Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The management and entire staff of The Bombshell, would like to wish all of it's readers a Safe and Happy New Year..
I'm sure we're all looking forward to a much better 2009...

Happy New Year to all!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pete Grannis acts as predicted

Some of the two or three regular readers here may remember my rant about New York City political hack, Pete Grannis being named as head of New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation, and what an incongruous appointment that was by then governor Eliot Spitzer, who later succumbed to his own problems with hubris.
Mr. Grannis is no more grounded in Sportsmen's issues than I am with New York City politics, and therein lies the rub.
Mr. Grannis and our current poor excuse for a governor, David Paterson, have found it useful, with encouragement from the Humane Society of the US, to eliminate the pheasant stocking program in NY, that has been in existence since 1927.
I wonder if either of these two gentlemen ever gave any thought to the fact that this is the only opportunity for some sportsmen in the State of New York to experience any type of hunting experience at all! Or if they even care??
Was any thought given to the impact that this will have on license sales?? Or the local economies of destinations for sportsmen with little access??
And, is this the same David Paterson that pushed for many years for legislation that would allow our Police to be prosecuted if it was deemed that they did not "shoot to wound" instead of shoot to stop??
It seems obvious to me that governor Paterson has a much better grasp on the women he keeps on the side that the realities of being governor...

Here is a link for those that would like to read of the decision by the "Unholy Alliance", and their ties to the HSUS...

As for myself... I'll retire to bedlam....

Confucius say...

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
Applies to workin' dogs... as well as all aspects of life...

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the last hunt...

Yesterday was spent at the club as a scheduled work day. And old friend stopped in to pass some time and share some stories.
He's an old time birddog man, having trialed Britts years ago. In recent years, he just hunts his 13 year old Britt, and a young English Pointer that he's bringing along.. He was confiding in me that his old Britt was not feeling well... drinking alot of water and urinating frequently... He also said that she'd recently gone off her feed. I recognized the symptoms, and had a feeling that the future did not look bright for this old warrior that still had it in her to point a bird, maybe her last, that very day!
A call later that day in search of the owner with news of the blood work confirmed my suspicions..
It's always a sad day when someone is losing an old friend that they've pounded so many miles with in search of their quarry... For them, and for myself also, as memories flood back from the times I've been in that very position. Knowing it was time to release an old friend, but not wanting to start the painful process of going it alone without the old dog that meant so much, and only a short decade earlier had shown so much promise as a gangly puppy.
It was always my opinion that God, for whatever reason, played a cruel trick upon mankind by giving the man a lifespan of seventy or so years, and his truest companion only ten. Perhaps punishment for original sin?
But, I recently read an interesting observation by Bill Tarrant on this very subject, and it gave me a new insight into one of a birddog man's most crushing blows...
Tarrant expressed his idea that the reason dogs live only a single decade as opposed to our seventy to eighty years is that if a dog lived near as long as a human, the pain of his loss would be too much for us to bear.
That's an interesting concept, and one that could help some folks through their loss.

Following is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, that comes awfully close to explaining my thoughts today...

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--

Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find--it's your own affair--'ve given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);

When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,

You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long--

So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Welsh Christmas

While the following traditions were never practiced in our house, it's surprising that due to the tremendous resurgence of Welsh Nationalism, the some of the old ways are coming back into favor..
Wales is an ancient land, and some of these traditional practices predate Christianity, but I thought they might be of some interest...

Click here for Welsh Christmas traditions..

A Merry Christmas to all..

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

At this time, we'd like to wish all of our regular readers, and the folks that stumble upon us, a very Merry Christmas..
Enjoy your family and friends, and of course the dogs that share your homes.
And let us not forget the true meaning of Christmas, and teach it to our little ones lest they think it's all about the toys..

Merry Christmas to all...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008



Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.
- "The Lowest Animal"

Mark Twain

Ain't it the truth...

Monday, December 22, 2008

The call of one's home

At this time of year, the call of my birthplace, which will always be my home, sounds deeply in my heart. The house I was born in still stands, as it probably will for centuries. There is now central heating, and all the comforts of a modern home, but there is also the past. The spirits of my ancestors, some recently departed and some long gone, still call me home, and I'm feeling the need to see my homeland once again, before I retire myself.
On my last trip, I slept in the very bedroom where life started for me, and that can be quite a cosmic experience. My cousin is now in the house by himself. He never married, and I'm sure is quite lonely, having retired a few years ago. But he had a simple life that I envy greatly. Delivering the post to outlying areas without electric or modern conveniences.. stopping to open farmer's gates, and close them after himself.. interrupting the mornings work to watch wild horses work the moors... stopping to pick wild mushrooms for Sunday lamb.. An idyllic existance after giving up the Sea and signing onto tramp steamers in hopes of seeing the world as a young man. And see the world he did... sometimes more than he bargained for, but such is the life of a young man from an ancient seafaring town..

Click here for a little view of my smalltown home, Fishguard, Wales..

Sunday, December 21, 2008

December 21

Also known as Midwinter's Day, or Yule...

'Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.'
Yule Lore

From Celtic tradition.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

FT vs. Hunting

paraphrased from an editorial in Field Trial Magazine...

The argument against hunting trial dogs usually revolves around the fact that when the attention turns to shooting, and the birds start falling out of the sky, dogs can, and often do, become un-broke quite fast. This phenomenon has happened to many field trial dogs that have never had a bird shot over them, and this includes dogs that were campaigned in the woods on wild birds. Some people claim to have outgrown the desire to kill birds and are practicing the bird dog equivalent of catch and release. Others argue that they don't want their dogs to think about the fact that there may be a dead bird to find.

So, once again we see the differences between the trial dog and the hunting dog.. "Broke" is a relative term, and can mean many different things to many different people. The dog isn't born broke, and doesn't stay broke without the constant attention of the handler... There are just too many distractions out there..

Food for thought...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gun fitting pitfalls

For those that would like to read the absolute ultimate treatise on gunfitting that I have ever read anywhere, scoot on over to the Cold Duck blog and read Michaels thoughts on professional fitting with a "try gun"..
He pulls no punches, and tells the tale egg-zactly how it is.. The good, the bad, and the ugly... And, it's all true!

This is what the stockfitters and hook and bullet magazines don't tell you!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Instruction on Living

from The Lakota..


Lakota Instructions for Living

Friend do it this way - that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.

And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.

When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.

If you do it that way - that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One - whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going To Be.

passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman

Enjoy the weekend...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Red Dawgs in action!

For some pictures that will raise the hair on the back of your neck, check out our friends at "A Piece of the Purest Challenge" and see what these Red Setters can do..

Beauty is as beauty does!!


pictured is King Cormac, from Conneaut Creek Kennels

Oprah weighs 200 pounds!!

Must have been a helluva lot of celebrating after successfully buying the Presidency of the United States..
Proof, once again that truth is stranger than fiction!

Oprah Winfrey says she weighs 200 pounds
CHICAGO, Tue Dec 09, 11:27 AM

When it comes to her weight, Oprah Winfrey has always been straightforward. The talk show queen continues the honesty, saying in the January issue of "O" magazine out Tuesday that she now weighs 200 pounds and has "fallen off the wagon" when it comes to healthy living.

"I'm mad at myself," Winfrey writes in an article provided early to The Associated Press by Harpo Productions.

"I'm embarrassed," she writes. "I can't believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I'm still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?'"

In the piece, Winfrey, 54, details her recent struggles with an out-of-balance thyroid and how the condition made her develop "a fear of working out." She says she's added 40 pounds to her frame since she weighed 160 pounds in 2006.

"Yes, you're adding correctly; that means the dreaded 2-0-0," Winfrey writes. "I was so frustrated I started eating whatever I wanted — and that's never good."

Winfrey also writes that her goal is no longer to be thin; instead, she wants to be strong, healthy and fit. She hopes to get started with her upcoming "Best Life Week," starting Jan. 5 with an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" during which she is expected to talk candidly about her weight.

