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HUNTING — Eastern Washington's upland bird hunting seasons for partridge and quail ended at 5:15 p.m. today.
That means my English setter is going to be a little less than fulfilled every day from now until the mountain grouse seasons open on Sept. 1.
Even the Seahawks' Richard Sherman could take a lesson from Scout on the disciplines of focus and determination in the field.
Scout would rather hunt than eat, as you can see from the photo. When I've had the privilege of owning a good hunting dog, my goal has always been to get it out on birds twice a week during the seasons. I fulfilled that commitment to his blood line pretty well this year with brief exceptions for elk season and a New Years break for skiing.
By the end of the hunting seasons, Scout is lean and hard like the basalt cliffs he contours in pursuit of chukar scent.
He'll get an unwanted chance to fatten up for a few months. We'll both have to chew on the taunting but promising memory of a flock of chukars cackling from a rock band above us as we descended from their haunts for the last time this season.
HUNTING — Soaking wet, heading into a brisk wind with two pounds of Palouse mud on each boot — today could have been a miserable hunting experience until this "double your pleasure" moment with Zuni and Scout.
HUNTING — Shhh. I skipped out of the office today for a little quality time in Snake River chukar country with my setter, Scout.
HUNTING — Following a bird dog's nose through pheasant country is one of the most vigorous, intense, satisfying and rewarding forms of hiking. And the results can be delicious.
HUNTING — I was out at at dawn this morning for a quick grouse hunt with my English setter, Scout, before the heat set in.
We found two ruffed grouse, but mostly we found wild turkeys. To flocks of them.
Drove my dog wild.
No shots fired.
HUNTING — The Spokane Bird Dog Association is inviting hunters to bring their dogs to a training day, which includes expert help for all breeds, starting Saturday at 8 a.m., at the Espanola training grounds managed by the club west of Medical Lake.
This session will be geared more to pointers, but retrievers are welcome. Pointers and retrievers will be split into separate groups.
The public is invited to bring hunting dogs of any age or level of training. Cost: $5.
HUNTING — I'm getting few messages from wives of hunters after they read my outdoors column today, "Hunters need financial planning to cover expenses."
They're pointing out that more and more women are going hunting, too. In fact, a survey last year found that about 11 percent of the hunting licenses sold across the country were sold to women. Cool.
But the women giving me a buzz today are chuckling with me.
"Thanks for reminding me how much money we put into hunting this year," said Robin, who says she hunts big game with and without her husband. "Problem is, I spent most of it."
HUNTING — Monday was a bittersweet day to be out with a bird dog. The last of Eastern Washington's upland bird hunting seasons — for chukar and quail — ended Monday afternoon.
My English setter, Scout, is lean, rock hard, tough footed and season hardened for finding birds in some of the most rugged and gravity-challening bird hunting terrain on the planet.
Now, the season of rest poses the challenge for hunter and dog to maintain the toughness for next fall.
HUNTING — Eastern Washington's pheasant season ended Sunday in a weekend of winds gusting to 70 mph at the top of the 49 Degrees North ski area where they toppled a cell phone tower.
I figured I had a better shot at chukars in the Snake River canyon where I could loop into bowls out of the wind.
Indeed, I found some pleasant hunting interspersed with high-wind exposure as I hiked around basalt bands on the ridges.
But I was surprised that in 4.5 hours of covering a lot of ground, my English setter, Scout, found only two coveys of chukars. The dog locked up solid 80 yards away from the first cover as the strong winds telegraphed their scent to his nose. But the covey flushed wild as I approached, caught the wind, and appeared to be setting wings for a wind-assisted flight to Montana.
The other covey cooperated in making my hunt successful.
But that was it. I covered some great private land where I've hunted with permission numerous times and never have found fewer than three coveys.
So now I'm wondering: Should I have been hunting the highest slopes that were open to the high winds? Is that where the chukars were hanging out?
The hunting season for partridge and quail runs through Jan. 20.
HUNTING — The Eastern Washington pheasant hunting season closes Sunday. With the weekend forecast calling for winds gusting to 48 mph, I'm guessing the birds will be running like lighting and flying the speed of sound.
HUNTING — I started low along the Snake River and climbed high into the basalt cliffs for chukars on Saturday.
