Northwoods Jeter (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011), owned by Sam Gary, Jr., was featured in a recent episode of Outdoor Bound TV with Kurt Walbeck.
Jerry and I watched two recent videos where three English setters—all bred and trained by us—are stars. They are equally exciting and humbling to see.
The first footage features Bill Heig, owner with his wife Gail of Bowen Lodge in northern Minnesota. Bill was the subject of an episode of Outdoor Bound TV with Kurt Walbeck, a Midwest-based hunting and fishing show.
This program follows Bill and Sam Gary, Jr., on a hunt at Bill and Gail’s bobwhite quail lease in Texas. Bill and Sam have bought many dogs from us over the years—setters and pointers, males and females—but for this hunt, both chose English setter males. Bill took out Louis (Northwoods Grits x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2014) and Sam wanted his favorite, Jeter (Blue Shaquille x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2011).
The Texas ranch setting is beautiful. The dog work is sometimes extraordinary and other times, especially for the younger Louis, earnest. The shooting by Bill and Sam is expert.
The next footage was shot by Nick Larson, a regional director for the Ruffed Grouse Society. Nick was out in the woods near his home in Duluth, Minn., with his setter male Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014).
In a fantastical setting of aspen trees and fluffy snow, Hartley pointed and a grouse flushed. The bird then careened off through the woods. Nick captured the whole thing in slow motion on his cell phone and sent it to A.J. DeRosa of Dangerous Cow Publishing for some expert editing.
Nick writes, “For most people, I think the flushing bird is probably the star of the show. It’s a great flush no doubt, but for me, Hartley is definitely the real star because without him I never would have captured the shot.”
A typical scene after a day in the grouse woods at New Wood, a hunting camp in northern Wisconsin: Chris Bye and his setter Piper.
When the Ruffed Grouse Society and the American Woodcock Society cast their Grouse Camp Tours 2015, better stars than Mark Fouts and Chris Bye couldn’t have been chosen.
Mark and Chris are not only passionate bird hunters but both are intelligent, thoughtful and well-spoken. (In fact, they are so entertaining and loquacious that Jerry and I could listen to their stories for hours.)
A joint venture of the sister RGS and AWS organizations, Grouse Camp Tours 2015 is a series of videos the staffs undertook to “celebrate habitat, membership and the grouse/woodcock hunting experience,” according to the website. (http://www.ruffedgrousesociety.org/) Crews traveled to various venues last October and captured the action and conversations on video.
Jerry and I are especially proud of the featured dogs. Mark and Chris are not only friends but clients of ours and have bought many dogs from us over the years. Currently, Mark owns three pointers and Chris owns two setters with another puppy reserved.
Recently extended versions of each video were released. Mark and Chris are featured in Day 3 and Day 4, respectively. For winter-weary hunters, the scenes in the woods with dogs pointing and birds flushing might be a much-needed balm.
Mark Fouts and his three pointer females: Prancer, Jordy and Timber.
Grouse Camp Tour Redux – Day 3
The focus of this video is the new hunter mentor program under the guidance of Mark.
Mark Fouts, RGS Director of Member Relations & Outreach
Tucker & Wyatt Johnson and their father Greg Johnson
Nick Larson, RGS Regional Director (Minnesota & Washington)
Matt Sorberg, RGS Editor & Director of Communication
Prancer (Dashaway x Fallset Fate, 2008)
Timber (CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer, 2011)
Jordy (CH Elhew G Force x Northwoods Prancer, 2014)
Grouse Camp Tour Redux – Day 4
Chris Bye and his father Chuck own a cabin in the middle of prime grouse country in northern Wisconsin. Over the years, the property’s primary purpose morphed into a grouse camp beloved by a steadfast group of friends and their English setters. Among other insights, Chris explains the extraordinary camaraderie between hunting friends and their dogs.
