Some days….

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Exceptional Hun numbers were found in some of the most beautiful country I’ve hunted. No partridge were harmed in this hunt because of a couple of reasons: 1. Cover was sparse leading to them flushing wild 2. Molly found, pointed, and promptly bumped several coveys before I could get down to her. Molly’s shortcomings as a bird dog is my fault, as I didn’t work her all off season due to being stuck in a hospital for 3 months. Oh well it was a great day, and a great workout for both man and beast…..we’ll be back.

When The Planets Align

I went in search of a native bird that is over looked in these parts, a bird that has eluded me on multiple occasions. I arrived as the sun was peaking over the horizon and cut the hounds loose. After a single flushed wild I was concerned that my only opportunity for the day was gone but I was wrong. Molly’s body language told me birds were out in front of us, running, refusing to hold for point. After all these birds are wild and fight for their life every single day, and 9-11-16 was no different than any other day. As we continued to work into the wind we came to a choke point, where the cover gave way to a cut wheat field. Ace slammed on point, reading him I knew without a doubt there was a bird there. Molly to my surprise honored his point perfectly. I walked in, the sharptail flushed, and I did my part with the IC barrel of my Franchi Instinct 20ga. Time to head home and be grateful of a perfect day afield.

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Spoiled on the first day

I usually never find birds, its just a reality I’ve come to accept. However today was not like most days. I found (well the dogs did really) a group of sharptails right out of the truck. The conditions were crap though, no wind, hot, and the grass was tall. We only got a bit of a flash point as by the time the dogs got scent of the birds (which were up wind) they were smack dab in the middle of the group. I pulled my usually and wiffed on the first bird with the IC barrel, and dusted some tail feathers with the second MOD barrel. We were unable to locate any singles and the temps only increased. We pulled out after about an hour and a half of hunting (0800hrs). I most definitely should have been parking the pickup about 45mins earlier. This is my lucky year. I drew a public land Auodad hunt at the Palo Dura Canyon State Park in January of 2017. I only had two preference points and drew on the second drawing. The odds are about 10% chance of drawing. Hopefully I’ll get to include a quail hunt while I’m back in the homeland.

 

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FIRST’S

I took my plunge into the upland world on a hot sunny day in May, down in Texas. At the time I was living in Abilene, having just graduated from college, and I decided I needed a birddog. My father always had GSP’s and EP’s. Even though I never had the chance to hunt with them, or him, I always wanted a birddog. On that fateful day in May, my now wife and I brought home Ace, an orange and white Brittany. I chose a Brittany because I was living in an apartment at the time and their size and temperament was exactly what I was looking for. Ace got a little pro training down in Abilene, and was pointing johnny house bobwhites like a pro at 8 months old. Then we moved to the American West, and the journey really took off with our acquisition of Molly, a liver and white Brittany hailing from Preston Idaho. What a fireball she is.

Here are their “first’s”….

It was December 2012 in, lets just say one of the most inhospitable states in the Union. A fresh blanket of four inches of powder fell the night before, the wind was a slight breeze….perfect conditions. Now this isn’t Ace’s first wild bird rodeo, he’s got two trips under his belt in the same area, and has showed some real style (even holding steady to wing/shot). Unfortunately I have been letting him down with what could only be described as horrific wing shooting (thanks double triggers…my kryptonite). Today was the day I told myself, and it started with a bang. Looking back I cant remember how many points or shots it took me, but I know Ace was beginning to wonder why the heck I was just scaring birds. But then a point in a  tall sage flat near a sometimes dry creek, a steady point, he’s trembling (there has to be some birds close). Wham! An explosion of about ten Hungarian Partridge! I shouldered my CZ 20ga side by side, picked one out, swung and touched the first trigger. A Hun cartwheeled, shocked I tried to kill it even deader with the second barrel. My wife even exclaimed “oh my god you hit it”…

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Ace’s first wild bird fell to the ground. Earlier that day he held a beautiful point on a pair that honestly should’ve been the easiest double of my life, and I whiffed on both shots. And then I couldn’t reload fast enough for the third late flusher that Ace was STLL locked on during my tomfoolery. But that day had a happy ending.

