A long hiatus…

Back when blogging was the next big thing and I was getting this one going, I’d promised myself I’d keep it updated and not allow big gaps of dead air or just forget about it in general… which I’ve essentially accomplished over the last two years. Oops.

I will say one thing, back when the site began, I had a regular boring 8-5… it paid the bills and was completely unrelated to dogs, birds and double guns.] Over the last two years I jumped into the outdoor industry- particularly in the realm of bird dogs and bird hunting. As such, my writing and web effort was focused there and not here.

I suppose the first order of business is updating the details of this website, I run in a lot more field trials than what is presently alluded to. It’s something I enjoy- while grouse hunting provides solitude, field trials surely bring like-minded folks together. Pop had been up with Scott and Marc Forman at Shady Hills Kennel for the entire summer and fall. When you put a dog with those two, you know the dog will get a lot of work and individual attention. I don’t think any other pros out there put the time and effort collectively into their clients dogs as these two do day in and out.

Blaze on the other hand had remained here and has split his day routine to either roading/conditioning or runs on wild or liberated birds whether they were woodcock (pre-nesting eariler in the spring) or on PGC released pheasant on SGL. Annie and Tipper have been getting in some time as well. I would like to retire Tipper from here, he’s not even close to retirement age but I’d like to get him placed somewhere where he will remain in place, mostly inside living and in the woods, hunting. “Retirement” for him ideally means a cushy life with more individual hunting in during seasons, still essentially in the prime of his career.

Why? Well, for me this will free some time and space up for more trial prospects and I’m already on the lookout this spring for another couple prospects. Setter litters appear to be thin this spring. Adding more will get us further away from the original blog name, the original spin on the Side X Side Setters name was having two setters, but that’s okay with me. Some pups will keep the boys busy.

I can’t really recap all the hunting and dog activity that’s transpired over this long gap. I will say I’ve been to MN, WI, MI, NY, WV, VA, TN, NC and GA running dogs or seeking birds.

Below is a photo dump of some highlights during this hiatus…

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Popinjay

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Popinjay

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Annie – Woodcock

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Carrying a load of elk parts 2 miles uphill to the crest. (Oct. 2016)

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Dolly Sods, WV Vista

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Blaze, just thrilled he actually got woods time on this trip.

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Tipper with a 1/2017 bird.

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The grouse wagon was upgraded.

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Pop with a bird 1/2016.

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Blaze.

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Annie, spring 2016 woodcock training.

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Blaze roading, spring 2016.

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The boys on a spring 2016 brook trout trip.

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Brook trout trip, lunch of the tailgate.

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Caught quite a few, released all.

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Got the first placement on this dog as a puppy, and another one in an amatuer derby stake for a friend that couldn’t make it there.

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PA Birds

IMG_8908.JPGI’ve finally had the chance to get out in PA over the last couple weeks. One thing I wanted to determine for myself was the reports of low grouse numbers. Unfortunately I tend to concur with them. I wouldn’t say it’s a doomsday drop, but I would say it does seem to be a significant drop. In my home field arena, I’m fairly certain I have not seen a bird from this year’s hatch- they’ve all been big, leary birds. I’m at a 20 grouse count over about 16 hours of woods time in Pennsylvania, and that includes 4 road birds while out traveling. So yeah, a bird an hour average in grouse cover stinks. What’s bright side? Heck, I don’t know… perhaps next year we’ll get an easy winter for grouse and favorable nesting weather too? That’s about it, they’re certainly not getting much of any help from anyone from the state  on a statewide level. DCNR doesn’t do much of anything in this department, as far as what I could find handily to illustrate this, according to their website, in 2010 they worked on about 2,000 acres for “early successional” and none of that included cutting. (Less than 1/20th of 1% percent.) That’s what the grouse in PA have to deal with, combine that with a lousy, wet spring and it’s no wonder why a few weeks of weather can have such a dramatic impact on numbers.

