Friday, September 30, 2011

Grousing The Woods Of Western Washington State: Fran's Diary

Disco And Scott On The Hunt

 September 28, 2011

It was a perfect day for grouse hunting.  The temperature was cool enough to keep the mosquitoes in the Bahamas, or wherever they go when it gets too cold for them.  The sun was out and the ground was wet from the previous day’s rain, which made for great scenting conditions for the dogs.  We had our two labs, Sarge and Disco. This is Sarge’s second hunting season and Disco’s fourth.  Both are good grouse dogs, but today, Sarge showed some of his immaturity with his lack of control in staying close with all those tempting smells pulling him ahead and out of shotgun range.  Grouse hunting in the northwest requires a dog – especially a flushing dog - to hunt very close.  Even after the deciduous trees lose their leaves, our forests still have a majority of evergreen trees.  So it doesn’t get much easier, even later in the year, to get a shot off before the bird disappears in the woods.  And, like our first encounter today, many times you don’t see the grouse when they flush, you just hear them.  And, there is no other bird in the forest that sounds like a grouse in flight.  In addition to the sound of breaking branches as they fly through trees, the vibrations from their wings can be felt in your ears.

Fran And Sarge
Both dogs were working hard, quartering back and forth through the thick cover.  I love to watch the dogs work, doing what they were born to do.  Scott and Disco were off to my left about 50 yards.   Sarge, who had been happily working the cover in front and to the sides of me, suddenly disappeared in Scott’s direction.  Then, I spotted his “birdy” tail up ahead of Disco – he was definitely too far out.  But before I could get him back in gun range, we heard the double flush of two grouse as they headed into the thick woods.  I got a glimpse of grey wings as a grouse flushed from the ground where Sarge was.  I called him back to me with a reprimand - and then my “stay close” command.  Scott and Disco would have run right into those two grouse!   

A short while later, both dogs got birdy again and started hunting in circles and doubling back and forth– a sure sign that bird scent was fresh.  Scott and I stopped and were both ready for action.   As Scott turned to his left anticipating a flush from where Disco was working, a grouse came up on his right about 5 yards away.  It was crossing in front of me at about 20 yards!   I had a brief opening in the woods where I could get a clean shot.   As I watched the bird coming furiously through the woods from my left, I raised my gun and just as I was about to take the safety off and shoulder it, something caught the butt of my gun (a branch?).  Just for an instant, I was “stuck.”  As I freed the gun and got it to my shoulder, my opportunity was gone.  I could barely see the grouse as it continued behind a large pine tree and disappeared in the woods.  I was stunned.  When grouse hunting you don’t get those types of shots too often – like almost never.  It’s no secret I’m not the best shot in the west.  But, I’ve been practicing lately, and I REALLY thought I could hit that bird.  Drats!

Sarge In The Woods
So, now we know for sure we are hunting a good area and at a good time.  The day is gorgeous, the dogs are hunting great, and we are into some birds.  Life is good.

As we hunted on, I heard Scott make a couple startled noises and I stopped, waiting for another flush.  Then he said, “Oh! Disco grabbed a rabbit!”    He told her to drop it, and we continued on.  Sarge moved off to my left, nose to the ground and in an instant he disappeared in the woods.  I waited a few seconds to see if he would reappear, but then from behind and the other side of Scott (who was 40 yards to my left), we both heard grouse flushing.  I whistled for Sarge and sure enough, that’s where he came from.  This time Sarge was not only out of range, but also behind us too!  I determined to keep a closer watch  – to not let him slip out of range again.  Normally, he’s better at “staying close”, but today he was high on finding birds and he was having fun.     

But, there were still more birds to be flushed and it was Disco’s turn.  She flushed a grouse just to Scott’s left and  . . . . well, I don’t know what happened.  Scott doesn’t usually miss an opportunity to take a shot.  And, he is a great shot.  But, “something” happened.  The bird was “right there” flushing and then, nothing.  When I asked Scott, “whaaat?”  He said, “It appeared at two gun lengths and disappeared at four gun lengths.”   “I couldn’t get my gun to my shoulder before it was gone!”

We hunted our way back to the truck.  Although the dogs continued to put up a nice hunt, we didn’t get into any more birds.

