Happiness is a warm puppy
~ Charles M. Schulz
Simply and clearly, Schulz conveyed his sentiment and, as usual, it was faultless.
And now, at six weeks of age, the eight puppies out of Northwoods Carly Simon by RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus are extremely huggable.
Mocha had another great year on the Montana prairie. I guided over her 25 days already and hunted over her another 10 days.
~ Mitch, owner of Mocha (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014), Montana
Every now and then it’s good to reflect on the past year. It can be tempting to focus on sad times—and especially this year when many dogs died. Beloved dogs May, Franny, Prancer, Chardonnay and Blossom are gone but will remain forever in our hearts.
In the midst of our grief and pain, though, puppies were born and puppies always herald joy and hope and never fail to make us smile.
In addition, during the hunting season Jerry and I received lots of communication from clients. Whether calls or text messages or emails, these reports always made us feel happy.
Some themes were evident in the correspondence this fall.
• Bird dogs get tired after a day in the field and are rewarded with naps on the furniture.
• It doesn’t seem to matter the bird or the state. Dogs found birds.
• Age of the dogs doesn’t seem to matter. All dogs got plenty of action.
• There’s no bigger smile on a handler’s face than after his young dog places in a tough derby stake.
• The hunting tradition continues…sometimes from hunter to son to grandson and other times from hunter to daughter.
So, it’s been a good year. Jerry and I are proud of our dogs and are extremely grateful to their owners. Our best to all in 2017!
Jade is a great pup, and did well for the early season. Now we are waiting for late season grouse and a couple trips to Oklahoma for quail.
~ Frank, owner of Jade (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015), Michigan
Dixie is a rock star. Here she is with her best friend Penny hunting with my dad in Montana.
~ Isabel, owner of Dixie (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016), Texas; her father Sam, owner of Penny (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2013), Colorado
Here’s Biscuit with a proud look over her birds. She found a covey of what I think was 6. I got 2…but they were whizzing all around me. No stopping Biskers!
~ Ryan, owner of Biscuit (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2011), Minnesota
Here’s a screen shot of Stella’s GPS. 30 miles for a Saturday. I think that might be a record. She was fine and ready to roll the next morning!!!
~ Laura, owner of Stella (Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2015), Illinois
Grandson, 3 woodcock. Son, 3 woodcock. Izzie, 30 woodcock, 8 grouse. Priceless.
~ Jeff, owner of Izzie (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011), Minnesota
Roy snuggled into Kate at Barry’s house last week.
~ Chris, owner of Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012), Wisconsin, and Barry, owner of Kate (Northwoods Blue Ox x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2010), Minnesota
Here’s Lacey with our younger son Austin. She is definitely a cuddle dog! She is obviously doing well and we love her!
~ Missy, owner of Lacey (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016), Pennsylvania
Maddie ends 2016 having placed in each event she was entered in by placing 3rd today. Go Maddie! Now for a few weeks enjoying hunting.
~ Robby, owner of Maddie (CH Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015), Maine
Loki had a wonderful day. 6 birds.
~ James, owner of Loki (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016), Minnesota
Three points, three roosters. Emma rocks.
~ Howard, owner of Emma (Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2015), Montana
Coop is doing very well with his training. We are so happy with him. He is a handful, but such a pleasure to own. His natural ability is a testament to you and your breeding of pointers.
~ Tim, owner of Coop (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016), Massachusetts
Rae on the left, Willow on the right, after a tough day of hunting. Notice the leather chairs, both heads on armrests, hunting boots, setter lamp. Priceless.
~ Gregg, owner of Rae (Sunny Hill Sam x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2016) and Willow (CH Ridge Creek Cody x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2013), Wisconsin
Yesterday Jenny got her turn 3 different times. Lots of bird contact. She was bumping and chasing woodcock all over the woods and then a flash point stop to flush on this grouse. I knocked it down and Jenny was on it. Her prey drive is so high that she never stops hunting.
~ John, owner of Jenny (CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016), Michigan
Here’s Sadie holding point on a chukar.
~ Bob, owner of Sadie (CH Houston’s Blackjack x Northwoods Chablis, 2013), Minnesota
If only all of our dogs’ lives were as long and happy as Blossom’s.
Blue Blossom, call name Tina, was out of our best field trial setter, 4X CH/4X RU-CH Blue Streak, and another grouse champion, Grouse Hollow Gus. She lived with Jerry and me for about six years but for the majority of her life, Tina was the treasured hunting partner of Tim Esse.
Tina was trained as all our other dogs are—on wild bobwhites in Texas, native prairie birds of North Dakota and on ruffed grouse and woodcock in northern Minnesota. She was perhaps best-suited to the latter and gained quite a reputation as a star member of Jerry’s grouse guiding string.
Because Jerry and I are also breeders, our hunting females get bred. With a bit of kismet, we chose Blue Chief for Tina in 2006 and that cross became our first nick.