091515_RGS_logoOne thing to consider is joining the Ruffed Grouse Society. If you’ve been involved in the past but haven’t been involved or active since 2013, take another look, good things are happening at both headquarters and states with active chapters. Their help is the best bet at getting things moving forward in a positive way for ruffed grouse in Pennsylvania. If you pursue grouse with any regularity (or woodcock, deer, etc), you owe it to the birds to be involved.

http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/membership-levels

Little Sure Shot with grouseI’ve spent half my time in the PA woods on public ground, the bird numbers actually being better than my private grouse haunts. This past weekend I spent an overnight at camp to get a full day in. It was a slow day. The highlight was provided by Annie working a running bird out of an “endless” laurel brook bottom into a small clump of hemlock (10×10′?) with a open logging road on the other side… pinned bird. Dad was along and on the road to be in the perfect spot for the flush and downed it. Annie has been the most productive dog so far, Blaze being the second.

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Back from the Mid-West…

I spent considerable time out in the mid-west this past month. One week with just one dog, another week with four of the dogs. These were interesting trips, comparatively to Pennsylvania, the worst days (in bird numbers) in those states would have been some best days here in Pennsylvania so far this year. Perhaps out of all I took away from those travels is that the grouse guys in PA (NY, VA, MD, etc) must really be diehards to put the time and toil for the amount of bird contacts they average. Those numbers also holding heavy bearing on how dogs are bred and handled, specifically in regards to their range. I remained quiet on “big running dog” comments on dogs that usually kept within a 150 yard radius… Pop was put down and it wasn’t long before he had that surpassed three times over. Pop has had a relatively free reign of deciding on his own range since running as a puppy… go out and find birds. There’s been bumps of course but he’s proven from puppy age he’s cautious and mannerly with birds so I’ve let him roll to this point. He’s the easiest handling dog I’ve had, stays forward, easy to turn. He’s at the age now where it’s time to start ratcheting him in a hair when he begins to stretch out further and further. Stretch out further is what he did out west but don’t let the word west fool you, this was still in grouse cover that’s actually thicker than our stomping grounds in PA, so this was not the place to stretch… particularly with an e-collar missing a contact point and also being kenneled up for two weeks previous. Trial dogs tend to dance on the brink, and sometimes they cross that line. :) He’s got my hopes up to continue his trial career, he’s got all the tools, he just needs polished.

Out of all the dogs and the limited time they got to spend on the ground, within the confines of this trip, the dog that had the best time down was probably Annie, really out of the luck of the draw and the birds on the ground. That allowed her “rust” to be knocked off the fastest. Her last contact was on a grouse double, I whiffed the first bird with both barrels and she broke on the gun so hunting paused and training kicked in and I had some words with her. She seemed to take note. Past that, nothing profound was really accomplished, somewhat of a setback as opposed to a having a solid week in on good bird numbers on the east coast with every dog down twice a day, then PA’s home opener and being around to run in trials too. We’ve still got some work to do, it’s good to be home.

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Gearing Back Up for the Season….

As with most others, my pre-season planning has included the addition of a few new gear items. My Tri-Tronics Sport Basic unit has been a great unit but it was time to upgrade, and when Garmin announced their new Tri-Tronics Sport PRO e-collar unit, I knew I’d end up with one eventually. For those that do not use (remote controlled) beepers, this unit it the ultimate bird dog e-collar. 3/4-mile range, momentary/continuous stimulation (10-levels), tone, vibrate, collar beacon lights, and a no-bark setting. AND NO LCD! Beeper aside, what else more would you need? I ordered a Sport PRO and two additional collars which, two collars even for the one pointing, is a nice system to have giving you the q5-rimfire-upland-bird-vest-orange-tan-side-510x600ability to run a bending (neck) and breaking (belly) collar on a dog at the same time. Bending a dog means getting it to handle (keep it forward, off the road, etc.) , giving it a static “poke” or gentle “prod’. Breaking is that static tickle on the belly to deter a dog from chasing and/or keeping it staunch on birds.

Something else I’m excited to get is my new Q5 Rimfire vest. I’ve been looking for a vest like this for some time, I’ve long used Filson’s Strap vest which can get pretty hot in October. The Rimfire looked perfect and I’ll touch on it a little further after I get it in and put it through it’s paces.