Winfrey, who is chairman of Harpo Inc., famously wheeled a wagon loaded with fat onto the set of her talk show in 1988 to represent a 67-pound weight loss while wearing a pair of size 10 Calvin Klein jeans. She had lost the pounds with a liquid protein diet.

"I had literally starved myself for four months — not a morsel of food," Winfrey recalled in 2005. "Two hours after that show, I started eating to celebrate — of course, within two days those jeans no longer fit!"

Winfrey's weight has yo-yoed to the delight of the tabloid press ever since. She weighed as many as 237 pounds and by late 1990 acknowledged she had regained most of the 67 pounds, saying "I'll never diet again."

In 1994, she finished the Marine Corps Marathon and by 1996 hired personal trainer Bob Greene, saying her roller-coaster weight saga was over.

But now, 20 years since the Calvin Klein jeans episode, Winfrey finds herself tipping the scales again, telling AP Television last week that she has yet to choose a gown for President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural ball next month.

"I had a dress on the vision board, but I'm not sure that's gonna fit," Winfrey said. "So I have to work on something else."

In the latest "O" magazine article, Winfrey writes that she hit rock bottom when she wanted to skip out on an April 26 taping with Cher and Tina Turner in Las Vegas.

"I felt like a fat cow," Winfrey writes. "I wanted to disappear."

Winfrey's weight and height put her body mass index at 31.8, which is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says people who are obese are "at higher risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol."

It seems Winfrey is aware of the health risks, inviting both Greene and Dr. Mehmet Oz to her show during the first week of January, along with spirituality experts, sex therapists and financial expert Suze Orman.

Winfrey also is expected to discuss her weight on her XM satellite radio station's "The Gayle King Show" on Jan. 5 and will host interactive live Web casts at the week of Jan. 12 to 16 every night at 9 p.m. EST.

Winfrey, an admitted food addict, sounds almost apologetic in her article.

"I definitely wasn't setting an example," she writes. "I was talking the talk, but I wasn't walking the walk. And that was very disappointing to me."


And so it goes in the Land of Oz....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Things were different...

But it is true that things were different when I was a boy, and the Old Man represented the irretrievable mystery of yesteryear. I do not suppose that I would get very far in interesting today's crop of nippers in what to me was high sport and great fun some thirty to thirty-five years a-past. It was altogether too simple then for this age of television and ballet in the circus. Progress, like nearly everything else, is relative, and I often wonder if it's benefits are entirely undiluted.

From "When I was a Boy" by Robert Ruark

Robert Ruark was kind of a "common man's Hemingway," and they had much in common...

One ended his life with a gun, the other with a bottle...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Voice...

For those that have ever seen Celtic Woman perform, and I know that at least one of our esteemed readers has, you will know that The Voice is sung by Lisa Kelly.

I don't know if I'll make it to heaven when my time comes, I suppose that is still in doubt. But, If I am lucky enough to be allowed entry to where my dogs will surely be waiting, I'm sure that many of the angels will have the voice and face of the incomparable Lisa Kelly!

It may be due to the fact of my Celtic heritage, but Lisa's voice touches me in the deepest places of my soul..

We all have our dreams....

Hear Lisa sing "The Voice" here...

Hear Lisa sing "Caledonia" here..

Monday, December 8, 2008

A new widget..

We've added a playlist near the top of the sidebar.

A great listen is at the very top.. Caledonia performed by Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman, who will be the headliner tomorrow..

Give it a try.. And give me some feedback on how you like it, what additions I should make, etc....

A Tale of Two Jacks

This is Gus on the left, and Jackie on the right... Gus the male, and Jackie the female. They're pictured here, in the converted golf cart which is used for chores around the barn, and sports two steel stanchions for roading about six dogs at a time.. An all 'round vehicle!
As can be seen, they love to ride the cart with me when I'm getting hay, or dumping manure, as seen here. These two JRT's live at the barn where birddog folks come to work dogs, or generally shoot the breeze while caring for the horses. Their job is to keep the ever present vermin under control, and they're experts at their work!
Gus also has the job of telling when one of the female trial dogs is coming into heat.. He knows days before a Vet can ascertain!
Gus has a bit of the wanderlust in him.. He'll gladly jump into anyone's car. About a year back, in a rainstorm, Gus dug his way out and got on the main road.. An old gent stopped, and when he opened his door, Gus jumped in.. He was gone for days. The local pound eventually got a call.. Gusie's owner's went to retrieve him, and the old gent, without dog food, had been feeding Gus deli sliced balogna, and letting him sleep on the bed.. Not bad for an old ratter!!
Jackie though, was not pleased when Gus returned home from his multi-day bender with the smell of balogna on his breath..
They're both getting on in years, and remind me of an old married couple.. a stay at home Mom, with a sometimes wayward husband..
The replacements have already arrived, to allow these two old timers to have their place in the sun, but no two dogs can ever replace Jackie and Gus..
God only knows how much longer they have left... Gus has a bad hip (another funny story) and he runs like a fiddler crab, coughs in the morning, but he still gets the job done...

I'll never forget these two... They've touched my heart in strange ways...

There are many funny stories about Gus, and I'll touch on more in the future.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A new place in bloggerland..

And it belongs to my friend Alpha Setter..

He's got a great way with birddogs, and I know his new blog is goint to be a great success, have a lot of insight into a dog's head and have some emotional passages about the love between a dogman and his charge.

So, check out the new blog, Alpha Setter & The Upland Learning Curve.. Bookmark it, add the link to your blogroll and check in often for a truly unique perspective on the relationship that can exist between Man and Dog...

A Dog's Prayer

Treat me kindly, my beloved master, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I should lick your hand between the blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me do.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

When it's cold and wet, please take me inside - for I am now a domesticated animal, no longer used to bitter elements - and I ask no greater glory than the privelege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth - though had you no home, I would rather follow you through ice and snow than rest upon the softest pillow in the warmest home in all the land - for you are my god - and I am your devoted worshipper.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for although I should not reproach you were it dry, I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food, that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side, and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, beloved master, should the Great Master see fit to deprive me of my health or sight, do not turn me away from you. Rather hold me gently in your arms as skilled hands grant me the merciful boon of eternal rest.... and I will leave you knowing with the last breath I drew, my fate was ever safest in your hands.

by Beth Norman Harris

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Today's quote

Today's thoughtful quote to ponder...

“The difference between mere killing and a glorious sport is the manner in which you do it – over thrilling dogs, in magnificent country and with a near-reverence for the game."

George Bird Evans

Shotgun truisms

For the most honest assessment of shotgun marketing that I've read in a long, long time, go to the Cold Duck blog and read what my friend Michael has to say concerning the attributes we all think we need in our quest for Shotgunning Nirvana..

I think we'll all look in our shotgun cabinets rather sheepishly...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Information and Disinformation on e-collars

I've come almost full circle on e-collar usage..

E-collars, in the old days, were punishing tools. Their most effective usage was for "trashbreaking", or running unwanted game, and for that job they were very effective, because that is the area where high levels of stimulation are necessary. And that is where the first generations of e-collars delivered. The originals were non-adjustable.. just prodigious doses of electric delivered to the dog's neck..
Later, collars were available with interchangeable "chips" that could vary the stimulation sent to the collar. Still imperfect, as the handler could still only work within the range of the chip inserted in the collar.
Modern e-collars overcome all the shortcomings of the early designs by providing a means of altering the range of stimulation at the transmitter.
This makes the e-collar a highly effectivev tool for enforcing known commands.
I started with checkcords... also an imperfect too because of all the violent jerking involved. An improperly used checkcord can turn a dog off to trainiong almost to the degree that an improperly used e-collar can!
Once the e-collars improved, I moved to the electronics for more than just running off game.. I was happy for a time, but I still found the e-collar to be an imperfect tool, at least to my mind, for working around birds.. An unintended stimulation, or a mistake in applying it, can cause setbacks..
So, I'm back to the checkcord for foundation work, and apply the e-collar for finishing touches.. Low levels of stimulation are all that is needed here.. And I wopuld not apply anything to my dogs without testing it out first on myself..
The lowest levels are not even perceptible to me, so I have no qualms about applying it for corrections to the dog..