It was a perfectly sunny but cool day for working my English setter, Scout, who was on his game.
HUNTING — Luckily, I could pass the time this morning listening to the last of the NPR Sunday morning news program as I waited for the fog to lift, but my dog was more than anxious to get out.
When I finally had couple hundred yards of visibility over the Palouse, I put my English setter, Scout, on the ground and we swept through the frosty landscape trying to get the most out of the late phase of the pheasant hunting season.
Tip: Go for gentle terrain. Since last weekend, the slopes have been coated with thin snow or ice, making steep hills treacherous for walking, especially side-hilling. I aborted a chukar hunt last Sunday for fear of killing myself, and things haven't improved too much.
HUNTING — When I heard the weather report calling for nasty weather today I looked at Scout and said, "Sounds like a perfect day to call in sick and go hunting!"
I was right. Perfect morning, except for the roads on the return trip.
My advice now: It's a perfect day to stay home!
HUNTING — While hunting pheasants on Sunday, this is how my English setter, Scout, defined the idiom, "Got 'em dead to rights."
HUNTING — I've been exploring some of the properties in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Private Lands Access Program this week.
While there's some good habitat holding upland birds on these lands, the thing that strikes me is how much "filler" there is in the acreage listings. I hunted a property on Monday that lists a sizable acreage, but 90 percent of it is cultivated, and recently plowed so that there's no holding cover.
Just be warned. All the properties listed aren't winners.
HUNTING — My English setter, Scout, had six consecutive points on hens, then one solid find on a solo rooster.
Stir-fry dinner coming up.
HUNTING — Hunting dusky grouse with a pointing dog is one part bliss and several parts misery and despair.
Duskies — the name given a decade ago to the former "blue grouse" east of the Cascades — are notoriously fickle about holding to a point.
They might hold, as did the one pictured above, or they may not.
They might fly up in a tree and look at you or they may flush at the hint that you're coming their way and rocket downhill a quarter mile into the timber.
They like high ridges and openings at the edges of timber. Often the terrain is rocky.
It can be tough going — and tough shooting.
I liken dusky hunting to a chukar hunt with timber mixed in to increase the shooting difficulty factor.
I was one for three on Saturday with two other birds flushing a full 40 yards away from Scout's solid point.
Many hunters get all excited about opening days — forest grouse and mourning doves open Sunday.
But the best and safest hunting for a bird dog is later in the seasons, when the field is cooler, damper and there's been more opportunity to get in tip-top shape after the dog days of summer.
HUNTING DOGS — The national plant of veterinarians across the West is in full bloom.
Cheatgrass that was only a spotty problem two weeks ago has been cured by the recent heat wave and I can tell you from personal experience that it's at full capacity to inflict harm on your dog's ears, toes, nose and other body parts.
I'm plugging my dogs' ears with cotton for even the shortest romp, and checking them thoroughly afterward, especially between the toes.
I'll be suspending most field dog training and doing most of my dog's physical conditioning by taking him hiking in the mountains and throwing retrieving dummies into lakes.
The extreme danger to dogs will continue until some point in August when wind and pounding thunderstorms drive most of the seed spears to the ground.
HUNTING — An Internet oldie from the singles ads.
SINGLE BLACK FEMALE seeks male companionship, ethnicity unimportant. I'm a very good girl who LOVES to play. I love long walks in the woods, riding in your pickup truck, hunting, camping and fishing trips, cozy winter nights lying by the fire. Candlelight dinners will have me eating out of your hand. I'll be at the front door when you get home from work, wearing only what nature gave me.
Call (509) 467-5235 and ask for Annie, I'll be waiting….
Phone number is for the Spokane Humane Society in case you're interested in adopting a dog.
HUNTING — I don't want to jinx the odds, but a lot of upland bird hunters are noticing this is the driest weather we've had in several years for the peak period of the wild quail, chukar and pheasant hatching season.
Upland bird chicks are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia if cool, wet weather persists in early June.
Last year's season was boosted by a good second hatch of birds.
This could be the year the first hatch blossoms.
