is going to have the first boyfriend.” I am she said, “Hailey is Sassy, Mean, Bossy, and a Drama Queen, what boy would want that?”
Scarlett is really something. I asked who she would want to live with if I died? She said that she would want to go to heaven and live with me. Awh, cutest thing ever. I then ask who she would want to live with if something happened to grandma? Now you have to realize that the girls worship Grandma Kim. Scarlett said she would want to live with with Krystal because she is just like, and she paused. I thought she was going to say Kim. I asked her who Krystal was just like. Scarlett said, You, but a little more sassy. That made me laugh.
I forgot to say that Tracy came back yesterday with about 10 porcupine quills in her shoulder. None in her mouth. I heard one bark, and then her and Bajenks came out. Tracy is the daughter of Sophie.
Why I feel that the outings are so beneficial for the young dogs and pups. I was thinking about it on the outing today. There are a lot of reasons for them to be on the outings and very few reasons for them not to be on the outings.
The dogs starting when they are pups love the outings and pretty much seem to be addicted to them. They simple love to run, hunt and explore. They love to play with each other when they are young, they are often found perfecting their stock and pounce on each other. It also bonds the pack to each other, and me as the pack leader. As far as real hunting skills are concerned, they are out there in real life hunting areas, finding and dealing with what ever is out there. It's a matter of trial and error, or trial and success. They start off with bugs, butterflies and such. They hunt them down and try and catch them. They point, stock, and pounce. Then onto tweedy birds which they learn they can't catch and later will leave them alone, knowing they are not really worth their attention. They also learn that since this is done often there is no need, want, or desire to run off. In fact they learn to pattern their hunt around me, always knowing where I am, and often checking in.
Then later they realize you are the one that brings the game they find to ground, and that is also a special bond. They learn about the plants, bushes, trees, grass, cactus and everything else that's out there and how it fits in with them. They learn where game is most likely to be and hunt more in those areas. Always checking likely spots. They learn the patterns of game, before and after it's flushed. They learn pretty fast that they can rely on you if they get into trouble. A wild animal after their butt and it's back to you. They get hurt and it's back to you. They rely on you for love and confidence while in the field.
Each outing makes them bolder and more confident in themselves and in you as their leader. They learn they can't catch birds and they start pointing instead of busting. They also learn if game is shot then they get to go get it which is exciting to them. Sometimes it's a simple retrieve of a dead animal or bird, but sometimes it's a battle which they really love. A rabbit or such that is only wounded, or a bird that has fight or flight left in them. It's exciting to a dog, just pick up the keys or gun. Grab the e-collar if it's used on outings and watch the energy from the dogs. They simply love it.
It's why hunting man, and hunting dog form such a strong bond. It often transcends understanding. When you become one as a hunting team the magic begins. That's why a German Shorthair is the best kind of dog, because you hunt so much together and they have a bigger menu.
Let's look at it from another way. I have had dogs that never got to hunt in the wild or wild birds. They were trained on bobwhite quail. If you looked at them in a field hunting planted bobwhite quail you would think they were the most wonderful of hunting dogs. I would take these dogs back to Arizona and let them hunt with the pack. Often they would not bond with the pack and pretty much went their own way. That was not their real problem, their real problem was making a transition over to Gambel quail, that were not in a field. I wound often hunt them almost everyday, and a year later they still would not of found and pointed a quail. If I had started that same dog as a pup with the pack it would have been a different ball game.
If one can start the pup where there are dove and shoot some dove for them to retrieve so much the better. Then take that same dove and hide it and have them hunt dead. All the while getting them out on Outings and shoot some wild quail for them and pluck some feathers and let them fall down to the excited pup, and then toss the quail for them to go get.
If you want while the pups are young and cannot catch a planted bobwhite, you can hide the quail in the weeds or brush and let the pup flush and chase you will really bring out the hunting desire.
All the while don't forget the water. Get the pup to love the water and when old enough you want to release some ducks for them to chase all the better. There will be time for training, but if you have the right dog, and you get him or her into the right birds, no formal training will be needed.
Jack, Dolly, Lady, Fancy, Jill, Bella, Bonnie and many others had no formal training, and had never been worked on planted birds. They were simply hunted everyday on what ever they could find and what ever I could shoot. From fox, dove, rabbits, ducks and quail. What ever they found, and what ever I shot. They all had excellent recall, but they were never taught to stay or whoa. It might of helped but I simply found I did not need it. Later some of these very dogs were called upon when I was asked to guide hunters at a hunt club. All that was needed was the tone on their collar and an occasional stimulation. They found birds, and pointed them, held the point until the bird was flushed, and retrieved the birds after the shot. That's what good genetics along with time in the field on wild game will do.
I said all that to try and get you to understand why I get pups and young dogs out on Morning Outings. And when it's colder there is often Morning, Noon, and evening outings.
I want to give each and every dog the opportunity to be all it can be. And I'm only looking for, a natural point, back, retrieve, love of water, working with me, and finding game, and wonderful disposition. How hard can it be?
It's hot today here in Montana, touching on a hundred.
September 8, 9, 2022. The weather has been quite a bit cooler with some rain. I have been moving each day closer to doing some real hunting; however I don't want to get to far ahead of myself. One real concern remains gun shyness. We are building a bold confident gun dog, or hunting dog. Each step like a foundation has been carefully laid, brick by brick.
Everything has been set carefully with the exception of gun fire. The younger and older dogs are fine, and need but some refreshing. The pups being pups need a slow careful introduction. This being done most often one shot at a time with nothing more that a shotgun primer, loaded into a shotgun casing with no powder, wad or shot. This however was overlooked in the packing. I will instead start with a cap gun, which I should have already done. I will pick up a cap gun this weekend when we go into Lewistown for Scarlett's birthday on the 11th. Yes Sept. 11. She will be 10 years old.
Each day has been in design to forge young inexperienced dogs and pups into confident hunting dogs that not only hunt, but hunt as a team member. The steps are simple, first to start the pup by giving it a lot of love, and spending as much time with it as you can, doing as much diverse activities as possible. Getting the pup out in the field and letting them be pups having fun exploring. Then shooting around the pup starting with one shot at a time when the pups is distracted, preferably with a cap gun and moving up. A good start will have you way ahead of the game.
So yesterday and today we took the dogs first to an open field, and the next day in a sage field area, this was away from camp. We did get up some grouse but there were no points that I saw, and I did not shoot at any. Dux went back to the truck after hunting a good deal, not sure why. But all the other dogs did good. The pups are coming along very well, and love the Outings.
September 10, 2022. The Morning Outing was back to where we were yesterday, south of Winnett Montana. I put one tracking collar on Debra and she did just shy of 15 miles while I walked almost 4 mile. Just after we got into the sage I saw 2 elk. I did not think there were any down in this area. Then Bajenks and Tracy killed a skunk and the whole gang acted as if that was the greatest thing ever. Many of them wanted to role on it and where it was killed.
I wanted to walk down into the valley where a stream was. This proved to have no water, but a porcupine. So I ended up pulling quills out of Sunshine, Bajenks, and Tracy. They had just a few in the front of their mouth.
I made a big loop and started up a drainage ravine that was grassy. We then found a dam and a water hole that had a little water in it. The gang was happy to get a drink. I decided to make a circle around the area starting on top.
I could not get to the top before the dogs and was worried that the dogs would flush some birds before I got there. Just to many Gang members not to do so. The wind was blowing pretty good down the ravine while I was walking up.
Five Hungarian partridge, or Huns as the hunters call them flew directly over my head at mach 2, I mean they were really moving. They were going so fast that I could neither get the gun nor camera up. When I did top the ravine to the upper flat area I missed what happened. What I did find was 8 Sharptail grouse flying with the wind headed the same way the Huns did. I could either snap some photos or shoot at some birds. I chose to shoot, it would do the dogs and pups some good to see what we were there for.
I was shooting a Beretta 390 auto, with #6 shot. The first one took two shoots to bring down, they were moving pretty good with the tail wind they had. I pulled through with about a foot lead and bird number 2 went down. The dogs were in action. I wish I would have seen what happened before the flush. I walked by the close bird to get to the furthest one which was a good 75 yards down the ravine.
Normally either Tracy or Bajenks are good retrievers with a soft mouth, but there they were arguing over the grouse, and had it tore open. This did not set well with me and they both got my 2 cents worth well before I got there. When I walked back up to the second bird there was quite a show going on. Puppy Jane had found the grouse and was keeping all the bigger dogs and othe puppies away from it by growling and snapping at them to keep them away. She figured it was hers, all hers.
I was hoping that maybe one or two grouse might still be back up on top. This proved to be true, and Bajenks did find and point 2 more but they flush in front of him, to far a shot for me. Our loop brought us back past the dead skunk and Jane wanted to bring it back to the truck, and there she was dragging it.
Water for the Gang back at the truck, and a stop at the Winnett store, then some gas, and back to camp. I picked up a cap pistol to work with the puppies.
Meanwhile back at camp I cleaned the birds and cooked them with onions and bacon and we ate some for an early dinner. It was pretty good, and I cooked it long enough to make even the legs tender.
It's quite the area to get good sunrise and sunset photos and well as wildlife.
Sept. 12, 2022. Everyday is an Adventure. Well we have found one area where the bird hunting is pretty darn good. The Gang and I have a learning curve, but we are catching up. The Dogs are coming along very well. As good as can be expected or maybe even a little better. From the pups on up.
The pups are loving the outing, and are always in contact with me. They never get to far away so they never get lost. It's supersizing that pups don't run off on their own exploring, but they never do. Douglas is at the age where he both runs out with the older dogs, but most of the time still stays close to me and the younger pups.
Even Dux is doing better. He has hunted with the pack the last two days and has not went back to the truck early. He really uses his nose, He sounds like a vacuum cleaner. He hunts out well and checks back often.
The younger dogs are doing great, they hunt out, explore, cover ground well, and check in and have never gotten lost. I am well pleased overall. It's much more than just what they do in the field though that is important. It's also their overall attitude the rest of the time.
Overall they are a pleasure to be around. They are getting along great, they do well in camp, on or off the chain. They come when called, and load up in the truck when requested. They are good in the trailer when invited. They all treat the younger pups with care and kindness.
If we go down to the beach for a game of fetch with the tennis ball they are all involved. They love the game of fetch, even Douglas loves it. In or out of the water they are all about the ball.
They are not as good as the old pack, either hunting, traveling, or interacting with with people, or even how well they mind. The old pack was simply fantastic; however this new younger pack is coming along so very well. But they do have a ways to go. Dux is probably the worst of the Gang. Since he is an invited Gang member, and we did not raise him, and he is not our lines. He can be testy with the other males, and bossy in the dog box. He barks on the chain. But overall he minds well.
So we have gotten into Huns, Sharptail grouse and Sage grouse and there are plenty of dove if one so chooses.
Not even sure with all the thousands of acres of public land to hunt on why I picked this area. At first it was simply for the open wheat cut fields. I need a first place to hunt the dogs with a gun and away from the lake. Somewhere the dogs would not get lost but where they could open up, and also roam into the sage field where we would be going.
I guess I returned because it was the least likely place not to get lost, surrounded by two open fields. I probably did not need to take that precaution but it's what I did.
From there it seemed to make since to just explore further in the same area, at least they had an idea where the truck was, and this worked out fine for Dux.
It was such a beautiful area, high sage ground, surrounded on two sides by cut fields, and a huge valley with a creek going through it on the south side. Even though it was not to far off the road, and there are a lot of hunters in the area I saw no hunters in either the BLM sage area, or the state land sage area beyond where I was, or down in the valley.
Today's Outing was pretty good. Covered a lot of beautiful land, got up plenty of game, saw the dogs doing what they loved, made some nice shots, and met some new friends. Overall pretty nice, would have liked to see some better dog work, and hopefully since that is what we are working toward, that is what we will see later.
Up early for the 27 mile drive to the hunting area. I don't see the reason to leave as early as the others that are in camp or have been in camp. I mean they are birds, where are they going to go. Let them get up and get to moving around. Got to the hunting area about 7am. I don't see the point in parking up at the main road, so took the farmers road down to where the sage field starts.
When I pulled up to where I had been parking, there were a covey of Sharptail grouse, if a group of grouse are called a covey? They flushed out into the open field.
I let the dogs out and did a hook pattern around them, and let the dogs work into them, hoping they did not chase the antelope in the field to far. I knew it would be almost impossible to get a shot at them in the open field unless the dogs happen to flush something back to me. The main body of the grouse flushed back into the sage area where I would be headed anyway. But one lone grouse decided to come my way, or at least somewhat my way.
I have an improved modified choke, and I'm using high brass Winchester shells with #6 shot. I have been shooting very well and when the grouse flew by a little to far I took the shot. It was a hard hit, and the feather flew off the grouse, and I heard the shot hit feathers. The grouse continued straight and dropped into a ravine. I marked the area and decided to let the grouse die if it was going to and come back later.
Every hunter wants to make a clean shot, and we all want to recover the game. I don't really like taking the long shots, we all want the close flush off a nice point. I made a mental note not to take that long a shot, and to come back after the morning outing to see if I could find this bird.