Obviously, not everyone feels the way I do, and there is much disinformation and misunderstanding concerning e-collars and their proper use.. To raise sentiment, most literature that takes issue with their use still refer to the tools as "shock collars".. This is usually a tipoff that the imformation is decidedly biased..

This is an example of an article that is totally wrong in it's information and it's intent.

Give it a read and post comments as you give it some thought..

For an appropriate use of an e-collar... look here...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


An excerpt from the Essay "Counterpoint: Further Thoughts on Pointing by a Cynic" by Ryan Frame..

It is an accepted fact that the old time trainers allowed pups to chase to their hearts’ content, knowing that they would some day be convinced that they could not catch and then would hold their points. You could put it the way Charley Babcock put it: “… giving the puppy a good time with plenty of opportunities on game with no cares or worries for the dog or for me, yet asking him that question daily, and some fine morning when the weather’s cool, the dew upon the grass, the dog bending every energy to find his game, he will answer and I’ll know he’s telling the truth. As plainly as human speech could tell it, I’ll know that he has sowed his wild oats, shed his puppy ways and is ready for his mission in life.” Or you could cut through that poetic , foo-foo crap and describe it as it really is: That in the pup’s mind, his mission in life is to chase and catch birds and that, some fine morning, when the dew is on the grass, he will finally realize that he is a complete failure at it, will lapse into indecisiveness and self doubt as a result, and will thus stop, and do nothing, which will thereafter be his mission in life.


It's a pity we don't have the bird numbers to naturally train a dog today.. To allow the dog to figure out what works and what doesn't on his (or her) own!
Pigeons are in reality, an imperfect substitute. After all, the pup's lifetime will decidedly not be spent in pursuit of the lowly pigeon. But, the pigeon carries one important attribute for Pointing dogs, and we've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating..
When we make a mistake in training, as we invariably do, that mistake was made on pigeon scent, and not that of a gamebird! And I've never seen the consequences carry over..

Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Been dead ever since"

Those who know me are aware that Noah John Rondeau, The Hermit Of Cold River, has been a long time hero of mine. Some may see Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men, as a hero, but I'll stick with those that are rich in more spiritual ways..
It's Sunday, and the weather outside is unfit for man or beast, so I thought it might be a good day for a good read..
This comparison of two unlikely compatriots, might fill the bill...

From the writings of The Airondack Museum...

Noah John Rondeau..

Enjoy a relaxing Sunday..

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Science rethinking Science

I'm big on animal intelligence..
Maybe I'm from the Walt Disney generation, but I do believe that animals, and dogs in particular, possess far more cognition the they have been given credit for.. And the scientific world is apparently, beginning to agree...

Dog lovers have long touted the intelligence of man’s best friend and are sometimes accused of anthropomorphism. However, in recent years, science has made some exciting discoveries concerning canine cognitive abilities.

Dogs Apply Earlier Learning to Different Situations
In a study at the University of Vienna in Austria, dogs used touch screen computers to show that they could categorize photographs. They were trained with treats to select a dog picture over a landscape picture. When they were shown a different set of dog and landscape pictures, they continued to select the dog pictures, demonstrating that they could apply earlier learning to a different situation. Researchers tested further by presenting the dogs with contradictory information to see if they were capable of forming concepts. When shown pictures of an empty landscape and a landscape with a dog, they continued to select the picture with the dog.

Dogs Selectively Imitate
A Border Collie named Guinness has been able to identify different landscapes, different faces and even different dog breeds. She, like most of the dogs tested at the Clever Dog Lab, seemed to enjoy watching the monitor. Guinness was also taught to open a food dispenser by pushing a handle with her paw. Dogs will instinctively use their nose for most situations like this but when other dogs observed Guinness using her paw, they also used their paw, indicating that they figured there must be an advantage to this method. However, when they observed Guinness with a ball in her mouth and using her paw, they usually used their nose, indicating that they figured the ball in her mouth was the reason she used her paw. They did not simply imitate her actions but selectively chose to imitate when it seemed appropriate.

Dogs Use Logic in Learning New Words
Another Border Collie named Rico was able to identify more than 200 toys. Researchers then placed a new toy among seven familiar toys and, using a word Rico had never heard before, ask him to fetch the new toy. Seventy percent of the time, Rico fetched the correct toy, indicating that he understood that the new word must mean the new toy.

Dogs Understand Human Expressions
In other studies, dogs as young as six weeks showed amazing ability for understanding human expressions such as finger pointing or gazing at certain objects. Juliane Kaminski, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany says, “When it comes to understanding human behavior, no mammal comes even close to the dog.” Perhaps that’s why they came to be known as man’s best friend.

It seems that science is finally catching up to what dog owners have known all along. There really is more going on behind those big, soulful eyes than just sleep, eat, and play. Dogs truly are intelligent animals who use logic, feel emotions, and form strong bonds with humans and other animals.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My wife just called from work..

The little Gordon came back negative for Lyme.. Maybe just pulled a muscle, as she's a strong runner..

Good news for us!

Holly on the farm

We'll be kicked off the farm between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the farmer tries to maximize profits by offering hay rides on a cart being pulled by the tractor, with hot cider afterwards. All the folks from NYC come out with the kiddies to cut a Christmas tree and get a taste of the country.
Obviously, shotgun blasts and birds dropping out of the air would offend their sensebilities, not to mention the landowner's pocketbook when the irate cityfolk never return with the kiddies.. I don't blame him, he needs to maximize profits from every acre he tills, and leaves alone.
There is alot of pressure for acreage down here..
There are RC airplane flyers..
Bowhunting groups who like to shoot targets during the summer...
The local hunt club, ride to the hounds and foxes dontcha know, in full regalia, and trample everyone's property, leased or not..
ATV riders, another group that tramples the rights of others...

The list goes on and on, so we're lucky to have a place to stretch our legs, in spite of some restrictions.
I've got a few other places to duck into in the meantime, but there's more pressure..

Once deer season closes in the Adirondacks, we'll be hittin' the birds up there... provided the creek don't rise and there's not too much snow on the ground.
This season we might just get lucky...

Happy Thanksgiving to all...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More bad news..

Hunted the black dog yesterday.. She came up lame on one foreleg also..
She's a little better this morning, but we suspect Lyme disease again.
We'll draw some blood tonight, and have it tested tomorrow...

We're hoping for the best..

It's tough to be fighting this all the time, and the tick situation out here is only getting worse!

More news to come..

Monday, November 24, 2008

Irony at it's finest!

This news just in about the greatest Pop group the world has ever known... and from a most unlikely source...

Vatican: Beatles music better than today's songs
VATICAN CITY, Sun Nov 23, 10:43 AM

Vatican media are praising the Beatles' musical legacy and sounding philosophical about John Lennon's boast that the British band was more popular than Jesus.

Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano recalls that Lennon's comment outraged many when he made it in 1966.

But it says in its Saturday edition that the remark can be written off now as the bragging of a young man wrestling with unexpected success.

The newspaper as well as Vatican Radio last week noted the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' "White Album."

It said the album demonstrated how creative the Beatles were, compared with what it called the "standardized, stereotypical" songs being produced today.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More on the 16

Suspicions Confirmed: The Summer, 2007 issue of The Upland Almanac has a one-page article by Terry M. Boyer entitled "Do We Still Need the 20 Gauge?" that is well worth your attention. The 16 gauge is his favorite because, as he says:

I have counted numerous patterns of one-ounce loads of different shot sizes out of different chokes in the 12, 16 and 20 gauge. The 16 gauge will consistently have a more equal distribution of pellets and a rounder area of impact than a 12 gauge. Twenty-gauge patterns are often elliptical, erratic and spotty."

