September 2014 album

Most of the dogs we sell are as much beloved pets as stalwarts in the woods and fields. Northwoods Grits (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2011) is large for a lap dog but manages to get plenty of attention from Chris Senkler.

Most of the dogs we sell are as much beloved pets as stalwarts in the woods and fields. Northwoods Grits (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2011) is large for a lap dog but manages to get plenty of attention from Chris Senkler.

Even though Jerry and I focus on breeding bird dogs used in the pursuit of ruffed grouse and woodcock, families who buy dogs from us hunt other birds. In fact, September found many hunters and their dogs heading west to the prairies of North Dakota and Montana. (First group of photographs.)

September is still a busy training month for Jerry and Dan…..and there’s almost no place they’d rather be than out in the woods and fields training bird dogs.

Two August-born litters are coming of age. The CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay puppies and three neighbors out of Northwoods Rum Rickey by Northwoods Parmigiano watch kennel activities.

The CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay puppies and three neighbors out of Northwoods Rum Rickey by Northwoods Parmigiano watch kennel activities.

Then, of course, I must include photographs of puppies. Our two August-born litters are coming of age and ready to go to their new owners. The last group of photographs is from buyers of 2014 litters. These puppies are getting plenty of play time with their new families and their first introductions to birds and hunting.

Jack (Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Highclass Kate, 2013) after a long Sunday, with the afternoon’s work on the tailgate! ~ Barry Frieler

Jack (Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Highclass Kate, 2013) after a long Sunday, with the afternoon’s work on the tailgate!
~ Barry Frieler

This was Finn’s (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2014) first-ever pointed wild bird – cold, wet and windy in endless native grasses 5 miles from the northeastern corner of Montana.  It was a short point; but an excellent find and retrieve right to hand.  PRICELESS! ~ Todd Weidman

This was Finn’s (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2014) first-ever pointed wild bird – cold, wet and windy in endless native grasses 5 miles from the northeastern corner of Montana. It was a short point; but an excellent find and retrieve right to hand. PRICELESS!
~ Todd Wiedmann

Look who I ran into out in Montana! ~ Joe Montgomery (on right) owner of Buddy (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013), on finding another long-time friend/client of ours, A. G. Murray, Jr., from Oklahoma, who is now on the fourth NBD-bred setter.

Look who I ran into out in Montana!
~ Joe Montgomery (on right) owner of Buddy (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013), on finding another long-time friend/client of ours, A. G. Murray, Jr., from Oklahoma, who is now on the fourth NBD-bred setter.

Piper (Blue Riptide x Blue Ghost 2010) still ranged, but was in control and purposeful and she was the same bird-finding machine she is in the grouse woods. Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012) is an extremely good "warm weather" dog, and everyone who hunted behind him wanted him or a puppy from him. ~ Chris Bye

Piper (Blue Riptide x Blue Ghost, 2010, on right) still ranged, but was in control and purposeful and she was the same bird-finding machine she is in the grouse woods. Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012) is an extremely good “warm weather” dog, and everyone who hunted behind him wanted him or a puppy from him.
~ Chris Bye

What a pretty sight! Jerry often braces two dogs together because it offers many training opportunities. Occasionally, he runs three dogs, especially when one is experienced. Morris (Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011), on left, has a beautiful find on a wild covey of sharptails. Veteran setter Choice (Gusty Blue x Houston’s Belle, 2005) and derby Smooch (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013) honor Morris’ point.

What a pretty sight! Jerry often braces two dogs together because it offers many training opportunities. Occasionally, he runs three dogs, especially when one is experienced. Morris (Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2011), on left, has a beautiful find on a wild covey of sharptails. Veteran setter Choice (Gusty Blue x Houston’s Belle, 2005) and derby Smooch (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013) honor Morris’ point.

From the age of eight weeks, we put puppies on the training barrel for initial lessons in whoa training. Five-month-old Northwoods Platinum (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014) shows extraordinary poise and composure.

From the age of eight weeks, we put puppies on the training barrel for initial lessons in whoa training. Five-month-old Northwoods Platinum (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014) shows extraordinary poise and composure.

During one of those perfect mornings to be running dogs on the prairie, Frank LaNasa flushes for his multiple champion Homemade (on right), who is backed by Lucy (Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011).