Molly has been a real turd. I chased her for I don’t know how long in the NE sandhills earlier in the year. Molly seems to only want to hunt for her, sometimes I almost hate that dog. But then out of the blue after asking a breeder/trainer nearby to take a look at Molly to see if she has any hunt in her, she made me look like a moron. We planted a few pigeons for her, and miraculously she not only worked the field, she found and pointed the birds. He looked at me like “what’s the problem”.

So came November (2015) the State Game and Fish Dept. place these pen raised chickens on walk in areas and habitat management areas. Now I know its not “real” hunting, but I needed bird exposure for Molly, and some entertainment for Ace.

Molly was up first, much to the dismay of Ace, who sounded like he was being electroshock tortured in the dog box. We worked a large management area that’s got a lot of irrigation canals, ponds, sand burrs, and cattails. Molly worked great, ranging wide, working cover, and really throwing her heart over the bar. My partner and I missed on a couple of wild flushing birds, and I’m glad since I really intended to shoot only pointed birds.

Then came “the point”. I was doubling back to head towards the truck, believing that all the birds must’ve ben mowed down in days prior. When I walked over a small hill and found Molly locked up on point near a large pond dam/embankment. I yelled to my friend, “I think she’s pointing”. And just as I said that I saw his head, that beautiful flamboyant green, red, and almost purple. Molly found her a rooster. Just as I realized what I was looking at, he flushed. I swung hard and touched off my Stevens 555, poof, an explosion of feathers. Molly’s first point, and first rooster.

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To say I was pleased was an understatement. I’ve had such high hopes for her, and she showed some promise earlier in the year by finding some Columbian Sharptail that I couldn’t kill. She made a believer out of me, and continued to do so (I wrote about that trip in my first blog post).

I sure hope there are a ton of birds to come before they’ve found their last.

 

Orvis upland sling vest/pack review

I’ve had a few upland vest/packs including a Wingworks, Badlands, and Cabelas Bird&lite. I’ve sold all of them for various reason. The Badlands was nice, but didn’t have water bottle holders (I prefer to water the dogs with bottles instead of a bladder). The Wingworks was heavy (albeit bomb proof) and the water bottle holders were so far back on the waist belt and tight, that I couldn’t hardly get them in or out without dropping the F bomb. The Cabelas pack (which is now discontinued) had really think shoulder straps that seemed to always get in the way of my shotgun mount.

All of that was stated as a preface to what led me to the Orvis Upland Sling pack/vest. I’ll list some features I like, and some I don’t.

Pros:

  • Modular Molle attachments on the waist belt
  • A hip belt that supports the weight of the pack
  • One shoulder strap that wont interfere with my shotgun mount

Cons

  • With a couple of phez rooters in the game bag, the game bag sags a bit…which can be annoying.vest1

In the above picture you can see the lay out of all the waist or hip belt. With the molle attachment points, this can be configured however you like. Starting from left to right, I have a Tactical Tailor admin pouch which has two compartments that I carry my GPS, Leatherman, snacks, gloves, and maps in. The next is a water bottle holder that came with the vest. On the right side is another Tactical Tailor water bottle holder, and a shell pouch that came with the vest from Orvis.

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This is the reverse side. On the shoulder strap you can see where I carry my SportDog TEK 1.0 controller, and the padding of the hip belt and back of the pack. In the far right corner of the picture you can also see an orange and white Brittany that thinks we’re about to go hunting lol.

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Above is an attempt to show the interior compartment. I carry a first aid kit for both the dogs and I, and snacks in this compartment.

Overall I really like this pack. I can carry a ton of gear, water, and food with ease. There’s no shoulder strap to get in my way, and its modular enough to suit my needs. Keep in mind (if anyone is actually reading this) that Orvis redesigned this pack/vest, so this is the older outdated version. I’ve looked at the newer version online and it appears the main difference is the internal compartment design.

If anyone is reading this, I hope you got something out of this review.