I suspect his observations will confirm what a lot of readers on this web page already knew. But it's nice to have our experience confirmed once again.

A Native American saying to ponder

It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.


Think about it...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The genius of John Olin

Lord knows I love to swim against the tide, and do things just a little bit different from everyone else, and that's why I considered having the RBL reverse choked, as John Olin of Winchester fame espoused, and put into practice with some Model 21 Skeet guns.
John Olin was a thoughtful man, and he reasoned that for a right-handed shooter, the left barrel on an SxS sould be fired first and carry the more open choke. I carry no engineering degrees, or any other kind for that matter, but common sense tells me that this is correct. The left barrel should recoil more in a straight line than the left, giving an easier task of lining up a bird, feathered or clay, for the second barrel..
I like the idea, and almost proceeded that way when I had the chokes of the SKB 280 opened by Briley.. But, triggers are often set with a slightly lighter pull on the first barrel as a means to prevent doubling... So, while I might have given this worthy idea a try with the SKB, I have no intention of upsetting the applecart with the RBL by requesting a modification that no one else will be asking for or even consider...
Sometimes good ideas are still good ideas, but better left alone..

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From my youth...

Turn up your speakers for an old time favorite! Click here

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lyme strikes the pack

Sandy, the smallish English Setter, has been coming up lame after extensive runs, and lately, after less than extensive runs.
We started thinking Lyme disease, and had her checked out this past Saturday.. Sure enough, the snap test showed a positive, so it's three weeks of doxycycline for her before a retest.
The doxy has always managed to knock these infections out after one round of treatment, and sometimes two.
She gets her Frontline every month without fail, but it only takes one tick to pass the spirochete..

We'll know in three weeks if we have been successful in treatment..

More to come...

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The defenition of the word "dichotomy," from Merriam-Webster...

Pronunciation: \dī-ˈkä-tə-mē also də-\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural di·chot·o·mies
Etymology: Greek dichotomia, from dichotomos
Date: 1610
1: a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities ; also : the process or practice of making such a division
2: the phase of the moon or an inferior planet in which half its disk appears illuminated
3 a: bifurcation ; especially : repeated bifurcation (as of a plant's stem) b: a system of branching in which the main axis forks repeatedly into two branches c: branching of an ancestral line into two equal diverging branches
4: something with seemingly contradictory qualities

A little on myself..

I don't know if I consider myself a "true" hunter, or what I perceive that most in society would consider a true hunter...
I won't shoot birds on the ground or limb shoot them... I wouldn't kill a deer through the kitchen window... I don't kill animals that don't "need" killing.. I wonder if that puts me at odds with alot of folks... from both camps..
Same with workin' dogs. I'm familiar with methods from the past, and try my best to keep up to speed on current trends and thinking.. I've found my own methods that work for me... maybe a strange amalgam of both sides. I want a dog that uses it's own mind to hunt, not mine! I want a dog that's broken naturally.. a dog that has learned for itself what works and what doesn't. Not a dog that has been taken off to the side and just been told it's Mama died, upon an infraction.
In short, I want a dog that wants to work for me... Not one that feel's that it has to.

So, as I usually find in life, I'm a bit of an oddball... Walk to the beat of a different drummer.. Or, as the great Winston Churchill would say in trying to describe Mother Russia to the people of his time,

I am a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.....

Friday, November 14, 2008

On aging

Her coat has lost it's sheen, and the years have pulled her skin tighter to her frame. She now looks at me from within dark sockets, and her eyes are aware of things I don't understand.
Whatever they recognize, however, will someday be plain to me, and I too will be caught looking achingly at an old friend I love..
Guy De La Valdene... from Making Game, 1985

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Idle musings

Why do folks always want what they can't have?? And when they do possess it without fully realizing it, they are unhappy anyway??
One of life's conundrums?? Maybe so!

I'm struck by the folks that want dogs that are beyond their experience and expertise. Also the time they have to devote to the dog to become a friend and partner, and an efficient worker in the field.
Why do these folks think that excellence can be bought, without putting in any time or paying their dues? Why do these folks look upon their hunting partner, the one with the nose, and quite often the brains, as a tool? Buy it, send it for training, put it to use. Let it lounge around all week, expect Snakefoot on the weekend!
Some of these folks might already have a nice little dog that possibly didn't come along fast enough for their liking.. Are bionic dogs, little robots on the horizon??
This stuff makes me crazy!

I believe that most sportsmen respect the game they take.
I've been reading up on Native American culture. They took the game they needed... No more, no less, and made use of everything! They respected the game, and gave thanks to the animal and the Great Provider for allowing the animal to offer itself up for the tribe's survival.
What a far cry from the folks that determine the success of the hunt by how heavy the game bag is..
Maybe we were all that way at one time. Maybe it's the impatience of youth..
I guess I just have questions about myriads of game being displayed so carelessly on tailgates, as to show our dominion over the creatures of the earth...
Maybe I'm just gettin' old!

Maybe I'm a relic from a different time... Maybe!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Today's mantra

A man may smile and bid you hail,
Yet wish you to the devil;
But when a good dog wags his tail,
You know he's on the level.~Author Unknown

Ain't it the truth....

Enjoy your day

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gundogs on a budget

Or even if you're not on a budget...

These small bins, this one measures about 8 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 6 inches deep, are available at Wal-Mart, Staples, or any number of places including small stationary stores.

They make a great training aid for holding training birds such as pigeons or quail, for those that do not want to invest in, or do not believe in using electronically controlled spring traps with their dogs.. We call these small bins "Tracy Traps" in reference, and deferance, to the Master trainer George Tracy, of Summerhill Kennels in PA., where these traps were first seen in use.

The box pictured has seen it's share of use and is due for replacement, but all that needs to be added is a string (not necessary) and a brick or rock to hold the box doen over the pigeon (necessary).

These Tracy Traps are also great for planting birds in multiples. Many young dogs think that once one bird is gone, that it's time to move on. The use of another bird in one of these boxes alongside an e-trap, staunches the dog up and make training steady to wing easier, because the dog is forced to assume that another bird could be present. The benefits of this approach can be seen with most dogs virtually immediately... But, one of the greatest attributes is the excellent airflow around the bird, providing a powerful and natural scent cone.

Another benefit is the facts that most trainers believe that a dog cannot be finished without birds coming off the ground. These cheap boxes serve that purpose admirably, as would the more expensive Higgins traps. Further, the trap can be kicked over, as in kicking around under the dog's point as in flushing a bird, or tipped slowly, allowing the pigeon to walk out under the dog's nose, providing a real tease!

For the investment, these boxes are certainly worth every penny, and might just help with that dog that needs that last little bit of polish...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A little offbeat...

I like to think that I have an open mind. My beliefs in the afterlife, the supernatural and the occult probably confirm that.
A recent article in my second hometown newspaper, The Hamilton County News, does not therefore, strike me as anything unusual. The article reports on a haunted house in Blue Mountain Lake, the next town north in the township of Indian Lake, NY.
The house is apparently so well known, that ghost hunter David Pitkin heard about it and wrote the story in volume one of his "Ghosts of New York State." The story is called "Hanging Around."
There are at least two ghosts reported in the house. The son, William Wheelock, hung himself in an upstairs hallway from a trapdoor to the attic. His mother Louisa discovered his body. She died less than a month later, reportedly of a broken heart.
Family members claim to have seen and heard both ghosts over the years..
Now for the strangest part of the entire story... If the owners ever wish to sell the property, the owners must disclose that they own a haunted dwelling.
Seems to me to be official acknowledgement of the supernatural!

Fortunately, the residents do not wish to sell at this time.

The house was built in the mid 1800s and the family believes that it is an important historical site, since some of the house was the annex of the former Holland Hotel built in 1857.. Henry Wheelock bought the annex and moved it to it's present location around the 1880s.