We repeated Chief x Tina for three consecutive years. Her famous puppies are legion—Cooper and Cammie, Elle and Daisy, Ollie and Peanut, Bee and Banshee —and they are scattered across the country. Tina’s legacy will continue because we continue to breed one of her special sons, Blue Riptide.
Jerry and I retired Tina in 2008 after her last litter. We sold her to Tim, a passionate grouse hunter from the Twin Cities who schedules the rest of his life around the fall season. For one thing, his job enables him to work remotely. For another, he has family living in northern Minnesota and can easily slip back and forth.
Throughout these eight years, we’ve stayed in touch with Tim and were always so happy to see Tina. As late as this fall when Tina was 14 years old, Tim took her hunting 15 times.
We were deeply saddened to receive an email from him in late November. “Tina is in hunting heaven,” he wrote.
RIP, dear Blue Blossom.
There’s nothing better than a bird dog puppy at Christmas.
The litter out of Northwoods Carly Simon by Erin’s Prometheus is now four weeks old. Suddenly, they seem so grown up.
And with good reason. Jerry and I think some of the biggest changes occur between two and four weeks. At first, puppies are totally dependent on their dam for everything—food, elimination, protection and grooming. Their only senses are smell and touch. They spend their entire time nestled together, nursing or sleeping.
From those tiny, practically interchangeable creatures, individual puppies emerge. They gain two more senses—sight and hearing—and teeth appear. We begin feeding them dog food softened with warm water. Paws first, they dive in and gobble it up until muzzles and front legs are covered.
Puppies have no fear at this age. Socialization increases with both Carly and their littermates but this is also when Jerry and I spend time with them so they become accustomed to people.
A major change is their mobility. Little legs are gaining enough strength to support their rear ends and they waste no time testing them out. They leave their heated nest and stagger around the dog house to eliminate and investigate. We then removed the barrier between their house and kennel run and they quickly scrambled out the door.
We also think much of the success of a litter depends on the nature of the dam. Carly is amazingly patient and gentle. I’ll never forget one quiet afternoon when Carly was stretched out on her side. A big male puppy crawled over the pile of his littermates towards Carly’s head. When he got as far as he wanted, he crawled up and fell asleep sprawled across her neck. Carly didn’t budge.
Although there is some biological basis to the timing of when a dam whelps, Jerry and I haven’t figured it out. In fact, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for us and our dams. We take their temperatures; we watch their appetites; we listen for scratching and other signs of nest preparation. And in our 21 years of breeding and subsequent crowding around whelping nests, dams have whelped at all hours of the day and night…sometimes even stretching across 24 hours.
So we were grateful to Northwoods Carly Simon on the morning of Saturday, November 26. She began at about 7:00 and in a couple spurts and then a final female, she was done and resting by 12:30 p.m.
Carly whelped eight puppies. Two are tri-color females and six are males. Of the males, two are tri-color and four are black-and-white. Although this is Carly’s fourth litter, it’s her first by RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus.
One might think after countless litters and many bleary-eyed vigils that Jerry and I are now blasé about whelping puppies. Not at all. We still consider the whole thing miraculous. We’re still amazed at the sight of a tiny sac, resembling a bubble when it first appears, and we’re still in awe when the dam’s instincts kick in and we watch her careful, thorough ministrations to her newborn.
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.
Nick Larson could hardly wait to get his three-month-old setter puppy, Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014), into the woods.
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.
To begin, this fall is all about fun. There should be no pressure on dog or hunter. Instead, it’s a time for exposure and gaining experience. Too, let this season be for the puppy. You’ll have many years and shots at plenty of birds over the course of your dog’s life.
Here are some tips to get most out of this autumn.
Hunt as much as possible. The goal for this first year is simply to let your puppy hunt for and find grouse—and as many as possible. Don’t worry if it doesn’t point many; that will come with repeated exposure, maturity and training.
Most of what a dog needs to know about is learned from the birds themselves. Your puppy will learn where grouse live and what they smell like. It will learn how close it can get before the bird flushes, that it can’t catch the bird and how to follow running birds.
The only caveat? Shoot birds that are pointed but let the rest fly away.
At five months of age, Izzie (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011) was finding and pointing plenty of birds for owner Jeff Hintz. Photo by Chris Mathan.
Allow your puppy to learn by experience. Let your puppy figure things out at its own rate, by itself and to learn by consequences. As long as a situation isn’t dangerous to the puppy, leave it alone. This is the best way for it to develop good thinking skills. By over-protecting and over-controlling, we’re basically training the puppy not to use its brain.
In other words, keep your mouth shut in the woods. Over-handling—too much calling and whistling or constant encouragement—can distract and confuse the dog.
Be patient. Developing an experienced grouse dog will take several seasons and your puppy has a lot to learn. Expect it to make mistakes — flush birds, chase rabbits and other indiscretions—this first year. Also, consider its mental limitations and relatively short attention span and remember that, at this age, your young dog has far more energy than knowledge.