Nick Larson, RGS Regional Director (Minnesota & Washington)
Roy (Northwoods Blue Ox x Northwoods Chablis, 2012)
Piper (Blue Riptide x Blue Ghost, 2010)
Hartley (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014)
Elmer (Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice, 2014)
Kally (CH Can’t Go Wrong x Cold Creek Pearl, 2011)
Nick Larson, on left, and his hunting partner Garrett Mikrut, on right, were joined for a day of grouse hunting by Sam Cook, center, Outdoors writer for the Duluth New Tribune, who also reported on the hunt. Photo by northwoodsr.com.
What a cool idea. Nick Larson and his friend, Garrett Mikrut, recently completed a grouse hunter’s dream—seven days pursuing ruffed grouse across its northern Minnesota range. They traveled from Duluth, Two Harbors and Ely to Hackensack. Completing the hunting party were two German shorthairs owned by Mikrut and a 4½-month-old English setter puppy, Hartley, owned by Nick and his wife, Lacey MacLean.
Sam Cook, Outdoors writer for the Duluth News Tribune, reported on their trip in the November 2 edition.
Thanks to Nick Larson’s passion and dedication, his English setter puppy Hartley has gained invaluable experience in the woods this fall. Photo by northwoodsr.com.
Hartley is out of our Northwoods Grits x Houston’s Belle’s Choice litter, which is how Jerry and I met Nick and Lacey. Whether through breeding, training or guiding, we come across many, many people interested in bird dogs and bird hunting but those as passionate as Nick are rare.
In addition to their exploits in the field together, Nick and Garrett maintain a lively blog, Northwoods’R, with beautiful photographs and posts about hunting, fishing and dogs.
The play story in the Outdoors Weekend section of today’s Star Tribune, “For the love of bird dogs,” features Northwoods Bird Dogs. Outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson wrote the piece after he visited the kennel and hunted over Shaq and Oscar last week. He also shot the photographs.
Dennis has written about Jerry twice before but those articles centered on training and developing pointing dogs. This time he focused on the background of our business and the significance of our breeding program.
Dennis is an excellent writer no matter whether he’s taking on tough conservation issues or reporting on a fishing trip to a northern lake. I’ve always especially liked his pieces that are essay-like in style and cover subjects not necessarily outdoors-oriented.
In the final paragraphs when Jerry releases Oscar from a grouse point, Dennis perfectly captures the desire of our dogs to find and point birds: “Racing ahead, and quickly up to speed, Oscar was intent on finding still another bird. It’s what he lives for.”
The main photo by Dennis is good, too. Shaq is as fine a bird dog as we’ve owned and Dennis caught the handsome head and breath-taking composure on point.
Have you seen an issue of The Upland Almanac recently? How about Quail Forever? You might have noticed an ad—prominently placed just inside the front cover—for a tracking/ecollar combination unit by Sportdog. The moody, sepia-toned photo is beautiful. Standing tall in the sprawling landscape of South Dakota is a pointer with sharp, focused eyes.
The dog caught the attention of Jerry and me.
It is Timber, a three-year-old female out of our litter by CH Westfall’s Black Ice x Northwoods Prancer. Timber (named in honor of the timberdoodle) is owned by Mark and Janie Fouts of Superior, Wisconsin. In the background is another Fouts’ dog, Allie.
Many know Mark through his work with The Ruffed Grouse Society where he serves as a Regional Director. In addition to his RGS job, though, Mark is an avid pointer guy which is how Jerry and I first met him.
In 2008 Mark bred his talented female Fate to our Dasher (out of two multiple grouse champions, Brooks Elhew Ranger x Dance Smartly). In lieu of a stud fee, Jerry and I wanted a female so Mark handed over the only female of the litter. That was Prancer.
Even as a puppy, Timber was easily recognizable with her heart-shaped body spot. Here she plays with five of her eight female littermates.
Three years later we paired Prancer with the pre-potent, 6X CH/7X RU-CH Black Ice, owned by Bill Westfall and campaigned on the horseback shooting dog circuit. Ice himself was out of the very successful nick, Rock Acre Blackhawk x Elhew Katie Lee.
Black-and-white Timber closely resembles her sire with an evenly masked head, intelligent brown eyes and big body spot.
