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.)