Outdoor Notebook: A week of bird hunting
Recently, I had an opportunity that people who love to hunt birds dream about. In the period of one week, I had the chance to hunt birds behind three different pointing dogs. We have never owned a pointing dog, but quite a few years ago I had hunted with the former outdoors editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Don Johnson. Don owned several pointing dogs that were very well trained. For more information about Don, we recommend reading Don’s book, Grouse and Woodcock: A Gunner’s Guide. This book is very well written and belongs on the shelf of every hunting cabin.
Several years ago, I became quite involved in the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and became friends with Dr. Mike Riggle, who is a veterinarian from Medford. Mike loves to hunt grouse and woodcock with his Llewellin Setter. He had told me about his dog and how it would point both grouse and woodcock. Llewellin Setters are described as being very gentle, calm, friendly and excellent with children. They love any affection they can get and are very active when outdoors, but extremely calm in the house. They were bred from English Setters to hunt upland game birds and for field trials.
Dr. Mike arrived at our house on a Monday morning. Following a cup of coffee, we headed out. I had flushed quite a few grouse in an area of a clear-cut that had been cut about eight years ago. Mike put a GPS device on Morgan and showed me how the device worked. It did not take long before Morgan went on point. We hunted most of the day and Morgan pointed 13 birds. Next summer, I am going to shoot clay birds in order to improve my shooting accuracy. Mike’s dog is extremely well trained and responds to his commands. These dogs are called setters because when on point, they look like they are almost sitting down.
On Wednesday afternoon of that week, Art Barlow picked me up and, along with his young German Shorthair Pointer, Greta, we headed out to a game farm. The German Shorthair is described as a versatile, all-purpose gun dog and a hunting dog by nature. It was quite warm and Art carried water in his vest for Greta.
Art let Greta out of his vehicle and she immediately showed us that she wanted to hunt. After about 10 minutes, she froze on point. The bird flushed and Art put it in the game pocket of his vest. The owner of the game farm put out six pheasants and Greta pointed seven. As previously mentioned, I need to practice my wing shooting.
On Saturday, we were on the western edge of Wisconsin visiting our daughter, Tammy, her husband, Kyle Schroeder, and our three grandchildren, William, Katie and John. They own a Brittany Spaniel called Britt. The Brittany is a hearty, medium size, leggy dog. Britt spends most days chasing birds of all kinds in the yard. Owners of Brittany Spaniels find them intelligent, easy to handle dogs.
We only had about an hour to hunt on a public hunting area near Somerset. Britt went to work and after perhaps a half-hour, he froze on point. Kyle flushed the pheasant and I missed the shot, as did Will.
What a great week we enjoyed and plan to repeat another bird hunt as our time permits yet this fall.
It is time to chase the mice out of the hunting cabins that have seen limited activity since last deer season. Our son, Craig, and his boys, Jack and Mason, traveled to Rhinelander to help get the “shack” ready for the gun-deer season. Thus far, we have seen very little deer sign in the Monico area. Scrapes have been appearing this past week, as have the rubs on relatively small trees.
We have spent some time on the rifle range fine tuning the deer rifles. Hopefully, I have learned my lesson with my poor shooting with the shotgun. Another item to check are any tree stands that have been out since last season to ensure that there are no rotten parts on elevated stands.
Limited information is available thus far on the historic wolf hunt in Wisconsin. The most up-to-date information we have puts the total kill at about 50 wolves.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.