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  • April 26, 2012

    What Once Was: The Lost Souls of Sage Grouse Hunting

    By Chad Love

    I was cruising the web not long ago when I came across a story (hat tip to the excellent Setter Feathers and Groused Tales blog for the link) about the state of Wyoming's decision to completely close sage grouse season in the eastern part of the state.

    From this story in the Casper Star Tribune:

    The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has announced a plan to shut down all sage grouse hunting in the eastern portion of the state this year. At Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, we view this as a symbolic gesture that will do little to help the dwindling grouse population in the Powder River Basin. Instead, we’re encouraging the Game and Fish Department to focus on the real threat that is causing population declines in the first place: irresponsible types of oil, gas, and coal-bed methane extraction.

  • April 23, 2012

    It's Going To be a Bad Year For Ticks

    By Chad Love

    Do you have a favorite parasite in your life? Some mooching blood-sucking, free-loading friend or relative who's sucking you dry, but just won't leave? Then send them a gift-wrapped hint with one of these awesome and cuddly plush dolls from

    Since this is a gundogs blog, how about a giant tick plush doll? Or perhaps a cute little flea? If that's not creepy enough, how about a darling bed bug? A louse? Maggot, maybe? Yes, it's fairly disgusting, but today I have bloodsuckers on the mind. Why? Because I just got in from a walk with the dogs, and picked up an astounding number of hitchhikers. It's going to be a bad tick year. Blame rain and winter warmth.

  • April 19, 2012

    A Revered Line of Clothes and Dogs: Eddie Bauer the Gun Dog Breeder

    By Chad Love

    Back in February, Phil Bourjaily wrote a Gun Nuts blog post about the return of the revered Eddie Bauer name to hunting and shooting apparel. I was able to take a look at some of Eddie Bauer's new upland hunting and shooting apparel at SHOT this year, and came away impressed.

    As Phil has already noted, Bauer has a full line of shooting apparel, and will also launch its upland collection this fall. It looks very nice, and I'm looking forward to trying out some of it, but in perusing the Eddie Bauer Sport Shop site I discovered that Eddie Bauer (the actual man, not the company) was a pretty serious gundog guy.

    From the Eddie Bauer website:

    In 1930 Eddie drove to Canada, paid $65, and brought home the first black Labrador retriever in Washington State. Eddie took a lot of ribbing from his hunting buddies. "What are you doing with that mutt?" they laughed.

  • April 17, 2012

    Reader Gun Dog Tip: Use Cheetos to Introduce Your Pup to the Water

    By Chad Love

    We've gone through the first round of reader-supplied gundog tips, and I have to say there was lots of good stuff contained therein, so much so that I had a hard time picking a winner for the inaugural installment. But before I get to the winner let me remind and urge everyone to submit their tips to for a chance to win an extremely cool Swedish Fireknife from Mora and Light My Fire.

    If you've never owned a scandi-grind Mora before, here's your chance. I promise you'll love it, and this brand new iteration of the famous Mora has a built-in firesteel from Light My Fire. Not only is it Zombie/Mayan Apocalypse/Peak Oil Doom-approved, but it's also brightly-colored so you won’t lose it.

  • April 12, 2012

    The Spay/Neuter Dogma: What's Your View?

    By Chad Love

    I was perusing the always-excellent Upland Journal forums recently when I came across an interesting thread discussion on spaying and neutering your dogs.

    The impetus for the discussion was a recent thesis on spay/neutering that found neutered/spayed dogs to be more aggressive, fearful, excitable and less trainable than intact dogs, as well as significant differences in bone growth between fixed and intact dogs.

    Now, one of the most important (and potentially wrenching) decisions a gundog owner must make is whether to have their dogs spayed or neutered. If you ever plan on breeding then obviously the question is moot, but what if you don’t plan on breeding your dogs? What then? Should you get them fixed or leave them intact? It's one of the most contentious issues of dog ownership, with compelling arguments on both sides.

