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  • November 15, 2012

    Wash Your Pup: Duck Dogs Could Transport Invasive Species

    By Chad Love

    We all know about the dangers of invasive aquatic species piggybacking from one body of water to the next on boats, waders and other fishing and watersports gear, but what about your duck dog? Is your pooch unwittingly acting as a vector for the spread of zebra mussels, milfoil and other non-native nuisances? That's the scenario behind a new education campaign aimed at educating waterfowl hunters about washing their dogs between hunts.

    From this story on
    A Minnesota conservation organization is launching a campaign that teaches waterfowl hunters how even washing their dogs can fight invasive species. The non-profit Wildlife Forever received a $233,830 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help teach hunters how to prevent aquatic hitchhikers. The campaign will teach hunters to properly clean waders, waterfowl decoys and even hunting dogs to avoid transporting invasive species. The clean, drain, dry technique is the most effective way to prevent the transport of invasive species between different bodies of waters, according to the group. 

  • November 13, 2012

    The Beginning of the End: Woes of a Lonely Bird Hunter

    By Chad Love

    November. 1998. Opening weekend. This is my place. My name may not be on the deed, it may even say “public” on the sign, but it’s mine nonetheless. I’ve purchased it with the coin of time and sweat and shoe leather and blistered skin. And I sure as hell don’t want to share it. Yet here they are, the bastards. Rich ones in their new trucks pulling shiny trailers. Poor ones in rustbuckets with plywood boxes thrown in the bed. And all of them--regardless of social class--here to take what’s mine; what I thought I was jealously guarding by keeping my big mouth shut. Self-delusion: I was born to it.

    I drive around the area--my area--and the license plates read like a litany of the dead for what used to be bird country: Alabama. South Carolina. North Carolina. Tennessee. Florida. Kentucky. Virginia. Georgia. Arkansas. Louisiana. Mississippi. The In-state-but-out-of-towners. The Mongol hordes of landless Texans. And me. I want to hate them all for being here, for screwing up my little set-piece dream of solitude and birds and the pup and me and not another living soul under this brilliant bowl of sky. But of course I can’t. Because they are me. He is us. Not enemy, but kindred seekers trying to sate the desperate hunger for a moment when sky and birds and dogs converge into an instant of pure meaning.

  • November 9, 2012

    Video: Still Training Dogs at 96 Years Old

    By Chad Love

    How long do you honestly think you'll physically be able to either hunt with your dogs or participate in the various dog "games" like field trials or hunt tests? When you turn 70? Maybe even 80?

    It's an interesting question, and one you naturally start asking yourself a bit more once the odometer rolls past 40. I have no idea. None of us do. But I'd like to think that if I live right and do good, I can end up like Gordon Powell, who is still training (and at a pretty damn high level, judging from his dog) at the ripe old age of 96.

  • November 6, 2012

    Use Tuf-Foot to Strengthen Your Gun Dog's Foot Pads

    By Chad Love

    If you have a dog with sore, cracked or tender pads, here's something I can heartily recommend.

    It's called Tuf-Foot, and I used it liberally on my dogs' feet earlier this year after both setters developed sore, tender pads while on a hunting trip. It worked wonders. According to the maker, Tuf-Foot toughens soft pads, protects feet against bruises and soreness, and acts as a healing agent for minor cuts and scratches.

    Sounds like a do-all snake oil pitch, but it works. It stings a little going on (I applied with a cotton ball) but after a few days of applying Tuf-Foot the dogs' pads were obviously feeling better and both were good to go. I had no more problems the rest of the trip.

  • November 2, 2012

    Pheasants Forever to Kick Off 5-State, 5-Day Rooster Road Trip

    By Chad Love

    There's nothing in the hunting world, nothing at all, more enjoyable to me than a bird-hunting road trip with my dogs and a few close friends. Unfortunately, the twin evils of responsibility and finances keep me from going on as many of them as I'd like. So, to shamelessly jump on that annoying and pervasive Dos Equis internet meme, "I don't always get to go on a five-state cross-country pheasant-hunting road trip, but when I do, I love to do it with these guys!"

    "These guys" are the Pheasants Forever Rooster Road Trip crew, and they're going to be hitting the road again this year. And, as always, you are encouraged to tag along...

    From the Pheasants Forever website

    Over the course of its 30 year history, Pheasants Forever has made more than 161,800 acres accessible to public land pheasant hunters through land purchase, restoration or legislation. Some of these areas will be profiled during Pheasants Forever's Rooster Road Trip 2012, a 5-day, 5-state, public lands-only digital media pheasant hunt taking place November 5th through the 9th. 

