A visit to the National Bird Dog Museum

Since Jerry and I have our training site in the heart of bird dog country, we thought it completely appropriate to take a drive to Grand Junction and tour the National Bird Dog Museum.

It’s hard to miss. It’s on the main highway through town and if the multicolor flags don’t grab your attention, a huge bronze depiction of hunter, dogs and a covey rise of quail definitely will. Two statues of retrievers grace the walkway and, farther along , we found a gorgeous sculpture by Bob Wehle of CH Elhew Snakefoot. 

The museum is under the auspices of the nonprofit National Bird Dog Foundation and the same  building also houses the National Retriever Museum, the Field Trial Hall of Fame and the Wildlife Heritage Center. Our timing was good. Within a couple of days, the National Championship would begin at the nearby Ames Plantation and the newest members of the Hall of Fame would be inducted. The place was abuzz!

 

Joe Cumming

It is both thrilling and a bit humbling to see photographs and paintings of famous dogs and handlers from as far back as the late 1800s. I wasn’t surprised that Jerry could rattle off many of the dog names.

Our venue—cover dog field trials—was represented with a small display. How gratifying for Jerry and me to find CH Blue Streak and CH Houston’s Belle among the placements of the Grand National Grouse & Woodcock Invitational and the Grand National Grouse Championship.

We had to stop one more place before we left Grand Junction. In an unused school building along the main street is the current home of Wilson Dunn’s Sporting Goods. Mr. Dunn, age 92, is still behind the counter and still ringing up sales on his old-fashioned adding machine. We had a blast looking through his training equipment, supplies, clothing and other gear…and even picking out a few to buy.

Er Shelly at Wilson Dunn’s shop

Mr. Dunn then invited us to his personal bird dog shrine in the next room. He was the owner of Dunn’s Fearless Bud, a dog Bob Wehle outcrossed to with excellent results. Wilson sat in his rocking chair and shared some amazing stories about the old days. He spoke proudly of Bud:  “My dog was the last one to win the National Championship with finds on wild birds.”

Ever the salesman, Wilson eyed me up and, in his genteel southern drawl, said, “Honey, you need some chaps? I’ve got some over there that would fit you perfectly—Women’s Tall Slender.”

He was right…and we walked out of his shop with another purchase.

What I’m reading: RGS 50th anniversary magazine

There are those who believe the ruffed grouse is something beyond the ordinary.

 ~  50 Years in the Making—A Brief History of the Ruffed Grouse Society,

RGS 50th Anniversary Commemorative Issue

In honor of their 50th anniversary, The Ruffed Grouse Society recently published a special issue of their magazine. The 142 pages are filled with entertaining and informative articles and are interspersed with beautiful photo essays.

Jerry and I were pleased to see photographs of two dogs out of our breeding. Chip Laughton’s photo essay, Pointer Passion, features the female setter Georgia (page 52), owned by Dana and Robert Bell III of Asheville, North Carolina. Georgia is out of our 2008 breeding of CH Magic’s Rocky Belleboa x Old Glory Bluebelle (Gusty Blue x CH Houston’s Belle).

Chris Mathan’s feature, Photographing Bird Dogs, includes many of her stunning dog photos. Again, among all the pointers is our Northwoods Blue Ox (page 127), a gorgeous orange-and-white setter out of CH Peacedale Duke x Blue Silk. Ox was bred and is owned by us.

On page 73 is another photograph by Chris—this one an exceptional head shot of a quintessential grouse dog, CH Sky Blue Belle, handled by Steve Groy of Pennsylvania. Belle’s story is amazing…and what a talented and worthy champion. Jerry knew her only too well. In 2006, Belle was the top cover dog in the country and won the Michael A. Seminatore Award. All year long, she battled another Belle and just a few points was the difference in the final standings. Finishing second that year was CH Houston’s Belle, owned by Dr. Paul Hauge and handled by Jerry.

Tri-Tronics Upland G3 Beeper

Last fall, Tri-Tronics invited me to field test their new Upland G3 Beeper. I used it for several days of late-November grouse hunting, including one day with a fresh, six-inch snowfall.

Overall, and compared to their previous beeper, the Upland G3 is a vast improvement. (See details below.) Like other Tri-Tronics products, it works with most of their existing ecollar systems. I haven’t used the beeper long enough to evaluate its durability and reliability but, if it’s similar to other products from Tri-Tronics, that won’t be a problem. And while I don’t usually use a run-mode beeper, the Upland G3 may change that.

Features:

  • powered by a user replaceable CR123A battery.

  • slides onto an existing dog collar.

  • has two point-mode settings, single beep or hawk scream, and four run-mode settings, no beep, 1 beep, 2 beeps or 3 beeps.

  • made in the U.S.A.

Aspects I liked:

  • The biggest improvement is that the beeper, when used with an ecollar, actually stays on the top of the dog’s neck.  

  • The tone of the beeper is soft and pleasant and while the volume isn’t adjustable, it doesn’t need to be. The volume is loud enough to be heard at a distance but not too loud when close. I could hear the beeper plainly when more than 300 yards away and hunting in snow. Too, my feeling is that it must be kinder to the dog’s ears.

  • The beeper is easy to operate and can be turned on and off remotely.

  • The unit is bright orange and is easy to see…especially in dense cover.

  • The remote locate feature is one I particularly like.

  • The five-second interval between beeps on the run mode seems to be about right. I really like the two-beep run mode as it allows me to read the dog’s direction and speed—very important when I can’t see the dog.

Aspects to improve on:

  • Point-mode beep is too frequent at 1 beep/second…and it becomes annoying. I personally don’t like the hawk scream point mode which sounds every five seconds.

  • The delay before entering point mode is too short. Currently, if the dog quickly stops to listen for you, urinate or investigate scent, point mode starts. I don’t know yet what happens if a dog is slowly creeping on game. Point mode tends to get hunters excited and I’d rather hear it only for an actual point.

  • The remote locate is too complicated. To active it, the transmitter dial must be set to “A” and then any button can be pressed. I’d prefer one-button activation. For instance, if I’m locating a dog on point with the locate feature and the dog bumps the bird as I walk up, I have to set quickly the transmitter dial to the level I need before pressing the stimulation button.

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