Field Reports: Oregon wolf dies from parvovirus …Two trumpeter pairs nesting at Turnbull … Orcas, salmon, elk on commission's agenda … State Parks offer free vehicle entry … Colville Project needs habitat helpers
HUNTING — A clinic for owners of pointing dogs of all ages and abilities is set by the Spokane Bird Dog Association for 8 a.m.-noon on June 8 at the club's Espanola training grounds west of Medical Lake.
Pro trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennels will present a clinic, after which participants can work their own dogs on pigeons and chukars provided by the club.
Cost: $20. Bring a lunch.
Preregister with Bill Colyar to assure enough birds are ordered, (509) 953-8682.
HUNTING DOGS — It's easy to be prepared for the unexpected but inevitable day your hunting dog is sprayed by a skunk.
And you should ALWAYS be ready. Even at home, as I experienced this week when my dog was sprayed in the backyard just before I was to leave for work.
Since an Eastern Washington University chemistry professor tipped me off to the formula in the 1980s, I've kept a skunk kit in my pickup and in my bird hunting gear basket. I've given the kits as holiday gifts to my hunting buddies.
(See my dog, Scout, above, looking at the kit as though he knows it's his only ticket back into the house.)
I once took a midnight call from a friend who was in Montana with his daughter and dog. They were in a pickle. They were camping with his wife's new SUV and she'd warned them they'd better take care of it in her absence. But their dog got sprayed by a skunk 300 miles from Spokane and father-daughter needed the recipe or they'd be in the dog house with the dog.
I gave them the recipe and two days later I found a thank you note and a bottle of wine on my door step.
THE RECIPE is simple: One quart of hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap.
THE KIT makes it easy to apply. Buy a small Tupperware-type container just big enough to hold two quart bottles of hydrogen peroxide, two plastic zipper bags with measured amounts of baking soda and a small plastic bottle with dish soap.
(I like this "double" recipe approach just in case two dogs get too friendly with a skunk at one time. You don't have to make choice on which dog "gets lost" on the way home.)
Also in the container, include one or two pairs of Latex or rubber gloves, a wash rag and a small drying towel. You're set.
Should your dog get sprayed, you can remove the skunk odor in the field (if you have rinse water) without stinking up your rig.
Mix the ingredients at the time they are needed, NOT BEFORE. Wash the dog with all of the solution. Having the washcloth helps you keep it out of the dog's eyes.
Rinse thoroughly. You may want to do a second wash with dog shampoo, but a thorough rinse seems to work fine and prevents the peroxide from changing the color of your dog's fur.
By the way, when I came to work Monday and mentioned that my dog had been sprayed by a skunk, a colleague came over with her wallet and pulled out the de-skunking recipe I'd published in the S-R Outdoors section years ago. "It saved me once, and I wanted to make sure I always had it just in case," she said.
HUNTING — Yep, a good bird dog pup can be a handful for a few months, but he'll be worth his adult weight in gold for a hunter, as a companion and a working dog.
I saw this handsome three-week-old German shorthair pointer at Dunfur Kennel off I-90 near the Four Lakes Exit.
BIRD DOGGING — A Facebook friend recently sent me several poignant quotations regarding dogs, which made me think fondly back over the German shorthairs, Brittanys and English setters I've been privileged to own, know, love and hunt.
But honestly, I couldn't help but make a few reality checks after thinking about these Dog Wisdoms for a moment. I've added my two cents from decades of experience in bold face.
*Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. Indeed, the tail wagging may be a devious attempt to delay you from discovering the chewed up bamboo fly rod. - Ann Landers
*If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went, unless it's into the barnyard to roll in cow pies. - Will Rogers
*There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face, and that's a good thing because a psychiatrist is much more likely than a puppy to have been licking something icky before it licked you. - Ben Williams
*A neutered dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. - Robert Benchley
*If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise and you clearly aren't a chukar hunter. - Unknown
BIRD HUNTING — Upland bird hunters should be aware that the Eastern Washington pheasant season closes Jan. 13 while the season for other upland birds — quail, chukars, Huns — runs through the Martin Luther King holiday and closes on Jan. 21.
Most waterfowl seasons run through Jan. 27.
FISHING/HUNTING — Having trouble finding birds to shoot during the upland bird hunting season?
No worries. Put that bird dog to use retrieving a fish dinner. Video shows how easy it is.