Be realistic about your young dog’s physical limitations. Don’t overwork it. Several shorter hunts are better than one long outing.
Be careful when hunting over another dog and your puppy. While there can be advantages to bracing your puppy with an older, experienced dog, don’t overdo it. Your puppy needs time alone, too. Don’t let it get intimated by a larger or dominant dog.
Some parts of this post are taken from a piece Betsy and I wrote for the September 15, 2013, issue of Minneapolis-based StarTribune. http://www.startribune.com/a-hunting-dog-s-first-grouse-season-is-vital/223773411/
Serious beggars! Rose continues to teach Stella all the tricks!
~ Laura, Illinois, owner of Rose (Blue Riptide x Blue Ghost, 2010), on left, and Stella (Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2015)
Business email inboxes and message queues are often full of boring stuff. But Jerry and I are always eager to read correspondence from a client who has bought a puppy or an older dog, especially if photos are included.
It appears that our dogs—whether setters or pointers—have some things in common. They are “outstanding” in the field. They like the water and will endlessly retrieve Frisbees or dummies. They seem to have an affinity to the females in their households and some are savvy about finagling a comfortable spot to rest.
Nothing makes us happier as breeders than knowing our progeny are living happy lives with loving families. Many thanks to our wonderful clients!
As Zada approaches three years old, I would like to thank you again for an outstanding bird dog. She has the great fortune of living in eastern Montana…hunting 90+ days every season. Pictured here with my son, Tommy and a hun.
~ Tom, Montana, owner of Zada (Ridge Creek Cody x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2013)
Woodland’s Blue Hunter turned 16 today. He was the best hunting dog I’ve had, never a false point, always brought back what I shot (even when I didn’t know it) and didn’t miss many birds in the woods.
~ Tom, Wisconsin, owner of Hunter (Blue Chief x Woodland’s Mohawk Daisy, 2000)
So proud of Emma. Shot 4 sharptails over her points ….she retrieved 2 perfectly but wasn’t too interested in the others…But, so happy with her overall…runs big but not over the horizon …she relocated 4-5 times on a running bird but I kept up with her and she finally locked her down…up she went…bam…down she went. Just love her to death. THANK YOU for providing me such a magnificent hunting buddy!!!
~ Howard, Montana, owner of Emma (Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2015)
Jenny loves to retrieve in the water. She just won’t quit. She does well without the pfd…..just getting her used to it so she can ride around on East Bay in our boat. She’s very smart. Picks up stuff very quickly…heel, whoa, come. She has a nice fast pattern in the woods. Looks me up and stays to the front. Totally ignores the 209 primer pistol. She is more than ready for birds.
~ John, Michigan, owner of Jenny (Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016)
We cannot express how happy and in love with this dog our entire family is and how happy we are that we found you and Jerry to get our dog from. My wife and I joke that Remi is the “hub” of our family. She literally has a different relationship with each of us (my daughter, son, wife, and I). We took Remi to my parents’ house, about an hour north of Traverse City, Michigan, right on Lake Michigan.
~ Dave, Minnesota, owner of Remi (Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016)
John and I ran Dixie out at a state park on Saturday with her new ecollar! She did amazingly well! The area was covered with cactus and it didn’t slow her down at all! She was a tough cookie! She handled very easily and often responded to a whistle or call without the need to correct or beep her on the collar. She learned to swim in the reservoir after the hike and then rode around in a kayak with me for about 45 minutes!
~ Isabel, Texas, owner of Dixie (Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016)
Elmer turned two this summer and he is still as sweet as can be. Besides hunting, he loves to fetch the frisbee (not balls though). Besides the fact that he is the world’s messiest water drinker, he is truly an amazing dog and we love having him as part of our family. Just last weekend my son (6 yrs. old) was feeling sad and he was sitting on the front step. Two minutes later he was giggling and smiling because Elmer showed up and was giving him kisses.
~ Kjellrun (below), Illinois, owner of Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014)
Timber and Huxley make a handsome pair of Northwoods Pointers!
~ Brandon, Minnesota, owner of Huxley (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016), on left, with co-worker Keith’s Timber (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014) and Keith’s daughters.
Riley did great on the drive home and is doing very well acclimating to her new environment. She feels very much at home and loved. She is soooo sweet. Thank you for this wonderful addition to our family.
~ Maureen, New Jersey, owner of Riley (Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Carbon, 2016)
Jade continues to make me laugh on a daily basis. She knows that she is not allowed on the furniture, but refuses to chew a bone anywhere other than this couch cushion. She will not step on another piece of furniture, only this piece when she gets a bone. She is downright hysterical. Thank you for such an amazing dog, and we have another huge season planned.
~ Frank, Michigan, owner of Jade (Rock Acre Blackhawk x Northwoods Vixen, 2015)
Pointers are not allowed on the furniture at our house—little dogs yes, but not bird dogs. So Murphy pulled the cushion off…
~ Tony, Minnesota, owner of Murphy (Elhew G Force x Northwoods Vixen, 2016)