Hunting the singles after the dogs flush is something that all dog hunters do. It's a chance to see some nice dog work. This however was not going to be the case. I hunted into the area and the dogs flushed two up ahead of me. The sage was to high and the landscape to difficult to really see what the dogs were doing. Most young dogs don't hold points well. I just wanted them to get out and hunt, and understand that we were hunting birds. I need a drone.
We worked our way along the ridge, overlooking the valley. When a large cotton tail rabbit got up. At that moment I have to decide to try the shot with the gun or the camera. It is something that just happens, I don't really think about it. Most often it's the camera, but this time it was the shotgun that came up. I wish it was the camera. A few dogs are hot on it's tail and there is no shot. Bajenks sees what is going on and the rabbit is going straight at him. It would have made a great shot with the camera. The rabbit sees Bajenks an instant before Bajenks is going to eat him, and dodges to his right, and Bajenks does his best to snatch up the bunny but misses it by no more than a foot. Sure would have made an exciting photo.
The chase goes on for another 30 seconds or so, and we drop down a little lower. I see deer running a far ways off. Another fence, and it's getting hot. I take off the long sleeve shirt and we continue on. I know we are getting to the area below the dam, but I'm not quite sure where it is. The dogs tell me that something is ahead or was, but I don't know if it's just an animal that was here or what.
We are in the valley at lowest end of the ravine that leads up to the dam. The first grouse flushed up, and I don't have the slightest idea of what dog did what. It's like all the dogs were there and all the dogs knew that birds were there, and all the dogs were trying to catch one. I don't have the slightest idea if anyone pointed, or who did what. This was a very green grassy area or those high really green bushes that I would later take a photo of.
The reason I don't know is I failed to take note after the action happened. But this time there would be no far off flushes. This time everything happened just yards in front of me. A grouse flushed to my right and then another to my left. I swung the gun hard to my right and never felt the gun fire, and there was no recoil. The grouse folded, and I had to now swing back twice as hard to hit the one on the left that was getting away. The first shot was to far ahead and the shot did not connect. I swung back through with less lead this time and the grouse went down. Ruby Jane was the first dog there and she picked it up and started back to me with the retrieve.
Other birds were flushing, but I had shot my 3 shells. I did not feel any more birds needed to be taken from this covey. It was never about the bird count. I wanted to get the Gang into birds and that is what we did. They now would be looking and hunting for birds.
We headed up to the small amount of water at the dam, and I could not help but notice all the dove. This would be a great spot for dove, I marked it away, and thought how fun it would be with Ms. Charlie and Douglas.
Everyone including the pups had a chance to get a drink, and most of them needed it. Back toward the truck, and we would see if there were any birds back on top in the sage. I am always checking on the pups, always looking to see where Megan is. What a trooper she is, she is always close by, most often following right behind me. Peter and Jane were always somewhere close.
As a matter of fact all the dogs were doing exceptionally well. Jackson was covering a lot of ground but like the others checked in often. Dux was having his best day as well. Dux had shown some gun shyness at the ranch, but I never got to see how he reacted to the shots while hunting. He never ran off and was always there after the action.
There is a lot of cactus, the low to the ground, mostly harmless stuff. At one point Tracy came back to me with her paw up. You have to realize just how smart Tracy is. When we are playing catch with the tennis ball and racket she is very competitive. I will usually play with two balls and she knows I will not hit the ball until they are both returned. Dux however gets the ball from time to time and he just wants to play with it. Often getting a ball from a male or bigger dog is not easy. When Tracy sees that I'm not going to hit the ball she looks around and sees Dux and runs over and takes it from him and brings it to me. You can just see her thinking. She is out of Jack and Sophie.
So she comes back with her paw up, and I find it full of cactus thorns. Most dogs don't like you fooling with their feet and hate to have cactus or quills pulled out of the them. Not her that's what she came back for. She just stood there and let me pull everyone of them out. Not so much as a flinch. After they were out, she just stood there with her paw up and let me rub it until I was done and then she went on about her way.
We continued to the top where we got into taller sage. I had heard that grouse don't like the taller or thicker sage, and while in it we did not see any. We crossed the fence out of the Montana State land into the BLM land. Often crossing a fence means me going under and the pups attacking me.
While walking in the shorter sage I noticed the dogs were getting tired and staying pretty close. It was getting hotter and the wind was up blowing from my left to my right. The wind was also blowing bits of grass etc. in my eyes from time to time. The dogs were working on my left side taking advantage of the wind. Then a lone grouse got up and road the wind out in front of me. My gun came up but I'd leaned my lesson, it was just a tad to far.
But where there was one, there would be more. So I headed to my left and encouraged the dogs to work the area, and sure enough more birds got up. I fired one shot and young Debra made a short retrieve before dropping the bird. I gave her praise and noticed I had shot my first sage hen. The truck was a welcome site, as we had been out for 4 hours.
Back at the truck I poured water from the 5 gallon blue jug into the large bowl and everyone drank deeply. After everyone had drank their fill, I noticed two hunters coming from the opposite way. They had been walking the edge of the cut wheat and had shot a couple of Huns. They had a German Wirehair and a Wirehaired Griffon. I had recognized them from a short stop they had made at the lake the day before.
We chatted as hunters will do. Two very nice men for sure. They asked to set on the tail gate while I drove back to the road. Sure thing I said. Back at the main road they had a friend waiting for them. Scott, Scott and David were their names and they were from Idaho. David had a English Setter. We chatted, and Scott showed me a deer horn he found, and I showed him, and gave him the twin deer horn that Douglas found. They would be headed east in the morning to Browning. Scott gave me the two Huns that he had shot and told me not to over cook them. We shared other information and promised to meet up again some day.
I drove back to the ravine where the first grouse fell, the dogs were rested and we did a pretty good search of the area, but came up with nothing. I sure longed for Dolly, Jack or Lady at times like these.
The girls wanted French Toast so I stopped at the store in Winnett and got some cinnamon, vanilla, and chocolate chips, and filled up the water jugs. This little store proved to be a life saver for sure.
Meanwhile back at camp, we made French Toast and eggs, I cleaned the birds, and took a swim in the very cold lake.
At one point Hailey ask me what I had did with the birds and said Douglas had one, then she took it and Douglas went and found another one. I figured he stole them from the hunters next door. They looked whole until I noticed they had been breasted. This is when the breast meat is cut out, and the birds remains pretty much whole. I guess they had tossed the rest out in the field and Douglas found them.
September 13, 2022. Up early with the girls. Gave the Gang a needed rest and romp around camp, and a trip down to the beach. The girls however are a different story. They wanted to wait until this morning to clean the house. They were up at 6am and that's when the fun started. First they wanted to know why they were woke up so early. 5 minutes to 6 means 5 for them. I had already got the dogs out and fed and watered and they were just hanging around camp.
There was no teamwork what so ever in the cleaning. They wanted to move things around and say they were done. They argued and fought like cats. I guess that's what cats do. Hailey had the worst of attitudes. I was watching them through the window because of their fussing. Hailey was to far out of line, and rudely pushed Ms. Charlie out of the way. So enough was enough! Hailey was banished to the outside to clean up there. Scarlett was to finish the house.
Hailey did some half azz work, and then said when she was 18 she was out of here. Ok, I said, but remember our last talk about that. If you move out you are still going to have to work. If you live with someone, you are still going to have to work and help them out. If you start a business you are going to work harder and you will have to have someone to work with you. Do you want to hire someone to work who is like you? She said no!
I cooked the birds for breakfast with Bisquick, salt and pepper, cooked in Avocado oil. The girls, said it was good. Scarlett really liked it. I think the grouse and Huns were excellent, and are better than pheasant. The legs are a lot more tender. For lunch Scarlet made Bacon sandwiches cooking on the Blackstone. She did a wonderful job.
Hailey was to remain outside and do her homework, also Scarlett was told to do hers outside as well. The “My Academy” school program breaks down how much work is needed each day to finish at the right time next year. Grandma Kim can check their work on her end. They also do their writing in both print and cursive, as well as spelling words, also their workbook and then educational Youtube. Breaks for playing, riding, working with the dogs and swimming.
While they were working on their homework I wrote the development of the Shorthair in America.
Douglas is a bird retrieving machine.
German Shorthairs come to America. The date is 1925, and the first documented litter was born on the forth of July. How cool is that. They were born on a Ranch in Missoula Montana which is 337 miles away from where I am hunting birds right now with German Shorthairs at Petrolia Lake, near Winnett Montana. How fitting that I write this here in Dr. Thornton's home state.
The story goes that Dr. Thornton was reading in a sporting magazine about the German Shorthairs and how incredible they were. He turned to his wife and told her that he had to have them and that the amount of money did not matter. I will get the exact quote latter.
Dr. Thornton corresponded with a breeder in Austria and before long had a female that had been bred there and sent over. In 1925 that was not an easy task, first a long ship ride, and then a long train ride.
The sire of the litter was a solid liver dog, and the mother Senta v. Hohenbruch was a large white ticked female. Senta was registered in the Field Dog Stub Book with the numbers 125225. Dr. Charles Thornton was so pleased with the hunting ability of both the mother and offspring that he imported at least a dozen more GSPs from Austria and Germany. Five of these being pregnant bitches.
The first 7 pups were registered with the suffix “of Everyuse”. Dr. Thornton exclaimed the virtues of the breed, and explains the name Everyuse. He was so enamored with with his Shorthairs that he got rid of his Setters.
The first two show titles were awarded to Dr Thornton's breeding, “Becky v. Hohenbruck” and “Baron v.d. Brickwedde”.
Dr. Thornton used the Shorthairs for every type of hunting. From pheasants and ducks to treeing what ever. He said that the dogs were wonderful duck dogs right up to the time the rivers froze over, and the way they handled pheasants showed a remarkable intelligence. He hunted them also in a pack, and the photo I saw was where they had something treed like hounddogs. Dr. Thornton also raved about how wonderful a ranch dog they were, and once again how smart they were. He told of how one of his dog saved the ranch hand from a big bull.
The versatile hunting dog got a good start in America at the hand of a versatile hunter.
Dr. Thornton was responsible also for getting the AKC to adopt the breed. However this would cause the breed some problems in the future. It seems that when a breed classification was needed by AKC that Dr. Thornton choose Pointer Retriever. Since this classification as well as Versatile hunting dog, or Gun Dog did not exist he was forced to pick either Pointer or Retriever.
As you might guess, either pick would cause problems down the road. If he picked Pointer then the type would be set and the dogs would stuck with the stigma of a pointing dog, and have to compete with other pointing dogs. If a Retriever was chosen then the same problems would arise later down the road.
England was faced with a similar dilemma, but they ended up forming a new classification of Gun Dogs which salved the problem.
Dr. Thornton choose Pointer and the cast was set. The problems would not show itself for many years, but they were headed our way.
It was the working abilities of the breed that interested breeders. They wanted versatile hunting dogs. If they had wanted pointers they would have chosen the already well established breeds of Pointers and Setters that were already out there.
One such breeder of early dogs was Joseph Burkhart, a ex German gamekeeper.
There is little doubt that some of the best Shorthairs were imported into the United States. The list is extremely long but to name a few, Adam who would sire the number one sire of show dogs Adam v. Fuehrerheim. The Schwarenberg line which produced our first Dual Champion Rusty, a solid liver dog.
The early kennels and their lines are exhausting, and often become a long list of names of dogs and people that only the most dedicated researcher could comprehend. This is an overview and I'll not subject the readers to such a long history. For such information there are books out there and the foremost being Georgina Byrne's book the “Der Deutsch Kurzhaar, The German Shorthaired Pointrer”. How she was able to compile the information is beyond me.
But what I will try and do is give an overview of the progression of the breed in America.
So one sees what the breed consisted of when it got to America, especially if you read what I wrote of the early German development of the breed.
I will do my best to tie in some dates and information that shows the progression of the breed. In 1938 the Parent Club was formed, and the Club was the first to provide a field trial for the breed.
The Breed Club is the organization that works with the AKC and controls the Breed Standard, and in this case was derived from the German Standard and approved in May of 1946. However it seems that the organization missed that the German Standard in 1946 had changed to allow black as an excepted color. In 1946 the parent club was known as The German Shorthaired Club of America.
Through 1987 approx. 213 GSPs were imported to American and Canada. All of these being Versatile hunting dogs.
What also happened to the breed in America up until the 90, I mean how was the breeding going on, and what were the the dogs like and used for?
Clubs, tests, and trials. It's not easiest to follow but will help one understand the German Shorthair in America. The first to register the GSP was the FDSB which is a registry of hounds and pointers, and the GSP competed in the pointer field trials. AKC 1930 and the GSP competed with the other pointer breeds, and Dog Shows. 1986 AKC started the hunt test which now has tests such as Master Hunter, Jr. Hunter, and Senior Hunter. Other AKC activities such as being allowed in the Retrievers tests, Dock Diving, Barn Search, etc. have also been added.
United Kennel Club which has nothing to do with the United Kingdom and is an American registry allowed GSPs in 1948, and also tests with pointer breeds. In 1978 the National Shoot to Retrieve Association was formed and now is aligned with the United Kennel Club. The NSTRA is for pointing breeds where the dog finds a birds and points or honors another dog that is pointing. The handler flushes the bird and it is shot, and the dog retrieves.
