Northwoods Nirvana (CH Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011)
Some things seem meant to be.
When Betsy and I bred Northwoods Chardonnay in 2011 to CH Houston’s Blackjack, owned by Frank and Jean LaNasa, the pick of the litter was an extremely handsome, dark-headed male. We raised him but sold him as a 10-month-old to Frank and Jean. Now five years later, in partnership with Paul Hauge, we bought him back.
And it’s wonderful to have him with us.
His registered name is Northwoods Nirvana (2011 was the year of naming dogs after rock stars) and his call name is Pete. But everyone always calls him Perfect Pete because…well, he is. He truly has it all—excellent conformation, style on point and the characteristic, long, easy gait of the Houston dogs. Plus he has an easy disposition and is just nice to be around.
In 2015 on a North Dakota prairie, Frank LaNasa flushes for Northwoods Nirvana; Northwoods Rolls Royce backs.
Not only was Frank interested in Nirvana because he owned the sire but also for his potential. Frank groomed him on the prairie for horseback competition on sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chicken.
Frank’s work paid off this fall when Nirvana was named RU-CH at the National Amateur Prairie Chicken Championship held at the Buena Vista Marsh near Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, in a field of 47 dogs. This prestigious trial is run from horseback on native prairie chickens.
2016 National Amateur Prairie Chicken Championship placements: Frank LaNasa, on right, with RU-CH Northwoods Nirvana; CH Skydancer Triple Nickel on left.
Pete has quite a pedigree. He is line bred to Houston through his blue-hen dam Northwoods Chardonnay (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice) and sire CH Houston’s Blackjack (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle). He is a first cousin to winners CH Erin’s Hidden Shamrock and RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus, who were sired by Blackjack’s litter brother, CH Ridge Creek Cody.
Now at just five years of age, Pete is himself a noted sire. He has been bred to about 12 females and produced 11 winners so far including the following:
- His son CH Skydancer Flash Forward won the 2016 Region 19 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship held at the Namekagon Barrens near Danbury, Wisconsin, on native sharptails.
- His grandson CH Skydancer Triple Nickel won the 2016 National Amateur Prairie Chicken Championship (when Pete was RU-CH).
Pete is certified OFA GOOD and his DNA is on file with the American Field. He is available for breeding at both our Minnesota and Georgia kennels. The stud fee is $1,000.
P.S. Two weeks after we bought him back, I took him into the woods for a guided grouse and woodcock hunt. Though he had not previously pointed either bird, he did a bang-up job and took to it easily and naturally.
The National Grouse & Woodcock Hunt (NGWH), put on by the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS), is a big deal. This year, the 35th, began on Tuesday, October 11, and ran for four days. Part get-together/part fund-raiser, it is headquartered at the Sawmill Inn in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
In addition to plenty of good food, camaraderie and the opportunity to support a worthy organization, NGWH is bird hunter heaven. There is a sporting clays competition, shooting lessons, trap demonstrations and two days of guided hunting competition in the woods of Itasca County.
Jerry and I felt honored to be asked by RGS Director of Member Relations and Outreach Mark Fouts to put on a dog demonstration. So last Wednesday, October 12, we found ourselves at the Grand Rapids Gun Club where the RGS hosted its Outdoor Festival.
Jerry and I brought three dogs that hopefully would behave well and not embarrass us too much: Northwoods Carly Simon, above on left, pointer Northwoods Platinum and Northwoods Nirvana. Nirvana demanded some attention but the most difficult aspect was the tough conditions—really cold and windy.
The most important command for a bird dog is WHOA and very often misunderstood and misused. Jerry spent quite a bit of time explaining how we train and then demonstrated on Platinum. Luckily, she was perfect!
A highlight for us was seeing so many friends and clients. Amazing how small the bird dog world is…but also heartening that it is filled with talented, fascinating, committed hunters and dog lovers from all over the country.
We know many people involved with RGS and the NGWH. It was fun for us to see Andy Duffy and Boo, his eight-month-old setter male puppy out of our Carly Simon and Sunny Hill Sam. We last saw them in April when Andy pulled out of our driveway in Georgia with tiny Boo on his lap.
Many thanks to Mark and the crew of the NGWH for hosting such an outstanding event.
An accurate location by the young pointer Penny (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013) and a proper flush and good shot by hunter Mike Powers will result in this happy scene.
Flushing grouse and woodcock in front of a pointing dog might seem like a simple concept. It can make the difference, though, between a bird in the bag and an empty shot shell. In more than 20 years of guiding ruffed grouse and woodcock hunters across the northern Great Lakes region, I’ve pretty much seen it all. Some mistakes I attribute to excitement; others are downright comical; and most are merely naïve.
Here are some tips on how to properly flush for grouse and woodcock over a pointing dog.
Grouse or woodcock.
First of all, try to determine which bird is being pointed. Woodcock tend to be closer to the dog while ruffed grouse are usually farther away. Of course, if it’s late in the season and the woodcock have migrated, the bird is a grouse.
Read the dog.
Most dogs will convey bird and bird location by its intensity and body posture. A really intense posture combined with a lowered head and/or body means the bird is right in front and, therefore, likely a woodcock. A dog that stands taller with a higher head and is more relaxed on point indicates the bird is off a distance and likely a grouse. When the dog is twisted due to a sudden point, that means the bird is close and could be either a grouse or woodcock. If a dog is moving its head or looking around or if the tail is ticking, it doesn’t have the bird accurately located.
Two hunters pass the backing dog and move into position to flush for the lead dog in good-looking grouse cover.
Assess the cover.
Look at the vegetation. Young aspen cuts with scattered woodcock splash would be a good indicator for woodcock. On the other hand, a 20-year-old aspen stand with deadfalls and thick, grassy edges is more likely grouse cover. If you’ve found woodcock or grouse in the surrounding cover, that can be a good clue, but not always.
Flush the bird.
Ideally, two hunters should position themselves a few yards on either side of the dog and steadily walk forward in unison, looking for likely places a bird will sit, until about 10 – 15 yards in front of the dog. Be prepared when stopping as this often causes a bird to flush.
If a woodcock is suspected, you can go back and flush more thoroughly in front of the dog. Some woodcock will sit very tight and be difficult to flush.
Also, flush beside or behind the dog. Discern wind direction and flush upwind of the dog. And even if the dog is pointing on one side of a trail, flush on the other side. Finally, look up into the trees.
Be ready for a second bird.
If one bird flushes—whether grouse or woodcock—always be prepared for another flush. If you do shoot, reload immediately. Many times I have watched a hunter shoot both barrels, only to stand with an empty gun while another bird flushes within range.
What not do do.
• Never walk a few feet in front of the dog and stop. The dog isn’t going to flush the bird. Keep walking to flush the bird.
• Never walk up closely beside the dog as this might break its concentration and encourage it to move.