Finally, it was time, the grouse wagon (a nicer way to tout a 17 year-old mildly beaten up pickup, used almost strictly for hauling dogs around) will head down the road to it’s next owner and for the first time in my life, I’ll become a Ford owner. The first order of business- getting the dog topper mounted followed by some tires more adept at traversing old, unkempt logging roads at a later time.

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Settling Back In…

It’s been the fastest “long year” I’ve had, days drug on – the year seemed to fly though. I would not care too much to repeat it. 52 weeks of 55-60 work weeks (all things dogs excluded), with 70+’ers not uncommon, has come to a close and that is a grand thing.

Conditioning has been going on for sometime, all dogs participating in our own version of OTA’s. Timber rattlers are still unfortunately a reality so conditioning is primarily one of two choices, roading off a mountain bike or free running in snake-less and coincidentally bird-less covers. The dogs get blanked enough on wild birds as it is while being run in what have been traditionally ‘birdie’ areas so there’s no need to further frustrate them beyond the norm. I stick to roading from a bike and providing bird work in the yard. We’ll hit the woods mid-September to start knocking the off-season rust off on wild birds. In the meantime the bike tires will continue their familiar hum as the dogs continue to pull with reckless abandon. They’ve all seemed to get the hang of it and it has even become old hat for me. The color has returned to my knuckles and I’m braking less and despite the fact that the average speed has increased. It has been like putting a 50cc engine on a light framed bike with one speed, full throttle.

I’ve got a few road trips in the works for this fall, about 3,000 miles worth with stops in MI, WI and MN. We are gearing up, but honestly we have yet to get that cold snap to really fire us up that puts our fall-clock countdown into motion, the time being kept by the walnut trees around the house. The first few leaves begin to yellow at the beginning and the there’s just a few leaves left clinging to branches as opening day comes in. It’s good to be back.

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What a Bum

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Hoot! Freshly trimmed and ready to start trimming down that little bit extra winter insulation under the fur. Annamaet’s Endure supplement, which has been kind in that regard with the extra calories it provided, has set him up for what should be a long lifetime of healthy joints that’ll pay big dividends later in the twilight of his career.

I’ve really been slacking here, busy with work, family, dogs. The rush has finally seemed to subside and as so has peenting at half-light with woodcock sure to begin their spring nesting. We’ll shift back to some grouse training action before the heat is here and were on training birds again. Dogs have begun lining up for haircuts in the last week, Pop started things off followed by the two newb’s, pups Breeze and Hoot from here. Breeze is for sale… as I’d kept her on here in case her brother seemed to lack that extra fire needed to trial… his spunk hasn’t disappointed but being off-age, and considerably younger than their competition, they’ll have an uphill battle in trials until they hit all-age. I’m a little reluctant to sell Breeze, she’s biddable and shows a lot of bird desire. She’ll be a nice one and I better stop there before I start waffling.

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Pop heading out after his hour-long brace in the Pennsylvania Grouse Club’s National Grouse Derby.

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Walking the brace of Pop’s littermate brother in the Venango Derby.

Pop, a few pounds heavy ran in two trials this past weekend. The Venango Derby and the PA Grouse Club’s National Grouse Derby. He finished both courses but the heat didn’t help a strong race on Friday afternoon. Saturday was an hour-long course with plenty of hard turns and having to get on him, to make sure he made the turn with a dog that likes to range forward,  seemed to shorten him up and throw him off to some small degree. Our bracemate took First and it was nice to see that all things considered, Pop wasn’t seemingly too far out of contention comparing apples to apples with the stake winner… (and I’m my own dog’s biggest critic). We’ve got a few more trials we’d like to do this spring.

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Nothing beats a campfire, campfire food, and some impromptu hand-slung clay bird shooting after two days of trials.

I suppose the conditioning department here has received an upgrade in the form of a decent Mtn. bike, and a dog “walking” system that attaches to the seat post. I allows you to add two dogs, they pull, fast… the bike gets the equivalent of a 50cc upgrade. Whiteknuckling would be the appropriate term and is accompanied by the hum of the tire treads slicing through the air. I’m of the opinion that I’ll I should order replacement brakes sooner that later. Pop and Blaze took it through it’s paces a few weeks ago. Blaze proceeded to drag the riderless bike 50 yards while I was on the other side of the truck getting Pop situated. Dirty rat.