The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association was formed in 1969, to promote and test the Versatile hunting dog. Water work in NAVHDA is a strong proponent. Later the club became a registry, and has approx. 10,000 members. The highest honor is a test to become a Versatile Champion. In 1993 the German Club came to America in the form of the North America Deutsch Kurzhaar club which brings all the German Testing to America which is extremely diverse. Also there is a Deutsch Kurzhaar Group of North America, which seems to be a club devoted to the Deutsch Kurzhaar breeding standard and the Deutsh Kurzhaar registry.
There you have it the clubs, organizations, testing, and trials.
Now let us see if we can get it to flow in a way we will be able to see the progression of the German Shorthair in America.
German Shorthairs came over with the German immigrants shown in photos of the time, however it falls to Dr. Thornton in 1925 as the first to get things started. He wanted versatile smart hunting dogs. The German Shorthair was classified as a pointer and thus championed as such. Many hunters however wanted, to breed, and import versatile hunting dogs.
The GSP progressed as a pointing dog with the elimination of a required test for water work or retrieving. In the early 70s or late 60s the pointing trials fraternity according to Robert Wehle, of Elhew Pointer fame had a decisions to make, and that was continue to breed dogs to ran bigger or to real the dogs in, and breed more for the foot hunter. The choice was to breed bigger running dogs.
This effected the Shorthair more than people want to admit or even understand because the Pointer (English) is the main dog that the Shorthairs had to compete with for field trial Championships. Meaning the Shorthair by nessisaty had to also become a bigger running dog. So it's bad enough that the GSP is classified as a pointer, but now it's going to become a big running GSP in a way even the English Pointer was not designed to do.
From my research the GSP formed into an English Pointer look and run alike, with the 1950s born import Moesgaard Ib. Even though Ib was built like a more traditional Shorthairs his offspring started looking more like a pointer, even having the all white coat. Take a look at Moesgaard's Luchy II, who was whelped in 1959. Which many believed was caused by Pointer infusion. When I started working with the pedigree program I noticed that all roads in most white field trial lines lead back to Moesgaard Ib.
So it is a well know fact that English Pointer was bred into the GSP, and in some cases it was reported that full Pointers were registered as GSPs. Americans like most competitive people will always take shortcuts or do what every is needed to win, or get what they want. Remember Lance Armstrong? There is no need to dive in any deeper into the lines or breeders.
At one point in about 2000 I read somewhere that about 28 percent of all GSPs that were bred were white field trial lines. That's a lot of dogs. This does explain why other groups had to step in and fill the void.
The North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association being the first. At about the time the GSPs were becoming Pointers the group was formed. And there were always Americans that were breeding to the old German standards for versatility. The first German Shorthair that I ever knew about was Jack a solid liver GSP that was an extremely versatile hunting dog. This was in the 60s, and 70s.
The truth is that most owners of GSPs. Past and present know little about field trials, and have little or no desire to see one, much less compete in one, the damage came about because these were the dogs being bred to and at one point it became hard to find a shorthair that was not heavy in field trial lines. I mean look at the pedigrees and you see FC, and you think the dog has to be good.
There was another trend for buyers of GSP, and that was for a bird dog. Since that was becoming the main use, breeders of pointer type shorthairs were going unnoticed because water work, and retrieving were often not needed. Another trend was in the rise of professional trainers that were needed to train such dogs. As a kid even I knew that what ever kind of dog you had needed to perform the task of the breed without training. I had never even heard of a professional trainer and never heard of anyone sending their dog to one. Jack had no training other than on the job training and he could track a deer, retrieve and duck or any bird or stick for that matter, and point and retrieve a pheasant. Labs retrieved ducks and hounds did hound stuff. But now all of a sudden you needed a trainer to force your GSP to retrieve, work closer, and forget about water, some GSPs will never do that.
The light got brighter and shines pretty good right now with so many breeders, and clubs focusing on versatility. In the 80s hunt test came upon the scene, NAVHDA going strong. In the 90s things really hit full stride. The German influence was here, not only in their clubs but in their dogs.
For the first time many begin seeing their first black dogs. At first thinking they were just a novelty. It was not that the dogs were black that drew the breeder or buyer, but the dogs themselves. Here was a dog that was versatile and was in the AKC registry, and was the full package. Water loving, natural retrieve and point, and a joy for the foot hunter, and crossed so well with the American GSP. What people did not know about this hidden gem was their background. The fact that they came down from German's oldest Kennel the Pottmes kennel of Apotheker Meyerheim who started working with his first dog in 1903, and that one of the most influential studs was Quell Pottmes, and his grandson Ciro v. Bichtelwald another black became the most used stud ever even passing Alex.v. Wasserschling. See the paper I wrote on the blacks.
Now a breeder, and buyer has the largest choices when it comes to GSPs. The internet has played a big part in this. Research is easier than ever though opinions are out there that confuse the situation, but like anything the more research you do the more likely you will come up with the information that will lead you to the right dog for your breeding program or personal family hunting dog.
September 14, 2022. I decided to go north of Winnett and take a look at that area. The OnX app. showed water and Ryan said they had got both Huns and Sharptail, and maybe he said Sage grouse too, not sure. I figured that I had gotten enough birds out of the last area.
It's about sixteen miles from camp, so it's about half the distance as where I had been going. The weather was overcast with some light sprinkles. We went past the Winnett cemetery, and was in Bureau of Land Management area. The Onx app. Showed the area to be another 16,000 plus acre area. I was looking at a small area of water that was formed by a small creek or run off. I was sure this area was hunted pretty hard because everyone was looking for water to hunt around.
We found the water pretty quick, and I also found there was a lot of water up stream as well. This would be a nice are to walk up, but we did not want in interfere with all the cows in the area. For the most part the dogs pay little attention to cows. Cows don't often run and so they are no fun, and there were always cows coming up to their fence in Ca. so they were pretty used to them. That said, you really never know what the young dogs or going to do.
I decided to make a loop and head back to the truck. I did find grouse droppings and no doubt they were in the area. I however did not think it looked nearly as good as where we had been. The cows had grazed the grass pretty low, and the sage where we were was not to thick. I did see a thicker area of sage and decided to head for that. I was wondering why were were not seeing very many rabbits. It looked like a pretty good rabbit area to me.
I had never even bothered to take the shotgun off my shoulder. Megan the youngest pup with us was ranging out further taking advantage of the more open areas. A cottontail rabbit jumped up in front of me and I got some camera shots before is vanished into the sage. The dogs had flushed it, and had sent word out to the other dogs to help in the chase. Dogs love to chase rabbits and many hunters can't abide by their bird dogs chasing rabbits. I was glade I had versatile dogs not just bird dogs. To tell the truth I loved watching a good rabbit chase. To me a rabbit chase is exciting, in part because it is so exciting to the dogs. The dogs simple loved a good chase of any kind, but a rabbit chase is probably their favorite.
I was watching the area where the rabbit was being chased, trying to figure out what the dogs were doing, and waiting to see it the rabbit came out in an open area to my left or not. Then I noticed Dux, he had a high head and had the rabbit in his mouth and was headed back to me. Dux has not been the best retriever when it comes to the ball, wanting to play with the ball instead of retrieving it. But here he was with a perfect hold on the rabbit, and wasting no time in bringing it back to me. He seemed so proud of himself, you can see it in the picture I took of him. I was very proud of him too, he has come a long way since I first picked him up. I lavished love and praise on him for a job well done.
I had been wondering why I was not seeing any Jackrabbits, then within short order the dogs got one up. A beautiful fat whitetailed Jack, unlike the skinny blacktailed Jackrabbits in the west. This rabbit had a big white tail that it seemed to be flagging with like the whitetail deer do. I did not get the camera up in time, but I got a very good look at the rabbit. One area that stood out was the ears. They were big like a Jackass's ears, which I am assuming is where they got their name from. On the back of the ears were these very dark triangle spots at the very top of the ears. I don't know if the white tail, and the dark spots on the ears play a protective roll while being pursued or not.
I stopped at the Winnett store for ice and a few items, and filled up the two 5 gallon water jugs. Thank God this store is there.
Back at camp I introduced Donny and Marie to the rabbit, and then Peter and Jane got to see and touch it again. I then wanted to see if Douglas would retrieve the rabbit when tossed, and of course he did a great job of it. I am pretty proud of that boy and how he is coming along.
I cleaned the rabbit and fried it in oil, after a roll in Bisquick. My mom loved Bisquick. I thought the rabbit tasted great, and so did Scarlett. Scarlett said the rabbit tasted like chicken. Hailey did not care to much for it. What Hailey did like and said was probably her 3rd best meal ever was last nights dinner, which was broocoli, onion, Spanish, and bell peppers cooked with hamberger and pork chunks. Go figure.
It is cool enough for the first time for a evening hunt, so I may go exploring.
September 14, 2022, part 2. Beautiful area just a little northeast of Winnett for the afternoon Outing. I picked a creek bottom that had lots of water just below Vogel (Box Elder) Reservoir. The area was very beautiful, with sage and native grass, and the creek bottom with water.
If I had know this part of Montana was like this I would have made it a yearly trip. So many years ago I picked the Great Falls area to hunt in with grandson Kane and I spent a few weeks there, and then we also spent sometime southeast of there but I was not that happy with the areas we were in. This however is a completely different story. If I were ever going to live out of state for part of the year and become a resident this area would be it. I'm not saying that I would want to live here year around anymore than I want to live in Arizona year around.
But this central area, and maybe further east is a bird hunters dream. Wide open areas for miles to hunt for birds. With a long season, nice people, and low license fees, great camping, and added varmint and squirrel hunting I just don't see a better value other than maybe Arizona the other part of the year. People flock to South Dakota for pheasants and pay the same price to hunt 2 weeks as you do here to hunt the whole year, and public hunting land is well over 20 million acres here in Montana. That's simply unreal. We will be headed to the Powder River area in Powder River County south east of us soon, and I expect something similar. I would just stay here but there are some historical sites in the area I want the girls to see, and some museums as well.
Anyway our 2nd outing was very nice and I passed on shooting some grouse, but did get some excellent photos of grouse flying. Sophie got turned around when we were almost back to the truck and we had to wait for her.
September 18, 2022. We find ourselves in a very nice park in Broadus Montana, in Powder River County. The Powder River named because the banks of the river look like gun powder. The Powder River runs on the east side of town. And what a lovely town of about 600 it is, in a County of approx. 1500 people.
We left Winnett reluctantly after our 20 day stay. The public hunting was more than I dreamed of, and our stay was so good for the Gang and the girls. I shaved and we got one last swim in the lake and then we were back on the road.
We drove to Miles City Montana to visit the Ranch and Range Museum. I thought it was wonderful. So many interesting things to see and the place was very well organized. There are always nice older people working museums and often have their own historical viewpoints. Bob the curator wanted to point out the huge stack of Bull Durham smoking tobacco pouches which numbered about 7500, and then showed us the photo of Tom Gilmore and said he smoked all of them. That's how we started out in the museum. Bull Durham smoking tobacco, also know as “Genuine Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco”, was a brand of loose left tobacco that was made from 1850s to 1988.
The Museum's real name is the Range Riders Museum. Which is an old west museum with over 13 buildings, and 38,000 square feet of display area. It's difficult to explain just how fascinating a museum like this is until you visit one. It's a real life look back into our past. The one exhibit that really stood out to me was a large room that had the ranch layout of the LO ranch. Mr. Lo had a ranch of 350 thousand acres and a cattle herd of 15,000. In 1881 Mr. Lo went to Texas to get cattle and make a cattle drive. Not sure why this was so fascinating to me.
At the museum while the girls and I were looking at the mastodon bones we met a very interesting gentlemen named Doug Lamb of Brandon Ms. who was a hunter of such artifacts as Mastodon bones, to arrow heads. He also made handmade spoons and bowls. He gave us quite a lesson on the bones we were looking at.
Back on the road to Broadus, which we pulled into around 4pm. One of the first places we went to was the Powder River Taxidermy and Tannery. I had read of the place and was excited to see it.
We were met by one of the owners Shawna, she and her mother in law were working outside running the boat inspection area. The state along with other states are having problems with invasive mussels and plants getting into the lakes. Shawna said the men were around somewhere and make ourselves at home and gave us the run of the place. While we went about the business of looking at the huge amount of taxidermy mounts that were everywhere. We noticed way in the back there was someone cutting up meat. They do meat processing as well. I asked if it was Ok to come on back. We got a very friendly, “Yep, come on back”. That is where we met Loren the oldest member of the family operated operation which is much more than Taxidermy. We chatted with Loren who is one of the most friendly and interesting of people. Loren took us back to meet his son who Loren said is the real boss of the operation.
So we were taken to the other side of the building where we met Shawn who was working on a car. Shawn is also a body and finder man and they run a body shop to help make ends meet. Shawn did not seem in the least bothered by being interrupted. I would later find out that he was often interrupted and never seemed in the least bothered by it. The truth is all of the family members seemed more than happy spending time talking to people and answering any kind of question.
Shawn and his father also run a guide service which I also found extremely interesting. At this visit I was interested in places to camp and the state of the bird hunting. Both did not look good, for reasons I will go into later. We talked for a while and the girls and I were off to try and find a camping area, which proved harder than I thought. Every piece of State Land, or BLM land lacked any kind of access. We did finally find a nice flat, piece of Montana State Land that we were able to park on and would give us a good area for a Morning Outing. We were able to get the dogs out for a short run, and get a few things done before bed time.