2X CH/4X RU-CH Houston’s Belle (2001 – 2011). Photo by Chris Mathan.
In October 2011 Jerry was interviewed by Chris Mathan of The Sportsman’s Cabinet and Strideaway. It’s a really good interview on the importance of females in a breeding program.
Chris asks, “What is the most important part of a breeding program?” and Jerry answers, “The female is the key.” For our English setter line, he says that Houston’s Belle and Blue Streak were the foundation dams. Both Belle and Streak were multiple grouse champions but “daughters of champions were better producers” for us. Belle produced Houston’s Belle’s Choice and Blue Silk is out of Streak.
Chris recently re-posted it on Strideaway. The values remain vital and it’s definitely worth a listen.
(Too, if you want a good laugh, you have to check out Jerry’s hat. Why did we ever think that goofy, seed-corn style was attractive?)
At four years of age, pointer female Northwoods Prancer is an experienced and fully-trained grouse dog.
For today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune Outdoors section, Jerry and I co-authored a piece, “Young dog’s first grouse season tells tale.” Yesterday was the season opener for ruffed grouse in Minnesota and the northern part of Wisconsin.
The key components of the article were fairly easy for us to put together.
Of all the training levels we offer, Jerry especially likes to work with young dogs, which includes bringing them through their first hunting season. A significant portion of my responsibilities includes rearing and developing puppies. Not only do we both love spending lots of time with young dogs but it’s the best way to evaluate our breeding program.
“The process of developing a puppy into an experienced grouse dog begins with the all-important first season,” we wrote. We then detailed four important considerations “to make the most of this time.”
• Owner preparedness
• Exposure to grouse—lots of grouse
• How to handle in the woods
• Owner attitude and expectations
Our sincere thanks to Dennis Anderson, Outdoors Columnist and Editor, for offering us the opportunity.
Northwoods Bird Dogs was featured in the recent issue (#81) of Today’s Breeder, the Purina publication available to members of the Purina Pro Club. To view a pdf of the article click here: todays breeder issue 81.
The writer Kayla Miller focuses on our backgrounds and breeding program. Kayla also highlights some of our own best dogs—including 2X-CH Dance Smartly, 4X-CH/4X-RU-CH Blue Streak and Northwoods Chardonnay—and Larry Brutger’s outstanding English setter, 2X-CH/RU-CH Ridge Creek Cody.
Many thanks to Chris Mathan, Ben McKean and Larry Brutger for supplying photographs.
Photo above by Chris Mathan.
Upon the recommendation of Dennis Anderson, Outdoors Columnist & Editor of the Star Tribune, I submitted a piece to the “Cabin Country” feature for the inaugural issue of their Outdoors Weekend. The section premiered on June 28, 2013.
Like many Minnesotans, my family, including siblings, parents, cousins and an aunt and uncle, spent every summer at a simple cabin on a lake my grandparents owned. The place resonated with me and, to this day, I’ve always felt most at home in a small, rustic structure in a very private setting that’s close to water.
Interestingly, Kim Ode, also a writer for the Star Tribune, contacted me last summer after reading an essay I posted on my Dazzle Gardens blog. Her piece is titled, Cabin culture: A place at the lake and was published on July 8, 2012.
Northwoods Roquefort, left, and Northwoods Parmigiano. (Photo by Chris Mathan.)
Chris Mathan recently asked if I wanted to contribute a piece to Strideaway, an online publication dedicated to promoting pointing dog field trials; particularly, trials for English setters and pointers that are sanctioned by The American Field.
Since the subject was raising puppies, I jumped at the chance. Her assignment was to discuss how we raise, socialize and develop puppies—all with a slant toward how that helps their future training.
The piece is titled Early Development of Bird Dogs and was published on Strideaway last week. Even if the subject isn’t interesting, the exquisite photos of setter and pointer puppies by Chris are worth a look-see.
Chris owns two businesses on her own—The Sportsman’s Cabinet and Chris Mathan Photography—and Strideaway, co-conceived and co-managed with Mazie Davis.
Many thanks to Chris for offering me the opportunity.