During one of those perfect mornings to be running dogs on the prairie, Frank LaNasa flushes for his multiple champion Homemade (on right), who is backed by Lucy (Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011).

Franny (Northwoods Blue Ox x Houston’s Belle, 2010), on left, and Gus (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011) score a divided find on sharp-tailed grouse in a scrub oak patch on the barrens.

Franny (Northwoods Blue Ox x Houston’s Belle, 2010), on left, and Gus (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011) score a divided find on sharp-tailed grouse in a scrub oak patch on the barrens.

I took Frisco (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) out for her first walk in the wild last weekend. We found grouse immediately and she got her first taste of feathers. She was not going to give up the grouse and ran around showing off with a lot of pride. So let the training begin….which will be all fun! ~ Rick Buchholz

I took Frisco (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) out for her first walk in the wild last weekend. We found grouse immediately and she got her first taste of feathers. She was not going to give up the grouse and ran around showing off with a lot of pride. So let the training begin….which will be all fun!
~ Rick Buchholz

We took Ellie (Northwoods Grits x I’m Blue Gert, 2014) for a walk at the club today and she backed Betty…..pointing what turned out to be a covey of 20 chukkar that must have been released last week.  When they flushed Ellie went charging in the woods and was pretty amped up on the scent. ~ Tom Beauchamp

We took Ellie (Northwoods Grits x I’m Blue Gert, 2014) for a walk at the club today and she backed Betty…..pointing what turned out to be a covey of 20 chukkar that must have been released last week. When they flushed Ellie went charging in the woods and was pretty amped up on the scent.
~ Tom Beauchamp

Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) continues to do well... everyone who meets him comments that 1) his name is very fitting;  2) he is so nice and sweet and calm; 3) he's soo soft!! ~ Kjellrun Olson

Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) continues to do well… everyone who meets him comments that 1) his name is very fitting; 2) he is so nice and sweet and calm; 3) he’s soo soft!!
~ Kjellrun Olson

Boatswain (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) is doing great, doing just what puppies should—tearing up anything he can get his mouth around, and exploring and learning lots everyday! He seems to be a natural retriever, because he is always carrying something around in his mouth and loves to come show it off. ~ Ben Whitten

Boatswain (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) is doing great, doing just what puppies should—tearing up anything he can get his mouth around, and exploring and learning lots everyday! He seems to be a natural retriever, because he is always carrying something around in his mouth and loves to come show it off.
~ Ben Whitten

Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) has been an outstanding addition to our family. She is full of life and our children absolutely love her.  ~ Joe Byers

Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) has been an outstanding addition to our family. She is full of life and our children absolutely love her.
~ Joe Byers

The very first covey of three grouse we ran into, Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) clearly indicated he scented birds. He was very excited and attempting to bust through some very thick cover on his own...I know he's still very young and I just want him to have fun out there, which he did. ~ Nick Larson

The very first covey of three grouse we ran into, Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014) clearly indicated he scented birds. He was very excited and attempting to bust through some very thick cover on his own…I know he’s still very young and I just want him to have fun out there, which he did.
~ Nick Larson

Bumping grouse & helpful tips

The ruffed grouse is the wariest of the species hunted by bird dogs, the wisest and hardest to handle.
~ Henry P. Davis, Training Your Own Bird Dog, 1948

To provide the ideal ruffed grouse shooting opportunity, a pointing dog should engage the grouse so the bird doesn’t move. Bumping grouse occurs when a dog gets too close and causes the bird to flush. It’s one of the most common training problems I hear about from clients and friends.

One reason is simply the difficulty of the quarry. An occasional bump is part of grouse hunting; but if your dog bumps more than it points, something else might be going on.

Listed below are common causes and tips for improvement and correction.

→ Cover and weather conditions.
In the early part of the season especially, the cover can be thick and conditions can be warm and dry. Both make scenting extremely difficult for less-experienced dogs and challenging for veteran grouse dogs.
Tip:  The hunter can’t do anything about this one. Wait until conditions improve.

→   Lack of experience.
Rare is the dog that will be exhibit a natural ability to point grouse with just a few contacts. Most bird dogs need repeated exposure over several seasons.
Tip:  This is easy. Hunt more.