In the morning the gang and I had a good Morning Outing, without seeing any game at all. It had rained during the night and the grass was pretty wet, but the Gang loved it.
We really needed to do laundry, but also wanted to go to the Powder River Museum which I found was closed for the season, but opened by appointment, the same as we found in one of the museums we visited in South Dakota.
We made the call and talked to Illa who would open the museum for us at four. We drove into town and parked right outside the laundry. We had about 4 loads so we got to it. We also unloaded the bikes for a bike ride. We ate at the tables outside the laundry, and visited the thrift store where Monty was working. It was a beautiful day.
Laundry went well until I notice the dryers were not running, the girls had put the money in so I asked them what happened? Scarlett said they ran for a while and stopped so the cloths did not get to hot. I then asked her why the empty dryers above them were running with no cloths in them. How funny. She realized what happened and we than powered on the right dryer and only lost about 15 minutes.
The thrift store was having a sale of cloths for 1 dollar so the girls got dresses for church the next day. Hailey also got some 1 dollar shoes. I got 10 dvds and spent a total of 6 dollars for everything.
Monty told us the history of his family in the area. His great grandparents were homesteaders around 1915. They had 6 kids and spent the first winter in a tent. Wow, the winder in Montana in a tent, it seemed they got a late start.
The family ranch grew to 15 sections that was now run by his son. A section is a 640 acres I believe and is a mile by a mile. He said that was a small ranch for this area.
The girls were having fun running around town on their bikes, and exploring the thrifts store.
At 3:30 we met Illa over at the Museum and we got our own guided tour. The first two stops were at old log cabins, one a small one room pioneer cabin and the second a larger one room Butte Creek schoolhouse. Both log buildings were furnished in period furnishing. Scarllet loved both of them and wanted to live in one.
The second stop was Mac's Museum area, a one man's collection containing over a thousand arrowheads, and over 20,000 sea shells. The museum was much like the Miles museum on a mush smaller scale. We were shown so many cool old historic items, like an old jail cell, old cars, buggies, wagons, and the list is much to large to tell about. The Randall family are big ranchers in the area. No idea if they are related, however we have family in South Dakota and Minnesota. I snapped some photos of some Randall history to send to Marvin Randall who keeps information of such family matters. The museum was a wonderful adventures in so many ways, a real step back in time. Illa was able to give us so much background. She had grown up in the area. Like when we got to the sheep herder wagon that Scarlett liked so much. It seemed as a child Illa lived in one and her dad was a sheep herder. She also explained the rock monuments that the herders put up while killing time watching the sheep.
Illa also explained how the old ice box worked and how the ice box use real ice, which of course I knew, but what I did not know was that the men cut the ice in the winter and stored it in the ice house in sawdust so there was ice in the summer.
Maybe the photos will help fill in some of the blanks and help with the story.
I had gotten the idea of recording the the Wahl family talking about their adventures running such diverse businesses as Taxidermy, Guiding for big game, meat processing, etc. So I stopped in to run it buy the family. First I talked to Loren who had been wanting to write a book about his adventures, and He even had a name for it, He was going to call it Antelope Tails. He sent me down to talk to Shawn who was also very willing to do it. Earlier I had spent some time talking to Shawna about the business and family. I found out she does much of the Taxidermy work as well as running a big part of the business and doing the books. She talked of the low points and high points. Between the 4 of them and maybe their son there will be a tremendous amount of interesting material to cover.
Of course the reason for doing the interviews is all the information that I am personally interested in. I have done taxidermy myself, and big game hunting and guiding is every hunters dream, and all those fantastic stories, meat processing is something I also do and find interesting, also the car painting and car work is something else very interesting as well. When you add in all the areas that are part of hunting and guiding such as equipment, guns, bows, boots, knives, hounds, and clients, you can see how interesting this will be to so many.
The morning of the 18th found us up early and and the Gang and I out on a Morning Outing. We decided later to go into town so the girls could ride their bikes and play in the park and I could get this up to date before church, and this we did.
The Powder River Congregational United Church of Christ was meeting at 11:00 am. When I asked Illa about a church in town she told me about the one she went too. So that's the one we wanted to attend. The girls were excited about church and the new dresses they were going to wear.
Excellent day, we made it to church, the girls road their bikes form the park. The church was something between a Baptist and Lutheran and like so many churches they were lacking a pastor. Illa was in charge today and handled the whole service. Everyone was glad to see us, and the girls were having fun until they and two other kids were called to the front for a kind of kids service in front of everyone. I had never seen anything quite like it. The girls were embarrassed by the attention, and Hailey so much so that she returned to the wrong row to set down at with everyone watching.
After the service we were invited to thrit potluck, which the girls loved. We were able to hear so many stories from the older ladies who all grew up there. From the coldest winter in 1966, to the Antelope herds going from no herd less than 50 to almost no herds at all in the area now.
That pretty much catches us up.
September 19, 2022. Today would find us spending most of the day in town at Powder River Taxidermy. The girls worked on their homework, came into the building with us at times, and road their bikes to the thrift store. This would be after the Morning Outing with the Gang.
The shop was extremely busy. Loren the grandfather spent hours grinding and packaging elk meat. The 3,800 sq. ft. building consists of many work areas. There is a body shop at one end, then a covered outside area where they do the boat inspections, then an area that is spit in 3 parts, one for finished mounts and and a bow working area, a smaller display area, and a area that has mounts and goods for sale. Then the main entrance where there are more mounts. Every area has mounts, and horns, hundreds of them. There is of course an office, and there is a main taxidermy mounting area. Then we move into the meat processing area and cooking area. Then the tanning area that has both a tanning tub and huge pressurized rotating tanning tank. This area also has a walk in freezer. This area is where the game is brought in, and just outside is a winch to pull the game up to be skinned.
While I was there a hunter brought in a bear that he had shot with a bow. Like most hunters, and everyone in Montana he was friendly and talkative. He was hunting elk over a water hole when the bear came in. Montana works on a quota system when it comes to bear, meaning there is a certain number of bear to be harvested, and then the season is closed. I helped him a bit with the skinning. He was using one of the knives that have replaceable blades. The blades are razor sharp. He stated that he could skin a whole elk with one, with the exception of splitting the the upper chest area which takes a stronger knife.
There was a full mountain lion mount in the body shop hanging on the wall with the background scene. It was a very impressive mount. A young man from Illinois was there to pick it up. A crate had to be made to store it in for the trip home.
Loren, Shawn, Shawna, and an older man that I did not meet were working in the shop. Everyone was pretty busy. I spent most of the morning talking with Loren while he was grinding meat.
I was given full run of the place, and could go where every I wanted and no one was the least bothered by it. I roamed around and took pictures of just about everything. I took a picture of the hundreds of mounts and horns.
The girls and I would have lunch in the park, after letting the dogs run. Then we would find a place in the shade and the girls would work on their homework.
In the afternoon Shawna would be mounting an Antelope and I was looking forward to that. She would prove to be a master at her work. I snapped some photos, and the girls popped in for a viewing. I would ask various questions regarding the mounting process, which is, the hide would be meticulously fleshed, and then 24 hours of salting, a wet tan, and tumble, then the foam would be prepared. The horns would be screwed onto the form, then a little bondo put around the base of the horns. This form would be mounted on a pipe system that rotates in all directions and then the hide placed and molded on the form.
A few facts about Antelope, They are one of the fasted land animals in the world with a top speed of 65 to 70 miles an hour. The reason for this is because at one time they needed to outrun the north American cheetah. They also have a unique hollow fur. Also they have nether a horn or Antler, but I don't have service at this time to look up exactly what it is.
Next after the hide is tanned and ready to go, and the form is ready which consists of working some clay around the eye area and setting the glass eyes. The tanned hide is now pulled over the head of the form. The face is worked on first. The face is partly penned in a few areas, and the nose is formed by tucking in the nostrils first. The face, eyes, ears and upper neck are worked into place. Hide paste which is a type of glue is placed in a few areas to help the skin stay put. The face and neck area are smoothed and the hair formed by hand and later with a wire brush. Then starting at the upper neck, the hide's stitching or sewing begins using a very sharp triangle shaped needle that is approx. 5 inches long. With care to keep the hair out of the stitches. The hide is stitched all the way to the shoulder area. This stitching area is from the back base of the horn area, all along the top of neck to the back of the shoulder.
The back of the form or mount is wood, this is to hang the mount on the wall, and is also where the hide is tacked to hold it in place.
Why a mount, I mean why do people have the head or whole body mounted? Loren summed it up when we were chatting. After the hunt the photos of the hunt are often put into an album, and the album put on the coffee table where they are enjoyed by friends who come over. Then the album goes into a shelf, and later stored away in a box somewhere. While a mount hangs on the wall as a visual reminder of the experience. The hunter can see in full detail the trophy, and fill the emotions once again, as all the details of the hunt are returned.
I have mounts at home, most of them I did myself. Some of them were dad's and were done many years ago. They all have a story. There is a 5 point blacktail buck that dad shot in 1960s when I was quite young. The men planed the hunt after pattering some big bucks. Dad often planed the hunts and placed the hunters on stands, and how the drivers would drive. On this hunt there would be Dad, uncle Mike, and Jimmy McDonald, and I don't know who else. There was always excitement around the hunts and especially opening morning.
I had made a bet with uncle Mike that Dad would get a bigger bucks than him. Dad did get the bigger buck which was an unusually big 5 point. Which was 5 points on one side, 4 points on the other, and eye guards. This set of horns hung on the wall on a plaque in every house we lived in. Later I would mount these horns on a shoulder deer mount using a hide from a deer I shot and now the deer hangs in the reloading room. Dad has now passed, and I miss him dearly. The trophy remains to bring back memories. Such are the meanings of trophy mounts.
Later Shawn would take a break and we would set and watch his wife Shawna work on the Antelope with experienced hands. Shawn was having some problems with an old Ford Galaxy he was working on, one problem after another to be exact. The currant problem was with the clear coat. I was also filled in on maters from family history, how they started the business, etc.
Loren told us of a camp site on the Powder River, about 10 miles out of town. He confirmed which turn out of town to take with Shawna, but she questioned his reasoning for us to come in that way. Anyway we were given a couple packs of ground elk to try, and we headed out. The camping area sounded wonderful, and we had been wanting to find a place on the river that we might set up a more permanent camp.
The drive on Powder River Rd. is a dirt road that winds along the Powder River, through ranch, farm, and wild lands, with buttes, peaks, sage, open grass, valleys, and then into the pines, and back down to the camp, which is the Moorhead Recreational area.
However the 10 miles turned out to be 40 miles. It was a little stressful because we just kept going into the unknown not having the slightest idea of where we were. I was told that I could continue and make a loop back into Broadus. There was no phone service, maps did not work, and neither did the Onx app. I kept thinking that I must have missed a side road down to the camp. A few times I almost turned around, but figured now I'd just try and make the loop, hope it existed. We were pretty excited when we finally arrived at camp.
After the Gang was taken care of the girls and I road the bikes down to the river and the girls stayed to swim, and I went back to camp after they showed me that the water was not very deep.
I spent time editing photos, and down loading the videos and photos from the phone.
We had elk burgers, elk hamburger helper, and mixed onion and poultry gravy together which the girls loved and wanted for breakfast.
September 20, 2022. Beautiful morning at Moorhead camp site. The girls are biting at the bit to go swimming. No service so hand writing first thing to start their morning school work, and then breakfast of elk, bacon, potatoes and toast. This of course after the Gang was taken care of. The pups playing to beat the band.
The young dogs are doing very well and the pups are off to a fantastic start. Martha's to pups Donny and Marie and 5 weeks are doing extremely well. They are off to a better start then Peter and Jane's. Peter and Jane were kind of shy at first. Donny and Marie are also lookers. Marie has a beautiful head, great body, and beautiful colors. Every time I look at her I think how beautiful she looks. She is also very smart, and bold and confident.
We went down to the Powder River, the girls, gang and I. I had stated earlier that the Powder River was named for the color of the bank, because the bank looks like the color of gun powder. Now that I have spent some time there, I see it might be because of the color of the water. It seems the water has a long history of being very silty.
At the river I pointed out a rope swing hanging from the bridge. The girls loved it. The Gang had their usual good time running around, hunting, and playing in the river.
Later we had to make the 40 mile drive back to Broadus, we needed to check in with Kim, and Powder River Outfitters. Since we had no service at camp I knew Kim would be pretty worried. After our check ins, we made the 40 mile trip back to camp. Both times we took the other route then when we first came in.
On the way back we stopped and looked at the Raynolds Battlefield sight. Which is considered a prelude to the Battle of The Little Big Horn.
September 21, 2022. The Gang and I got off to a good start, we found a nice place for a Morning Outing. We let the girls sleep in until 9am which is a rare delight for them.
Breakfast was elk hamburger cooked with instant potatoes. The girls loved it, of course with the new gravy they like. The girls spent most of the days rock hunting. They have become Rock Hounds. It brought me a lot of joy watching them. First they would go out and find the rocks, and then bring them back to the picnic table and spread them all out, then they would spray them off, and then the trading back and forth would begin.
I did later make them do some schoolwork, but thought the rock collecting was pretty educational. They have great plans with the rocks.
