First season for Ruby and Matt

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
232
Location
E WA
Since I really enjoy following along with JLS and Finn's hunting season threads and I don't have anybody else to share my excitement over this hunting stuff with, I thought I'd try to document this first year of bird hunting for both Ruby and myself.

Quail season is upon us and we've been anxious to get out there and have at 'em. It's still too warm and too dry for Ruby to spend long hours in the field, but we set out early for a short hunt. We flushed a covey out of a thicket of Russian Olives, but she didn't point any of them, so I passed on taking a shot. That was it for quail sightings, unfortunately. I did stumble into some mourning doves, and managed to shoot one as it passed overhead.

My first shot bird.
IMG-2312.jpg

Ruby didn't see it fall, when the gun went off she turned and looked at me. So I started walking toward the downed bird, and telling her "dead bird." As soon as she spotted it she ran up and pointed it. Once again I gave her a "dead bird, fetch" and she picked it up and brought it to me. She dropped it a few feet away at my feet.

IMG-2310.jpg

I gave her the bird back to hang on to for a minute and let her know she's the best dog. Super happy with how she handled the situation, this was her first experience with a shot bird. We continued on, taking a few more shots at doves but not connecting with anything. No more quail sightings today.

IMG-2313.jpg

We stopped at another spot on the way home, and again didn't see any quail where I usually have in the past. At one point we were in some old growth sagebrush and Ruby was running all over. Doves were flushing everywhere, so I thought that's what she was chasing. She was out of sight and it got quiet. A moment later she came trotting into view with this young rooster in her mouth. Not what I wanted to see. Aside from killing the bird, it's still a couple weeks before pheasant season opens. Oops. She was sure proud of that bird, though.

IMG-2316.jpg

Unsure what to do, I left the pheasant where she dropped it, it will make a nice snack for the hawks/coyotes. Back at the truck, a WDFW truck pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to check my license and my shotgun. At the risk of maybe getting myself into trouble, I explained what happened with the pheasant and asked what the proper course of action is when that happens. As long as I didn't retain the bird, no laws were broken. Dogs will be dogs and things like that happen. I was surprised, but pleased to see the WDFW officers out there, they are spread pretty thin and aren't often seen around.


We didn't get into the quail as I'd hoped, but it ended up a successful first hunt experience. Me-n-Rubes are gonna have a lot of fun this winter.
 

pnwsculler

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Jul 26, 2022
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Oregon
Looks like it was a beautiful day and a lot of fun for you and Ruby to be out there. Now you know where to look for pheasants when the season opens!
 

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
232
Location
E WA
Ruby and I had a lazy morning and got out later than planned. It was still cool when we hit spot #1, but it didn't take long for the temps to get less than ideal for Ruby.

We pushed straight into some thick grass, and 30 seconds from the truck a rooster flushed 15 yards from Ruby. She seemed to be oblivious to it's presence and noisy exit.
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Saw no more birds until we got to the back side of the trees to the right in the above photo. Ruby flushed a dove and managed to jump up and snatch it out of the air. That's two caught birds in two outings. Not liking that precedent. At least dove are still in season, so I kept it.

Spot #2 resulted in zero bird sightings. Found some new spots to explore at a later date, though.

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No shots taken today, but it was a great morning for a hike with my best pal.
 

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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
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232
Location
E WA
Pheasant season opened this past weekend. I wasn't able to get out on opening day, and I'm not sure I would have gone out if I could. Not a big fan of guns and crowds.

Wife and I did get out for a short run with Ruby at the end of the day yesterday. We drove out to a pheasant release site and to my surprise the parking lot was empty. As we got to within 30 minutes of the end of shooting light the roosters started talking. We went looking for one and Ruby started acting super birdy. That thing must have been running all over the place, because she was going nuts canvassing the area. Eventually she ducked into a gap in the trees and out flew the rooster. I shouldn't have shot, as I didn't see if she had pointed the bird, but I couldn't help myself - it was my first shot at a pheasant. Of course I missed it.

Not long after I spotted a green and red head off next to some Russian Olives. I sent Ruby off in that direction. She didn't catch on to it right away, but after she ran past the spot where it moved into the trees she snapped onto a point. The bird ran through the trees and flew out the other side, out of sight from me with Ruby giving chase through the thick brush. Wife got to see it fly off, though and was impressed.

Finally, almost back to the truck I wanted to take Ruby around the last bit of tree cover before the parking lot. It's a small stand of Cottonwoods and Russian Olives with some thick grass/weeds nearby. We've flushed some big coveys of quail out of there and I was hoping to get into one tonight. Ruby was doing her thing and all of a sudden she flipped around on a dime into a solid point. I walked up from the side and with no coaxing from me she held steady. She didn't move a muscle as I walked into the brush ahead of her and up flushed a hen pheasant. No shot, but I was elated to see how well she handled the situation. Completely steady, she never wavered and led me move in and flush the bird. It couldn't have been a more textbook experience, the fact that it was a hen and I couldn't shoot it for her didn't matter to me at all.