 

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Tethered bird launched, then reflushed several tempting times nearby.

IMG_7306.JPGPigeons have been replenished with the coop receiving an upgrade or two. Hopefully they’ll speed through the homing process and I won’t have to tether birds and be limited to working broke dogs on them. The older dogs have been out working training birds in the woods this week getting some manner reminders on bird scenarios that they may come across at trials… running quail mostly that may flush their direction or run under their legs even. Blaze’s first bird in his first shooting dog stake did that and tempted him to take a few steps, which I picked him up after… it was a nice find too.

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Little Sure Shot (Annie), with her Grouse Ridge Reroy head and style and Long Gone Madison coloration bird desire.

 

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One Opportunity, One in the Bag

IMG_6514.JPGYesterday was brisk but clear, with only a predominant, but never unruly breeze for most of the day. I slept in, so did the dogs; the truck tires cracking and popping the ice work on the road into camp just before 11. I was fine with that as in looking at the forecast earlier from the comforts of home we would’ve been talking single digit mercury levels before that and I didn’t think any birds would be eager to get down and start to sashay around either. To much of my chagrin, most of this season has been “Over / Under Setters”, abandoning our namesake as being the play on words it once had with just two dogs has long been over for sometime.

The double gun flavor here to a degree has been out of my control, I’m very much a firm believer of the old saying “Beware the man with one gun, he likely knows how to use it.” and being of umpteenth generation of true Pennsylvania Dutch blue-collar, no frills practicality and linage… which has been solidified by five kids; a cabinet with a slew of double guns not even a option. (Unless they were theirs of course… 😉 ) So to cap this meandering rant, the Baker Gun & Forging stock’s crack has separated again and it’s probably time to just restock it. Which rolls back around to the no-frills practicality paradigm, we all know how much it costs to have a stock fitted, I’m not a metal-to-wood fitting craftsman and the gun was a blue-collar, no-frills model back in 1916, and the cost to re-stock would be about double the gun is worth (maybe that’s why they’re called double guns… it was extortion scheme all along). So I’ve been toting a perfectly good 26″ 20ga Fausti-manufactured over/under produced for a US manufacturer not it the shotgun business; a nice little grouse wand in its own right. Why not sell it/trade it for a side x side? – Because we all know when you buy a new gun and go to sell/trade it, you’re gonna take a bath on it.

IMG_6518.JPGSo back to the day. Blaze (Long Gone Boston X a cracky Pennstar female) was pulled out of his box first, straight to the tailgate and flopped on his side, his pads getting a generous helping of Musher’s Secret applied. Nothing annoys me more (or probably the dogs too) when they’re stopping to know at those hard-packed snowballs that form on their feet. Next was a bell, e-collar, and stupid orange vest. For a few snowy hunts this year, and our trip “north”, we’ve been using and testing SportDOG’s TEK 2.0 LT GPS System. We didn’t have it so the orange vest was used to help me find predominantly white dogs standing birds in the snow an easier task because without it, it can be a downright chore. Upon release he took a brief moment to flop on his back and snake his way through the inch of snow on the ground before running down the road and diving into the cover.

IMG_6515.JPGWe worked our way down through a 70 acre section that has always been referred to as The Slashings, it has continually offered the best opportunities for dogs but has probably past its prime as the last two years hash’t been too great. Blaze ran, I walked. No tracks, no tracks, no tracks and it continued at least when I was in it with him. Much of the time I was out walking the main road, a liberty that can be taken with an older dog. (If it’s done with a younger developing dog, they’re just taught to run the path of least resistance along with you and that leads to a yo-yo’er… runs out, runs back, runs out etc.) Blaze would pop out occasionally and cross over onto the other side of the logging road which was mostly commanded by white pines and short laurel.