Mark and Rodger stopped by for a visit. They are from Broadus. Rodger is 93, and Mark younger. Mark and his wife moved to Broadus from Washington a year ago. It seems Mark's wife wanted to live in a log cabin, and have a horse corral, Mark said he just tagged along.
Rodger was showing Mark around, which was good for me. I was told for the second time that a dam almost went in where we were, and one reason it did not may have been from the silty water of the Powder River. Rodger told me after I asked him what the old narrow suspension bride was used for. I thought it was for a water pipe from the spring over the Powder River, I was wrong. It seemed that it was built as a foot bride so the mail could be delivered.
It seems that there was a mail man who delivered the mail on this route for 55 years. The mail man told Rodger that it was the longest dirt delivery route in the US. That it started in nowhere and ended in nowhere, and that there was nothing in between. It seemed that he made the 80 mile route that I now have driven myself from Broadus back around and back to Broadus; however there was no bride here then, so the mail man had two cars, one on each end of the foot bride. He would do half the route with one car and then walk across the foot bridge to the other vehicle and finish the route. In cold weather he would have to carry an extra battery to get the 2nd car started. Welcome to Montana. We talked of things, and we were invited to their church on Sunday if we were still around. We were also told that the pastor of his church was bringing the elderly form the home to visit the camp tomorrow, so we may have to stick around a little longer.
One fun thing that I did today was shoot the 300 Winchester Short Magnum. I have different loads for it and wanted to blow the cobwebs out. So I picked a rock up on the cliff that had a white plate size area on it. I was to shoot 4 different rounds, s 110 gr. bullet at 3000 fps, a 165 gr. bullet at 3000 fps, a 125 gr. bullet at 3350 fps, and a 130 gr. bullet at 3335 fps.
Now this is how it works. First I wish it would have been a few hundred yards further, and we may find a place for that later. But the furthest rock according to the range finder was 330 yards. Next after picking the bullet, I opened the Strelok Pro Ballistic program where I previously and painstakingly had put in all the load data such as pullet weight, velocity, bullet coefficient, site in point, type of scope and a few other things. Once the program was opened and the gun and bullet uploaded, all I needed to do was set the range of 330 yards, and the uphill degree if I wanted too. There were then three ways to make the shot. I could find how many moa or clicks were needed and make that adjustment, or see where to hold on the bullet drop plex that was in the scope, or see how many inches over I needed to hold. Today I was going to test the plex system using the program. There is a photo of the four shots somewhere in the downloads.
All four shots would have gone into a paper plate so I was pleased with that. The first 3 shots I did not input the 14 percent uphill angle which the program gave me effortlessly. The forth shot I did, which may have helped some. I was please, and it was fun to me.
Later we would make another outing. It was much cooler today, in the 60s, and cooled off fast in the evening, so we moved inside. The Gang had the run of the camp today and that's including the pups. They all did a great job. They also had a nice game of fetch.
September 22, 2022. In the morning I took the girls to find the foundations on top of butte above us. The ones Roger and Mark told us about. It took a little bit to find the road that would take us to the top. It was kind of a rough steep road to the top but we made it. There were 14 cement foundations on top of this beautiful flat butte. You could see for miles up there, however I could not for the life remember the story behind the abandoned foundations. I was thinking maybe an old military barracks from the Calvary days but the cement was to new, so maybe military barracks from the 40s or so. I looked at each one hoping to find a clue, but nothing.
It was a little cold and the girls were not interested in getting out of the truck and exploring. The Gang however was having a grand time exploring everything including the Antelope they were trying to catch.
We are getting pretty good at counting the Gang. There are 12 bigger dogs, 4 of the bigger pups and 2 of the very small ones for a total of 18. When we loaded them up we were missing 2, Ruth and Sunshine. We called and drove around the butte and blew the horn the hole time. Nothing! It did not help that Ruby was Scarlett's, and Sunshine belongs to Hailey. We left one of Scarlett's blankets where we had parked the truck in case they came back, and then we headed back to camp.
The girls were left at camp in case the dogs came back. The butte was just above the camp and they could easily come down to camp. I then headed back to look for them. They were on the road just below the butte. I headed back to camp and the girls met us at the gate. Scarlett was beyond herself, big tears in her eyes. She was overjoyed to have her Ruby back. That night she brought Ruby in to sleep with her. When I looked over at them Scarlett was holding Ruby in her arms.
The church group that we had been waiting for showed up, and they were a lot of fun. Four of the ladies we already knew. I was able to ask them about the foundations, and they said that the foundations were there for the surveyors who were working on the dam that ended up not being built. One interesting thing was that one of the buildings had been moved into Broadus and became the Lutheran Church. So when I got back into town I took a picture of the church so I could place it with the foundations.
Moorhead Camp was a pretty cool place, but it became time to say goodbye. The girls wanted to ride their bikes for awhile but did not get to far. I loaded them on back of the trailer and we were off for the 40 mile dirt road drive back to Broadus. At the 15 mile mark I stopped to check things out and found that all 3 of our bikes were missing. Oh Joy!
We turned around and had a contest on who could see the bikes in the road frist, and we wondered how bad the bikes would be and if they would all be together. 10 miles back we found the bikes all together in the middle of the road. Hailey's bike had a broken brake cable, but Scarlett's and mine were fine. Two more tiedowns and we were back on the road.
I checked in at Powder River Taxidermy and they were super busy as always. Shawn was still trying to knock out the Galaxy, Loren was still grinding elk, the man I did not know the name of was fleshing a hide, Shawna was mounting an Antelope, her daughter in law was working on another mount, and her son was minding the front counter. We would try and knock out some interviews tomorrow. It was getting late and we were all a little tired.
We headed out to the State Land to let the dogs run, and maybe make camp there. The dogs started chasing Antelope which almost became a disaster. It started to ran and I did not want to get stuck in the field, so we headed back to spend the night at the park.
Night time after we get parked and set up for the evening is some of our best times. Dinner is made, and the girls get up in there beds, the pups are in, with some of the bigger dogs. We most often put on a movie, and I edit photos and write about what went on during the day. We always sleep good at night, because we always have such a full day.
September 24, 2022. We continue our visit to Broadus Montana. We have found a pretty nice spot 16 miles out of town on a piece of Block Management Property. A nice place to camp, and a nice place for outings. Also a big groundhog field. We have been spending part of the day there, and part of the day at Powder River Taxidermy.
I find myself camped next to a very large prairie dog field, and the only rifle I have with me is a 300 Winchester Short Magnum. Though the rifle is designed for big game up to big bears, it can be extremely versatile with the right loads. I just happen to not only have the right loads, but I have the right equipment to take advantage of the loads I have. I did all the necessary ground work many months ago when I set the gun and ammo up. I started with a very nice 300 WSM from Kenny Wilhelm, an all stainless Sako A7, form there I topped it with a Burris 3 x 15 Veracity. I then loaded a dozen or so loads from 110 gr. Hornady V Max, to 190 gr. Nosler Accubond Long Range. From there I put all the bullet and scope information into a shooting program on my phone. I spent the needed time practicing with the program, and that along with a nice range finder prepared me for some prairie dog long shots. The gun, scope, loads leave me with some pretty remarkable options. The rifle is extremely accurate, the scope extremely clear, and with both the
I find myself camped next to a very large prairie dog field, and the only rifle I have with me is a 300 Winchester Short Magnum. Though the rifle is designed for big game up to big bears, it can be extremely versatile with the right loads. I just happen to not only have the right loads, but I have the right equipment to take advantage of the loads I have. I did all the necessary ground work many months ago when I set the gun and ammo up. I started with a very nice 300 WSM from Kenny Wilhelm, an all stainless Sako A7, form there I topped it with a Burris 3 x 15 Veracity. I then loaded a dozen or so loads from 110 gr. Hornady V Max, to 190 gr. Nosler Accubond Long Range. From there I put all the bullet and scope information into a shooting program on my phone. I spent the needed time practicing with the program, and that along with a nice range finder prepared me for some prairie dog long shots. The gun, scope, and loads leave me with some pretty remarkable options. The rifle is extremely accurate, the scope extremely clear, and with both the plex and dial system on the scope, and the app. on the phone it has everything to get the job done from dogs to hogs. and here's how it works.
I simply open the app. and open the rifle bullet combo page, I then put in the yardage that I got from the rangefinder, and the wind, and shooting angle is necessary. The program will show me exactly where to hold using the plex system which are hash marks below the main crosshair in the scope. I then just place that on the target and fire. Or the program will tell me the MOA (Minute of Angle) adjustment needed, and I turn the elevation dial, and maybe the windage if it's windy. In the case of 462 yards the moa adjustment was 7 3/4 or 31 clicks. Then all that is needed is to place the main crosshairs on the target and fire. So how well did it work? Great out to 410 yards. I mean really well, which makes me have great faith in the rifle for bigger game. I tried 462 yards but I was missing a hair to the left. I however could not see just where I was missing so I had to set a target out at that distance to see where I was missing. Douglas was having fun retrieving the dogs.
September 28, 2022. Let's see if I can catch up. Since I left off with shooing I will continue there. I was able to shoot out to 600 yards with the 178 gr. Hornady Eldx bullet, loaded to 3050 fps in the 300 Winchester Short Mag. I shot at a rock and hit about a foot to the right of where I was aiming.
As far as Prairie dogs go my new longest shot is 508 yards, with the 110 gr. Vmax at 3411 feet per second. It was odd but there was a gap between the dogs at 508 yards and the one's at 600 yards. There were simply none in between, so I tried to make the 600 yard shot but it proved to difficult. The reason I was able to make the 500 yard shot was because there was no wind. The reason I could not make the 600 yard shot was due to a slight adjustment that needed to be made, that I could not make because I could not see the bullet impact due to the recoil of the Magnum. The elevation adjustment needed at 600 yards is 10 MOA, or 40 clicks because the bullet drop at 600 yards is 62 inches. I figured that I was pretty close but since I had no way a determining where the bullet was hitting I just gave up, and went back to some closer shots.
We had found a good camping place with some water and a stock tank for the girls to play in. It was also a decent place for the dogs to go on a couple of Outings, with the exception of not having birds.
It was frustrating to know where some birds were but not being able to get to them. I was shown by some Muledeer bow hunters on their OnX app. where some birds were. I however failed to up load the area on mine, and by the time I headed into the area my OnX did not have the service to pull up the map. Besides this, I was a little frustrated by what seemed to be the endless wash boarded dirt roads. It seemed that every item in the trailer fell to the floor.
One other thing that I had been working on were some interviews at Powder River Taxidermy, and Guide Service. I was also helping them put together a website. I was mainly working with Loren and Shawna because Shawn was always busy working on a car from hell. These visits the girls and I always looked forward to. The girls could play with Daxson, and his sister. Two Northern Cheyenne kids that are the age of Scarlett and Hailey that were adopted by Shawn and Shawna. There is a tragic back story that I did not have time to get. These two kids were simply delightful, and played and treated the girls so well. The girls could also take showers.
Talking to Loren Wahl the grandfather was a real experience. While traveling it's the people you meet that make the trip the most interesting. This would be especially true with Loren, in part because his interests were also mine. Most other men watch and study sports, not me, it's hunting, guns, bullets, ballistics, knives, and such. Where many men can name off the statistics of sports related maters, I can give you information on guns, bullets, ballistics, etc. With Loren I have a fellow enthusiast.
Loren is a Vietnam Vet, Big Game Guide and Outfitter, knife and gun collector, butcher and man of more stories than I can write about. I hate to leave you hanging, but I will have to come back to these stories or I will never get this updated.
I was able to spend sometime with Shawna and hear about herself, and her family and the shop. I was also able to watch her do her taxidermy work. Like every Montanan she was honest and down to earth. She is truly dedicated to her family and her work.
I could tell she was a little apprehensive toward me, but she warmed up and we worked together well. I set up their website which brought a lot of trust from everyone. I also put the first testimonial on their testimonial page. They do have a very active Facebook, and they also have Powder River Wildlife Museum and they do have a page for that. The Museum is of Taxidermy Wildlife which is upstairs which is not open at this time, and which I did not visit.
A quick review of the family and their operation is a look into American life, with all it's ups and downs. Starting with Loren who had a hard start after his mother and father separated and at age 6 he was dropped off at the orphanage by his mother. It was almost 3 years before his grandparents came and got him and took him home to live with them, where he lived a good life. That is until he was drafted into the Vietnam war, and to hear Loren tell only a very small part of the war was emotional for him, and heart felt for me. One such was when I asked a simple question about the .223 Remington round.
Well he said that he had a big dislike for the round, because he trained on the M -14 service rifle and when he got in Country he was handed an AR., which he thought was some kind of joke for the new boots. Then he seen men die because of the stupidity of changing the round from the way it was designed and the gun jammed. Then the fact that so many of the men in his platoon were killed. So you see the family was off to a great American start.
Fast forward, the family opened up a Taxidermy shop, and even though businesses was good at times they had a hard time making it. Lately it's been that they were not able to get ammunition for the store, forms and chemicals for the taxidermy shop, covid, as well as not being able to hire someone for the shop, and now the decline of deer, and antalope.
