Fall guiding memories: 2010

Here are a few memories from the grouse woods. Enjoy!


Ed flushes for his setter.
Wayne’s pointer, Maggie, on point.
Ron and Dave only shoot pointed birds.
Orange clothing is extremely important in this cover.
Blue Shaquille doing what he does best–find and point lots of grouse.
Amber has a grouse pointed close, but the hunter doesn’t know that.
CH Houston’s Belle at nine years of age has been doing this for a while.
There just has to be a grouse nearby….

New equipment from Ainley

On a recent sunny Saturday, Jerry and I meandered our way south to Dubuque, Iowa. After a stop in southern Minnesota for a filling breakfast of eggs, hash browns and bacon in a busy café, we arrived at our destination, Ainley Kennels & Fabrication, just after noon.

We were very excited to be picking up the second of two new pieces of equipment from Ainley—an eight-dog trailer. Earlier in the season, we took delivery of a three-dog box for the pickup bed.

After many years of “making do” with serviceable but cumbersome and outdated equipment, we decided to upgrade. For more years than we can remember, we mounted an 8-dog topper on the beds of a series of Chevy pickups and lifted countless, sometimes wet and dirty dogs into their boxes. And for five years we’d been using a 1990-model 18-foot stock trailer. It had dualies and was built of steel—which made it extremely sturdy but also heavy to tow.

The upgrades had been in the dreaming and planning phases for many months. Jerry researched many equipment options and we finally decided on a combination of two pieces—a dog box for every day use and a dog trailer for traveling and for when we needed to haul more dogs. The company decision was easy. Ainley builds top-notch, custom equipment and their customer service is outstanding. Jane Ainley runs the shop and along with Chad and the rest of the crew, all are talented and committed and no detail is too small for consideration.  

The dog box and trailer are extremely well-built, heavy-duty all around and with every thought to the comfort and safety of our dogs and of us. We have a water tank, exhaust fans, louvered vents and roomy boxes with plenty of ventilation for the dogs. We have lights inside and outside and watertight storage everywhere—drawers for training and hunting gear, big flat spaces for guns, camp chairs and extra dog food, vertical storage with hooks for jackets and rain gear.

Many thanks to Jane, Chad and the entire crew. We are delighted with our new equipment.

2010 grouse hunting report

Blue Ghost x Blue Riptide puppies, Rosie, Piper and Sage, at five months of age.

An early leaf fall in both Minnesota and Wisconsin seems to have been beneficial to grouse and woodcock hunters. Region-wide reports from everyone—training clients, puppy buyers, dog buyers and friends—are outstanding. All are finding plenty of grouse, and the woodcock numbers are up considerably.

Weather not only has contributed to the early leaf fall but the clear, cool days make for beautiful days in the woods. Remarkably, I’ve found grouse are moving into late season habitat earlier than usual.

My dog report:

•    Guide string of CH Houston’s Belle (age 9), Blue Silk (age 10), Blue Shaquille (age 6) and Northwoods Blue Ox (age 3) are tearing up the woods and are as good as grouse dogs get. These dogs go from grouse to grouse and you better have plenty of shells when out with these dogs!

•    Three younger dogs are doing well:  Northwoods Prancer (Fallset Fate x Dashaway), Northwoods Chardonnay (Houston’s Belle’s Choice x Blue Shaquille) and Synder’s Liz (CH Magic’s Rocky Belleboa x CH Houston’s Belle)

•    Seven-month-old dogs out of Ox and Houston’s Belle’s Choice are pointing grouse.

•    Six-month-old dogs out of Ox and CH Houston’s Belle are also pointing grouse!

•    Three females are part of the same grouse hunting camp and are having a blast.

What a great year to be a grouse dog—young or old—and a grouse hunter.

A September hunt on the North Dakota prairie

I was fortunate to be invited by a friend, Frankie, to his “Grouse House” on the western prairie for a few days of sharp-tailed grouse and Hungarian partridge hunting.  Another friend, Ian, accompanied us.

Here’s the wrap-up.

•    dog power:  8 English setters, 3 German shorthaired pointers, 1 pointer.

•    sharp-tails were plentiful and lots of young birds.

•    early-season, young grouse were easy for dogs to handle.

•    numbers similar to what I remember from my last trip 15 years ago.

•    conditions were unusually cool with snow on the last day.

Pearl, Ian.

Here’s the highlights:

•    endless prairie.

•    beautiful pastures.

•    terrific dog work. 

•    sharp-tail appetizers.

•    good friends and an excellent trip.

Jerry, Prancer, Ranger, Frankie.
Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
Jerry: 651-492-7312     |      Betsy: 651-769-3159     |           |      Directions
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