This girl's already a way better hunter than I am. Next time I'm gonna get her a bird to celebrate with, though.

No fancy views to soak in today, just some thick cover and a post-hunt pose with my Dad's old Western Field 12ga. that I've lovingly nicknamed "Ol' Rattletrap".

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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
232
Location
E WA
It was a good weekend for Ruby and I, we got out on Friday morning. First stop was public land, same location as the last photos above. The parking lot was full, so we ditched that plan and headed for a new spot we hadn't looked into before. Turns out it's a great piece of land, lots of thick grass but not too tall. Unfortunately for me, when I got out of the truck I realized that I had left my shotgun sitting on the dining room table at home. So it was just a nice walk. There were some pheasant feathers in the parking area, so there must be some birds here. We didn't see anything, but I want to come back and try and figure this place out. It's so wide open I have no idea where to start, maybe pushing upwind through the draws I guess.

grassfield.jpg

Sunday evenings are getting to be my favorite time to get out. Whenever we go out for the last couple hours of daylight we have the place to ourselves, and that last 40 minutes or so when the roosters get active is so neat. Last night Ruby had a couple good points, found some quail and some roosters, and I either didn't shoot when I should have, or I missed the shot I did take. I need to stop thinking and start shooting. On a less exciting note, Ruby caught yet another bird, this time a quail. She rounded a corner ahead of me and before I could get up there to see where she was, she came trotting back with the quail in her mouth. She has brought home more birds than I have at this point. The upside is that she delivered it right to hand, didn't even drop it at my feet this time.

So proud of herself.

caughtquail.jpg
 

Brad W

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Feb 2, 2021
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Nothing better than watching a good dog work! Looks like beautiful country to hunt. Good luck as the season progresses!
 

thomas89

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Apr 9, 2015
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785
Just a heads up, it looks like you're hunting in a massive field of cheat grass. Nasty stuff. Do a little reading on grass awns and dogs. Looking at the photo of the rooster, there are several of these on its tail. The issue is these awns have a "burrowing" action due to a super sharp "barb" or "tip" on the seed end. They don't show up on X-ray, and lead to massive infection and death. Lots of good dogs lost to them every year. I used to help at a kennel for a local trainer and when he was out of town he had me take care of his dog recovering from an awn. Never forget removing the dressing from her side (this one worked it's way back to the surface and was a nasty cyst type deal) and seeing a softball sized sore that required a stiff course of antibiotics and topicals to heal.

It's very unavoidable in certain places, so I get that. I personally avoid most areas that have a large concentration of it, and will even heel my dog to get through nasty patches as I dont want her sniffing around in them. Just make sure you're brushing your dog out REALLLY well after hunts. Check between toes, in ears, eyes, nose, mouth ... pretty much anywhere an awn could get in there. I carry a bottle of water or saline rinse with me almost always, if my dog starts sneezing like crazy, typically they have inhaled an awn and have it stuck in their nose somewhere. Flush it out really well, your dog will hate you for a minute or so after, but definitely better than a vet having to chase a migrating grass awn through the dog.

Mines a lab, so any chance she gets to swim she'll take it, this also helps to dislodge them from their coats and soften that little "barb" end of the awn.
 

fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
232
Location
E WA
There's no getting away from cheatgrass around here, unfortunately. I try to avoid places where it's really bad, but if I wanted to avoid it all I'd be relegated to hunting soccer fields.

Ruby does get a thorough going over after a trip. Hopefully we're being thorough enough.
 

fleabagmatt

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Messages
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Location
E WA
We braved the rain this morning. It started dumping on the way out to the spot, but had mostly subsided by the time we arrived. We found way more birds that I was expecting, both quail and pheasant. Those wild pheasants are wiley SOBs, they mostly weren't letting us get anywhere near them before flushing. Didn't get any shots at pheasants, but took a handful of shots at some quail and managed to hit one.

So there it is, my first bird shot over Ruby. She was disappointed that I let the other half dozen or so get away.

IMG-2412.jpg

She was too focused on chasing the other birds to go get this one, but I eventually found it and led her to it. She went on point and wouldn't move until I drug it out of the bushes. We'll figure it out.
 

fleabagmatt

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Messages
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Location
E WA
After 4 hours in the car to get home yesterday, we went out for a hike to burn off some excess energy. Ended up bagging the first rooster ever for both Ruby and I, and managed a bonus quail right as we got back to the truck. We need to work on going easy on the birds while they're in her mouth, she is chomping on them pretty good before I can get them from her.