→   Lack of training.
The dog doesn’t know it’s supposed to stop and point.
Tip:  The dog needs to be trained to stop on WHOA.

→   Seeing grouse on the ground.
Dogs invariably see grouse on the ground and sometimes the temptation is just too much.
Tip:  Reinforce WHOA and steadiness training with a visible bird on the ground.

→   Over-exposure to planted birds.
A dog can get quite close to a planted bird before it stops to point. Grouse are just the opposite and will flush if a dog gets too close.
Tip:  Stay away from the game farm for awhile and provide more exposure to grouse.

→   Genetics.
The dog lacks the ability to find and point grouse due to a bad nose, inadequate pointing instincts or physical limitations.
Tip:  Thoroughly check out the breeders and breeding of your next puppy. Make sure the sire and dam—and previous generations—are proven grouse dogs.

→   Stuff happens.
Even an experienced grouse dog with a bold, confident attitude will sometimes bump a grouse.
Tip:  Exercise patience and move on.

 

Puppy update #5

A tri-color female puppy out of Northwoods Chardonnayby x Shadow Oak Bo looks strikingly like her dam.

A tri-color female puppy out of Northwoods Chardonnayby by Shadow Oak Bo looks strikingly like her dam.

The kennel at Northwoods Bird Dogs is gradually clearing out of puppies. The three females out of CH I’m Blue Gert by Northwoods Grits went to their new homes in early September. That leaves the five-week-old Northwoods Parmigiano x Northwoods Rum Rickey litter and, in the next kennel run, the almost six-week-old puppies out of Northwoods Chardonnay x CH Shadow Oak Bo.

Even though the puppies out of Northwoods Rum Rickey by Northwoods Parmigiano are younger than the Bo x Chardonnay litter by five days, these four don’t miss many feedings.

Even though the puppies out of Northwoods Rum Rickey by Northwoods Parmigiano are younger than the Bo x Chardonnay litter by five days, these four don’t miss many feedings.

Rochel and Dave Moore, owners of CH I’m Blue Gert, were extremely diligent. They never missed a weekend to visit and spend time with Gert and her three female puppies. They now have their hands full with their two picks.

Rochel and Dave Moore, owners of CH I’m Blue Gert, were extremely diligent. They never missed a weekend to visit and spend time with Gert and her three female puppies. They now have their hands full with their two picks.

The Beauchamps made a quick trip from their home in Indiana to pick up their Northwoods Grits x I’m Blue Gert female. In keeping with our naming theme of the periodic table of the elements, the puppy's registered name will be Northwoods Iron Maiden.

The Beauchamps made a quick trip from their home in Indiana to pick up their Northwoods Grits x I’m Blue Gert female. In keeping with our naming theme of the periodic table of the elements, the puppy’s registered name will be Northwoods Iron Maiden.

Seven of the eight puppies in the Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay litter settle in for a post-feeding nap.

Seven of the eight puppies in the Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay litter settle in for a post-feeding nap.

 

 

A pointing dog’s first hunting season

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(Jerry and I wrote this piece for the StarTribune, September 15, 2013. http://www.startribune.com/sports/outdoors/223773411.html )

The golden leaves of autumn lie crisp on the forest floor. The dog’s bell rings merrily as the hunt moves from one likely piece of grouse cover to another. Suddenly, the bell stops. With high anticipation, the hunter searches and, near an alder edge, sees the dog — body rigid and eyes intensely focused. As the hunter approaches, a ruffed grouse noisily flushes and the report of a shotgun swiftly follows.

To achieve that classic ruffed grouse hunting experience with your dog will require hours in the woods and years of effort, for there is no game bird more difficult for a pointing dog to properly handle than a ruffed grouse. It is wily, wary and often called “King of the Woods.”
The process of developing a puppy into an experienced grouse dog begins with the all-important first season. The dog is at an impressionable age and lessons learned will set the foundation for future success.

Here are important considerations to make the most of this time.

Be prepared.
Before taking your young dog into the grouse woods for its first hunt, make sure you’re prepared.

The foremost consideration is proper introduction to birds and gunfire. A basic obedience command, HERE or COME, and an attention-getting command, such as calling its name, need to be understood. In addition, the means to enforce those commands, such as a check cord or e-collar, is necessary.