It was a great day.  Hunting is just what the word says, “hunting.”  Sometimes we get lucky and bag a grouse.  But many times we are simply, (wonderfully) hunting.  With great dogs and a great hunting partner on a beautiful fall day in the northwest woods, nothing is better than grouse hunting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

2011 September Youth Pheasant Hunt

7:45 AM Safety Meeting
Area 14, near Roy, Washington, is a huge open prairie with varied cover, a creek and wetlands.  It is mostly flat with gently rolling hills.  The 2011 Youth Pheasant Hunt, put on by many and various volunteer groups was a superbly organized and magnificently executed affair.  The volunteers were passionate in their desire to introduce kids to the excitement of hunting pheasant, working behind bird dogs and trying out their shooting skills.  Great effort was made to make sure there were plenty of birds in the field so that kids and dogs were exposed to as many opportunities as possible.  A special thanks to the local Pheasants Forever organization for all their hard work. 

A Different Kind Of PETA
A Family Affair
A Young Man Hunts
Dogs Forge Ahead To Find Birds
Fall Is In The Air
A Little Girl's First Hunt
A Pup's First Rooster
A Young Woman Hunts With Mount Rainier Background
A Very Rewarding Day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Husband Wants To Get Rid Of Our Dog

Found This On Facebook After The Call
Got one great call this morning.  A woman said that she had a little dog who was 2 and a half years old.  The dog was part cattle dog and it had snapped at a few people lately.  She was afraid it the dog were taken to the shelter, it would be euthanized.  She did not want to take it to the shelter, but her husband had already made up his mind.  They live on base at JBLM and she said her husband was afraid they would be sued by someone if the dog bites someone there.  The woman said she was trying to find an alternative to taking the dog to the shelter.  Did I know of anyone who would take this dog and "rehabilitate" it? 

Since I run a dog training business, I was really puzzled at her approach.  She was very carefully avoiding asking me if I could help them TRAIN this dog.   She wanted instead to find a guilt-free way of dumping the dog. 

I told her that the behavior her dog was displaying was very common in livestock type herding dogs, and the behavior was easily fixed.  Would she like to come to one of our no-cost, no-obligation seminars where we do awesome demos with our dogs?  Where she and her husband would clearly see that dogs can be trained and conditioned to pay attention to their owners, give up dangerous behaviors, and live a full and rich life?  Where she could see that is is entirely possible to have peace of mind about your dog and not worry about being "sued?"

Suddenly she wanted to know how much it would cost for training.  I explained that I never discuss price or cost until people come to the seminar where they can understand what the value of the training is.   I explained that in an hour to an hour and a half, she and her husband would be educated as to how we do what we do and have all their questions answered, including price and cost.  She did not think her husband would be willing to come to a seminar because he had already made up his mind to take the dog to a shelter.

I explained that owning a dog comes with the responsibility to learn how to train it NOT to bite people and taking the dog to be killed was sort of shirking that responsibility.  I told her that the cost for training is less than any of the other costs associated with a dog.  And I asked her why she would be so concerned about cost anyway, since they obviously had plenty of resources.  After all, if someone is going to sue you, they are not going to bother with that unless you have resources to tap into.  Suing people with no money or assets would be a ridiculous waste of time and energy.

The conversation ended with the woman telling me that she would "ask" her husband if he would be willing to come to a seminar, but assured me that he had already made up his mind about the dog. 

Rest In Peace, little dog.  I am so sorry that the humans you have lived with for over two years care so little about you that they would refuse to learn how to train you and just take you to be killed.  I can only save the dogs whose owners care about them.

Youth Pheasant Hunt This Weekend September 24th 25th 2011

There will be a youth hunt this weekend at Joint Base Lewis McChord for youth under the age of 15 years.  All participants must have their Western Washington Pheasant license and be pre-registered at JBLM's Northwest Adventure Center to hunt on base. 

To register you will need to clear through the main gate off I-5, showing current vehicle registration, driver's license and proof of insurance.  Then proceed to Northwest Adventure Center with current Washington State Hunting License.  All participants must have their weapons registered at the NAC as well.  You will need to bring information on make, model number, serial number, gauge, length of barrel and overall length.

On Saturday and Sunday, hunters and handlers will meet at 7 am at either Training Area 14 or TA 21 for an organization and safety meeting.

At 8:00 am hunters and dogs with handlers will organize and begin hunting.  There will be volunteers on hand with seasoned hunting dogs to help out if needed.  Remember to bring your camera!  For more information, call the Northwest Adventure Center at 253.967.6263

Kate Johansson of Fast Pup Dog Training will be meeting anyone needing help finding the sign-in area of TA 14 at 6:45 am at the Roy Y Park & Ride.  Call her at 253.569.0411 to let her know you will meet her there, or just call for general directions.  Colored maps of the training areas of JBLM are available for $2.00 at the NAC.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

High End Flashlight Party This Saturday

Popcorn Seattle Area Get Together Note

Saturday, September 24th, 2011 Seattle area get together is using the May sight for the September get-together :

Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at
20245 SE 192nd St. Renton 98058
Please call or email Kate at 253.569.0411 or

This should be a great way to Cap the Summer and start the Night Time of the year!

