Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our brush with illness..

And that illness is... pyometra.

Pyometra, I've recently learned the hard way, is an infection of the uterus in unspayed females of generally middle age. Just like our little Field Gordon, Holly.
Holly is 5 1/2 years old, intact until just yesterday, and never bred. I had thoughts of a possible breeding early on, but various issues prevented my pursuing it. We had been warned about this disease of the reproductive tract on more than one occasion, But I chose to ignore it. I bear the responsibility for that, and I can assure folkks that today I have learned my lesson after having a 3.1 pound infected uterus removed from my girl yesterday afternoon in emergency surgery. My wife assisted in the surgery, and is the person most responsible for saving this little dog's life!
Holly finished up her heat cycle about three weeks ago, and almost immediately was not quite herself. But, most folks would not notice the subtle changes. I didn't recognize them myself, and hunted the dog for the last time of the season just last week. And she looked dynamite... Her old self, but little did I know of the danger lurking inside her body.
When she presented with heavy thirst and heavy urination just days ago, it was undeniable that something was wrong, and we did not waste any time getting her checked over by the Vet my wife works as a tech for. But, she made the call and the diagnosis, which was correct, I might add.
For all those with unspayed females at home, read the link on this sometimes deadly disease and pay heed to the warnings, and I'm here to tell everyone that pyometra is nothing to leave to chance. It can sneak in insidiously and take an animal's life in short order!
I hope that the Birddogdoc reads this post, and does a piece on his blog about this dreaded and deadly infection..

Click the picture to see the IV apparatus Holly was connected to last night, at home as we wished, after surgery..

Be careful out there!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another talented contributor

And that would be my friend and fellow New Yawker, David Kain.

Dave is responsible for the woodcock study in bronze shown here, titled "Spring" and it truly is a fantastic piece of artistry. I'm truly humbled by the folks that come here to read, and share some thoughts with me. I'm also humbled because of the realization that I have no artistic capabilities whatsoever, and I'm in awe of folks that do. But, even in that rarified air, the artistry of David Kain is an exceedingly rare commodity.

For those that would like to get in touch with David Kain to discuss his art, or a purchase, send an e-mail and I will pass it along to Dave..

and, don't forget to click on the picture to more fully enjoy this fantastic piece of art!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A dog's tail... the key to the mind

A dog can express more with his tail in seconds than his owner can express with his tongue in hours. ~Author Unknown

I've always considered a dog's tail, and it's carriage directly connected to the dog's mind. So much information can be gleaned from watching the dog's tail... provided of course one can "read" his dog.
Positive and negative emotions can be clearly recognized. The "merry" tail, working and crackin'.. what we all like to see.. The fearful tail, tucked.. The "not at all feeling well" tail, carried low and listless.
Everyone recognizes the happy, wagging tail of a dog.. but a responsive owner/ handler can tell so much more, even up to the point of workin' a bird and just what species that bird may be.. The dog's nose is tellin' him, and that dog's tail action is tellin' you.
Dogs are such simple creatures, but at the same time very complex.. All we have to do is observe and learn from them..

They have so much to teach us!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Overshot cards

Do they blow patterns?

A question I've been considering for some time, and there's obviously no answer without a visit to the dreaded and much despised pattern board for some hands on tests.
But, is it really necessary, or can some "down home" common sense enter the picture? There's no question that modern shotshells outperform their counterparts from yesteryear by a fairly large degree. Plasic wads that contain and protect the shot, as well as form a better gas seal for the propellant to do it's job are obvious advantages, but what about the star crimp? No overshot card to catch air upon leaving the muzzle and forcing the shot charge around? Or, is the cardboard card just shredded to pieces. Old roll crimped shotshells had to deal with this problem.
But, I'm dealing with it again today in my search for lighter loads. Fillers of various kinds added to the bottom of the shotcup are a major pain in the butt! A thin overshot card under the star crimp works well and is far easier to boot, but for other than close range work, is my pattern suffering?
A question that has had my head spinning of late... I'm interested in hearing from folks that have bitten the bullet, spent time at the pattern board and found out for themselves..
I've said many times that I'd rather watch paint dry than pattern shotshells ever again, but I may be forced to that dreaded end.. Seeing is , unfortunately believing!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Why don't check cords come with warning labels?