A haunted location is important in the sale of real property. In New York State, a seller must disclose to a potential buyer if a proposed property has a stigma of being haunted. That includes a murder, suicide or even stubborn ancestors that won't leave their prior home.

The precedent for this is called the Nyack Case of the 1990s. The New York Court of Appeals, 4th District voted 3-2 that a seller must disclose a haunted house.

In this case, the seller had to reimburse the downpayment back to the proposed buyer, who decided not to buy the property after discovering it was haunted.

In these days of tight real estate markets though, some folks are capitalizing on their haunted abodes. There are websites devoted to the buying and selling of haunted properties, such as and Ghosts and Stories. com.

So, those cold spots, slamming doors, and full bodied apparitions could add to a selling price...

Or, maybe not!

Thanks to the Hamilton County News...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More on the 16

I'm in the process of getting the 16 ga. reloader going in anticipation on the RBL's arrival... A little premature, I know, but I'm excited!
I noticed that Graf & Sons has 16 ga. primed paper hulls on their website. I love the smell of freshly fired paper hulls... it adds to the upland experience, and takes one back to a simpler time.
BUT, at $19 per hundred, or even $90 for five hundred, I'll stick with the aroma of semi-cooked plastic. That's 20 cent's per hull no matter how you slice it... While it's true that I was born at night, it wasn't last night!
I've got a bin full of Federal purples, some old RST's, and some black Remingtons. That will keep the 16 ga. press fed for quite some time!

I wonder why being retro is so expensive??

Have a great weekend, everyone....

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's funny how such an esoteric thing such as nostalgia can influence our thoughts and decisions for a lifetime.

My purchase of the 16 ga. RBL is a case in point.

I didn't come from a hunting or even gun owning family, so I had no mentors to lead me to these pursuits as a young man.

But, I vividly remember finding a shotgun shell in the woods behind the house as a boy of about eight years old. The older guys used to hunt back there, whe there was still lots of land available and game was more plentiful.

That empty hull I picked up was stamped 16 gauge, and I can still see that empty in my mind's eye. It must have made an impression on me. I guess that young boys are impressionable, and these seemingly insignifigant occurances can shape one's future.

I confess to being somewhat of a contrarian, and finding value in the obsolete and things that have seen their day and fallen out of favor. I must admit that that is also part of the allure for me, not to mention the fact that I just consider the 16 ga. to be just about perfection. Perfectly positioned between the 12, which is often too much, and the twenty, which I sometimes find to be too little. Besides, those purple sixteen gauge hulls are just too purty!

"The Queen of the Uplands", as the Sixteen came to be known, fit's my personality, and my gunning plans just about perfectly... Won't come across a whole lot of guys in the woods with them... and that's just the way I like it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I went and done it...

Tuesday night, I ordered the new RBL in 16 ga. from Connecticut Shotgun Manufacturing Company.

I ordered a pistol grip stock, splinter forend, single trigger, and the 4X wood upgrade. The chokes of the 29" barrels will be opened to Skeet/ Light Modified at my request..

I wanted to finish out my career with a sixteen, preferrably American made, and it looks like that will happen..

Now, the hard part begins... Waiting! If I didn't place an order, the time would fly, but, once I know it's coming, I'll be countin' the days..

Funny how that works!

Hopefully, I'll have found Upland Nirvana by the time this process is through.. Next summer's clay target forays leading up to next season will tell the tale...

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Sad day for America

The liberal media and Oprah's millions have spoken!

Newspapers and TV shape people's minds in this country, because many times, they just don't think for themselves. Barry O'Bama got a free pass from them.
Obama also committed to campaign with public financing. He turned his back on his committment and accepted Oprah Winfrey's money, along with tons from others. Add to this the unknown numbers of phony voters, such as Mickey Mouse, registered by groups like ACORN, and we have a tainted election at worst, and a purchased election, at best..

I never thought I'd live to see the Presidency of the greatest country on earth decided by money, but it has happened!

And that's the last I'll say on the subject!

Now, let's see where all the promises lead... I, for one, will be looking closely!

And, check out Maggie's Farm for a great little cartoon that about says it all...

P.S. Listen to the song of the day.... "We won't get fooled again"... but we did!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Some days 'ya can't win fer losin'

I had a couple of hours free yesterday, and since the small game season opened here on November 1, I figured to take the Gordon up to the farm to try to scare up a bird. Warm air was moving in, and it was heavily overcast and threatening rain.
Holly pointed her first bird nicely, and I proceeded to whiff with both barrels. This with the 20 ga. SKB that had been so good to me all summer on clay targets! Go figure!! So, once again my love/hate relationship with the twenty gauge rears it's ugly head..
The little Gordon, now running with her mouth fully agape due to the warm humid air, proceeds to bump the next two birds. No need to yell. She knows better, and realizes she screwed up without me pounding it into her head. I did bring her back and stand her up where she knocked the birds however!
To add insult to injury, the last bird of the day tried to screw me into the ground, and I mounted the gun out on what, these days, I laughingly call a bicep. I never do that! I've always prided myself on having a good and consistent gun mount, and I can't even remember the last time I missed my shoulder pocket...
So, it's back to fundamentals.. Wood on Wood! Head down and eye on the target. Forget how good the little gun was to me all season ! Maybe some hard lessons that need to be relearned.. But, the newest savior will be here for next season.. Once again we'll play the endless game of "musical guns."

The season can only get better from here!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Rescue, Rescue, Rescue

A Piece of the purest Challenge has a timely article on gundog rescue, a service that is sorely lacking for gundogs of any Sporting breed.
Sure, the AKC breed clubs usually have a rescue arm dealing with their particular breeds, but these breed clubs are highly show dog oriented, so little help is available for the field ends of the breeds.
Add to the fact that these folks are often difficult to deal with, and help for needy dogs is often hard to come by.

Find a reliable and agenda free rescue organization and contribute time or money, or both. Attempt to find homes for the many gundogs and trial dogs that need them..

The world will be a better place!

A funny little story about launchers

This story, taken from the Foster Award site relates a funny story on early bird launchers and there usage. This is the story as related to Ryan Frame...

The Bird Launcher
by Travis Gellhaus (as told to Ryan Frame)
I grew up around bird dogs. Pointers specifically. My father was a dog trainer and a carpenter too I suppose. His successful veterinary practice, however, meant that dog training and carpentry were, to my father, hobbies rather than professions, and without getting into more detail than is necessary, that was probably a good thing.
At some point, Dad decided that we needed a bird launcher to help us train the dogs and, even though he could have easily paid to have one delivered, no thought entered his head other than to build it himself. He had no directions or even photos to work from - that would not have been any fun., I suppose. As a base for the launcher, he chose a choice piece of maple that was lying around waiting for its purpose in life.
Unfortunately, the block of maple was about two inches thick, weighed some sixty pounds, and probably, had he sold this nice cut of maple, he would have made enough money to pay for a bird launcher. But again, that would not have been any fun.
Anyway, setting this hunk of maple on the garage floor, he bolted down a homemade cage to it, hooked up a piece of canvas to springs, devised a tripping mechanism, and rigged up a servo engine that he had laying around somewhere. Soon this rather unsightly device had taken shape and was ready for testing. We lugged it outside into the yard and rigged it up with a pigeon encircled in the canvas. The cage, however, was open at the ends and the pigeon merely crawled out the opening and flew off. So it was back into the garage for more ‘adjustments.’
With that little design flaw corrected, we decided to do further preliminary testing right there in the garage. We convinced ourselves that it was wise to test indoors before moving to the field (neither of us was quite ready yet to admit that this device was a bit cumbersome to lug back and forth). Dad put a plastic bottle inside the canvas, and, folding it in, set the mechanism. While he was still hovering over it however, it sprung unexpectedly and threw that bottle right into his face with such force that it caused a bloody nose and put a small cut above his eye. Naturally, this just made Dad more determined. I can still him working through the blood and bruises to make the final adjustments to the release mechanism. Then it was ready for testing again. Dad stuck the bottle in the canvas (making sure that his head was well out of the way) and hooked up the latch.
We stood back and he pushed the remote button. VAWOOOM! It shot the bottle up immediately. Success! Or …. Uh… success for the most part. The bottle, even though it was just plastic, had caused some light injuries to my Dad on the first test. Then the second test had resulted in a pretty good sized dent in the garage ceiling. Perhaps we should have taken these observations as a hint that more adjustments were needed. We didn’t.
Any way it was time to take it to the field for a real life test. I lugged the thing out into the yard, we rigged up a pigeon inside, and we check corded a dog into its vicinity. The dog pointed the bird, took a small step and Dad hit the button. VAWOOOM! The bird went up like a rocket, unable to even spread its wings until it was more than fifty feet in the air. That pigeon went up so fast that the dog never even saw it go by, never looked up, and never saw the bird fly off. Nevertheless, we had our bird launcher… with due emphasis on "launcher." Sure it required some muscle and effort to move it around. And sure… it scared the crap out of some of the dogs when it went off. And, sure, you could not put it near a tree or you would just splatter the pigeon on a branch. And even though, in short order, it just sat in the garage gathering cob webs and dust, we still were proud of it.
Together (mostly him) we managed to finish two pointer field champions. We also gathered up a lot of memories along the way but none stands out more than the ordeal of the building of that homemade bird launcher.