IMG_6529.JPGIt was his second or third crossover into that he stopped, I saw him stop. I walked in behind, snapped a photo and proceeded. As I walked in closer I saw a bird pop out from behind a small fallen tree, on foot, and skirted around the base of a white pine, Blaze saw him too. Blaze took a quick step forward which started a short chain reaction, beginning with a booming “Whoa!” from me which achieved my intent but also began a flurry of wings from the bird. It went up left to right in the open and it wasn’t a snap shot situation which meant I was in trouble. I think I got to “lead it!”s off in my head before I touched off and watched it fold. Blaze remained standing, probably in shock I hit the thing, which being still new at this All Age game was a good thing to have despite that step he’d taken. I was able to walk over and pick the bird up and give it a gentle shake in face and a pat or two before tapping his head to release him. One bird contact, one in the bag.

Popinjay or “Pop” was pulled next. Pop is by Impact Player out of Elektra. He went through the same preparation progression as Blaze, same dumb vest, etc. He got a louder bell as the wind picked up a little and he’ll push the limits yet stay forward, a nice combo. We ran a different course, it was more of a prospecting run more than anything else. A course that took us through heavy, wind-breaking pines to sunny southern facing ridge sides. Not a bird, not even a bump from one on a limb. There was quite a bit of traversing on this one and provided good insight into were he’s at physically right now as spring trials are not so far off. No birds, it’ll be noted and next time he’ll get to run on whatever is perceived as prime real estate for where we’re at that particular outing.

Next was the two pups. Annie’s pride and joy, actually probably neither anymore as that motherly instinct has long wore off now that they’ve been separated in their own kennels for months and now just two of the gang like all the rest. As Pop was getting debriefed on the tailgate (un-belled, etc.), I noticed a puddle on the rubber mat in the bed and a dripping from the rear off the dog topper. I had my suspicions. Pop was packed away and the designated puppy box was opened. The thinning cedar shavings pushed aside to reveal a very wet rubber mat that is normally black but took on sort of a brownish color. Irritated, “Who did this?” I muttered. The pups just danced and carried on in celebration  that their time had come. I’d thought of closing the door and locking it back up hoping to convey some sort of lesson or message, but I knew they haven’t had enough trips under their belt yet to even consider they might be able to put 2 and 2 together. They’re still young enough too that I should’ve aired them out quick when we arrived.

So I grabbed one by the scruff and set on the ground, followed by the next. They rooted and tore around with their soiled undersides and tails as I dug for their collars and two appropriate bells in the gear bag. I managed to get both one them with limited hand contact to their coating of shame. We ran the same cover Blaze went through, not looking for birds really, just getting accustomed to running in the woods and keeping them in front, not to the sides much. They ran together for much of it and before breaching off more and more as time went on. The purpose of these two were field trial prospects. The ultimate goal being one of these kept on permanently as such. The female pup caught my more, just a tad more animated overall. We’ve been calling her “Breeze”. The male held his own just fine in that regard but he’s clearly carrying more weight than needed, which in turn has brought about them being fed separately now. He had kind of taken on the name “Gus” by default as we had to call and refer to him as something, nobody really crazy about it, but “Hoot” has since came and stuck.

IMG_6528.JPGWe all loaded up and drove out past the entrance gate towards home but for one more stop, Annie was up. Annie is one female removed from Long Gone Madison and Annie’s dam, Long Gone Zeena, is a nice one too. From what I’ve seen, Annie seems to be a combination of those two, or I see similarities in both. Same progression as Blaze and Pop, paw wax, bell, e-collar and dumb vest. Vests are too much like dress up for me but I do appreciate them A.)- in the snow and B.)- for Annie post litter… her underside can take a beating in short laurel. We traversed an adjacent camp’s logging road that branches at the same main road our camp’s does, it’s a y-intersection. We have a good relationship, they trap (all foot-holds) coyotes and bobcats (permits permitting) on ours and I hunt an occasional piece of ground on theirs. Today was one of those days.

