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Bird dog club invites public to training day

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.

Some wives are partners in hunters’ financial woes

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.”

Last day of chukar season: Saddest day in a bird dog’s year

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.

Tough hunting for Snake Canyon chukars

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.

Weather may give pheasants edge for season’s end

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.

Good luck.

Taking the high route for chukars

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.

Cutting the fog for a day of pheasant hunting

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.

Landers is always on the hunt for fowl weather

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!

Bird dog makes point on figure of speech

HUNTING — While hunting pheasants on Sunday, this is how my English setter, Scout, defined the idiom, “Got 'em dead to rights.”

‘Hunt by Reservation’ acreages include a lot of filler

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. 

 

Bird dog surveys the harvest

HUNTING — My English setter, Scout, had six consecutive points on hens, then one solid find on a solo rooster.  

Stir-fry dinner coming up.

Bird dogs get to the point of idom

HUNTING — This is how Scout, my English setter, defines the idiom “Got 'em dead to rights.”

Hunting dusky grouse can give you the blues

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.

Tough quarry. 

Give bird dog attention before the hunt

HUNTING — My Outdoors column today bags some tips from pro trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel for easing bird dogs into the seasons safely and efficiently.

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.

High alert for bird dog owners: Cheatgrass in full bloom

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.

Singles ad catches bird hunter’s attention

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.

Upland birds getting weather break for nesting

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.  

Shhh.

Sign up: Spring training for bird dogs

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.

Every bird dog owner needs a skunk kit

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.

Done. Whew!

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.

5 months to grouse season: Got a dog?

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.

Best things about hunting dogs revisited

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

Pheasant season closes before other upland birds

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.

Bird dog is angler’s best friend

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.

Better days will come this season for bird hunters

HUNTING — I took Scout, my English setter, out for two, short, early morning hunts this weekend to celebrate the opening of the quail and partridge seasons.   Emphasis on short.

It's simply too dry and warm out there to be working a dog too hard.

In case you missed it in the Sunday Outdoors section, dog trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel near Cheney has some excellent early-season tips for hunting with bird dogs.

But I did see enough birds on my short hunts to be optimistic that late hatches produced a decent crop of quail, Huns —  and even pheasants.  (I saw two young roosters that still weren't feathered out.)

November and December will be prime time.

Being a geezer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

HUNTING — Although I wasn't old enough to be allowed to carry a gun, I took my English Setter, Scout, out for some training at the Fishtrap Lake pheasant release site this morning, the second day of the new Geezer Pheasant Hunting Season.

Scout found one cock (above) in the first 15 minutes while the sunrise was still glowing orange through smoke from the region's wildfires. Then we worked for another 50 minutes without a find.

Birds had been released for las weekend's youth upland bird seasons and hunters reported roosters leftover after the weekend season closed.

But it's very dry out there. Survivial of pen-raised birds is notoriously short. 

I met a legitimate senior hunter with his chocolate Lab, having a good time but they had found no birds by 8:30 a.m.   He had other places to try…. and of course he had time to do it.

Being a non-geezer, I had to go back to work.

Youth hunter switches seats with dad; pheasants leftover for geezers

HUNTING — Daniel Kuhta, 15, ended his career of participating in youth upland bird hunting seasons Sunday at the BLM Fishtrap Lake area with a limit of pheasants, and a good weekend with his dad, Scott, their yellow Lab, Luby, and the family's new Lab pup, Max.

“This was the last year for my son to take advantage of the youth hunt weekend,” said Scott, marking just one in the series of changes of teenagehood.

“He turned 15 in July and today was the first time he drove ME to our hunting spot.”

“We hunted Fishtrap both days and saw lots of birds. There were a few kids out Saturday but we did not see any other bird hunters Sunday.”
 
Fishtrap is one of 29 pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington. The next release of pheasants at the sites is likely to occur the week AFTER the Oct. 13 general phesant season opens.

Easter celebration nipped in the bud

HUNTING DOGS — The annual Easter Egg Hunt has been cancelled.

Chukar season ends; only 8 months to recover

HUNTING — The dog is fed and sleeping like a bear in winter. Wife is concerned about dog's scrapes and cactus spines in foot, but doesn't notice her husband's bloody elbow and slight limp.

Browning Citori cleaned, oiled. Hunting clothes are in the laundry hamper. Birds are dressed, brining and ready to cook tomorrow. Bottle of red wine is on the table….

I had a bittersweet outing on the Snake River today to end the season for cliff-dwelling chukars. Despite snow, steep slippery slopes, cold and wind, my English setter, Scout, and I both hated to come down out of the canyon.

Rising above it all to be in chukar country

BIRD HUNTING — The fog was packed into the Snake River valley today. Steelheaders were scattered up and down the river. 

But Scout, my English setter, led up up above it all and nearly to the rim to find this first covey of chukars.

A great day in the field, and we're both bushed.

Must be time to go back to work after a great holiday.