(Note: Travis Gellhaus is a pro trainer and chief proprietor of Hawkeye Creek Kennels Of Thunder Bay, Ontario.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Well, it's (semi) official...

CSMC will be offering a 16 gauge scaled frame version of the popular RBL series, along with a 12 gauge..

From all I had read on the subject, I didn't believe that it would happen, with the Sixteen being the red headed stepchild of the uplands for so long.. From the highly vaunted "Queen of the Uplands, to an afterthought looked down on by so many in the course of little more than a generation.

Was the market there for a 16 ga. SxS?? I really couldn't see it, but, I guess the proof is in the hands of the marketing geniuses at Galazan's...

In any case, the news makes me happy, and I will be placing my order with CSMC for, what else, a 16 of course...

Positively my last shotgun purchase! More to come on configuration...
As always, click on the pic to enlarge..

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A neat little video clip

from Shooting Times UK..

This gentleman is working with Spaniels, but other than the "Hup" command, this puppy work applies to all gundog breeds. I particularly like the part about exercising a young pup's mind. And, something we all need to remember... Always end the session on a positive note!

This alone should be inscribed in the mind of everyone who works in the field with dogs!

On to the clip from Shooting Sportsman UK...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Another Democrat

I try like hell to be apolitical here, but this cartoon, lifted from Maggie's Farm, was just too good to pass up...

Ain't it the truth...

Check out Maggie's Farm often for more political truths..
Please click on the picture to enlarge..

Can Icons be replaced?

There are a few people in the world of gundogs that I would call icons, because they have left such a mark, and cast such a long shadow on their respective breeds. One of these folks is the remarkable George Bird Evans, and the other is Robert Wehle..

The loss of George Bird Evans was a great one to the literary community, and I believe that a man of his writing skill and style can never be replaced. There are younger folk out there, but none with the memory of a GBE that can take us back to a time of gentlemanly gunning with classic Setters now long gone.

And what of the Old Hemlock name? Mr. Evans gave the nod to various breedings to carry on the Old Hemlock name, and a masterful job he did, as the Old Hemlock brand still carries with it the mystique of gentlemanly hunting behind a regal English Setter.

A good friend was offered the opportunity to carry the Old Hemlock torch after the death of Mr Evans, but declined. The Old Hemlock tradition carries on in very capable hands, but upon the loss of such a giant in the gundog world, are things really the same? Or can they be the same?

The world will likely never see another man like George Bird Evans, and that is decidedly our loss!

And what about the inimitable Bob Wehle? The man who made the Elhew Pointer the premier performance dog in recent times.

Bob Wehle knew breeding and genetics from large animals, and used his hard won knowledge to create the most famous line of English Pointers ever. The only thing needed to sell a litter was an Elhew prefix in the pedigree, and the Elhew name is still a selling point. But, does the name still carry the same weight under the person annointed to carry on the name?

There will only be one Bob Wehle, and his books are required reading for anyone in the gundog community, no matter which breed one is affiliated with. It's all relevant and his words carry great weight.

Will we ever see "larger than life" folks like this in the future of gundogs? Will things be as they were, or move on? Our breeds are suffering from lack of genetic diversity. Will someone step up and proclaim enough to be enough, or just carry on the road to ruin for canines..

The two gentlemen mentioned were giants in their field. Without their strength and vision for their respective breeds, will these strains survive and carry the weight that they once did? One thing is for sure, these men were true leaders, and things will never be the same without them..

Some folks just cannot be replaced!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Celtic Halloween

The time of year when the veil is stretched the thinnest between the worlds of the living and the dead is once again upon us. A Celtic holiday that forbodes good and evil. The time of harvest and putting away for a long winter. What we celebrate as Halloween goes back a long way, and carries many meanings beyond what we know today....

