Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gray's Sporting Journal, Bird Hunting Edition

     While running errands today, I happened upon a bookstore. Never have I had the will to keep myself from abandoning what ever mission I was on, and taking a peek at the magazine rack to see what I might find. Well, today I was lucky enough to find out that Gray's Sporting Journal, Bird Hunting Book is now on the shelf. If there is a better way to get jazzed up for the coming bird season than reading a few quality tales in Gray's, I don't know what it is.

     As the cover of this edition features a beautiful setter, I've no choice but to share a couple of short videos of my own, now departed setter, Austin.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Action Alert!!

     Attention readers!!    If you're from Massachusetts please pay careful attention. There is a move under foot to prohibit clear cutting in state forests and parks. This is bad. There are numerous species that depend on second growth, successional forest, and clear cutting is the only way to see to it this habitat is sustained. Responsible management of our woodland habitat means responsible clear cutting. While a clear cut is initially unsightly, within one year it is again green, and filled with an abundance of wildlife. Areas where clear cutting has been done are about the only areas where song birds can be heard anymore. A law banning clear cutting would prevent our wildlife and forestry managers from properly managing for balanced, and sustainable forests, thus preventing the growth of specific habitat much of our wildlife, both game species, and non-game species alike, need.

Here is the bill:

Here is the Ruffed Grouse Society's letter to the state:

And here's what you can do. Look up your legislator, and let him know you think a ban on clear cutting is unwise. Send him/her as much information as possible, and even offer to take them for a walk in a properly managed wood lot. If you need help, Massachusetts has two RGS chapters who'd be thrilled you're getting involved, and would be more than happy to provide you with information.

Slow and Steady Dog Training, Ginger's Progress

     Training a dog is not something to be rushed. Slow and steady, making sure your dog understands the task at hand before moving on to the next lesson is the way to go. Ginger is 17 weeks old, a baby, so all our training is free of pressure, and expectations. But the training began the day she got home. She doesn't know it, but everything we've done has had some relation to something else, and it'll all merge seamlessly. Here are a few videos of the progress we've been making.

     In this video, Ginger is making her first water retrieve. Her introduction to water was done slowly; first she got to play in a kiddie pool. Next she got to play in a muddy run-off creek. Later we waded together in a shallow river, until this day when together we went to a local pond and she was allowed to follow me into the deeper water. As you'll see, she took to it quite naturally. You'll also see that I didn't expect her to swim right out, and I kept her on the lead until her confidence grew. Basically my method is the exact opposite of those who toss a pup in to a pond and expect it to either sink or swim.

     In this next video we increase the challenge a bit by letting her go out by herself. She's anxious to get the retrieve, and needs to be reminded to stay steady until sent.

     Finally, we advance to letting Ginger sit while we toss out the bumper, then sending her. The video, however, doesn't capture all the action, nor all the distractions. You'll notice Ginger keeps looking towards the left of the screen. That's because a young lady was riding a horse in the water, just out of view. Despite the distractions Ginger remained focused.

     Manners are vitally important in any breed of gun dog, and it's often manners that make a dog to stand out. Since Ginger came home she's never been allowed to just run out to pick up a toy when playing. As we've always restrained her, and then let her go when we were ready she's come to understand, and be accustomed to the idea of steadiness. In this video, you'll see that Ginger is steady even when just playing in the house.

     Here we've started to put it all together for Ginger. She's been introduced to cover, shown us her ability to use her nose by finding scented tennis balls, and begun to hunt enthusiastically when we're out in the woods. Combined with her steadiness, and willingness to retrieve, we have a little fun with a scented dummy.

     Still young, and figuring it all out she initially retrieves to momma, but at 16 weeks I can over look that. On this particular day it was quite hot, and windless, so scenting was difficult. At one point you'll notice Ginger stops, surveys the air for a moment, then pounces on the dummy. That's a young dog using it's head, as well as it's nose.

