Thursday, September 26, 2013


     I've come to realize a few things over the years. Some of these revelations were immediate, while others developed, and were a bit hard to swallow. I think every sportsman has a time when they finally sit back and reflect on their inner outdoors. It'd be hard not to, as many outdoor pursuits offer plenty of solitary moments when it's just you and mother nature.

     I've finally admitted that I don't like deer hunting. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. Sure I'll continue to hunt deer. After all, I love eating venison. But I'm not one to sit still. As rewarding as it is to score a deer with archery equipment, I just don't have too many stand sits in me, so they'll be few and far between.
      Thankfully there are other methods of collecting venison that don't require long sits. Deer driving can be a productive way of filling a tag, and it's quite fun. I participate a number of drives each season, and seldom get bored as were constantly moving, and repositioning, and starting new drives. Deer tracking is another exciting example. Some years back the Benoits, of Vermont, introduced the world to the art of tracking big bucks in the snow, with a series of books and videos. Actually, The Benoits reintroduced the art, as their father had written and published a book detailing the art back in the 60's. I've tried my hand at tracking, and have found it to be enjoyable. Though I've yet to score a deer this way, I've had some close encounters. A couple of seasons ago I snuck off on Christmas morning. Fresh snow had fallen, the wife was sleeping in, and I had a doe tag (like I said, I like eating venison). I cut a pair of fresh track right away, and judging from the stride thought they might be moving lazily along nearby. I crept along slowly, scanning ahead, fortunate enough to have the wind in my face. The thud of snow falling from some branches to the ground off to my right caught my attention, and when I looked back ahead I found myself staring at two does who'd been laying down 20 yards ahead, just over the crest of a slight incline. No sooner did a realize they were there, they were gone. No shot was fired, but it was satisfying none the less. I walked the ridge, back towards my car, scanning for a bit of fresh track. I found it too. No doubt this new, big track, crisp and fresh, crossing the road within sight of my car, was that of the big 10 point that had been seen on many a trail camera, but never in the flesh.  Unfortunately, it was Christmas morning, and I only had a 1/2 day pass.

     Other revelations revolve around food. While I enjoy eating game, there is some that just doesn't satisfy on a regular basis. Coupled with the fact the the only game my wife will eat being venison, I've decided that there are some species to be left alone. Geese, and hares are the first that come to mind. Geese are quite large, so I will never eat one by myself. They also tend to vary in taste considerable from one goose to the next. I'll still shoot the occasional goose, but it'll be during one of those rainy grouse camp years where we spend more time in a dick blind than in the woods, and the goose is sure to get eaten by the crew at camp. I may also one day find the motivation, and desire to make a batch of goose sausage.

     Hares are not a very potable species in my opinion. While they are abundant in many of the areas I grouse hunt, I don't expect to be tipping too many over. Sure, I'll kill a hare once in a while. The dog still needs a little practice handling them, so it'll get boiled down and feed to the dog. Besides, she needs a little spoiling. Cotton Tails, however, will be shot, and tabled any chance I get.

     My fishing exploits have suffered a few revelations, too. While I still enjoy fly fishing, I feel like I've been spoiled after having the opportunity to tie into some big fish in upstate NY. After that, I just didn't want to catch average sized trout anymore. By my estimation, after catching salmon on a fly rod, catching smallies in a light weight rod is the next best thing. Though, striped bass on a fly rod is kinda fun, too.

     These revelations don't only come in negative values. There are things that I have positively identified as areas of interest. There are big game species that I'd very much like to have a go at. Black bear has long been an interest of mine, and I hope one day to get to tag one with a bow. Likewise for moose. To be able to get close enough to take a moose with a bow must be a real rush. not to mention the quantity of venison you'll be bringing home. Being primarily a meat hunter, I'd also like to have an opportunity to one day hunt deer in a place where I feel like I have a chance to kill a big buck. Not that I'm planning to convert to antler chasing, but I'd sure like to see several bucks in one day, rather than being happy to see a couple of bucks in one season.

     My revelations don't stop with big game. I've got some wingshooting ideas, too. Of most interest to me is the idea of wingshooting in Great Britain. Driven pheasant on an estate, and grouse in the moors sound like real adventures to me. The whole social aspect of the British style of shooting appeals to me. But get this. Over the years, as I've studied and investigated the shooting culture of our cousins across the pond, the one type of shooting I'd like the most to experience is pigeon. For some reason the relative DIY, blue collar appearance of pigeon shooting has really captured my interest.

     The true beauty of revelations such as these are that they are organic, and ever changing. Come tomorrow I may realize that I really do like catching average sized trout, and the taste of hare. Doubt I'll ever really develop a long term interest in treestand sitting, however.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mass Waterfowl Regs & Dates

      If you live or hunt in Massachusetts you've no doubt noticed that the Mass Wildlife web site has changed considerably. In fact, it's just plain confusing. I've had a hard time navigating the site, and finding the info I need. In Particular, it took some effort to find the waterfowl/ migratory bird season dates, and regulations. Well, now that I've found it I thought I'd link it here in case others are having difficulty finding it.

