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  • February 19, 2013

    What's the Strangest Thing You Ever Found in the Field?

    By Chad Love

    There are weird, spooky and unusual things out in the field. And it makes sense that hunters, especially upland hunters who tend to cover large amounts of ground while following their dogs, would find these unexplained things.

    The dogs and I once stumbled across what appeared to be the contents of a lady’s purse in the middle of a huge swath of prairie, miles from the nearest town, road or footpath. How did it get here, in this utterly lonely and isolated spot that was rarely, if ever visited by anyone other than the occasional quail or deer hunter? Who knows?

    But as I looked down at the weathered, dirt-covered items, I recalled an infamous local case about a young boy who simply vanished one day, never to be seen again. The boy’s mother was the prime suspect, and was later convicted of his murder, but a body was never found. I was a newspaper reporter back in those days, and covered the case from the time the boy went missing all the way through his mother's trial and conviction.

  • February 14, 2013

    Hunting Gear Review: SportDOG Sporthunter 1225 E-Collar

    By Chad Love

    A while back, the good folks at SportDOG sent me one of their Sporthunter 1225 e-collars to test out. The 1225 is a collar that really hits that sweet spot between affordability and performance many gundog owners are looking for. Instead of reviewing it myself, I thought I'd try to get it in the hands of someone with a young dog who I knew would give it a thorough workout. I found my test subject when Greg McReynolds, a hard-core bird hunter, told me he had just gotten a new setter pup. He can usually be found chasing birds all across the West when he is not working on state legislative issues for Trout Unlimited in Idaho. You can check out his writing at the Mouthful of Feathers blog. Here's his guest review:

  • February 12, 2013

    Following the 2013 National Field Trial Championship

    By Chad Love

    If lovers of gundogs have a Mecca, it is of course Grand Junction, Tenn. It is the home of the Bird Dog Foundation, which houses the National Field Trail Hall of Fame, the National Retriever Hall of Fame and the National Bird Dog Museum. Grand Junction is also the site of the legendary National Field Trial Championship at Ames Plantation.

    Like many pointing dog fans, I love to follow the progress of the multi-day field trial as it plays out, and the 2013 National Field Trial Championship, which started yesterday, promises to be just as exciting as last year's. Will a pointer win it? Probably, just as a pointer has won it every year since 1970, but there are a few setters in the field I'll be pulling for.

  • February 8, 2013

    Hunting Gear Review: Space Trailer is Ideal Solution For Small Hunting Vehicles

    By Chad Love

    Last year, I parked my gas-guzzling, full-size four-wheel-drive truck and started hunting out of my wife's old Subaru Forester. And I'm certainly not the only one who has downsized his hunting rig. Having to spend three to four dollars per gallon of gas has caused many hunters to re-evaluate and subsequently down-size their driving options.

  • February 6, 2013

    Labrador Retriever: Most Popular Dog Breed in US for 22 Years Running

    By Chad Love

    The American Kennel Club just released its list of the most popular dog breeds. Announcing that the Labrador retriever is once again (for the 22nd consecutive year) the most popular breed in the nation is kind of like announcing vanilla as America's most popular flavor of ice cream. It's just a given. But what about other sporting breeds? How did they fare? Let's take a look...

  • February 4, 2013

    Quail Unlimited Going Out of Business

    By Chad Love

    Big news for bird hunters: The conservation group Quail Unlimited, which has struggled mightily in recent years with financial issues, management scandals, and declining chapters, announced last week that it is closing its doors permanently. In doing so, QU officials urged its former members and anyone else concerned with upland conservation to join Quail Forever, which has acquired Quail Unlimited's mailing list.

    From this story in the Albany (Georgia) Herald: 
    Quail Unlimited has folded, according to an e-mail sent out late Friday afternoon from Executive Director Bill Bowles, abruptly ending the national organization's existence. Our great staff and our great Board of Directors have stood the test and they have given their very best effort. However, the entire Board of Directors and I have made the difficult decision to cease Quail Unlimited operations and go out of business effective immediately," Bowles said in an email sent out Friday afternoon...."There are a few large challenges that we are about to be faced with," Bowles said in his first email. "Could we possibly overcome them?

  • February 1, 2013

    Study: Cats Kill Billions of Birds and Mammals Annually

    By Chad Love

    It's no secret that free-roaming cats are a problem in this country. As both an avid birder and bird hunter, it's a topic of particular concern to me, as I live in a rural area and must contend with feral cats on a near-continuous basis. Last year I blogged about a study that showed what efficient killers domestic housecats are; how housecats and feral cats do a number on gamebirds; and the numerous studies that show the tremendous toll cats take on wildlife. But the results of a just-released three-year study conducted by Smithsonian and the US Fish & Wildlife Service make it clear that the problem is even larger than previously thought.

  • January 30, 2013

    Gun Dog Gear: An All-Purpose First-Aid Kit Worth Buying

    By Chad Love

    Some of us (myself included) put together our own canine first-aid kits based on unique needs, dogs, hunting styles, geographic locations, etc. But many of us probably don't have the time or inclination to assemble these customized kits. Instead, we're looking for one we can buy that will be adequate for the vast majority of canine medical issues we're apt to face while in the field hunting.

    I've been using one such all-in-one kit this season: the Sporting Dog First-Aid Kit from Creative Pet Products. This compact, well-stocked kit comes with pretty much everything you need to administer basic first-aid to your dogs. If you encounter an in-the-field medical emergency that you can't, at least temporarily, doctor with the contents of this kit, then you need a vet, and fast.

  • January 28, 2013

    What Word Sums Up Your Gun Dog Season?

    By Chad Love

    In most of the country, bird and waterfowl seasons are either over or are starting to wind down, which means it's time to take a quick breather, then start thinking about goals for the off-season. I still have a little over two weeks of quail season in my home state, and I have one more late season out-of-state bird hunting trip (Texas quail) planned for next month, but other than that, I've put a fork in my 2012-13 hunting season. What one word summed it up? What theme permeated the entire season? I'd have to say... Finally! Yep, Finally!

  • January 24, 2013

    2013 Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic: SHOT Show for Gun Dog Owners

    By Chad Love

    I attended SHOT Show for the first time last year. While I came away amazed by the spectacle of the show itself, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of dog and wingshooting-related items on display.

    I didn't attend SHOT this year, but I did ask fellow blogger David Draper to keep an eye out for any new or interesting items while he was there. Unsurprisingly, David didn't find much dog-related stuff at this year's show, either. Garmin/Tri-Tronics, SportDOG and Dogtra released new e-collars this year (new collar round-up forthcoming) but the truth is, if you want to find gundog-related items and vendors, you're largely not going to find them at an event like SHOT.

    You will, however, find them in spades at a show like the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever 30th Anniversary Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic which is by far the nation's largest upland hunting and conservation event.