To make ends meet Shawn runs a body shop that takes up to much of his time. He was trying to get a car out while I was there. The car was nothing but problems. A few times when I checked in the whole family had been up working on the car until midnight. There was a problem with the clear coat and the car had to be stripped and repainted. Then the same thing the second time. The day I left Shawn's mom, Daxton, and Shawn where stripping the clear coat.
But even with so many demands on the family, and an extremely tuff time making ends meet there remains this remarkable, loving family spirit and unity that really touched me. Just watching everyone gave me this American pride.
I would just watch! Their son Dillon who just joined them as a kind of partner was jamming around doing so much, and while I was there shot a beautiful blond bear, that had been sleeping on a cow, and the rancher wanted them to remove the bear from his ranch. At first he payed little attention to me, but after I helped with the website treated me as an old friend. He was found to have a quick smile and you could tell he loved being here with the family.
Grandfather Loren was in charge of all the meat that was coming into the shop, and day after day, hour after hour he was found grinding meat. We had many a long conversation while the grinder was working. I was also given plenty of elk to eat, which I loved. Loren was extremely proud of his family. Shawn's mother was there and helped out anywhere she could. I forgot her name, but she's a very nice lady. There were also many of Shawn and Shawna's grandkids coming and going. There were toys in the main lobby, and kids were often playing.
There were two daughter in laws coming and going helping out and one was learning to do taxidermy work. Their one employee who was not family was Dan, who had been a logger. An older man who was quite but friendly. Dan was the cape detail man, meaning he did the tedious knife work around the eyes and lips of the capes in for mounting. He also did skinning, fleshing and tanning.
I did not get the story of how the two young Indian kids came to live with them. Something tragic happened, but I don't know what. I know it was hard for them to adopt them, and they had to jump through some hoops. but what a added touch of humanity. I watched Daxton who is about 10 years old working on a car with his new dad Shawn. While Shawn was talking to me and working on the car, Daxson asked him a question. Shawn lovingly placed his hand on Daxson's shoulder before answering his question. That simple gesture about summed up this family.
We said our good byes, and everyone seemed as if they wanted us to stay a little longer. Loren wanted me to stay until the rifle season started so I could see all the deer and antelope come in. And I was invited to return as a hunter and offered a place to stay in the home.
Other news from Broadus Montana, and then onto South Dakota. Sunday the 25th of Sept. we did laundry and headed to Faith Bible Church. This church was the one Mark told us about, and the pastor is Tom who we met while we were at Moorhead Recreational area, near the Powder River. The church was more modern, something like a Baptist or even our Assembles in Ione.
The church was very western, or maybe just Montanan. Even Pastor Tom had boots and a big buckle. Most of the men including me had boots, jeans and a plaid shirt. My boots were hunting boots, and most others were cowboy boots. Everyone was very nice which should be expected at every church. We met a lot of the town's people including Blondie and Larry who own the grocery store.
Tom had remembered Scarlett and called her up by name to help him with a little demonstration. Scarlett did good and everyone clapped for her. I got a video.
I was happy with our stay in around Broadus, and really did not want to leave. I would have been able to stay and hunt until the show and was not really ready to leave but I ran out of dog food. The pups were now pretty big and eating a lot. Even Donny and Marie were now eating dog food, and 18 dogs eat a lot. I thought the 6 bags I had gotten would have lasted longer but I found myself on the 26th with just enough food for the Gang for one more day.
So the dilemma was to make the 240 mile round trip to Billings and back, or to continue east. I was still thinking of heading to Minnesota to see family so I decided to take the eastern route through South Dakota and stay a few days visiting our friend Jackie Benson and her mom Ann. Jackie use to manage the Redneck Ranch for us, and I have known her since high school. From there I will decide where and what we do next.
At some point I want to head into Texas, and then west toward the Redneck Ranch in Wellton Az. hunting along the way. I am very interested in hunting the eastern part of Arizona when I get there, but I did not want to get there until cooler weather. I had wanted to drive through North Dakota for a look see but the route was just to far out of the way. I also wanted to stop and see my buddy Antony in Wyoming but that was not to be either.
So on the evening of the 26th after running the dogs and eating we broke camp and headed out. I would rather drive in the day time, but the night does have some advantages. However I was a little apprehensive with the number of deer along side the road. There were so many of them, big Muledeer and a large number of very nice bucks.
I drove until 3am and sleep until the dogs woke me up wanting out at 7am. We had found a wonderful spot to camp for the short time. In the morning we drove to Aberdeen SD, where I got 6 bags of dog food and then on to Corona SD. Corona is at the very Northeast part of the state, very close to the Minnesota line. This would put us about 5 hours from Blackduck Minnesota if we decided to head that way, and another 900 miles to Texas, and 11 hundred when we turned for home in Wellton Az.
The City of Corona has a few RV spots on the edge of their very nice park. 15 dollars a night with electricity and water but no dump. The girls have a nice park with play stations to play in and the dogs have a huge fenced ball park. The park is seldom used according to Jackie, but is well kept with mowed green grass.
The dogs have been on many outings in the last month, and even though they are well fed with all they can eat, the younger dogs around a year or two old are getting a little thin and they could use a much needed rest.
The girls have been biting at the bit for this part of the trip. They love being at Jackie's, where they get to bake and cook, and go on all kinds of adventures. Tomorrow they get to go with her to the Thrift store where she volunteers. Then we will go see Redlin Art Museum which we all love. Jackie's mom called and wants to take the girls to the Watertown zoo, the girls love the zoo. They are quite fond of Jackie's mom Ann. The girls respond well to ladies, and tend to build strong bonds with them. The weather has turned to almost freezing at night, and South Dakota for some reason is about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than where we were in Montana.
Interview with a Guide and Outfitter, Loren Wahl,and his son Shawn in Broadus Montana. While bird hunting and adventuring my way through Montana I came about as far east as I could go. The Powder River County with a population of 1500 that is, and the town of Broadus with 500. I had my two granddaughters Scarlett and Hailey with me. I had read about Powder River Wildlife Museum in Broadus and we wanted to see it. It is at: Powder River Taxidery and Guide Service. The Museum was on the upper floor and was close for the time being.
The Taxidermy part of the business was open and had hundreds of trophy mounts, in various stages of completion. The business is a four generation operation and the oldest member is Loren Wahl who started the guiding business.
I am very interested in big game hunting, especially rifles and bullets. I really enjoyed the Ask the Guides series of books, where various guides are asked there opinions. The books are Ask the Elk Guide, Ask the Bear Guide, Ask the Mule Deer Guide etc. The guides are asked various questions and the rifle and bullet choices are always my favorite.
I got the idea of interviewing the crew of the shop about there operation, with a special interest in the guns, ammo, and knives, and the taxidermy work.
Loren was the most excited about the interviewing, and I found out he really wanted to write a book about his adventures.
The interview proved more difficult than I first imagined, because everyone was so busy. So instead of taking the two days I figured on, it took a week. And instead of setting down and videoing the interview, which prove impossible, I had to catch everyone on the move.
Loren was the easiest to corner because he was always in the same place, behind the meat grinder, or in the meat cutting area. So all I had to do was get him talking.
I really needed another week to nail everything down, but such is life and I did not have the time. So I did my best.
Most of this interview was with Loren Walh, who at the time of the interview was in his 70s. He got off to what most of us would consider a ruff start. When he was 6 his mother and father divorced and his brother went with his dad, and he with his mom. However on the way out of town he was dropped off by his mom at the orphanage where he lived a few years until his grandparents came and picked him up. He had a good life with lots of adventures and plenty of hunting and fishing. All went well until he was drafted into the into the Vietnam war.
I think the first real concern he had over the war was when he trained on the M 14 rifle which takes .308 rounds, and then is handed an AR which takes .223 rounds. It did not help any that the gun looked like some kind of toy. I thought it was some kind of joke for the new boots Loren told me. Things went down hill from there, the wiz kids had a better idea, and changed the case, and powder on the round, and the new gun jammed. Not only that, but there was no cleaning rod or cleaning kit, not at first anyway. They were told the gun did not need it because it was self cleaning. To make the story short, a lot of good young Americans were killed because of this.
The war should have been won, but because of the likes of Hanoi Fonda, and the Wiz kids the war ended badly according to Loren. Loren showed a sadness when he talked of the loss of life of friends and fellow solders. Then he said, “that's all I'm going to say about that”.
So for him the .223 Remington was out. The 220 Swift on a Remington 700 platform with a high powered scope was the best .22 caliber rifle, and when coyote pelts were bring almost 100 dollars it was the rig that got the job done. When I asked him about the reputation of the round being a barrel burner, he said that was non since and if the round was not loaded to max the barrel would be fine. So now we were talking of such things that interested me.
What do you recommend of clients when they asked you what gun to bring on the hunt? Loren paused and thought for a second. I think the pause was on how to say it, not what the advise to clients would be. Loren went on to say that he believed that game cannot be killed to dead, and a wounded animal was of no use, and a sad thing for the animal. So his advice was to bring the biggest gun that you can shoot well. This was pretty common advice from many guides I have read about. The other common suggestions from guides is to bring the deer rifle that you are use to shooting and shoot well, even for elk.
The next question was what rifle, scope, and cartridge did he himself use. The answer was a Remington 700, in 7mm Remington Magnum with 160 grain Sierra bullets, with a 2 x 7 or 3 x 9 Leopold scope. Are you talking about Elk as well as deer and antelope I asked. Yes was the answer, and that he had shot dozens of Elk with the round and it always worked great.
Any guns you don't like I asked. Yes, he said, I don't like the 6.5 Creedmoor. The gun is over hipped and to many people proclaim it as a cartridge that can do anything, and that it's a long range hunting gun that can drop any game even a very long ranges. This he said was simply not the truth, and he went on to say that he was not a fan of big powered scopes ether, and all those hash marks and mill dots just cluttering ones field of view, also those big sniper type knobs are something he is not a fan of. Hunting is about getting close for a clean kill. If I can get a bow hunter within 40 yards then I can get a rifle hunter within a couple of hundred yards he went on to say. Hunting is not snipping game at long distances. Four hundred yards is about the max that I want a hunter shooting at, and that only after I know for a fact that the hunter can make such long shots.
Loren was also not a fan of cocky, arrogant, or know it all hunters. Just give me the average guy who has saved up his money for the hunt, they are the best kind of people to guide. He tells of a hunter that was on a sheep hunt with him and when he ask the client about how far a shot he felt he could make the client held up his hand and said stop right there. Get me anywhere under 600 yards and I can make the shot. He had new fancy gun and scope but he could not make any of the long shots, and they spent a lot of time chasing game around before they were able to get him close enough to make the shot.
When I see a client come in with an old battered gun case where the zipper is broken, and the hunter pulls out a old well worn gun I know things are going to go well.
How do you like your rifle set up I ask. The answer was: I like wood, I'm old fashion and I like the feel and looks of wood. I like a little upward pressure on the front of the barrel and I think it makes the gun shoot better. I like a 2 x7 or 3. 9 scope with a duplex. I sight my gun in to shoot 3 inches high at 100 yards. This is the set up that Loren said he likes.
The 7mm with 160 grain bullets at 3000 fps sited in 3 inches high at 100 yard will give the shooter a point blank shooting range out to 350 yards meaning all the shooter has to do is aim at the center of the animal and the bullet will hit a vital area. Because the way the scope is set up in relationship to the barrel the bullet rises and then falls. The 3 inch high at 100 yard site in takes advantage of this. At 50 yards the bullet impacts about 1.5” high, at 100 yards 3” high, at 150 yards the bullet is still rising and reaches it's highest point at approx. 3.5” high, the bullet remains about 3” high at 200 yards and stays above the aiming point out to 250 yards. Then at 300 yards the bullet is impacting 2” low and at 350 yards the bullet impacts about 6.5 inches low. This 3 inch high site in at 100 yards is very common for hunters and is something dad used as for back as the 60s.
I did ask about specific cartridges. I asked if the biggest cartridge that you can shoot could be carried to far, like a 375 H & H.? Well he said, two boys from Texas both brought 375s because they were later going to Africa and wanted to get use to them. He said one of them shot an antelope and the horologic pressure when shot in the stomach cause the intestines to be pushed out the other side. Other cartridges I asked about were.
The 6mm Remington? Great for antelope and deer but to small for Elk.
The 270 Winchester? Very good, would use the 150s for Elk.
The 300 Winchester? Excellet!
The 338 Winchester? Pretty powerful!
Loren talked about getting a 7mm Ultra Mag. but because of a shoulder problem the recoil was to much, and he gave it to his son Shawn who loves it, and his grandson Dillon shoots the 300 Ultra Mag. I felt that Loren thought these the ultimate of big game guns for North America.
When I once again touched on bullets, I was surprised by the 160 grain Sierra bullets in the 7mm, and Sierra in general for the use on elk. Many hunting guides recommended the premium bullets such as Nosler or Swift framed type bullets or their bonded bullets, thinking the cup and core Sierra bullet unable to hold together and penetrate when something hard is hit. Loren went on to say that he liked the lead tip bullets better that the newer plastic tips. My Dad loved the 180 Sierra's on deer with the 300 Win. Mag. because he wanted them to drop in their tracks.