We neared the top on the ridge and really cut into it bringing it back down to the bottom again. The heart of it about 100 yards wide by 350 yards long, Annie had it covered. We’re back at the main road and about 100 yard behind where the truck was parked she dropped down into a bottom flat which drops down further into a gully cut by a mountain brook that starts there as well. I heard here bell’s tempo change and saw her tail really whirling before stopping briefly. She was birdie but a little unsure or unsatisfied, perhaps just not a deep enough drag of bird for her snout. She intensely moved forward closer. Whirrrl. (a poor choice describe a grouse flush and I’ll take suggestions.) a bump. She got a “Whoa!” from me and a collar correction which its severity wouldn’t equate to any more than an ear-flick to us… unpleasant but not unnerving. The bird was in a seep below a few white pines, bare ground, no food, but some fresh water that doesn’t have a swift current on the ledges like the brook does… easy drinking for a fowl. I tapped her head and we continued.

No more contacts in this stretch, it was too sparse this time of year but the whole bottom was out of the wind. We climbed back out on the road again, this time about 500 yards in from of the truck. Annie climbed the bank above the road and got into the heavy combination of towering white pines and mid-height hemlocks there… hemlocks which had branches the whole way to the ground. With snow and bitter cold, there’s usually birds in the bottoms of those. What happen next is hard to recount. She was somewhere above and I heard a bird go out, it sounded like it was in a tree as they weren’t to far away at that time. I was pretty sure she heard it as well as she stopped. As I walked up not 15 feet from where I began a flushed a bird out of a smaller hemlock and watched it sail up and disappear into the white pines, Annie stood. I walked up, with no more birds popping up, released her and knew the day had come to an end.

I was glad to of been able to find the mark on the one bird we had a handled chance at as the numbers weren’t much in our favor.

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Bringing in the New Year…

I’m thankful for the new year and the prompting it provides in thinking out the new year as it pertains to all things dogs- where each one is at, where they need to get to and how I’m going to get them there. Around July or so last year I took a new job and the normal work week is about 54 hours. The dogs still have been getting time in and you’ll notice when scrolling down that it’s effected the amount of resulting words here. I’ve been updating Instagram and that’s about it. (Don’t knock Instagram, there’s a ton of non-selfie-posting bird dog guys on it and I prefer it over Twitter and at times, Facebook.)

I look for the posting schedule here to change, for the better. Making a day of it tomorrow (minus 1 with an eye injury) and get these new pups rolling along here.

 

Just a few for now…

grouse dog with a grouse

grouse hunters

English Setter Grouse Dog Puppies

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Grouse Dog Derby Winner

 

Grouse Dog with a Pheasant

 

Little Sure Shot Annie, Grouse Dog on Point

 

 

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Still Sucking Scent…

It’s been since late August I’ve had an update. I’ve just been very busy with work, the additional time I’ve had outside of that has been given to working dogs. I do plan on getting back to more in-depth posts, just not this evening. I’ve trained, hunted and trialed dogs (on both ends of the trial spectrum, both placing and picking up dogs) during my ‘inter-web’ hiatus. I do plan on beginning a recap tomorrow evening. All pups have been placed, all seem to be doing well. All exceptionally positive feedback, but for me, the ever pessimist, the jury is still out as they’re very young and who/how many can really take an objectionable look at a cute pup? I kept the female and another male- another story for another time.

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Pup Update…. Final Week

The pups are doing well, and making any forthcoming decisions in the next week either really tough or really easy depending how you look at it. As someone had said in the past, it would seem that closing your eyes and reaching in to pick one could be the best way to go.

 

Two male picks available… (albeit with lots of interest). $60o, $100 of it due soon thereafter committing, to secure pick.

The Female:

Yellow-R

Yellow-L

 

 

The Orange and White Male:

Blue-R

Blue-L

 

 

The Half-Mask Tri-Color Male:

Orange-R

 

 

Orange-L

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full-Mask, White Bird, Black and White Male:

Green-R

Green-L

 

 

Half-Mask Tri-Color with Left Eye-Patch:

Red-L

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Pup Photos

A few photos of growing pups… two males still available. A little grainy as the sun was going down.