Your young dog also should be accustomed to the sound of a bell or a beeper and to riding in a vehicle. It should be at a suitable weight and in good health, too.

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Exposure to grouse.
Most of what a dog needs to know about finding and pointing grouse is learned from the birds themselves. Exposure to grouse — and plenty of them — is crucial.

Your puppy will learn key details about grouse.
• Where they are most likely to be found.
• How to differentiate where the grouse is as opposed to where it was.
• How close to get before the bird flushes.
• That it can’t catch the grouse.
• How to follow running birds.

The goal is to have your puppy hunt for and find grouse. Don’t worry if it doesn’t point many; that will come with repeated exposure, maturity and training.

Handling in the woods.
Expecting your puppy to be in sight always or range at a certain distance is unrealistic and, in fact, can inhibit its bird finding. As long as it is checking in and hunting in the direction you’re headed, you don’t need to say anything. Over-handling, in terms of too much calling and whistling or constant encouragement, can distract and confuse the dog. In addition, it could alert any grouse to your whereabouts.

At times, you’ll need to communicate with your puppy. Use the basic recall or attention-getting commands and be sure to have the capability to enforce them.

If your puppy gets overexcited, take a break. Give it time to settle down and regain its composure.

Owner attitude, expectations.
Be patient. Developing an experienced grouse dog will take several seasons. Your puppy has a lot to learn. Expect it to make mistakes — flush birds, chase rabbits, not pay attention and, at times, become uncontrollable.

Be realistic about your young dog’s capability. It might look mature, but it is still just a puppy. Be cognizant of its physical and mental limitations; i.e., plan several short hunts instead of one long outing. To encourage your young dog to point grouse and not flush them, shoot only birds that have been pointed.

Finally, do remember to have fun with your puppy. Take time to savor this first season — hopefully the first of many — in the grouse woods.

Both photos above by Chris Mathan, The Sportsman’s Cabinet.

CH Houston’s Blackjack on all-age circuit

CH Houston's Blackjack (CH Can't Go Wrong x CH Houston's Belle, 2008). Photo by Ben McKean.

CH Houston’s Blackjack (CH Can’t Go Wrong x CH Houston’s Belle, 2008). Photo by Ben McKean.

CH Houston’s Blackjack was recently acquired by Dr. Paul Hauge from Jack’s co-owners, Frank LaNasa and Leroy Peterson. Jack is a six-year-old setter male out of Paul’s 2X CH/4X RU-CH Houston’s Belle by CH/RU-CH Can’t Go Wrong, so it’s a very cool and fitting purchase.

Frank handled Jack on the horseback shooting dog circuit and earned placements in many trials, including a championship and runner-up championship.

Paul placed Jack with Luke Eisenhart, a professional handler in all-age horseback field trials. Luke is one of the best and was the Purina  Top All-Age Handler in both 2012 and 2013. Luke will enter Jack in wild bird trials in the Dakotas, in addition to quail trials in the southeast.

The all-age circuit is the highest level and most demanding of pointing dog field trials. It takes a special dog to to compete with the likes of two-time National Champion, Shadow Oak Bo, a setter,  and many, many winning pointers.

Good luck to Jack, Paul and Luke!

Flushing grouse and woodcock for a pointing dog

An accurate location by the young pointer Pesto and a proper flush and good shot by hunter Mike Powers will result in this happy scene.

An accurate location by the young pointer Pesto 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 17 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.

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.

Two hunters pass the backing dog and move into position to flush for the lead dog in good-looking grouse cover.

Two hunters pass the backing dog and move into position to flush for the lead dog in good-looking grouse cover.

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. (See video below for how not to flush the bird.)

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.

•    Never walk up closely beside the dog as this might break its concentration and encourage it to move. (See video below for walking up closely beside the dog.)
•    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.

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.

Summer photo album

Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston's Belle's Choice, 2014).

Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014).

If Jerry and I could sum up the summer of 2014 in one word, it would be “puppies.” With the exception of the Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis puppy in early spring, never have our litters occurred so closely together and so late in the year.

As it turns out, though, summer is a wonderful season to raise a puppy. Besides the general relaxing of rules and moods, kids are out of school and have time on their hands. Parents take holidays from work and vacations are planned—many to cabins and other rustic venues where dogs are welcome.

