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  • July 19, 2013

    Hunting Dogs: 3 Warning Signs of Heat Stress-1


    Cottage industries that sell coats and sweaters for dogs to wear during cool weather have fleeced the pockets of pet owners for years. The fact is, it’s hard to freeze a working dog to death on even the coldest days. But it’s quite easy to accidentally kill a hard-hunting dog on even a mildly warm day.

    Every year dogs are put at risk for heat-related issues during August, September, and even Indian summer October hunts and field trials. However, if you know the signs and keep a close eye on your dog, you can safely enjoy warm, early-season days afield.

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  • July 11, 2013

    Gun Dog Gear: Seresto's 8-Month Flea and Tick Collar-0


    The summer months not only mark the dog days of heat, they also hasten the proliferation of fleas and ticks. From early spring through the early hunting season, these parasites pose a threat to you and your dog – no matter where in the country you live. While vigilance can protect you, only a consistent parasite prevention program can protect your dog.

    Most vets recommend a year-round prevention program, and for good reason. While I always tend to think about the benefits to their pocketbook as a main reason, that’s not fair. Until your environment is consistently cold, fleas and ticks can always find your dog. Even once it’s cold, a warm late-fall or early spring day can cause the parasites to become active.

    I’ve used several topical applications to help protect my dogs, and have for the last several years settled on Frontline Plus, I’m trying a new collar from Bayer called Seresto.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • July 8, 2013

    Delta Duck Cam: Reality TV for the Waterfowl Hunter-1


    With waterfowl populations at all-time highs, the last several years have been the ‘good old days’ of duck and goose hunting. The population boom has largely been due to well-timed rains and good nesting conditions across the Canada and the northern U.S. prairie-potholes region.

    While it’s easy to shine the light on habitat conditions, which are largely out of man’s control, as the reason why we have a record number of wings beating through the north-south flyways each year, it’s a bit mind-boggling to consider that in many of those nesting areas only one in ten nests successfully produces a brood – largely because of predation; something man has impacted and can control.

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  • July 1, 2013

    First Look: Hands-Free E-Collar Transmitter from D.T. Systems-0


    In a perfect world, by the time you’ve trained your dog proficiently enough on the skills required for success, you shouldn’t need to use the e-collar very often when actually hunting. For most of us, that level of success is often hard to come by without keeping our pup out of the action for a season or two and completely focusing on training.

    One of the biggest issues I know of when working dogs, whether actually hunting or during training, is keeping an e-collar transmitter close enough to use with proper timing but out of the way enough to accomplish other tasks – such as handling a shotgun, shooting birds, carrying and throwing dummies, operating a winger, or handling a leash. E-collar companies make holsters or equip their transmitters with lanyards or clips, while apparel companies make some upland vests and waterfowl pieces with specially designed pockets for storage – at best, these serve a modicum of usefulness.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 19, 2013

    Deception, Tornadoes, and the Humane Society of the United States-7


    The Humane Society of the United States, the largest, most well-funded anti-hunting organization in the country, has come repeatedly come under attack by the agriculture-backed group The Center for Consumer Freedom and one of their spinoff organizations, Humane Watch, for how HSUS bilks millions of people out of money under the pretense of running local shelters.

    As Humane Watch often points out, less than .5 percent of HSUS’s nearly $200 million budget goes to hands-on, local shelters in the form of grants.

    HSUS’s counter to this charge is often along the lines of “we assist shelters with training, supplies during emergencies and education material.” They like to tout the work of their disaster team, which, they would have you believe, swoops in behind a tornado, hurricane, earthquake or other disasters and perpetuates a God-like calm and organization to all the disparate animal-welfare groups working on the ground.

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  • June 13, 2013

    Taking Care of Taxidermy: Tips from the Reigning World Champ-1


    If the name Dale Manning sounds familiar, it should. He’s a regular part of the OL Optics Test team, and he’s among one of the best taxidermists in the country. In fact, the world.

    Manning, who owns Custom Bird Works and Big Game Connection taxidermy in Missoula, Mont., won the “Best in World” in the waterfowl category at the 2013 World Taxidermy Championships in May. His flying snow goose, according to internet message boards, wowed everyone in attendance.

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 11, 2013

    Duck Facts: 17-Year-Old Harlequin Duck Documented in Montana-0


    As anyone who has been reading this blog for the last year knows, I’m a big fan of the harlequin duck. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfowl species on the planet. It’s one of those bucket-list ducks for waterfowlers across the country. It’s also a sea duck, which makes its presence in Montana’s Glacier National Park seem a bit strange. But not only do the sea-faring harlequins build their streamside nests in Montana, park employees recently verified a drake harlie that is at least 17 years old.

    The age of the harlequin is noteworthy because it was believed the typical lifespan for the diminutive duck was about10 years (the oldest documented harlie is 18 years, 10 months). While it’s astonishing to think of this small duck surviving for 17 years in the pounding, frigid surf of Washington state’s Pacific Ocean and making the yearly trek to mountain streams to breed, there were several other facts revealed about harlequins in the Missoulian article that I didn’t know (besides the obvious fact that they migrate that far inland):

    [ Read Full Post ]
  • June 4, 2013

    Best Hunting Dogs: The Conundrum of Field Trials-4


    If you’ve read the June/July issue of Outdoor Life, you’ll see a piece I wrote on picking the top hunting dog from several groups – retrievers, hounds, spaniels, pointers and cur/feist. As I said in the printed version and even here in past blogs, picking the “best” hunting dog is highly subjective. It depends upon the quarry being pursued, the location, terrain, weather, personal hunting style and a myriad of other variables.

    However, in the June/July issue, I relied heavily upon how various breeds have performed in field trials and hunt tests (as well as the number of different species a dog hunts for proficiently, genetic health and even “X” factors that make each breed popular). There are many hunters out there, however, that don’t think they want a field-trial dog, for whatever reason.

    Some reasons that are typically given for not wanting a field-trial dog include: hyperactivity, too much drive/dog, too big of runners and too hot-nosed, among many. And while some of those things might have some merit (or might not, in that it could have less to do with the dog and more to do with the human side of the equation), field trials and hunt tests are the only way to evaluate the prey drive, trainability and prowess of hunting dogs on a consistent basis.

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  • May 28, 2013

    Gun Dog Training: Introducing Your Pup to Water, Game, and Gunfire-0


    The basis for all training starts with introducing your dog to critical aspects of the hunt at critical times in his development. Regardless of whether you’re raising a pointer for quail, a retriever for mallards, or a hound for raccoons, new experiences should always take place in a controlled environment and be a positive experience.

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