Fenix's Selection, IgNITEor's Death Ray, LightSward's Gorilla, Power by Chizel Electric. and MORE! Be there!

A few photos of some of the toys at May's get together. Don't miss this one!

One of many personal flashlight collections on display.

Gorilla with 1,200 HMI

Here is a view showing the more focused Gorilla beam.

IgNITEor's awesome tank light!

The Tank Light lights up the heavens with it's powerful Xenon short arc lamp.

Come see how your light shines! Don't miss it!

Here is the Mini LightSward with 1,200 watt HMI short arc with high volume air cooling system!

The 1,200 watt HMI short arc Mini LightSward
Handy with the Mini LightSward attached! I love your Avatar

Mini LightSward Searchlight cloud shot

The Mini LightSward is seen here light the clouds about a mile and a half in altitude, as seen from a block away.

The Mini LightSward with 1,200 watt HMI double ended short arc high intensity light using a 7.5 inch Cyclops reflector with high volume cooling system, UV and Ozone collector and pleasing light guidance system.

Mini LightSward Searchlight beam shot near light source

Many people expected, so come early for the fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Small Turnout At PSRC Training Day September Reaps Rewards

Bridger Did Not Mind A Bit That There Was A Small Turnout!
 Our PSRC's last training day was a smash hit, back in August when the summer was full on, the sunshine plentiful and the ponds reflected the blue of the summer sky.  It was great fun, a great time to socialize and get a little training done, hang out and bar-b-que.  Even the first weekend of September held on to summer with the hottest weather of the year blessing the NAHRA hunt test.

But now, fall is in the air.  It has cooled WAY off and there is misty rain in the air.  Hunting season is upon us.  Where was everyone this weekend?  Western Washington Pheasant opens next week, and Duck season is still a few weeks off.  Grouse is open, but I am not sure too many members were hiking the woods with their dogs this weekend.  Probably a lot of chores left to do while the summer held are waiting to be done.

Showing Pup The Trail
Dragging Dead Duck To Scent Trail

Dennis Follows Pup On Trail

Pup Is Using His Nose To Trail Duck
Rewarding Pup For Finding Duck
Biggest Reward Of All--Carrying The Spoils

But there we were.  At the official PSRC training day.  All three of us.  I had brought 19 pigeons for sharing with club members along with my usual crew of dogs.  Tim had brought a couple of ducks, his 20 gauge over and under, and his Chesapeake Bay Retrievers.  And Dennis had brought his five month old chocolate Labrador Retriever.  Not enough of us to set up big training scenarios reminiscent of a trial or hunt test.

Hunt 'em up!

Bird Flushed, Tim Shot, Feathers Rain Down

Wounded, Bird Heads For The Woods
Bird Retrieved
So we went hunting.  Seriously.  We practiced trailing/tracking birds--even with young pups.  Tim dizzied pigeons and planted them in the field and we practiced having the dogs quarter and hunt 'em up.  Tim was a great shot.  Some of the birds were too dizzy to fly right away.  Some were not dizzy enough and flew away when the dogs got near.  Many of those Tim shot for the dogs.  A few got away, and those were great steadying practice.  It seemed like gluttony, but we used almost all the birds on our dogs!  It was great!

Boykin Spaniel Takes Off On Hunt

Boykin Checks The Wind

Boykin Quartering For Bird

Boykin Puts On The Brakes For The Bird

Boykin Retrieves Bird

The three of us all went home tired.  Our dogs had a great day.  Small turnout had great rewards.

Fast Pup Retriever Training Home Away From Home

Once I heard someone say that their idea of camping was "bad room service."  Well if you want to hang out in beautiful north Mason County, you won't find any room service.  Or any corner markets or gas stations.  Bring everything you need with you, because it is quite a trip to get to any real convenience.

Port Of Dewatto Campground
Kitchen And Lodge Facility

But the scenery is spectacular.  If you like a rustic get-away, this is it. 
Fast Pup Retriever Training Headquarters In The Forest

Mid September after months of virtually no rain, the mighty river looks like a small creek.  But don't be fooled!

The water flows swiftly, making a peaceful babbling brook sound.

Pleasant creek in September.  Raging river in wintertime.

In a few months with the good Pacific Northwest Rainforest Torrents, this little creek will be a raging river. 

Fungus thrives in the rainforest.

Dewatto Bay is a very short trip from the campground.

A Misty Morning On Dewatto Bay