  • October 30, 2012

    Bird Dog Hunting Tip: Use Dog Boots If Water Levels Are Too Low

    By Chad Love

    Waterfowl season in my neck of the woods opened up this past weekend, and like hunters in many other parts of the country, persistent drought and scarce water is forcing me to hunt areas I normally wouldn't hunt. It's also forcing my dog to run across areas she'd normally be swimming over. And that's precisely how my first hunt of the 2012 season ended before it started, with a drought-induced injury to my dog.

    Drought-induced injury? Yep. My private water is mostly gone, and the public water I hunt is about half the size it normally is. And when your public water is half the size it normally is, that means your dog is running across exposed lake bottom instead of swimming above it. And that's how your dog picks up a rusty hook in one of her pads, ending your hunt before it's over.

    So here is today's "Thus speaketh the voice of painful experience" tip: If your duck water is lower than normal this year, be careful, and watch where you and your dog walk. You might even consider booting your dog if you're hunting public areas are that low. I don't much care for dog boots.

  • October 24, 2012

    Beware of Traps on Your Next Hunt

    By Chad Love

    Upland hunting seasons are now in full swing in many states, which means many hunters and dogs are out covering a lot of ground that may contain traps. And traps are bad news for dogs. It happens every season, and it happened again last week in Wisconsin when a grouse hunter's golden got caught in a wolf trap.

    From this story in the Duluth News-Tribune
    Fred Strand and his 1½-year-old golden retriever, Hank, were walking a trail near Brule last week when Hank stopped to check out a scent. “He was 20 or 30 feet ahead of me, sniffing the ground,” said Strand, of Iron River. “Immediately after that, he started yelping and barking like he was in great distress. I quickly figured out what the issue was.” Hank had been caught in a wolf trap, said Strand, who is a Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Brule. The trap was a leg-hold trap with offset jaws, meaning that there was a gap between the jaws after it was sprung. Strand knew just what to do. He released the jaws enough that Hank could pull his foot loose.

  • October 22, 2012

    Vintage Video Provides Glimpse into SD Pheasant Hunting Circa 1950s

    By Chad Love

    I was perusing Facebook the other day (I do that at least once every ten days, whether I need to or not because I have, like, at least 21 friends) when I noticed a post and video link from Pheasants Forever Marketing VP Bob St. Pierre.

    The video was apparently produced by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department some time in the late fifties or early sixties, and this thing cranks the retro dial all the way to eleven. Seriously, if I were to call up Central Casting and say "give me a vintage 1950s hunting video" this is what they'd come up with. It has it all: that ubiquitous early 20th-Century monotone newsreel narration (Why doesn't anyone talk like that these days?) the corny dialogue, nimrod hunting caps, buzzcuts, black plastic-framed glasses, and you even see the phrase "stag party" used in an un-ironic way. It's awesome.

  • October 16, 2012

    700 Dogs to Compete in Master National Hunt Test in Alabama This Thursday

    By Chad Love

    If you live in the Alabama area and you've never attended a retriever hunt test, here's your chance to see some of the best hunting retrievers in the nation.

    From this press release on the Outdoor Wire:

    The M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area (FWFTA) in Hale County will host the Master National Retriever Club's 2012 Master National Hunt Test October 18-28, 2012. The Black Warrior Retriever Club (BWRC) of Alabama is the host club for the prestigious event.

    The annual retriever hunt test event showcases the best hunting retrievers in North America, and more than 700 dogs are scheduled to be tested during the week...The field testing for the retrievers begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 20, and culminates with the closing ceremonies on Sunday, October 28. The public is invited to watch the hunt tests to observe how retrievers respond to their handler's commands. Six different tests on both land and water will take place during the Master National, which is attracting retrievers, owners and handlers from all over the nation and Canada.

  • October 15, 2012

    Hunting Dog Gear: The Garmin Alpha GPS/E-Collar System, Part II

    By Chad Love

    I've been able to use the Garmin Tri-Tronics Alpha for a few weeks now, both in the field (albeit in a somewhat limited fashion) and running the dogs at home, and while I'm not familiar enough with the unit to give a definitive review of all its capabilities, I can offer a few thoughts on what I think of it so far. I can say that I have become comfortable enough with using it that I have packed away the Astro and will be using the Alpha by itself once quail and pheasant seasons open up here in Oklahoma and Kansas, and for a bumbling, anti-change technophobe such as myself, the fact that I've (sort of) caught on quickly to the Alpha's basic functions reflects fairly well on its Joe-average usability.

    If you want a thorough breakdown on all the Alpha's capabilities, I recommend Steve Snell's overview of the Alpha over on Steve, who has more bird dogs than most pro trainers, was one of Garmin's beta testers for the Alpha and knows it inside and out. These are simply the initial thoughts of a first-time user with basic (some would say non-existent) technical acumen.