Other names: Allantide (Cornish), All-Hallow's Tide ("Alhalwyn-tyd," Germanic), All Souls' Day (Christian), Calan Gaeaf or Hollantide (Welsh), Halloween (secular American), Kala-Goanv (Breton), Sauin (Manx), Samhain (Modern Irish), Samhiunn (Scottish Gaelic), Trinouxtion Samonii (Gaulish from the Coligny Calendar).
There's a quaint old Scottish verse that goes as such:
Hey! Ho! for Hallowe'enAn' all the witches tae be seenSome in black an' some in greenHey! Ho! for Hallowe'en.
Samhain was the new year of the Celts. The earliest reference seems to likely be on the Coligny calendar, which began the year with a month called Samonios, a name which is echoed in the modern Irish name for November, Samhain. According to the Coligny calendar, it commenced with three days called the Trinouxtion Samonii, the Three Nights of the End of Summer.
It’s also a day of major change in the mythological cycles; according to Irish myth, Oengus mac ind-Og was born on Samhain; An Dagda mated with the Morrigan on Samhain, just before the Second Battle of Magh Turedh, which may have also been on Samhain; it is mentioned as an important feast day in both the Ulster and Fionn cycles; and in some versions of the Hanes Taliesin, the bard is found by Elphin on this day. In many folk tales and in some late Fionn tales, it was the day that the Hollow Hills would open and the sidhe would walk about. What one can then see is that this holy day is one of great change—it is the day of rebirth, and the day when order is battled over and restored.
They did believe that the walls between this world and the otherworld grew thin at this time, but then, they also believed it grew thin at Beltane. When combined with the Catholic feast of All Hallows (modern All Saints), it was a feast to memorialize the dead. But it was also a harvest festival, the last of the year before the coming of winter; it is no mistake that the Welsh name for this vigil feast--Nos Galen-gaeof--translates as "Night of the Winter Kalends"--the beginning of winter.
In the modern calendar, the day is called Halloween, from early modern English "All Hallows Eve"--that is, the vigil of the Feast of All Saints on the Catholic calendar. Originally, this feast was celebrated on May 1, but was later moved to the Irish feast, perhaps under the influence of the many Irish monks on the continent in the early Middle Ages. However, the feast also seemed to expand under this influence, gaining the vigil feast of Halloween, the true feast of All Saints', and the final day of All Souls'--thus returning to the old Gaullish Trinouxtion Samonii. The feast, with its trappings of costumes and jack-o-lanters, was brought to America by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century. Halloween has retained its more gothic characteristics, focusing more on the concept of the Feast of the Dead than on the New Year or the sidhe.
It is important to point out that there is no Irish "god of the dead," and especially no god named "Samhain," as some rather erroneous books/websites will tell you. There is some argument as to whether one can consider Arawn or Gwyn ap Nudd Welsh gods of the dead, or at least psychopomps, but the Irish pantheon has no official god of the dead. (Some, though, hypothesize that Donn or Mil is this god, as Caesar says that the Gauls believed they were decended from Dis, the Roman name for the god of the dead, and sometimes Donn or Mil are named the ancestors of the Irish.)
One popular custom associated with the dead was the dumb supper.
This can be seen in conjunction not only with hospitality towards the dead, but also the harvest festival. In Pembrokeshire it was called cinio cynhaeaf (harvest dinner), or ffest y wrach (the hag's feast), which is thought to refer to harvest traditions. It is thought to also be tied to the slaughtering of animals; the name for November in Welsh is Tachwedd, meaning "slaughter." The animals were then cooked in a large feast, It was thought that spirits roamed the land; some would take the form of a ladi wen (white lady), while others would be the hwch ddu gwta (the tail-less black sow), which terrified people. Young people would prepare huge bonfires, where they would roast apples for food. Stones would be thrown in for divination--to find the stone the next morning was a sign of health for the year; to not find the stone was a sign of death. The people would spend the night dancing and running through the bonfires until the fire died out. As it would do so, the people would shout rhymes, such as the following:
Hwch Ddu Gwta a Ladi Wen heb dimm penHwch Ddu Gwta a gipio'r olaHwch Ddu Gwta nos G'langaeaLladron yn dwad tan weu sanaA tail-less Black Sow and a White Lady without a headMay the tail-less black sow snatch the hindmost.A tail-less black sow on winter's eve,Thieves coming along knitting stockings.Similarly, when trick-or-treating, young men--gwrachod--would sing the following verses:
Nos g'langaea', twco 'fala',Pwy sy'n dod ma's i whara?Ladi wen ar ben y prenYn naddu croes ymbrelo;Mae'n un o'r gloch, mae'n ddau o'r glochMae'n bryd i'r moch gael cinio.Winter's Eve, baiting of applesWho is coming out to play?A White Lady on top of a treeWittling an umbrella stickIt's one o'clock, it's two o'clock,it's time fo the pigs to have dinner.
Again, the White Lady and the pig are featured.
To some extent, we are reminded of the Northern European tradition of the Wild Hunt.
It was a night for divination; nuts would be burned, and brightly-burning nuts signaled marriage; the practice is old enough to be mentioned by Dafydd ap Gwilym (fl. 1340-70) and Iolo Goch (1320-1398).
Like the Irish, the Welsh would hollow out turnips and place candles in them, but reportedly to frighten people, not spirits.
In America, of course, we eat candy. Lots of it. Of course, there is also the traditional apple cider, caramel apples, and donoughts.
In Montgomeryshire, girls would prepare the stwmp naw rhyw, the "mash of nine sorts", which included potatoes, carrots, turnips, pease, parsnips, leeks, pepper, salt, and new milk. A ring would be hidden in the mash, and she who found it was predicted to be married within the year. In other parts of Wales, the would make pancakes. Often, these dishes required nine girls to make them, which is reminiscent of Taliesin's poem on the Cauldron of Annwn:
In the first word from the cauldron when spoken,From the breath of nine maidens it was gently warmed.Is it not the cauldron of the chief of Annwvn? What is its intention?A ridge about its edge and pearls.It will not boil the food of a coward, that has not been sworn
Other foods included a wassail bowl; games of trying to bite suspended apples; and of course bobbing for apples.
People would go "sowling", collecting food to be given to the dead "hel bwyd cennad y meirw--collecing the food of the messenger of the dead."

Friday, October 24, 2008

A thought for the day...

From an unknown Native American tribe...

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children. - Tribe Unknown

We can learn much from this country's first inhabitants, and the more litter I see on our roads, the more smog I see in our air, and the more plastic homes where there once existed woods or forest make me believe this all the more...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Super-Lite loads and Inertia triggers...

Do they get along??

All summer I've been shooting clay targets low gun with the 20 ga. SKB 280, as I annointed it as this season's "go to" birdgun. I've been shooting an 1150 fps load with 3/4 ounce of shot. This is a very light load, and oh so pleasant to shoot, not to mention it's easy on the wallet with lead prices being what they are.
Now the rub... As the temperature has fallen somewhat, I've had failures of the second barrel to set up.. I've been wondering if I've been releasing the trigger completely, but, I've never had the problem before.
This little gun is built with 3 inch chambers, and the Roman Candle 3'' 20 can raise hell in the recoil department, so I'm beginning to wonder if my super-lite reload is on the ragged edge of having the ability to reset the second trigger, particularly when temps are lower and energy is reduced somewhat.
So, I grabbed a box of field reloads today, and lo and behold the second trigger set up just fine. So, maybe that's the answer, but, since I'll never shoot heavy loads in this little gun, I'm wondering if a little inertia block warming over is in my future, or should I say, in the SKB's future... or maybe just drop another half grain of Unique and take the easy way out...

I like the 28 ga. light load in the 20, so maybe I'll look into a little inertia block modification.

Stay tuned!
Pictured is the boiler room of a B.Rizzini Aurum Teutonic, showing the inertia block.. Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Small Town America does not forget..

Folks in rural parts of America do not forget their heroes. I guess this is particularly true on the farms in the State of New York, where the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center were taken down by islamic terrorists on September 11, of 2001.
This farmer chose his own way to immortalize the members of the New York City Police and Fire Departments who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country.
This particular farm is on State Route 30 in upstate New York, and the photo was taken on a beautiful October day.
It's a stirring reminder of the debt we all owe those brave Americans on that infamous day..
Please click the picture to enlarge..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

About Hunting and Life in general

We went up to camp in the North Country for a long weekend of searching for birds, getting camp ready for another harsh winter, which is coming on rather quickly, and catching up with the neighbors.
The weather was absolutely perfect for searching the fall woods for birds. There were still plenty of leaves on, but that did not prevent us from moving some birds in the paper company. The weather, gorgeous fall colors and dogwork combined to renew the soul of an old birdhunter who has missed a couple of seasons in recent years to injuries.
Unfortunately, even the best of times for renewal also carry a tinge of remorse and sadness. My old friend and closest neighbor has been suffering from bone cancer in recent years, and has taken a turn for the worse. This gentleman and his lovely wife were our first, and still best friends when we first came to the Adirondacks. We bought the old family farm where he grew up. Many would think that the situation could cause some hard feelings, but nothing could be further from the truth. These folks accepted us from the start. They have both taught us many things... about living in the mountains, and about unconditional acceptance and how to live a decent and god fearing life. They have made me examine my own hates and prejudices and made me ponder them much more closely.
I guess one could say that on some level, I love these people and look up to them. They're not rich monetarily, but have more than most people ever do in faith and goodness.
So, while I'm elated to be walking behind my Setters again carrying a gun, my heart is also heavy at the prospect of losing someone who has meant so much to me..
I love to be in the North Country chasing birds, but the Adirondacks will never be the same to me when my old friend passes..
Life goes on, and life ends.. the constant cycle of death and renewal..
I refresh the deepest reaches of my soul by once again feeling the crispness of the autumn woods, but the realization that an old friend will soon be gone from these mountains also tugs at my heart... Why can't life be more simple.. Pure elation or pure sadness???

Why does one emotion always have to be tempered by the other??

Perhaps our Maker is the only one that holds the answer, but I'll remember this trip... for it's joy, and it's foreboding of sadness..

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Road to Tinkhamtown

This short story by Corey Ford has been referred to as the best piece of Sporting literature ever written, and while I don't claim to have read them all for comparison, I cannot fathom anything better.

Corey Ford lived for October. He owned a Setter named 'Tober, and it's this month that brings the old story to mind. I've read it over many times, and I consider it required reading for anyone who loves to tramp the uplands behind a classic Setter.

The story is part of The Corey Ford Sporting Treasury, published by Willow Press, which also contains the Minutes of the Lower Forty. This book is an excellent investment, and will provide many hours of enjoyment because it can be read over and over, and more minutiae missed in the previous reading will appear.

