Between morning braces of a quail hunt on Pineaven Plantation, Jerry explains the intricacies of Garmin collars with a group of hunters. A matched pair of mules is hitched to the wooden dog wagon where a Labrador waits up front and bird dogs rest in the boxes.
Bobwhite quail. Longleaf pines. Mule-drawn wagons. Bird dogs, retrieving dogs, handlers, horses and hunters. All are integral components of the one-hundred-year-old tradition of wild bird hunting on the plantations in the Red Hills region of southwest Georgia and northern Florida.
Pinehaven Plantation, located near Monticello, Florida, is the setting for the video. It is a privately owned, 5,500-acre plantation where I have been fortunate enough to work on occasion. Because no actual guiding is necessary (rather we follow courses of the mown checkerboard ground), my responsibilities are as dog handler for our client.
Jerry with Penny (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013), on the left, and dog trainer Bobby Ryan with his pointer prepare to start the afternoon brace on Pinehaven Plantation.
Hall and Hall, a real estate company headquartered in Montana but with offices scattered throughout the West, produced this video.
The nine puppies out of Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon are six weeks old. They are eating dry dog food three times per day now and Carbon is only with them to nurse once or twice per day. They are at one of their cutest stages! A highlight of our day is when we bring them out onto the lawn to play until they all fall asleep in a pile.
Meanwhile in the next run, the nine puppies out of Sunny Hill Sam x Northwoods Carly Simon are four weeks old. They are much changed since the last post! They walk all over their kennel run…..and in and out of the house. We started feeding them softened dog food (which they smell as soon as we walk into the run and scamper to the dish) and drink water out of a bowl. Carly is still with them all day and night.
Does it get any prettier than this? Merimac’s Blu Monday (Northwoods Blue Ox x CH Houston’s Belle, 2010) points a covey of bobwhite quail during the last brace of an afternoon hunt.
The experience a dog gains during a winter in Georgia with Betsy and me is hard to duplicate anywhere. For at least four months, excellent weather conditions and plentiful bobwhite quail combine for outstanding training opportunities. These winters are especially beneficial for puppies and young dogs because they get consistent exposure over a long period of time when they are maturing both physically and mentally.
Head high and practically on her tip toes, veteran Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2010) locates a covey on a guided hunt.
Betsy and I brought our own puppies from 2015 litters, setters Fendi, Gucci and Prada and pointer Chanel. All have developed well. They find and point birds and, at least most of the time, back, too.
Maddie, on left, and Chanel point scattered birds of a covey along a mowed strip. They are female littermates out of CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015.
Derbies from 2015 are proving they have what it takes. Bismuth, Nickel, Platinum and Mercury (recently sold) are finishing well on their game.
Some dogs make it look easy. Northwoods Parmigiano (Northwoods Blue Ox x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2010) confidently points a covey.
We brought our older dogs as well as several owned by clients and all are veterans to these piney woods. We work them on our grounds and use them on guided hunts. Merimac’s Blu Monday, owned by Ben McKean, is easily a “10” on quail whether on wild or liberated quail hunts. Grits, Chablis, Royce, Sean, Oscar and Vixen round out my guiding string.
What style in motion! Charlie (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) shows off his long, smooth stride. Photo by Ben McKean.
We have other extremely talented client dogs with us. Pointer Maddie (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015) is here from Maine and setter Remmie made the trip from Minnesota. Charlie (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) is here from Ohio and we also have Grace, Hannah and Jack from Montana. Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) is back for her second winter of training. Sure beats her home state of Illinois!
In good broom sedge cover, Jerry flushes for Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014). Even though not yet two years of age, Roxy runs a mature race, accurately pins birds and is steady to wing and shot.
I miss our own Carly and Carbon on my guiding string but they are busy with puppies. Each whelped litters of nine in late January/early February.
A puppy’s first point is always exciting! Six-month-old Remmie locates a quail in thick cover of a mowed strip.
A pair of eight-year-old bird dogs, setter Houston’s Blackjack (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle, 2008) and Chris Mathan’s pointer Pal’s Kitty Hawk (Pal’s Maverick x Wynot Kristy, 2008), share point.