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Gaining Each Day

_DSC0025The new pups have been growing each day, the biggest pup right now is 30 ounces, the smallest 24 ounces (the lone female). They’re all paddling around pretty good, distancing themselves off the heat a little further each day. Annie’s great, pups are being kept supper clean as is the box. Her momma must’ve been the same way. I’m still fielding inquiries for males, there’s two picks left. Ultimately these guys are going to be “camp buddies” this coming season but from what I’ve seen of Joe’s other pups, they’d offer some legitimate training opportunity on migrating spring woodcock. There’s not at all a doubt in my mind that these pups will any trouble pointing grouse in October of 2015 if taken through the normal training paces. We’re hoping there’s a few that may have that little extra touch of class and poker straight style that may put them in trial ribbons beyond all the tailgate notoriety that a good hunting dog gets. There’s the trial talk, but I’m a foremost a grouse hunter, if this wasn’t a breeding that I (and others) thought would put some great wild bird dogs on the ground, it wouldn’t have happened. I haven’t really felt the need to sales-talk this litter or rather the parents, instead… just get the breeding out there as very little homework need be done to gauge the  potential. The future is bright.

With all the litter work, I finally got a chance to address the older dogs again past food, water and a scratch. All were shaved down close and nails clipped. Pop got the first of the baths, and went into the office with me while Blaze got a crack at the first training quail this summer. It flew lousy, and was awful tempting… he took a couple steps, a very light stim was all to end that. We’ll continue to build off it for sure.

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Pups Are Here…

20140715-220331-79411396.jpgAnnie had her pups Sunday night into early Monday morning. They’re all gaining, and have had weight increases from 25-30%. All clean, content and growing,  Annie is doing a good job and has really taken to them. First out was a tricolor female, what followed was an orange and white male (the biggest), two tricolor males (thought they were black and white’s at first) and a black and white male.

At this point two of the males are available. Pup prices are $600 with a $100 deposit due soon thereafter. Pups will be ready to go September 7th. Inquiries can be made through seth@sidexsidesetters.com .

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Pup Countdown Begins…

IMG_0020I believe Annie will whelp in the next several days. Annie has never passed up a meal, she did so last night and ignored it again this morning when she was put back in the kennel for the day. Her expected date is Wednesday (9th), but I’m beginning to wonder if it might not be this evening or tomorrow- passing up a meal was one thing but her temperature was 100.6ºf last night and 101ºf this morning. Normally temperature drops to 99ºf 24 hours before labor and rises back up to 101ºf+ 12 hours or so before. I’m wondering if I caught the tail end of the warm-up last night and if she’s in that 12 hour pre-whelp, normal temperature window? . . At any rate, I think its safe to say there’ll be a headcount here by week’s end.

The new outdoor puppy pen went through a test run this past week. We had a visitor for the week in 14-week old Sam. (Full Blast X Moss Meadow Rose). He didn’t seem to have any complaints. It now sits empty again until anticipated pups begin the weaning process down the road. I expect one or two of them will be calling it “home” even after 8-weeks.

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New Addition… and litter update.

I think we’ve reached the high-water mark here at home for the year. Our newest little “puppy socializer” was born May 30th at albs & 15oz. The quail coup has been restocked,  and a new chukar pen is being drawn out. I’ve got just one homing pigeon who’s been aptly name “Scrappy”.  I’ve got a raised puppy kennel that’s mid-build. Over the last two weeks, dogs have been sitting idle- soon to be remedied.

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Under Construction.

The expected litter page has been updated with Joe’s (sire) accomplishments, pups should be on the ground in a month. A “list” has been started for those interested in a pup, it’s hard to give any hard answers on price or availability until they’re actually whelped. If everything goes smoothly with delivery, I’m confident all pup owners will feel that they got much more than their money’s worth.

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Goodbye

I posted a photo on Instagram last week, a photo of and a tribute to my friend and bird dog mentor Tom Gingher. Tom died of cancer. I attended his viewing this past evening. As I drove the 45 minute trip southeast and into a small town north of I-80 you’d never know was there I knew I was in the right place as his truck (with dog topper) was parked out near the road- a much appreciated gesture made by a family member of his. I walked into the funeral home and signed my name and quietly made my way towards the casket while my eyes scanned the room for familiar faces. As I got closer there was a board of photos of him, grouse and setters being part of most of them. Not knowing his wife well, or even if she knew who I was, I quietly said I was sorry and that he was a heck of a guy to which she agreed and went with it much further, as he was indeed more than just that to so many people.