Shawn was in on part of this conversation and said he liked the Swift Sirocco bonded bullet, and they have never lost an Elk with them, but when they used the Nosler Accubonds, which are also a bonded bullet, they lost 3 well hit Elk, two were shot with the 7mm Ultra Mag, and one with the 300 Ultra Mag. It's information like this that causes your head to spin, the Nosler Accubond is a darling of many, myself included. Shawn thought that maybe the bullets were just pushing through without expanding, or did expand and pushed on through, adding that he wanted the bullet to expend all it's energy inside the animal.
I did not ask about bullet placement but I am assuming it was behind the shoulder and not a high shoulder shot that many are now recommending with premium bullets. I never really considered much of a difference between the Accubonds and the Siroccos. Both are premium bonded bullets with a boat tail and ballistic tip.
I asked Loren about Barnes bullets and he said they were good bullets but did not elaborate.
When I asked both Shawn and his father Loren about what kind of clients they did not care for. Both do not like uppity know it all people, but in truth who does? But by listening to both Loren and Shawn It's the clients and their guns. They can handle in stride such inconveniences as super over weight people who can't get around very well as long they have a good attitude. Here are a couple of examples of such hunters and their guns. Shawn was guiding someone and he had found them a nice buck that was not to far off laying down. However the client could not find the deer in his scope. It was one of the high powered scopes and the client just could not find the deer in the scope. The buck stood up and the client could still not see the buck and the buck walked off.
Another was when Loren got a client on an antelope, and the antelope had no idea that they were there. So the client was cleared for the shot, but nothing. Some time went by and the antelope started staring at them. When Loren looked over at the client, the client was on his back with his legs up and the rifle waving in the air, and this is what the antelope saw. The antelope trotted off. When the client was asked what he was doing, he said he had different loads for different animals or maybe it was different yardages.
Loren said that he thought most people took to long to shoot when presented a good opportunity and often lost the shooting window.
But it was not really the clients that cause the most problems but the Game Department and the constant changes in regulations, and the ever increasing cost of doing business. 38 cents of every dollar going out to a government agency. Then there was the astronomical amount of money going out to insurance, even though what they did was among the safest of endeavors. Then if they were using horses, the added coat of the horses and the wranglers needed to handle the horses. Then there was an added fee every time they crossed over BLM or State land. Such things as the amount of money that could be made by more clients diminished. Where once you might be able to guide seven clients into an area, now you may only be allowed to have one.
But it finely became apparent they had lost there mind was when a officer came into camp and asked what they were going to do with the camp water. He said he was going to pour it over on that tree over there. Oh no, you can't do that, you must burn it. Ok, he said as soon as you tell me how I'm going to burn water.
Neither Loren or Shawn had much respect for the Game Department, an incompetent group that was more concerned about money then game management and who considered guides and outfitters as crooks and poachers.
Loren said he was involved in a deer count. They went out into an alfalfa field and got into a line and they all has hula hoops, and they would all toss them in front of them and then count of deer dropping, and then that info would be taken back and ran through a program that gave the number of deer in the area. Not even considering he figured that most deer did not live in an alfalfa field.
Then there were the years when they were trying to tell the dept. that the deer and antelope population were going down. Some young biologist with more schooling then since would tell them, no the numbers were way up. Then for some unknown insane reason the Dept. started selling anyone and everyone these large numbers of doe tags. It was so bad that many locals bought up the tags to try and save the deer. Both the number of antelope and deer now are near rock bottom where there seems to be more elk than deer. No they are not big fans.
You have to love this way of life to remain involved in it. Loren told me that Shawn was a hell of a football player and had a full ride to the State University, but gave it up to follow in his dads footsteps of guiding and outfitting. Kind of like the head of the family in Duck Dynasty when he walked off the football field in college because he would rather be duck hunting.
I wish I would have had more time to talk to the family about guiding and outfitting. I truly missed out on a hundreds of good stories. But what I did learn was about a family that is blessed because they are working together through the good times and the bad time. They handle what is tossed their way and remain steadfast to a belief that if they work hard, remain honest, and keep the family together everything will work out for the better. There is so much more to be told about this family, but that's all I have for now.
October 2, 2022. We are enjoying our stay in Corona SD, and the dogs are catching up on a much needed rest. The girls are also enjoying the visit as well. One of our first stops was the Redlin Art Museum in Watertown SD. There are a lot of fun things to see and do in the area and we are looking forward a few of them. Yardsales and thrift stores are always fun, and we will get a few in as well.
As for the dogs, we have a baseball field that seems to be all ours. The dogs and Scarlett seem to really love the ball time. Scarlett is getting pretty good with both the chuchit, and the racket. The smaller pups Donny and Marie are doing extremely well and becoming bold and confident, as are the older pups, Douglas, Peter, Jane, and Magen. We will use some of the time here to work on some standard obedience training with them.
The girls are doing pretty good, Scarlett a little better than Hailey. Hailey lost their phone, does not want to do her school work, and her overall behavior has room for improvement.
October 4, 2022. We remain in Corona SD, and it's pretty much kick back here. We are able to work with the dogs more, and all the dogs are doing well. We have a great camp site right in the Corona Part, which is pretty much all ours. There is a huge grass fenced in baseball field that we use four or five times a day, plus a fenced in area at Jackie's that we use for the pups. The girls are working with the pups on leash work, and crate training which Donny and Marie at about 8 weeks are just starting. The girls are hanging out with Jackie and her mom Ann and doing such things as baking. Yesterday it was oatmeal cookies, and banana bread. A few days before that they made an apple pie. The girls have been looking forward to this part of the trip for a while now. Not sure where the next part of the trip will be. We want to try and make it to see the 1860s Fort Sisseton which is one of the best preserved of the old Forts.
October 17, 2022. We never made to the zoo, or Fort Sisseton; however we did get out and about quite a bit. We made it into Ortonville Mn. which is just 20 miles from where we were in Corona SD. There was a thrift store there selling cloths for 25 cents, and Jackets for 3 dollars or under. We ended up making a few trips there to get the needed warmer weather items for Sled Dog Camp in Isabella Mn. We went other places as well to get the needed items such as boots, pants, socks, Jackets etc.
We are pretty much ready for Camp, just hoping it's not to cold for us. I spent about 40 minutes talking to Chuck Gould the owner and I am pretty jazzed. We are going to help him with some Youtube interviews and information about his operation, as well as some other projects. He has an electric hook up for us so all should be good. They just got their 2nd snow, and he said it usually sticks by the 3rd show. Wednesday the weather will be much warmer than the 22 degrees we have today which is Monday. Also on Wednesday Megan will have her splint and padding changed. We were going to leave her with Jackie but decided to take her with us.
Since we have been here the fall leaves have changed from green to yellow, and after last nights freeze many trees have lost all their leaves. Pheasant hunting season has just opened but the numbers are way down in this area, so we are going to pass on hunting here and instead we choose to adventure in Minnesota. There are grouse there so we may try some hunting as well.
The trailer has been arranged to accommodate all the dogs. The dinning area has been stripped and twin sleeping areas put in. Also we have crates set up which is new for us.
Yesterday Dusty traveled over the rainbow bride and this is what I wrote about her for friends and family. “Yesterday another one went to the happy hunting grounds. As many of you know last Wednesday we were headed to the vet to have Dusty Rose put down, but at that time I was unable to follow through with it. She could still get around even though it seemed at times she did not know where she was. I cried a lot that day, but it was nice to have her back home with us.
Then just three days later she took a major turn for the worse. She was having a tuff time standing, and she keep rolling off her bed, so I put her in bed with me. She had a pretty hard night because she wanted to get up and off the bed.
The next morning which was Sunday (yesterday) I tried to get her to stand up but it was just to much for her. She keep looking up and me with those cloudy eyes asking for my help, and there was nothing I could do. So I picked her up with tears coming down and placed her in the front seat of the truck next to me and headed to our favorite walk in hunting area a few miles from town.
This is the area we often went to last year when we were here. The girl last year would run and play on the round hay bales and the dogs would run free in the field. It was one of the last areas where Dusty ran free, and where she got to chase one of her last pheasants. I remembered back about a week earlier when I saw Dusty play and act her old self even if it was just for a moment. She had been playing with the pups when a butterfly flew by and she jumped at it and tried to catch it, and for a brief moment I saw her young again.
This field where she once played and hunted is where I set her spirit free. One last hug, and a teary goodbye and I released her of her pain and confusion. I berried her near a windmill looking over where the kids once played and the Gang and her ran free. Be free my old friend, we will always remember you.
At 16 years, 2 months, and 5 days she lived the most wonderful life any dog could ask for. The many years at night she sleep under the covers at Kim's feet. She was Kim's best friend. And oh the stories I could tell. The 17 below night we spent sleeping together on a South Dakota pheasant hunt. The great water retrieve she made that same trip. Or the time she was pointing a cotton tail in the brush and it tried to run between her legs and she snatched it up. Or the many bucks she tracked down for friends. Or the times she was just there for us to love. Those were the best times.”
It was a great loss for sure, she was a wonderful dog in so many ways and a member of our family for so many years. We had so many wonderful hunts and outing together and someday I will need to write them down. I wish Kim would have been here with us to say goodbye.
Our stay in Corona has been very nice for all of us. The Gang has been able to put some needed weight back on, and we have fell into a simple routine with them. The younger pups have gotten some needed development time as well. They are coming along very well and growing like weeds. I love pups and they always make me feel like a little boy. I love watching them run, play, and do battle with each other. We have been working on their recall and retrieving as well. Peter, Douglas, and Marie are very good retrievers. Not a lot of adventures on this stop, but more relaxing, eating and simple fun.
We have been on the road just over 2 months, and have traveled into 9 states.
November 25, 2022 finds us outside Isabella Minnesota at Kiwatchi Adventures, Dog Sled Mushing Camp at 9871 Hwy 1Isabella MN 55607. Kiwatchi is a working Sled Dog Kennel that is active in Sled Dog racing. They are featuring bloodlines from the top winning leaders in the sport to date.
We arrived here early Friday morning the 21st after a very nice visit in Corona SD. We arrived to Blue Bird weather and set up our camp. We were met by the owner Chuck Gould. We were provided an electric hook up which is always a good thing. The first day we were shown around the camp and we met the approx. 91 dogs that are on the place. We also met Kylie one of the partners and her sister Sid.
We were given the use of a tie out line which is a 40 foot cable with 9, one foot drop down leads to snap the dogs on. We put that between two trees and pulled it tight with a ratchet strap. This proved very helpful getting all the dogs tied out. We would put the dogs on these, as well as out chains and then they could bounce between them, the trailer, and the truck with ease.
The first day way spent looking around, snapping photos, visiting the dogs, and helping out where ever we could. The kennel had not yet started training dogs for the season, and it was still a little warm. They had snow the week before and then ice, but the ice keep them from running dogs.
Saturday and Sunday was spent by the girls and I helping with a building that they were putting up. Two workers came in, Roland and Tammy. Roland was the carpenter that was in charge, and Tammy his girlfriend helper. This would be a side job for them. The hole weekend for the most part was working on his building which would be a warming room, trophy room, and a viewing room for people to watch the last leg of the sled dog ride that is part of the kennel operation and where the adventure part comes in.
There was cleaning up to do, boards to be worked with, walls to be put up, windows to be found, painting to be done, etc., and we all did our part. From morning to night we all stayed busy. I made lunches for the crew both days and in all we had a good time. Also there was plenty of stories by Chuck who loves to tell stories. I was also shown sleds, snow hooks, harnesses, and all kinds of goodies. We all went to bed early those days.
Chuck at 80 is a machine when it comes to working and has a million plans for the future in his head, and many are in action as well. He is in super shape, and boy can he work. Sunday after the workers left, he took Scarlett down to a knotty pine and showed her how to cut it down with a chainsaw. The pine was then pulled up to the shop to be worked on. The tree with all these knots is going to be the main brace for the middle beam in the warming room that we were working on. Chuck went and got a two handle scraper and started peeling it, and at 7:30 when it was getting dark and I headed to the trailer, Chuck was still peeling the pine.
Monday the 24th was a big day for us and was what we were here for, and that was training our Gang to be sled dogs. This was quite the experience for us. The plan was to run a 20 man team with some of our dogs snapped in too. They would be pulling a quad with a trailer hooked to it. So I was to pick 6 dogs, so I picked Jackson and Dux for wheel dogs, the two dogs closest two the sled, or in this case the wheeler. Next would go Tracy and Miracle, and then paired up would be Sunshine and Ruby Jane. After everyone was hooked up the command to move out was given. This was accompanied with sheer pandemonium coming from the 14 sled dogs in front of the Gang. Scarlett and I set in the trailer and Hailey with Chuck. We were off at a slow pace even though the sled dogs wanted a fast pace. The brakes were applied enough to slow the team down. All our dogs did very well at first, then Jackson was not having a fun time and kept trying to turn around. We stopped and picked him up for a bit, and later put him back into string. He did very well after that. Dux was the standout dog, and he really loved to pull. Chuck was surprisingly impressed by him, and the whole gang. Telling me that he had seen many Huskies that did not do all well on there first start.
October 26, 2022 finds us with full working days. There are always things to do. This is a very big operation and something always comes up to do. Chuck got a call from his good friend Maury about a large amount of dog food he got. By big I mean about 9 tons. This would be 3 pallets of ground meat and one of some kind of dried ground dog food. I tagged along on what I thought would be a short ride. The girls were left back with Kylie and we left at 3:30 pm and got back at 5 am. 14 hours. This goes along with the type of working man Chuck is. The whole lot of food wound cost twenty dollars. Maury would turn out to be a colorful person with quick wit who knows everyone and has his hands in everything.