  • April 9, 2012

    Training Your Gun Dog with Birds: Get Pups Into Contacts Early

    By Chad Love

    Regardless of how well-bred your dogs are, or how much natural talent they possess, the old adage "birds make bird dogs" still holds true. Getting your pup into bird contacts early and often is a crucial part of a young dog's education.

    That's why, with two pointing dogs and a retriever to work this spring and summer, the subject of obtaining, raising, and training with birds is something on which I'll be spending a lot of my time and energy.

    Some guys use pen-raised birds with a callback pen or Johnny house, others use wild-trapped pigeons, and some trainers even use homing pigeons that can be used on distant training grounds and then allowed to fly home to the loft to be used over and over again (provided you don’t shoot them, of course).

  • April 6, 2012

    Make Hot Drinks on Windy Days with the Kelly Kettle

    By Chad Love

    One of life's great simple pleasures is (for me, anyway) sitting on the truck tailgate on a crisp fall or winter day out in the field, with the dogs at my feet, sipping a hot cup of coffee or tea after a morning's hunt, idly ruminating on Life, The Universe, and Everything. That's the bucolic, highly idealized Corey Ford version, anyway. The reality is, I live in Oklahoma (you know, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains) and usually the wind isn't merely sweeping, it's howling. Which makes preparing my coveted hot beverage a frustrating proposition.
    A Thermos just doesn't keep water hot enough for my little French press to work effectively, so what I've done in the past is take a little single-burner propane stove and a small teakettle with me on bird-hunting trips. This works fine when the wind is down, but the wind is rarely down in my part of the world. The slightest breeze renders my stove, even with the windshield, not very effective.

  • April 2, 2012

    A Call For Gun Dog Tips From F&S Readers, Win a FireKnife

    By Chad Love

    First, thanks for all the great name suggestions for my new pup.    

    I really did read every one both on the blog and on Facebook, and in the end we named him Ozzy. Not for any particular reason or after any particular person, we simply decided that, for some reason, he just looked like an Ozzy. Although I will say that, thanks to his exceedingly calm demeanor, he almost ended up being named "The Dude."  

    I'm happy to report that Ozzy is doing just fine and settling in with the other dogs. In the short time he's been here he's already gotten himself caught in a pigeon trap, broken into the pen where I keep my training quail, learned that an open dishwasher door means good licking opportunities, and (somehow, when I wasn't looking) caught and partially ate his first gopher. Or maybe the gopher was already dead from one of the neighborhood cats. I don’t know. All I know is when I came around the corner of the house he was gnawing on the gopher's head. I'm sure the rest of it will show up in a few hours...  

    With that out of the way, I'd like to introduce a new feature here on the blog, one I've been wanting to try out for a while, but it all depends on you.

  • March 29, 2012

    Auburn University Trains Labs to Flush Pythons in Everglades

    By Chad Love

    Ever hear the old saw (which happens to be true, by the way) that a trained gundog is the greatest conservation tool a hunter can have? Think about that. Without a dog, just imagine how many animals you may otherwise have lost in the field, all those precious, delicious and hard-won quail, pheasants, ducks, geese, chukars, huns, ruffed grouse, sharptails, prairie chickens, Burmese pythons, African rock pythons, boa constrictors, anacondas...

    Wait a second...pythons? Uh, yep. Pythons.

  • March 26, 2012

    Introducing (Insert Name Here), My New Pup

    By Chad Love

    A couple weeks back I asked readers for suggestions on how to convince a significant other that you need a new pup. Incidentally, the photo that accompanies that blog is my little setter, Jenny, when she was eight weeks old. I can't say that I actually tried using any of your fine and varied suggestions, but obviously I did something right, or at least not catastrophically wrong, as here I am again, for better or worse, with a new pup.

    Meet Insert Name Here (we'll get to that in a minute). He's a precocious, long-legged, raw-boned little cutie of an English setter from Berg Brothers Kennel in Dayton, Minnesota. In this picture he's giving the stink-eye to a prairie chicken wing, but when I picked him up from the airport Friday, he was alternately charming everyone at the cargo dock (when they were paying attention to him) and splitting their eardrums with howls of pure anguish (when they weren't).