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The Hunt Goes On

Posted on Saturday 20th April 2024 08:32:33 PM

In the early 70s bird hunting was at its peak in Eastern North Carolina. I was a youngster still and loved to tag along on hunts with family and longed to have my own dogs. It was about this time that I attended my first bird dog field trial, a horseback event being held near my Uncle Henry’s farm. It was there that I first remember meeting Dr. W.C. Sanderson. He was there to compete as was his brother “Dute” Sanderson, a popular local professional dog trainer.

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Should We?

Posted on Friday 19th April 2024 07:57:19 PM

Hurricane Hattie had requalified with a third place in the last qualifier of the season. Should they enter her was the question occupying her owner, Sam Slade, and handler, Mack Bain. Both were ambivalent and unsure of their judgment on the issue.

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The Master

Posted on Thursday 18th April 2024 06:44:35 PM

One of my earliest memories is the smell of the Hoppes gun oil my dad would use on his Sweet 16 Browning after a bird hunt. He and my uncles would tell stories of 30 coveys a day, of the “ditch bank birds”, those bobs that would provide great sport by scattering out down a line, giving the gunners an easy opportunity. Tales of limits by lunchtime and perfectly broke pointers and setters kept my interest high. Like a puppy, I wanted desperately to go with the men on a real bird hunt but was deemed too immature.

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All my heroes are gone

Posted on Wednesday 17th April 2024 06:40:49 PM

As we climbed out of the old Chevy truck, my nostrils were bitten by the cold Kentucky morning. I always loved the way that the cold air pierced your lungs. Such an infusion of life. The cold wrapped around me, but the warmth of excitement invigorated my soul. I had read many times in the old Field and Stream magazines about the venture I was undertaking with my uncle. I had finally made it. I had gotten the invitation to stand over his prize possessions, an old Elhew pointer and a Lewellin setter.

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How to Help Your Dog Learn

Posted on Saturday 6th April 2024 05:43:05 PM

When I started training retrievers professionally in 1972, I believed that dogs needed to be worked six days a week, for at least a half hour each day. If you have a big kennel, you know that’s a lot of work. After a few years and training several hundred dogs, I wound up skipping a day or two. That’s when things started to make sense.

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Posted on Sunday 24th March 2024 09:12:56 AM

‘Why’, is a man question, not a dog question. Whether hate, or malice, or greed, or power, was someone’s motive for her circumstances mattered not to Belle. ‘What’ mattered to Belle. What could she do for her pup? ‘Who’ mattered also. Who could she trust, and who could she not trust? ‘Where’ mattered too. Where was she, and where was home? She sensed ‘When’ was important also, but she’d have to bide her time for now.

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Harmony in the Field: A Symphony of Bird Dogs and Wild Birds

Posted on Saturday 2nd March 2024 06:25:43 PM

In the timeless pursuit of the perfectly honed bird dog, the age-old adage rings true: "It takes birds to make a bird dog." Yet, how often have we pondered the profound layers concealed within this saying? The interplay between a bird dog and a wild bird emerges as an intricate dance, a narrative woven by the instincts of the dog, the natural behavior of the bird, and the dichotomy between untamed wilderness and cultivated training grounds.

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The Long Journey Home

Posted on Sunday 25th February 2024 08:17:29 AM

It would have been different had Belle been at home. She would have found a safe warm spot near the hay loft. Randall would have looked in on her throughout the day, more than likely bringing her bits of leftover bacon and biscuits and making sure the pups had a clean place to be whelped. She was royalty at Bent Pine and didn’t kennel with the other dogs. She had the run of the plantation. Her favorite place to lie, be it summer or winter, was under the rail fence of the barn lot. There, she was shaded in the summer by huge spreading oak and beech trees. In the winter she was warmed by the sun shining through those same trees then leafless and unable to fend off the warm welcomed rays. She laid under the bottom rail that was positioned just right to offer a scratch to her long back whenever she chose to do so. It was perfect. The spot seemingly offered a respite, though actual work didn’t exist for Belle. Maybe she enjoyed the spot for reflection, that now, she had aplenty. From her favorite spot she could view anything approaching the main house, as well as view over a mile of cleared bottomland, a bottom that stretched eastward to the Black Warrior River and south for three miles farther than Belle could see from the rails even on a clear day.