One part of the trip which that may have caused up a little more time was our first meeting place, which was a big club that has a pool tournament going on. The order was beer, tacos, scratch offs, and a lot of bull shitting. I'm not a drinker so one beer and then water was for me.
When we did finely get to Maury's house there was of course more talking, joke telling and a challenge for me to catch a man fighting large rooster. They however did not know that I was indeed a master of catching man fighting roosters. So when the gate was opened I made quick work of the battling cock. He flared up with wings back and feet out and tried to flog me but I just snatched him up and held him by the base of his wings and he was no longer mobile. I would then return to catch up the hen with him and we would have chicken for dinner the next day.
The next day after 4 hours of sleep we were all up and back to work. There was a fight among the sled dogs after one broke his chain, and stitches were in order for one of them.
Our dogs would receive large pieces of ground meat that they will eat on until and after we leave. There has been little time because of the work, and heat in the afternoon to work our dogs, and every time we plan to work our dogs something came up. We are enjoying our visit so this has been of little concern. However I'm hoping this will soon change. As of yet Sophie, Bajenks, Martha, and Debra have not had a chance to pull a sled. The Gang would not need a lot of sled dogging time, but would need enough time to get the hang of it.
Well we did make it out with the Gang to do some Mushing, or at least pulling a wheeler. We had ten of the Gang members or 11 if you count our new lead dog Kirby. Kirby and a dog named Connie were the two lead dogs, and there were 8 more of Chucks dogs behind them. Our dogs paired were Sophie and Bajenks at the wheel, then Dux and Tracy, also paired were Debra and Sunshine, Jackson and Martha, and Miracle and Ruby Jane. This was the first time for Sophie, Bajenks, Debra, and Martha, and only the 2nd time for the rest.
The 20 dogs were pulling the 4 wheeler with Chuck, the girls and I on it. We started of a bit slow, the wheeler was not started and it did seem to be a little heavy for the dogs. It took a little while for our new dogs to understand that they were supposed to pull. They not only got the hang of it, but to Chucks was supersized that they learned the commands as well.
Sophie was the last to get the hang of it and at first she was not pulling. Bajenks did great from the start and it was clear that he understood almost from the start what was expected of him. He is a big dog and a good puller. Dux did great again today, he really digs in and pulls hard. He probably is our hardest puller. The biggest surprise was young Debra, who is the youngest of the Gang members at only 8 months. She pulled extremely well and Chuck said she was going to make a good lead dog along with Dux.
We went 4 miles and the dogs did better on the return, after they understood what was wanted of them. Chuck said he was impressed the first time they ran, and even more impressed the second time even though we added the new dogs. He said they did better than his young dogs, and the fact that they picked up the commands already was remarkable.
We had ran two 20 dog teams in the morning and many of the dogs made mistakes, or had some problems. The Gang on their run never seemed to have a real problem. So we are off to a very good start and I am well pleased and proud of the Gang members.
October 30, 2022. The last few days have been full ones. We went into Ely to do some shopping and to go to the International Wolf Center. They had a pack of five wolves that we were able to watch, and I was able to get some very nice photos. The girls had a great time.
We were able to get in another sled dog run with the dogs and they all did very well.
We went on an Outing in Chuck's Ranger to do some trail work and some site seeing. Chuck got a Judge revolver that shoots 45 long colt and 410 shot shells. He wanted to try it on grouse if we saw one. He did pattern it last week and was not to impressed. However we got close to one and he tried to shoot it with the 6” revolver but it proved that it was not up to the task. I did however get some photos.
October 30, 2022. The last few days have been full ones. We went into Ely to do some shopping and to go to the International Wolf Center. They had a pack of five wolves that we were able to watch, and I was able to get some very nice photos. The girls had a great time.
We were able to get in another sled dog run with the dogs and they all did very well.
We went on an Outing in Chuck's Ranger to do some trail work and some site seeing. Chuck got a Judge revolver that shoots 45 long colt and 410 shot shells. He wanted to try it on grouse if we saw one. He did pattern it last week and was not to impressed. However we got close to one and he tried to shoot it with the 6” revolver but it proved that it was not up to the task. I did however get some photos.
November 1, 2022 finds us closing in on the 3 month mark and we are about ready to head for the Redneck Ranch, where we have a lot of work to do.
Yesterday was Halloween and I took the girls into the town of Ely Mn. Which is a very nice town of about 3500 people. There was a trunk or treat at the park, free ice cream cones at the DQ, and a bag of treats at the store. After that the girls ran around town, or at least a few streets then we headed back to camp. The girls had fun.
We had the craziest day of sled dogging yesterday. There were two groups running, each with 20 dogs. Kylie and the girls with one group and Chuck and I with the other. We were practicing passing as we have been doing each day. Both groups had stopped for some reason close to each other. They are running a lot of young dogs, and to be fair they are doing very well, and are extremely fast. According to Chuck they are the fastest that he has ever had. However they need more training. For some unknown reason the leaders of Kylie's group decided to turn around in the road and tried to head back the other way. This caused a huge tangle in the line, and got some dogs in an incredible mess. It seems that the first place to start in a tangle is at the back, and then work toward the lead dogs. There were four of us working on this, and I cannot imagine trying to untangle this group with only one person. Scarlett went up to hold the other team, to keep them from doing the same thing. However while we were working on Kylie's dogs, Chuck's team leaders tried to head into the forest. Scarlett did a good job of keeping them from getting completely out of control. We finely got both groups straightened out.
The Outing seemed to have more problems then in previous ones. There is one white dog that kept slipping his harness off, and the dogs in the front kept trying to hump the lead male dog. So there was a lot of moving dogs around.
Then there is the work of getting the dogs ready in the morning. 40 dogs are taken from their chains and snapped onto a tie out line, and from the tie out line the harness is put on them, and from the tie out line they go to the main line of the rig. And while on the main line they are going crazy, jumping, lunging, and barking. This is a crazy time, every single dog in the whole kennel is screaming and running around on their chain. The dogs are let off of their chain and they run around the kennel and into the are that has the tie out line. Then from there they have to be caught, but often they are running around like a wild dog. After they are caught they you have to get them to the tie out line which is often not easy. The girls are good at this, and are fearless but sometimes it's all they can do to get them on the line. Then the harnessing is often no easy task. Sometimes it is, the dog stands there and puts their head through the harness, and then stands there nicely. However often they are bouncing around like mad, or they are shy, or won't give you their head. Also the harness is a mass of straps that is confusing at first, and it's hard to make heads or tails of it. There is a head and a belly area and they both have to go over the dogs head, and then you have to find the areas that the legs go through, making sure you don't have it inside out. At first it's not easy. Kylie showed us a way to hold the head and belly area together and slip it over the dogs head, but you do this upside down and then turn the whole harness around. This works very well. Scarlett was the first to get the harnessing down, but often I would find her standing there perplexed turning the harnessing around and then asking me for help, you also have to make sure it's not inside out. Then when you get back from the outings you reverse all this and get them back to their living area. Believe me all this takes a while.
Our Gang is pretty easy in comparison, they all come together to the harnessing area and are easier to snap up and harness. Not that Shorthairs as a whole are calmer but that we have been working with them everyday. On the last outing with the Gang which was there fourth they all did pretty good with the exception of Sophie, this at her age, and her being overweight sledding is not for her. Also Sunshine is in full heat so we left her home. There were some new observations. 7 month Debra has moved up to doing the best according to Chuck, and then Martha, Dux, Miracle, Tracy, and Bajenks. I did not see Debra any better than Dux, and Martha? I thought Miracle was doing better than Martha. But Chuck is the expert.
Nov. 1, 2022 PM. Today all the dogs ran much better with hardly a problem. Chuck and Kylie's dogs are doing well, considering a late start according to them. Scarlett is really getting into this and picking up on a lot of stuff. Today she paired up our dogs. First she got her note book out and put in some time thinking about the pairs and this is what she came up with: Bajenks and Dux at the wheel, or closest to the rig. Next up were Tracy and Jackson, then Martha and Debra, and in front of them were Miracle and Ruby. They all did pretty well. I thought Dux did the best, and Debra pretty close. Miracle, Martha, Ruby Jane, and Bajenks in that order. It was our fifth and final run and I think we have learned what we came for and more.
This will be our last full day, and tomorrow we will finish packing and head out. Chuck wants to ride with us to the Cities, so that will be our first destination. The girls want to stay longer and I know it would be good for them but I want to leave while we have good weather ahead of us. They really like Chuck and Kylie. Scarlett is already making plans with Grandma Kim to move up here. Scarlett loves the sled dogging. I would like to come back in the winter when they start racing, and I know the girls and Kim would enjoy that.
November 4, 2022. We left Sled Dog Camp with Chuck, and gave him a ride to his house near the Twin Cities. We spent the night there which was pretty interesting. Chuck was able to show us a lot of his art work that he had done over the years as he was an artist in commercial advertising. The girls took a shower and spent the night in a regular bed. Chuck and I talked dogs and watched the 2022, 50th anniversary of the Iditarod Sled Race. Chuck knows the winner Brent Sass, and Brent's father. Brent is going to spend the winter of 2023 or 2024 with Chuck. Brent wants to be close to his family who are from Minnesota.
The morning of the 5th we headed out, but not before I was able to record Chuck for a YouTube post. We talked of Chuck's life, with an emphases on his sled dog career which is at 50 years now and still going strong. Chuck is the winningest Musher in Minnesota history. It was hard for the girls to say goodbye to both Chuck, and Kylie, they had formed a pretty good bond while we were there. The Next stop would be an overnight at Love's Truck stop that had a dog park, and the next day we would go on into Corona SD where we would return some items to Jackie, and get a new tire for the trailer, and a windshield wiper for the truck. The wiper was 40 dollars at O'Riley auto parts, which seemed way to high for one, a pair would have been 80 dollars. We had a nice visit and Sunday morning we started for home in Wellton Az.
We got into Yankton SD around noon, and headed to their Dog Park. We were getting pretty good at getting the Gang in and out of the parks pretty fast. The dog park was a very large one with two areas, but it was set up a little odd. The second smaller one was set up as a dog agility course with quite a few obstacles. The sign said that big dogs were allowed but must give way to smaller dogs. However all the smaller dogs were in the big park. The girls wanted to do the agility course, and they did have a blast running around the course. I really did not want the gang around all the small dogs. They might decide they were cats or something and eat one of them.
We fed and watered all the dogs and were putting the Gang back into their riding places when a man showed up with a small wiener dog with hairy ears. He asked me if the dogs were mine. I said yes, and he said that I had to get them out of that area so he could use it. Stating that his dog did not get along with bigger dogs. I told him that we were loading ours up now. He told me to hurry up that his time was valuable. His tone right from the start was so rude that I got irritated. For the most part things like this don't solicit a response from me. I never even get mad or have road rage when people do something stupid while driving. But for some reason I could not help myself. He was a big man about my age and I figured he was relishing in his self-righteousness knowing he had the right to the park and that I would have to leave.
So I asked him why he was being so rude? I go through this all the time with people and I'm tired of it he said. Seem pretty stupid to me to get upset over big dogs in the agility area where they have a right to be I said. Just hurry up and get your dogs out of their, you are wasting my time. So you think I'm going to go faster with that attitude? I knew I should be quiet, but I have always hated bullies, and his guy was truly a bully. If he felt he could talk to me like this no telling how he treated others. I wanted to stay and teach him a real lesson, but I was in a hurry. We had quite a bit of loud back and forth, and for the first time in a long time I thought about kicking someone's ass. Then I thought about going to jail, and getting the girls and dogs taken away so I let that idea fade away.
I also knew that it was not the Christian thing to do, and that I was not setting a good example for the girls, and that I would have to explain to them that I was wrong for getting mad, and engaging someone the way I did. But I wanted to leave all my young dogs in the agility area, which would have been seven dogs under 17 inches and they would have drove him and his dog crazy. I really wanted to be a bigger ass than I was already being but I came to my senses and just slashed his tires. Not really, we just loaded up and left, but not before the girls let out some of the puppies and they ran and jumped on him. The man was so mad over that, yelling get these dogs away form me.
Back in the truck the girls were so mad, and kept going on about how the man was such a jerk and they were telling me what they wanted to do to him, and about what I should have done. I spent some time explaining to them why what I did was wrong, and what I should have done. About how as Christians we are not suppose to act in an unloving manner, and to turn the other cheek.
I think they understood, and we called grandma Kim, so she could also tell the girls how to act in such a situation.
It would be a couple more days before we made it to Wellton Az. and the Redneck Ranch. The trip from Isabella Mn to Wellton Az Would take almost 43 hours of driving, and 2200 miles. We had been on the road for 3 months and had covered 14 states. We had a wonderful adventure, and other than one man in a dog park we had no problems with people, and no close calls driving.
We were glad to be home, the girls were overjoyed to be back in their own rooms. They played, in the house, yard, and in the water tank. Now it's back to work, but we will also enjoy ourselves. The only thing missing is Grandma Kim who will join us as soon as she can.