Doesn't most equipment that's dangerous to life and limb come with a warning label? Why not the check cord? When coupled to a high energy dog, this device can be one of the most destructive to the handlers anatomy of most any device yet designed. Add ice and snow, and this demonic invention becomes ever more lethal!
I've been spun like a top, had the feet dragged out from under me, rope burns on the hands, legs and ankles, been whipped everywhere from top to bottom, including the face, and yet through it all, it's still my "tool of choice" over the ubiquitious e-collar..
Why??? I honestly can't say.. Tradition? I guess that's part of it... traditional methods ring true to me, and I find my e-collar being used less and less. It is still, and always be THE tool for trashbreaking (running off game), however and it's long range capability makes it imcomparable for that. But it's also much easier to mess up with, and around birds, an unintended stimulation at the wrong time can have disastrous results.. The checkcord frees my mind of those worries, and it allows me to get down on all fours next to the dog, and still keep control. It might take me a helluva long time to get up off the ground because of the bum knees, but that's an entry for another day..
So, have fun with your check cords, and remember to check up on your health insurance provider and be sure the premiums are paid!

Just in case!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Parkers in a bad economy

I must admit to having a huge soft spot for Parkers.. The lines of the action, are to me, just "right"...By reading the latest post at Dogs and Doubles, it would appear that there are others who feel the same as I. Take a look at what was purchased at the latest Julia auction, and see if you don't agree...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bumpersticker ll

My disdain for bumperstickers is on the wane, as I see more and more I can relate to... like this one that once again, appeared on Maggie's Farm..

And while perusing Maggie's Farm, be sure to scroll down and see the nice young lady that serves the beer at the farm... Mercy me!

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Words to Ponder

Again, from the hearts and souls of the first Americans, who possessed so much wisdom..

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Nostalgic Reloading

What type of person saves this stuff?
And not only saves it, but takes on more from people clearing their reloading benches of items they'll never likely use again! But, for me at least, never is a loooooong time, and who knows what I'll ever reload in the future!
These Alcan and Winchester cards, and the Alcan overpowder gas seals are all 12 gauge, so in reality, I'll probably never use them as my current intention is to finish out with the 16 ga.
Call it nostalgia from my youth, contrarianism (is that a word?) or whatever you'd like, but that is my plan for the moment.
Now, truth be told, I've never reloaded shells by building up a wad column by traditional means such as this, but all the components are still available from various sources, such as Circle Fly. In all likelihood, I'll continue to bow to modern convention and worship at the altar of modern chemistry by using plastic wads.. But, that one iota of doubt never leaves my mind, and so I continue to stockpile...

For the sake of your marriage and sanity.. do not ever expose yourselves to this dreaded disease!

Click the pic to enlarge...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Beware the Ides of March

Another warning handed down from the Roman calendar.
The ides are closely related to the prevalent science of the day, Astrology and the teachings of Ptolemeus... All very mystical and magical.
In modern times, we know that the teachings of Ptolemy, Plato and Pythagorus were in many ways incorrect, but forebodings of evel and darkness often tend to transcend pragmatism and knowledge..
So, heed the ancient soothsayer's warning to Julius Caesar, and "Beware the Ides of March"...

I know I will.. particularly after passing yet another Friday the 13th unscathed..


Friday, March 13, 2009


I spent a good deal of time last evening reading A Piece of the Purest Challenge, one of the blogs that I tend to check in on every day, about the latest one of the Irish Red Setters to be inducted into the HOF..
It made me think of other dogs in one of the various Halls, dogs that almost made it, and dogs that were never even on the radar screen, for any number of reasons.
I'm struck by the deep felt emotion, to a man (or woman), that their owners and handlers have felt for these dogs.. Emotions often so keenly felt, that even years after the subjects passing, can evoke a teary response. And that's exceedingly good to see!
I've never owned a HOFamer, or even a prospective one, and I doubt I ever will, but I have felt no less proud or emotional in thinking back on any of the dogs that have passed through these portals..in both directions.. The great ones, the not so great ones, and even the ones that never panned out to be even close to what their pedigree promised. They all found a home here, spent an all too short lifetime and all took a little piece of my heart when they left. They all receive the opportunity to succeed.. some have grabbed for that brass ring, and some haven't.
Thay all have been, and always be, Champions in my memories, and in my heart...

Something drives us to press on in our search of that perfect dog, in spite of the odds, in spite of the hurt upon their passing.. It is said that "Hope Springs Eternal", and that truism is never more keenly felt than in the heart of a bird dog lover...

So, go watch the video clips of the Award Ceremony, and witness the lasting bond that can form between a very special dog and an equally special man..
We're all there...

And, enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's in the books

The NRSFTC Championship and Futurity is over and in the record books.. For a small glimpse, and to see some nice birdwork by some Red dogs, go to A Piece of the Purest Challenge, and watch the video clips from the trial..
Congratulations to all the competitors..

Great stuff!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Order of Edwardian Gunners

or... The Vintagers.

Like many things in my life, I guess I have a Love/Hate relationship with these folks. We've hosted numbers of their shoots at the club, and I've been in close contact with them. I know some members personally, and consider a few friends.
I've taken an awful lot of shots (sometimes cheap ones) at these folks in the past because of the costumes and upscale attitudes.
While I still consider the "dress up" to be a bit over the top, and the fact that they often recoil at dirty Setter paw prints in the back of their detailed Range Rovers, my current foray into the esoteric world of the Side-by-Side shotgun has softened my judgemental attitude toward these folks to a degree. I'm still a ways off from procuring my first hammergun, so I won't be a member anytime soon (I also lack the financial "wherewithall"), but, the ice is melting. Further, they do put on, by all accounts, a helluva show every year, with doubleguns, books, and accoutrements of all kinds. Just be sure to buy the little woman a Victorian dress if you plan to attend!
While it's undeniable that the Vintagers lean a bit toward the "artsy-fartsy" side, and all that entails (you fill in the blanks), my age is creeping up and I'm mellowing... Besides, they're just like the rest of us, to a degree only moreso, aren't they? So, why not give the benefit of the doubt in the name of inclusiveness...

So, please consider this my peace offering to "The Order of Edwardian Gunners", and while I haven't placed my order for breeks and brogues just yet, I'll applaud their efforts of bring classic side by's out of the oak cabinets and into the fields where they belong...

So, please peruse the Vintagers website, and form your own opinions. Pay particular attention to the area "What to Wear", as it will offer some tips on how to dress for a shoot, and where to find appropriate "togs".. I must admit that the ladies look rather "appealing" in their oh so prim and proper Victorian garb.. I better sign off now before my much too fertile imagination runs away with itself....


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Dog with Wheels...

or a Boot Polisher... What's for you?

I've always contended that a dog that can, and will reach out far beyond gun range will produce more gunnable birds.. Provide of course that the dog is solid. Grouse will not always allow themselves to be pinned for any reasonable amount of time by a Pointing Dog, but I'll only shoot over properly handled birds, so for me at least, the prospect of shooting at birds flushed, for whatever reason is a moot point (no pun intended). I'm also not a subsistence hunter, so when I absolutely need to put a bird on the table, there's always the nearest grocery store on the trip home.
I like a thrilling dog with a lot of range, and a lot of run. In the old days, it took some serious stomach to run a dog of this type in the big woods... Out of bell, and even beeper range! There's no reeling the dog in by any artificial means. We have to believe in the dog, and when our charge doesn't check in, make haste to hopefully find the dog on point.. That was then, this is now... The Astro has changed the rules, and it has certainly taken some of that sick feeling in the pit of one's stomach when a dog goes missing on an extended cast.. They always manage to show up don't they? After providing a good dose of agita and sometimes a ride home in the dark.
In any case, to me it stands to reason that a big running dog is bound to produce more action than a dog that stays within gun range.. But, everything is a trade-off, and I wonder how much longer I'll be able to keep up with the dogs that can really motor.. The qualities that keep me comin' back for more though, is the hair standin' up on the back of my neck as I spot that blur passing in front eatin' up ground like there's no tomorrow..
It's an addiction... albeit one that at times can take a toll on our psyche..

Monday, March 9, 2009

An inscription

..... on a dog's grave marker.

No cold philosophy, no cynic sneer,
Checks the unhidden and honest tear,
What little difference, and how short the span,
Betwixt thy instinct and the mind of man.

Unknown Poet

May I someday honor my friends that have gone on before so graciously..

Thought for a Monday morning...

Friday, March 6, 2009

A warm welcome

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find a comment from my old friend Rick,
also known as Greyphase, whom I see has carved out his own little piece of Bloggerland.. I feel humbled to have a guy such as Rick reading our meager efforts, and I'm encouraged to see so many folks starting their own blogs so we can all keep up with each other, and pass along information from one to another.
So, please join me in wishing Rick a warm welcome, and be sure to check out his blog... Allegheny Mountain Wanderings.

It looks great Rick, we'll be checking in often!

What's New in Reloaderland?

