Another good year for grouse hunting and guiding

Northwoods Blue Ox (CH Peace Dale Duke x Blue Silk, 2007) has always been a soft-mouthed, natural retriever.

Northwoods Blue Ox (CH Peace Dale Duke x Blue Silk, 2007) has always been a soft-mouthed, natural retriever.

Grouse populations might be up or might be down but no matter where we are in the cycle and since there are only so many autumns in a life time, October finds me in the woods. And 2015 will go down as another good year.

What a beautiful sight......and the Holland & Holland is nice, too.

What a beautiful sight……and the Holland & Holland is nice, too.

In early October, I load up our string of veteran grouse dogs and young dogs and head to Bowen Lodge, northwest of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on Lake Winnibigoshish. I’ve been guiding for Bill and Gail Heig for almost 20 years and spend most of the month with them. Even on a day off from guiding grouse hunters, I still walk tote roads and slosh through bogs while training our young dogs.

Jim DePolo is justifiably proud when he finds his four-year-old Morris (CH Houston's Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011) on point.

Jim DePolo is justifiably proud when he finds his four-year-old Morris (CH Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011) on point.

Bill and I were disappointed in the grouse numbers. We expected an uptick based on good spring drumming counts but reproduction did not follow. We flushed about the same number of grouse per hour as in 2014—which continues as the lowest number since the peak in 2010. We had better dog work on the birds we found and shot more than last year.

Northwoods Carly Simon (Blue Shaquille x Houston's Belle's Choice, 2011) receives well-deserved pets from Ben Johnson and his son Seth after a warm morning in the woods.

Northwoods Carly Simon (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011) receives well-deserved pets from Ben Johnson and his son Seth after a warm morning in the woods.

As in 2014, we had another big year for woodcock flushes. Fortunately, woodcock keeps guiding clients happy during a slow day for grouse.

Some dogs--like Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall's Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011)--have a natural affinity to find ruffed grouse. This gnarly, nasty cover screams grouse.

Some dogs–like Northwoods Vixen (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011)–have a natural affinity to find ruffed grouse. This gnarly, nasty cover screams grouse.

As for the dogs, it was a good year, too. Four-year-old Northwoods Vixen put it all together this fall. She pointed and handled grouse as proficiently and stylishly as any. No matter time of day when—or hunting spot where—I ran veterans Ox and Carly, both were, as usual, simply outstanding. Young sisters Carbon and Bismuth and pointer Platinum advanced and by the end of the season, all handled grouse like mature dogs. While not as far along, one-year-old Nickel and Mercury still found lots of birds and pointed many.

It's hard to beat an afternoon like this in autumn--two happy hunters Ken Taylor (on left) and Jim DePolo, their handsome setters Tyler (Blue Shaquille x Houston's Belle's Choice, 2011) and Morris (CH Houston's Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011) and evidence of some good shooting.

It’s hard to beat an afternoon like this in autumn–two happy hunters Ken Taylor (on left) and Jim DePolo, their handsome setters Tyler (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011) and Morris (CH Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011) and evidence of some good shooting.

My time at Bowen Lodge is special. The dogs and the birds are instrumental but it’s the clients, too. Most have been with us for those 20 years and now are friends. In fact, I can’t wait to see them all again in 2016.

Comments

    RIP Slate

    Northwoods Slate
    CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon
    January 2016 - September 2017

    Good stuff about puppies

    blog sidebar carbon litter 250

    A pointing dog’s first hunting season
    Bird and gun introduction
    Early development of puppies
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    How to pick a puppy
    Patience and puppies
    Picking puppies: the unimportance of picking order
    Puppies and fireworks
    Puppy buying mistakes
    Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs
    The pointing instinct
    Training puppies on a stakeout chain

    Good stuff from previous posts

    blog sidebar hunting steve oscar 250

    Finer points on...

    A brace of bird dogs
    Accuracy of location
    Bird finding
    How to flush grouse and woodcock
    Hunting pattern
    Range
    Running grouse
    Scenting ability
    Speed and scenting
    To point a bird, first a dog has to find it
    Using grouse dogs on pheasants

    Training

    A bump or a knock
    Backing point
    Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
    Bumping grouse
    Electronic training collars...a little perspective
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    Patience and puppies
    The pointing instinct
    Transition to wild birds
    Unproductive points
    WHOA and NO

    Breeding

    Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding
    Evaluating litters
    Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
    Proper conformation
    The tail of a bird dog

    Health

    Bird dogs and hidden traps
    Feeding bird dogs
    Feeding for ideal body condition
    First aid kit for bird dogs
    Get your dog ready for the season
    Hazards in the grouse woods
    How to maintain a good weight for your dog
    Quick lesson on poisoning and how to induce vomiting
    Tick-borne diseases in dogs

     IN LOVING MEMORY

    northwoods dior 250

    NORTHWOODS DIOR

    Strideaway

    Sandy Oaks Art

    Dave Kolter Intarsia

     

     

     

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