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Six “Military” Style Methods to Outsmart Late Season Roosters

Posted on Sunday 4th February 2024 06:25:58 PM

By now late season roosters have been hunted hard, so they’re more wary. Hardened and experienced, these birds flush at greater distances at the mere sound or sight of danger. Add paranoia and the uncanny ability to become elusive and scarce when things get dicey. Veteran roosters know that slow birds of mind and wing are shot. Taking to the air is the last option as mature birds stay grounded and use their feet instead of wings to escape.

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Ringnecks in the snow

Posted on Saturday 13th January 2024 05:13:39 PM

Snowfalls in many states is the silent signal to die-hard bird hunters that it is time to venture out and chase ring-neck pheasants in the snow. There is much to enjoy about pheasant hunting in the snow during the colder weather months. While there are some hunters that will shun hunting in the snow and extreme cold conditions, there will be those that will find it to their liking and challenging. Hunters should be able to walk around when the snow is dry and light. However, the amount of snowfall will determine the difficulty in traversing the countryside and fields. Hunting during the winter adds a physical and mental challenge to finding and chasing winter birds.

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More Than Just Retrievers

Posted on Sunday 10th December 2023 06:13:48 PM

As an avid duck hunter growing up in central Arkansas, it is a given that most of the outings in the duck waters would be accompanied by a retriever, most often a lab. Labs and ducks go hand in hand. In Arkansas, practically all duck hunters have labs, plus they fill the role of family dogs in an endless number of non-hunting homes. Labs are loyal, loving, and obedient; something that makes for a great duck dog as well as a family dog.

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`Upland` Chaps

Posted on Monday 4th December 2023 05:07:26 PM

The snow had begun to accumulate. Measuring just high enough that each boot step would certainly put me into almost ten inches of the white stuff. The landscape was wet with freshly fallen snow. Its weight had pushed down all the dried, tan switchgrass that fall and winter brings. I opened the back half of the truck’s cab to get to my gear bag. I unzipped the main compartment and pulled out matching tan chaps. They were quickly put on over my pants and secured. An hour into my hunt, I quickly found the chaps sole purpose that day was to keep me dry. I had pushed though snow-laden grass, flushing roosters who had taken to burrowing themselves in small openings to get out of the weather. If I had not worn chaps, I would’ve been one wet and cold bird hunter.

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How to remove Cockleburs from your hunting dogs coat

Posted on Friday 24th November 2023 03:35:12 PM

I have two Field bred Cocker Spaniels, aka Cocklerbur Spaniels, magnets for all things like cockleburs to get mired in their little wisp of hair. As sure as the sun rises, my dogs will be covered in hundreds of these annoying prickly little burs within minutes of being turned loose in the Field. I’m sure it’s no different for any other long-haired breed like English and Irish Setters, Brittany and Springer Spaniels. What I’ve put together here isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide on how to remove Cockleburs, this is just the method that I use. If you’d like to share your own method, please do so in the comments below.

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Outwitting Pheasants

Posted on Sunday 5th November 2023 12:22:36 PM

Late-season roosters are neurotic in trying to stay alive. Throughout the winter months those ring-neck roosters that have been successful in avoiding ending up in the game bag and then on to a plate with vegetables and potatoes have evolved into hardy and experienced birds. Worthy field opponents. They have become field masters at out-witting orange vested bird hunters and their dogs. The upland chess board is made up in their favor. With an array of habitat and varying landscape, including every imaginable type of cover a pheasant will use to escape – it’s no wonder that hunters need to employ military style tactics to be on the same upland battlefield as a ring-neck pheasant.

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Posted on Sunday 22nd October 2023 06:31:31 PM

Harry was a close and cherished member of the Winterhawk Bird Dog Club. He ran dogs throughout the walking circuit in the 80’s, and was particularly known for running his favorite, Harry’s Gentle Ben. I’m pretty sure he got Ben as a pup from Delmar Smith, and Ben won in the best of competition. Winterhawk Bird Dog Club had some stout competition in those days, accounting for many championships at all levels of the field trial sport. On hunting trips Harry and Ben held their own too, and then some. This may all sound ho-hum until you know Ben was a Brittany Spaniel. Big, stout, and leggy, he’d run and hunt with the best of the pointers and setters back then.

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