Mass Wildlife Migratory Bird Regulations 2013-14

     And seeing as it's a waterfowl kind of a day, how about a few pics of ASO pro staffer Sterling's recent Texas Teal hunt.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Things You Should Check Out; Viewing, and Seeing

     Serious sportsmen and women around the globe are constantly finding new ways to show others their craft and passion. Changes in the way we get our information hasn't gone unnoticed, and Youtube has been a fore runner in delivering entertainment to millions. It is on Youtube where I found a couple of channels worth promoting.

     The first channel is The Consummate Sportsman, where a group of friends take us on all kinds of hunting, and fishing in the Mid-West. They have quite a few laughs, catch some big fish, do some good shooting, and have some pretty good dogs.

     The other channel is The Shooting Show. This UK based channel is all things shooting, from wingshooting to big game, clays, fowl, and competitive. It's a look into the shooting lifestyle of our brother and sister sports across the pond. Check it out.

     From viewing we move on to seeing. If you've aged at all like I have you've no doubt suffered a bit in the eye sight department. As I sit here typing this I am indeed bespectacled, my trusty reading glasses perched on the bridge of my nose. It isn't too hard to imagine some of the issues the visually challenged sportsman must encounter; try tying on a size 22 midge, or reading a gazetteer without a good set of readers is just about impossible. Well, there is no need for the sportman to look more aged than necessary in a pair of drug store glasses. Orvis is offering a few nice pair of readers so one can look their best, and see. Offered in several styles from which one can choose. I am partial to The Consultant and expect to order a pair real soon. Check them out.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Patriot Sporting Spaniel Club Field Trial.

     The Patriot Sporting Spaniel Club held a field trial in Conway NH over the weekend. I decided the time had come to enter Ginger, so a few weeks ago we sent our check in, and awaited our place in the running order. Ginger's performance was far from flawless, but good enough to get us to the second series, which was good enough for me. If you haven't ever been to a spaniel field trial before you may want to consider attending one someday. A field trial offers all that is fun, and flashy in spaniels; hunting, flushing, and retrieving. And if you've got a spaniel, I highly recommend giving trialling a chance, if for no other reason than it's a lot of fun for both you and the dog. We had a great time, met lots of nice people, and got to see a lot of good, and exciting dog work.

The puppy stake

 An exciting puppy retrieve
 A steady pup watches a fly-away
 Another exciting puppy retrieve

 Dan Lussen & FC Pondview II's Secret Agent (JB) in the open stake 3rd series, on their way to a 4th place finish.
 A Triple River pup
Me and Ginger waiting for our debut run
 Instructions from the judge, and we're off


 Ginger honors her brace mate's flush and retrieve,
 and soon gets a retrieve of her own
 The start of Ginger's second series
 A nice retrieve in the second

**All Photos by Junko Nakao Rich**

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spaniel Field Trialling Video

The Gospel Truth, or Did He Really Just Say That?

     I was once the new guy in this outdoors/hunting/birddog world which for the most part consumes my life. As a newbie I eagerly gobbled down stacks of hunting and fishing magazines. I learned a lot from them. Some of it good, some not so much. In the end most of what I learned was learned by wearing out boot leather, and dog whistles. Lots of time was wasted, but even wasted time spent in the outdoors is time well spent.

     Some of the mistakes, or misconceptions I had was in trying to absolutely know something. In the outdoors things are more fluid, always changing, and when it comes to dogs there are no absolutes. It is along this vein that today I write a little rant, after picking up, and reading a nationally published hunting dog magazine (which I seldom read). As I read the article that outlined the traits an ideal grouse dog should have I found myself shaking my head in disagreement. Not that the traits listed were bad, or would be a negative, but that they opinion presented as absolutes. Sure, writers are allowed to inject their opinion, but as I read the article I couldn't help but think that a newbie could easily think that the traits listed are mandatory requirements for a grouse dog. It's was just not true.

     So what exactly is my point? It is this; question, question, question everything. Even what you read here. And if someone tells you that a dog must have XY&Z to be a good grouse dog, look around and I'm sure you'll find quality grouse dogs that have AB&C firmly planted in them. So question and learn.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back On Track, And Getting It Done

     While the keyboard may have layed dormant for the last few months here at ASO, things continued to happen, and dog training was my number one priority. Having committed to campaigning Ginger in some form of organized field event I further tailored her training, and exercise routine.  I knew that before too long the time would arrive when she was entered in an event, heeled to the line, and cast on. The time came last weekend, and Ginger was entered in her first AKC hunt test.

     The test was held at Hedgerow kennel and Hunt Club in Royalston, Massachusetts, and sponsored by The American Spaniel Club. A variety of flushing dogs, both field bred and bench bred, from around the country participated. In attendance were the usual Springers, and Cockers, as well as a Welshie, a Boykin, and a Flat Coated Retriever. Tests were held on both Saturday, and Sunday, and I registered Ginger in the Senior Hunter class for both days. I'm glad I did. My little girl didn't let me down, and passed with qualifying scores on both days.

      Training throughout the year Ginger saw lots of cover, and terrain.

Then came test time.Ginger and I were ready to go.

Ginger was cast on,....

and a chukar went up,....

only to come down.

Retrieved quickly to hand like a proper spaniel should.

Then came the hunt dead test, and Ginger was once again cast forward.

And a bird produced for the judges.
A water mark was the final portion of the test,....
and Ginger made it look easy.

I'm proud of my girl, and look forward to future tests.
Two SH legs down, three more for the title, then we start all over again at the Master Hunter level.