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Way back before I knew him . . . not sure on the date.

He had a nice wool shirt, the kind you’d want for a crisp October day. Not to be missed was his favorite brass whistle around his neck, his leather lead slung across his shoulder with a picture of his favorite setter and a grouse fan sitting nearby. I was later told he had two shells in his shirt pocket, I’m not sure of the gauge but I don’t think it would’ve have made much difference to him (or the birds) and two may’ve been enough for a PA limit. Regardless, he was all set for a good day. Soon after and as I wandered to the rear again the bird dog guys showed up in spades, most not alone. Many huddled up after paying their respects, conversations dominated by Tom, dogs and grouse. Friends and friendly acquaintances, many met through Tom.

Professionally training dogs for 35 years, beyond having seen it all, Tom was honest, if you’d ask for his opinion on a dog- you would get just that, ever candid.

After Tom’s passing a friend of his told me about taking some Ryman type setters to him: 

“We arrived at the farm (Tom’s training grounds) at a training day of his (Tom held many, never charged a dime, and his wife Jane would feed everyone… this is where and when so many friendships with some instances kennel partnerships started and puppies with novice owners at their helm were ensured to get started off right.) and it was time to get my two dogs out. My two were setters, dual-type Ryman setters. Tom said he wasn’t real crazy about Ryman dogs. After working them around the farm and having a find he had a small change of opinion and said “they aren’t too bad, they are actually OK. Then he looked back over his shoulder at the gallery of GSP, Britt, pointer, and field line setters guys and said “Well, that ought to shut them up.”

Another said that Tom said of their dog on kennel stay/training update…

“I don’t know what dog I’m getting, some days she’s great, just what you want.  Other days … She’s thick and doesn’t want to do anything right.”

Another, when asking his initial assessment of their dog…

“He (dog) seems to think that “whoa” means to jump around!”

(For all those out there that have a good line from Tom, please put it in the comments.)

Tom’s forte really seemed to be fixing problems (guys had created in their dogs), blinkers, rippers, chasers, gun-shyness, etc.

He’d frequently remind me he had the opportunity to buy Blaze before I did. Tom got to see him a lot, he took Blaze for most of the summer last year to start finishing for complete broke work. At the time I was finishing Annie and was working Pop a lot and got roped into coaching LL fastpitch softball. Having bought Blaze when he was six month old, and subsequently six months behind… he had a further ways to go and being stretched thin last summer he went to Tom’s. He knew I was looking to trial Blaze and methodically moved him along to keep his enthusiasm as high as it was before the broke work began. He said sometime into his investment with Blaze to a group of guys…

“If I can get this dog right and finished on wild birds you all will hear a lot about him.  And that won’t just be from me.  Blaze is really nice.”

Coming from Tom that carries some weight. 

As I left I stood by the car for a long moment getting one last look at his truck, remembering the times before when he’d round the driver side corner and drop the tailgate- it being his workbench, his park bench, his soap box, his fireside, his lecturing podium, his preferred social-media tool and his teacher’s desk all encompassed into one. I fought the urge to go open it up and take a seat for a while, who knows how long I would’ve lingered.

20140528-153206-55926792.jpgIt still hasn’t completely sunk in that he’s gone, or if it has it’s still definitely hasn’t lost its newness. I know for many, investments of his time are still sitting at their feet and the friendships made through him (many formed around that tailgate) haven’t missed a beat. Compliments of Tom. The pointing-dog-mentor patriarch of PA (and quite a few other states) now absent but the “crew” is still together. Here’s where you could insert the cliché about “his memory living on” (of course it will) but the fact is that his credo, on all things pointing dogs,  has been instilled in many, that ideology all ready shaping the next generation. It’s had its impact here. He’s missed.

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