It’s been fun for us to spend time with the new puppy owners, some of whom are old friends. We’re thankful for owners who spare no expense when a puppy flies off to its new home and we’re thankful, too, for families who drive hours—and from as far away as Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Texas—to pick up their puppy.

Most of all, we’re grateful to all the families for their warmth and loyalty and for the good life they’ll give their new puppies.

I can’t believe I got one of your dogs.
~ Jeff, owner of Bates (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014)

We recently returned from a week-long vacation at a lake cabin, and Timber enjoyed all that the new environment had to offer. At one point there were a total of 7 dogs running around, and he wanted to play with every one of them! He learned to enjoy playing in the water with the other dogs…..he has shown a lot of enthusiasm for jumping into the water to retrieve sticks and his retrieving dummy.
~ Keith, owner of Timber (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014)

The puppy is doing great. He handled the 2-day trip home like a veteran. He gets along well with the other dogs…..he and our other male are great pals.
~ Mike, owner of Charlie (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)

So in love with our little Belle. She is the sweetest puppy we have ever met. Belle is so well behaved and a Miss Social butterfly. Thank you so much again for this darling puppy.
~ Robby, owner of Belle (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)

We are very impressed with her natural abilities so far.  We have thrown pretty much 2 dozen balls each day and she retrieves them to hand.  When the older dog goes on point she naturally stops as well with a high tail. We are very pleased with our new hunting companion and look forward to many years of memories that we will share with you. ~ Rick, owner of Frisco (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)

We are very impressed with her natural abilities so far. We have thrown pretty much 2 dozen balls each day and she retrieves them to hand. When the older dog goes on point she naturally stops as well with a high tail. We are very pleased with our new hunting companion and look forward to many years of memories that we will share with you.
~ Rick, owner of Frisco (Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014)

Elmer is doing very well.  From the very beginning, he has been sleeping well in his crate and he never cries.  We're working on some basic commands and he learned to come right away. We walk our daughter to school every morning and Elmer has been enjoying that along with all of the activity at the school. All in all, he is absolutely fantastic and we all love our new family member. ~ Kjellrun, owner of Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014), pictured with Northwoods Roy Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012)

Elmer is doing very well. From the very beginning, he has been sleeping well in his crate and he never cries. We’re working on some basic commands and he learned to come right away. We walk our daughter to school every morning and Elmer has been enjoying that along with all of the activity at the school. All in all, he is absolutely fantastic and we all love our new family member.
~ Kjellrun, owner of Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014), pictured with Northwoods Roy Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012)

Wanted to let you know that Hartley, Lacey and I are still having loads of fun together! I loved watching him try to climb steps for the first time as he was a little unsure of it. I helped him once or twice but each time I walked up the steps myself, and without encouragement, I let him figure out how to follow me. A half day later and he was going up and down no problem. He's a fantastic dog and we can't commend you both enough on your dogs and breeding program. ~ Nick, owner of Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)

Wanted to let you know that Hartley, Lacey and I are still having loads of fun together! I loved watching him try to climb steps for the first time as he was a little unsure of it. I helped him once or twice but each time I walked up the steps myself, and without encouragement, I let him figure out how to follow me. A half day later and he was going up and down no problem. He’s a fantastic dog and we can’t commend you both enough on your dogs and breeding program.
~ Nick, owner of Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)

The ride home went really well….spent the afternoon playing in the yard and getting used to the kennel / house.  She is already running in and out of her doggie door in the outside kennel (very cool and unexpected). We brought her in the house for the night about 90 minutes ago... we put her in the (inside) kennel and she started to cry a little.....it was a solid 30 minutes of puppy screaming, but she wore herself out and now she's sound asleep…..we are head-over-heels in love / happy. ~ Joe, owner of Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)

The ride home went really well….spent the afternoon playing in the yard and getting used to the kennel / house. She is already running in and out of her doggie door in the outside kennel (very cool and unexpected). We brought her in the house for the night about 90 minutes ago… we put her in the (inside) kennel and she started to cry a little…..it was a solid 30 minutes of puppy screaming, but she wore herself out and now she’s sound asleep…..we are head-over-heels in love / happy.
~ Joe, owner of Roxy (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle Choice, 2014)