     Anyway, that's we we are, and we're loving it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Things You Should Check Out, Art Edition

     Many sportsmen, myself included enjoy having memories of their time afield, or on the water displayed about their house. In addition to my own personal mementos I've collected, and have displayed some art that has caught my eye over the years. While art can often be found at dog, sportsman, and fishing shows, outdoors art doesn't seem to readily pop up too often.

     Recently I stumbled upon the website,, which has a large variety of art for sale, including quite a bit of sporting art. Like the images above? They are a sampling of what can be found at So, if you're looking to spruce up your house a little, or even looking for a gift for a shooting or angling friend, this is the place. Check it out,

Monday, July 11, 2011

Field Test- Fire Starters

     In an effort to turn knowledge into experience, I decided I'd put my fire starting skills to the test. I'd recently bought a Swedish Fire Steel, to accompany my Doan Magnesium fire starter. I'd never used my Doan Magnesium starter, and kept it in my small survival kit. If it was ever deployed, it'd be in a rare Oh Shit! scenario. None the less, I had a nagging feeling in the back of my head that it's use wouldn't be anywhere near as easy as it's made to sound. I was right. Doan Magnesium fire starter.

     I ran two tests, on two days, under different conditions, and while the term "field test" sounds a bit romantic, I'll be honest and admit that the field was my back yard. Under the watchful eye of Ginger, my Springer Spaniel, and I simply attempted to light a small amount of kindling in my grill. Here's what I learned.

     Test one took place shortly after rain had dampened all my kindling, but survival isn't something for bluebird days, so I set forth. The first thing I discovered is that the magnesium bar doesn't shave flakes as easily as I had thought. To make it more difficult, controlling where the shavings goes is impossible. Magnesium burns very hot, but it burns rather quickly too, so it's necessary to have a sufficient pile of shavings. This is especially true if your tinder is damp, like mine was. Field test 1-FAIL.

     The next day, I decided I'd try again. This time I did a few things differently. To start with, I shaved a slightly larger pile of magnesium, and I shaved it on to a thick piece of paper, which allowed me to easily collect all the wayward shavings that didn't land in the pile. The other change I made was to use a single paper towel as well as some kindling to get a fire started. My justification was that I have seldom been in the outdoors without a paper product of some kind, be it a Dunkin Donuts napkin, or a roll of TP. The combination of paper towel, magnesium, and dry kindling had me fanning the flames of a small fire very quickly. It wasn't perfect, but if I'd needed a fire, I could have grown this one with a little work. Field test 2- PASS.

     Here are my conclusions:

* Magnesium will work, but make sure you've got a quality bar of magnesium

* If possible, shave the magnesium onto a large, smooth surface

* Make sure you have good, dry tinder, and lots of it. This is really what makes the fire start.

* While the Doan flint works well, the Swedish Fire Steel really throws a spark effortlessly.

* Practice before you're in a situation where you really need a fire. I'll do this drill again.

     In addition to fire starting, I bought a new knife, too. I'd wanted a fixed blade knife for some time, and decided to get a SOG Seal Pup. I haven't field tested it, and don't intend to. Rather I'll just carry it, and see how it works out. When the appropriate time comes, I'll make a full report.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Things You Should Check Out; Habitit Edition, and How You Can Help

       Continuing the subject of habitat, I was forwarded a link to a website dedicated to Woodcock, their habitat, and their preservation. Whether you're a dedicated doodle chaser, or just a curious observer, the website is sure to have information you'll find interesting. How can you Help? Well, unfortunately the decline of Woodcock is very much thought to be caused by the decline of Woodcock habitat. That means land owners need to create more habitat, and that is done by cutting trees. You can help by giving woodlot owners the link to the website, and helping them get educated, so they can make sound management decisions that will not only benefit the Woodcock, but just about every species of animal living on their woodlot. Get involved with the Ruffed grouse Society, get your hands on info you can pass out to land owners, and educate whomever will listen to you.

Check it out:

**Once again, I'd like to thank Andy Weik, RGS biologist, for forwarding this info to me.