To further our discussion of reloading the sixteen, and try to get back on the topic of reloading (I'd much prefer to talk dogs), there is news of new components... Particularly on the wad scene.
Downrange is in the process of producing their first run of the long awaited 3/4 to 7/8 ounce wad, which I believe was, at least in part, privately funded.. Pieces are in production as we speak, so I hope to be shooting some this summer.
Claybuster has also introduced a WWAA-16 clone, and this also is a welcome addition to the 16 ga. reloader's bag of tricks. I've always been somewhat dissatisfied with the Gualandi wads offered by Ballistic Products and Precision Reloading, because the shotcups are short for their intended payload, leaving some shot to scrub the bore. Now, this can be good or not so good, depending on one's point of view, but I'd much rather attempt to control my patterns by other means than intentionally deforming shot.
On another bright note, the rumor mill reports that a new 16 ga. hull is in the works.. Wouldn't that be good news to reloaders that have had to deal with promotional quality junk and call it good? With hulls that reload well only once or twice, particularly in cold weather..
There's much to look forward to on the horizon for gunners with the "Queen of the Uplands"... I just hope I'm around long enough to see it all!

When I have some 3/4 ounce loads whipped up with the new wads, and get a chance to break some targets with 'em, I'll be back to report..
Till then, keep the faith, baby!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In Pursuit....

Today, our thoughts go out to our friends at Conneaut Creek Kennels, who are competing in the National Red Setter Field Trial Club's National Championship and Futurity, being run today the 5th, through Sunday, March 8th at the Central Kentucky WMA in Berea, Kentucky.
These folks put their hearts and souls into their Red Setters, and I would like to wish them the best in their efforts in their quest for the Purest Challenge in Sportsdom..

Good luck to the good folks from Conneaut Creek Kennels, and all the breeders and handlers of the NRSFTC at this important event..

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Dangerous Mix

I usually don't get into these subjects, but this year, New York has already seen 13 fatalities on snow machines. Although thats down from the 26 in 2007-2008, the number is still too high..
A visit to The Adirondack Almanac will partially explain why. Watch all the clips, and see what's wrong..

The mix of youthful exhuberance, alcohol and copious amounts of horsepower can produce a dangerous and wicked cocktail... not to mention clouds of blue smoke from 2 cycle engines that hang over the beautiful Adirondacks...

Nuff said...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

An Essential Part of being a 16 gauge Fanatic

And that part is being a reloader!

I've been reloading as long as I've been seriously shotgunning, which is only about 35 years, since there was no one in the family who shot, other than in world wars at other people, or hunted.. So, I was left without mentors. But the Sporting Life ran in my blood as a young boy. Some of my early recollections were sitting in the back seat of a car and passing an uncut field in Fall, daydreaming of following a Setter through the tall grass, gun in hand. Even then, it was in my blood...
Now, back to the subject at hand.. It is my firm, considered belief that to realize the most from the nearly forgotten Sixteen, one must also be a reloader. Sixteen gauge shooters have never had the luxury of wading through the wealth of offerings available to the devotees of the Twelve and Twenty. A few basic loads, in generally antiquated hulls assembled with promotional quality components is generally the norm. How to improve on this dearth of choices? Reload!!
I've got a couple of large bins full of Federal Purples... de rigeur in reloadability and "upland chic" with the uncommon purple hue, just begging to be stuffed with powder and shot, and slid into the waiting tubes of a nice new SxS... and their day is rapidly approaching!
Any 16 ga. reloader worth his salt also needs to belong to Russ Gray's 16 gauge Low Pressure Reloading Group.. It cost me an astounding $15 to join this group years back, and it was probably the best money I ever spent! Today, I believe the freight is twenty bucks.. An incredibly small price to pay for the almost limitless reloading data that is so hard to come by for the Sixteen.
Truth be told, if given my druthers, I'd buy all my ammo at this stage of my career.. I've spent many hours pulling the handles of reloading machines to keep myself supplied with ammo. Certainly not as much in recent years, but all those years, often toiling on a single stage machine before obtaining progressives, served to wear off the novelty of "rolling my own".. But, the Sixteen is a whole different "ball o' wax" and to satisfy my yen for unique and different loads, my only option is "pullin' the handle" once again!
I'll admit that my frugality also plays a role.. I'm not cheap... Just "thrifty!"

I've got some loads planned that should be pretty sweet to feed the "Queen of The Uplands" this coming season...

More coming soon...After the RBL-16's grand arrival and some shooting...

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Bumpersticker for Our Times.

I hate bumperstickers, and always have!

This one though, might just be enough to push me over the edge if I ever actually saw one.. Better throw some Valium into the glovebox!

Thanks to Maggies Farm for the inspiration..