Our little puppy is getting big! 24 weeks and as of 2 days ago – 38 lbs. Everything is going very well!  Right now focusing on WHOA command, birds, scent points instead of sight points, and continuing to slowly intro the gun. I have 40 young pheasants and 10 bobwhites that I’m working him through the rest of summer before we head to NE MT to chase sharptails. Then back in MN woods to hopefully rustle up some real grouse.  Looking forward to having fun with him in the field and woods…and watching him develop this fall.  ~ Todd, owner of Finn (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Our little puppy is getting big! 24 weeks and as of 2 days ago – 38 lbs. Everything is going very well! Right now focusing on WHOA command, birds, scent points instead of sight points, and continuing to slowly intro the gun. I have 40 young pheasants and 10 bobwhites that I’m working him through the rest of summer before we head to NE MT to chase sharptails. Then back in MN woods to hopefully rustle up some real grouse. Looking forward to having fun with him in the field and woods…and watching him develop this fall.
~ Todd, owner of Finn (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

 

A brace of bird dogs

Frank flushes for a divided find by pointer True Confidence, on left, and setter Northwoods Grits. The dogs had a nice sharp-tail covey.

On the North Dakota prairie, Frank LaNasa flushes for brace mates True Confidence, on left, and Northwoods Grits on a divided find.

Any sportsman will tell you that two dogs find more birds than one dog.
~ Er M. Shelley, Bird Dog Training Today and Tomorrow, 1921

It seems that hunters and field trialers have commonly had two dogs on the ground at the same time for a long, long time. And for good reasons. Not only is the whole thing more productive but it truly is the epitome in working pointing dogs. Finding a bird dog on point while another backs is a beautiful sight.

Even though the noun “brace” has many meanings—from clamp and support beam, to things medical, mathematical, musical and nautical—for us, the key definition is “a pair of like things.” Hunting two or more bird dogs together is a brace.

Whether handled by the same or a different person, there are several considerations when bracing dogs. Chief among them is that not just any two dogs will make a good brace.

 

An fine piece of bird work by brace mates Northwoods Blue Ox on point, backed by Northwoods Carly Simon.

In the thick grouse woods, it’s memorable to come upon a fine piece of bird work by brace mates Northwoods Blue Ox on point, backed by Northwoods Carly Simon.

Good brace mates.
•    The dogs should hunt independently yet be cognizant of what the other is doing so both can get in on any bird work.
•    It’s perfect if one dog ranges wider and one is closer so more ground is covered more thoroughly.
•    Easy handling dogs are best. At a minimum, one should be an experienced, almost automatic dog.
•    The dogs must back their brace mates on point.

Bad brace mates.
•    Competitive dogs are difficult in a brace. Some dogs are even more competitive to a specific dog.
•    Two young males braced together can become quite a kerfuffle.
•    Some dogs pay more attention to the other dog than to their task.
•    When the same dogs are hunted together frequently, one might depend on the other to find birds and is content to back.

Another  consideration.
Two dogs will not only cover more ground but they’ll usually do it at a faster pace than if run singly. They might tire more quickly—which then might require more dogs to hunt the same amount of time.

Finally…
How to know what dogs brace well together? Try them!

Puppy update #4

In the middle of feeding time, a female puppy out Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon steps back and rests.

In the middle of feeding time, a female puppy out of Blue Riptide x Northwoods Carly Simon steps back and rests.

Puppies can be born in any month, or course, but certain times of the year are preferable.

In the realm of field trial competition, the opportune season is winter, and the earlier the better. When competing as a derby (up to about two years of age), the theory is that those dogs have a maturity advantage over those born later.

Jerry and I don’t compete at championship levels any more so timing isn’t as crucial. It is ideal to have puppies old enough so they can be introduced to the grouse woods in their first year.

But there is much about breeding and timing of litters that is out of control of the breeders. The major issue is the heat cycle of the dam. Too, depending on the chosen sire of a litter, geography could be challenging and either chilled or frozen semen could be necessary.

2014 has been an anomaly for Jerry and me as, here it is mid August, and we have just whelped two litters. We’re thrilled that both dams and all puppies are healthy and we’re excited about the potential of the puppies. In addition, litters out of Northwoods Carly Simon by Blue Riptide and CH I’m Blue Gert by Northwoods Grits are now seven and five weeks of age, respectively, and are maturing very nicely into tiny dogs.