For those that have never enjoyed The Road to Tinkhamtown, it can be found on the internet, but the above book compiled by Laurie Morrow is the way to go to enjoy Mr. Ford's writings..

So, go and read some Corey Ford! There will be a test...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pretty Missy

A description of Pretty Missy, in Dr. Morris' own words..

Belmor's Pretty missy was an outstanding performer and producer. She had over 30 placements in setter, continental breed and American Field trials, competing in Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

In 1975 she was GSCA Puppy of the Year and placed second for Derby of the Year. The following year, she won the GSCA Derby award. She had 22 puppy and derby placements during 1975-76. From all indications, it was anticipated that she would set records in senior stakes. However, her career as a gundog and shooting dog was cut short due to a crippling knee injury sustained on a hunting trip in 1977. Three operations over the next three years failed to correct the problem. As a result, she was only run in a limited number of adult stakes. Nevertheless, she was able to earn second place in the 1980 Gun Dog of the Year award.

She produced outstanding field dogs; the most notable of these is FC/AFC Belmor's Pretty Belle. Missy's field application was characterized by excellent ground cover and animated run with a cracking tail. Her snappy way of going and style on point captured the judges and the galleries' eyes.


Imagine the mark that Missy could have made on the FT community, and the Gordon setter world in general, if not for a severe injury... In any case, her class has been passed on to numerous get, and the name of Belmor's Pretty Missy is found in many a Field Gordon's pedigree today.

The dam of one of the all-time great Gordon setters, Missy has undoubtedly made her mark on the Gordon Setter world...

Monday, October 13, 2008

A wee poetry of sorts

I don't want to mention the inspiration of these words--only because he may wish to remain private. I was moved by the meeting of this individual and conjured the kind of thing that men sometimes are and become as they pursue what gets a hold of them.
I'm a romantic and do at times think silly thoughts, but there you are.

An English Setter by his side

and that old Parker gun

To walk the colored October wood

Made warm in golden sun

He caught a dream the upland life

As others had before

To love the King and where he flew

And that Parker twenty bore

The years return less than he gave

The way he chose to run

The English Setter by his side

And that old Parker gun

Fourteen years and ya they've aged

Just about the same

Now moving stiff and a little slow

Ruffed Grouse is still the game

Two old sages side by side

And a bird that is called a King

Making memories slow to fade

Called forth-- the dog bell rings


After much research, I've now come to believe that these bites, shown here on my lower leg, and only a small portion of them, are actually from chiggers.
We never had chiggers up here beforea few years ago. I always thought that they were pests of the South, but I guess their range has expanded.
I've probably got 150 itchy bites, and judging by past experience, they will probably itch for about two weeks....
Not much fun, but that's life in the big city!
I's love to hear from some of the Southern readers on how they deal with these chiggers...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ticks are getting more vicious

Woodcock season opened here on 10/6. A friend told me he had seen a few about, so I figured I'd give it a try. The weather was quite warm... not a good sign.

We have a new tick in these parts called the Lone Star, a truly agressive little demon that can put the fear of God into a gunner, or anyone else tramping the woods. Dog ticks I eat for breakfast. Deer ticks are nasty little creatures, but I can deal with them. These Lone Star ticks; some of the guys around here still call them chiggers, attack en masse, and can make life miserable for weeks. The most insidious feature of these ticks is that I cannot even see them, so, they cannot be picked off. Showering doesn't help, but agressive toweling after might somewhat.. or just move them around. Ticks are exceedingly tough creatures!

I have no WC for my efforts, but I do have about forty oozing bites... Mostly on the legs, some on the belly, and a few on the arms because of the T-shirt huntin' weather.

I've never been one to care for chemical solutions on my tender body, but these ticks are bad enough to make me rethink that non-solution! Especially since Eastern Equine Encephalitis was detected in these ponds that we were hunting around. West Nile is still a big concern also.

I picked some REPEL for my clothes, and dug out some Ben's 100 (100% DEET) for the rest of me. The military now recommends a two pronged attack such as this for insect infested areas that it's soldiers must operate in.

So for those who frequent areas where these pests have not appeared yet, consider yourselves lucky, but they might just be on the way. As a kid in this area, all we had to worry about were dog ticks... How things have changed....

Chemicals take some time to poison a person, so at this stage in my life, I figure I can take the chance..

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Best of Gary Larson

Our apologies go out to the folks at the NRSFTC, and A Piece of the Purest Challenge, but this cartoon by Gary Larson of The Far Side, has always made me laugh, and I consider it one of his best..
Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
Don't forget to click on the pic...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Elizabeth Barrett Browning.. A Dog Lover??

Who knew??

Apparently, Flush helped Ms. Browning extensively through an extended illness. She composed this poem in tribute...

To Flush

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Loving friend, the gift of oneWho her own true faith has runThrough thy lower nature,Be my benediction saidWith my hand upon thy head,Gentle fellow-creature!Like a lady's ringlets brown,Flow thy silken ears adownEither side demurelyOf thy silver-suited breastShining out from all the restOf thy body purely.Darkly brown thy body is,Till the sunshine striking thisAlchemise its dullness,When the sleek curls manifoldFlash all over into goldWith a burnished fulness.Underneath my stroking hand,Startled eyes of hazel blandKindling, growing larger,Up thou leapest with a spring,Full of prank and curveting,Leaping like a charger.Leap! thy broad tail waves a light,Leap! thy slender feet are bright,Canopied in fringes;Leap! those tasselled ears of thineFlicker strangely, fair and fineDown their golden inches.Yet, my pretty, sportive friend,Little is't to such an endThat I praise thy rareness;Other dogs may be thy peersHaply in these drooping earsAnd this glossy fairness.But of thee it shall be said,This dog watched beside a bedDay and night unweary,Watched within a curtained roomWhere no sunbeam brake the gloomRound the sick and dreary.Roses, gathered for a vase,In that chamber died apace,Beam and breeze resigning;This dog only, waited on,Knowing that when light is goneLove remains for shining.Other dogs in thymy dewTracked the hares and followed throughSunny moor or meadow;This dog only, crept and creptNext a languid cheek that slept,Sharing in the shadow.Other dogs of loyal cheerBounded at the whistle clear,Up the woodside hieing;This dog only, watched in reachOf a faintly uttered speechOr a louder sighing.And if one or two quick tearsDropped upon his glossy earsOr a sigh came double,Up he sprang in eager haste,Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,In a tender trouble.And this dog was satisfiedIf a pale thin hand would glideDown his dewlaps sloping, —Which he pushed his nose within,After, — platforming his chinOn the palm left open.This dog, if a friendly voiceCall him now to blither choiceThan such chamber-keeping,"Come out!" praying from the door, —Presseth backward as before,Up against me leaping.Therefore to this dog will I,Tenderly not scornfully,Render praise and favor:With my hand upon his head,Is my benediction saidTherefore and for ever.And because he loves me so,Better than his kind will doOften man or woman,Give I back more love againThan dogs often take of men,Leaning from my Human.Blessings on thee, dog of mine,Pretty collars make thee fine,Sugared milk make fat thee!Pleasures wag on in thy tail,Hands of gentle motion failNevermore, to pat thee.Downy pillow take thy head,Silken coverlid bestead,Sunshine help thy sleeping!No fly's buzzing wake thee up,No man break thy purple cupSet for drinking deep in.Whiskered cats arointed flee,Sturdy stoppers keep from theeCologne distillations;Nuts lie in thy path for stones,And thy feast-day macaroonsTurn to daily rations!Mock I thee, in wishing weal? —Tears are in my eyes to feelThou art made so straitly,Blessing needs must straiten too, —Little canst thou joy or do,Thou who lovest greatly.Yet be blessed to the heightOf all good and all delightPervious to thy nature;Only loved beyond that line,With a love that answers thine,Loving fellow-creature!