At some point after a couple weeks, it can be nice for dams, occasionally at least, to have a break from her puppies. Jerry and Dan built this nifty rest bench that fits perfectly over the whelping nest. Not all dams seem willing to jump up but, on this day, Gert enjoys a brief respite.

At some point after a couple weeks, it can be nice for dams, occasionally at least, to have a break from her puppies. Jerry and Dan built this nifty rest bench that fits perfectly over the whelping nest. Not all dams seem willing to jump up but, on this day, Gert enjoys a brief respite.

At five weeks of age, the three Grits x Gert females eat moistened dog food and continue to nurse. The door to the outside run is propped open and they now easily go in and out. They are fairly active with quick movements and it’s darn difficult to snap a good photo.

At five weeks of age, the three Grits x Gert females eat moistened dog food and continue to nurse. The door to the outside run is propped open and they now easily go in and out. They are fairly active with quick movements and it’s darn difficult to snap a good photo.

At night, bobwhite quail sit shoulder to shoulder facing outward toward danger. Obviously, the Riptide x Carly puppies have nothing to fear—all heads are together when they sleep.

At night, bobwhite quail sit shoulder to shoulder facing outward toward danger. Obviously, the Riptide x Carly puppies have nothing to fear—all heads are together when they sleep.

Paul Hauge bought Northwoods Chardonnay earlier in the summer from us. When she came into heat, Paul and Jerry developed a plan to breed to the extraordinary setter, Shadow Oak Bo, a two-time winner of the National Championship. In a complicated process, frozen semen was shipped from Thomasville, Georgia, and Chardonnay had surgery at precisely the opportune time. She whelped five females and three males in the early morning hours of August 8.

Paul Hauge bought Northwoods Chardonnay from us earlier in the summer. When she came into heat, Paul and Jerry developed a plan to breed to the extraordinary setter, Shadow Oak Bo, a two-time winner of the National Championship. In a complicated and expensive process, frozen semen was shipped from Thomasville, Georgia, and Chardonnay had surgery at precisely the opportune time. She whelped five females and three males in the early morning hours of August 8.

Northwoods Rum Ricky rests while her two-day-old puppies nurse and sleep. This litter, three females and one male, is by extremely talented, handsome Northwoods Parmigiano, owned by Paul Hauge. Rickey whelped on August 12. (Have you ever seen a rounder tummy?)

Northwoods Rum Ricky rests while her two-day-old puppies nurse and sleep. This litter, three females and one male, is by extremely talented and handsome Northwoods Parmigiano, owned by Paul Hauge. Rickey whelped on August 12. (Have you ever seen a rounder tummy?)

Unique opportunity to own a companion and veteran grouse dog

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One of our top clients is looking for a new home for his nine-year-old English setter, Houston’s Belle’s Choice, call name Jill. 

Jill (on right in photo below) is a 43-lb., evenly masked tri color female. She has an uncommonly beautiful gait and has been the top grouse dog on his hunting string for many years. Jill is calm, easy going and affectionate and is house trained. Plus she’s healthy, in great condition and ready to go hunting.

Very reasonable terms to the perfect situation. Please contact us for more information.

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Good stuff about grouse hunting

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Backing point
Brace of bird dogs
Bumping grouse and helpful tips
Feeding bird dogs
First aid kit for bird dogs
Flushing grouse and woodcock for a pointing dog
Hunting pattern
Pointing dog’s first hunting season
Running grouse
Unproductive points

 

Good stuff about puppy development

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A pointing dog’s first hunting season
Bird and gun introduction
How to correct a dog
How to pet a dog
Patience is a virtue
The pointing instinct

 

Good stuff from previous posts


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Puppies

Early development of puppies
How to pick a puppy
Puppies and fireworks
Puppy buying mistakes
Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs

 

Finer points on...

A brace of bird dogs
Accuracy of location
Bird finding
Range
Running grouse
Scenting ability
Speed and scenting

 

Training

A bump or a knock
Backing point
Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
Bumping grouse & helpful tips
How to correct a dog
How to pet a dog
Patience
Transition to wild birds
Unproductive points
WHOA and NO

 

Breeding

Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
Proper conformation
The tail of a bird dog

 

Health

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
Tick-borne diseases in dogs

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