All the yellow star thistle is brutal to walk through. It would be nice if it died back in the winter, it sucks hiking through it.

pheasant.jpg pheasant02.jpg

Thunthet amongtht the thistles.
set.jpg
 

fleabagmatt

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E WA
Got out twice this past weekend. Friday I awoke to heavy freezing fog and almost stayed in bed. Glad I ventured out, because within a few miles of my destination the fog lifted and I was greeted with a nice sunny morning.

fogbank.jpg

Lotsa walking, and we found a few birds. Yet again I was reminded to "trust your dog." Ruby jumped into some cattails and went on point. Some tweety birds flushed out above her and I tried to tell her that's all it was. Just about that time a big ol' rooster exploded out from where she was pointing and off over the marsh. Trust your dog!

Sometimes you gotta take a break and climb on some haystacks.
haybale.jpg

Sunday was cold and foggy. All the spots I wanted to visit had vehicles parked, so I went to a new-to-me place. Thick grass with a single band of sagebrush running through it for a mile or so. I feel like this might be a great spot to find birds, but we didn't see any. I don't know how the cold and freezing fog affects the birds, but I plan to return here on another day to explore it some more.
frosty.jpg
 

fleabagmatt

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Messages
232
Location
E WA
Lotta walking lately, little to show for it. Haven't seen any birds as of late and I'm not sure why. Ruby did entertain herself with this the other day, though. Snatched it out of the ground and brought it to me for show and tell.

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Explored a new piece of land, I thought it looked really promising, but not so much as a sign of birds. It's a cut wheat field with slivers of wild grass up the sides of the draws. I need to go back early morning or evening and walk it again.
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I feel like this ought to be a productive place as well. 1300 acres of wild grass, lots of rolling hills. I just don't know how to approach it, it's a sea of grass. Heading up a ridge into the wind, we moved several hundred yards and Ruby acted like she was tracking a bird the whole time, but we never saw anything. With no breaks in the cover I am wondering if she was pushing a bird(s) and it just kept running.

We did see a nice mule deer buck with 9 or 10 does out there, that was pretty cool.

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Now that we have some snow on the ground, I suspect I'm going to struggle even more to find birds.
 

Wild Bill

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SD
Now that we have some snow on the ground, I suspect I'm going to struggle even more to find birds.
Use the snow to your advantage. Often snow will push birds out of certain types of cover and cause them to be condensed in other areas. You should be able to look at the landscape and cross off large swathes of cover that is probably not holding birds. Also, use the snow to look for tracks and other sign to see if you're in the right type of cover and general area.
 

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
232
Location
E WA
Went out for an evening hunt last night, took me three tries to find a spot that didn't have a truck parked at it. Ended up at a spot I've been meaning to try but hadn't made it to yet, it's a cut cornfield with some cover around it and a couple small ponds nearby. Not sure, there might be some birds around here.
trax.jpg

Was really surprised to see so much sign, this place gets hunted a lot. Didn't see any pheasants, but we kicked up a covey of quail. I managed to miss all three shots that I took. So much "I'm not mad, I'm just disappointed" look from Ruby.

I'm curious if I should be hunting into the interior of the corn field, the tracks all head in and out of it. I pretty much just made a loop around the edge of the circle. The red dot below is where we found the quail and where the above photo was taken, in between the weedy edge and into the circle of cut corn. The two larger circles are tilled to the dirt I believe - covered in snow at the moment.

circle.jpg

I'd have to say my biggest accomplishment so far this season has to be the two times I've driven out to a hunt location, only to realize that I've left the shotgun leaning against the wall in the house. It's a talent, really.
 

Don Fischer

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Joined
Jun 27, 2017
Messages
2,527
Since I really enjoy following along with JLS and Finn's hunting season threads and I don't have anybody else to share my excitement over this hunting stuff with, I thought I'd try to document this first year of bird hunting for both Ruby and myself.

Quail season is upon us and we've been anxious to get out there and have at 'em. It's still too warm and too dry for Ruby to spend long hours in the field, but we set out early for a short hunt. We flushed a covey out of a thicket of Russian Olives, but she didn't point any of them, so I passed on taking a shot. That was it for quail sightings, unfortunately. I did stumble into some mourning doves, and managed to shoot one as it passed overhead.

My first shot bird.
View attachment 243810

Ruby didn't see it fall, when the gun went off she turned and looked at me. So I started walking toward the downed bird, and telling her "dead bird." As soon as she spotted it she ran up and pointed it. Once again I gave her a "dead bird, fetch" and she picked it up and brought it to me. She dropped it a few feet away at my feet.

View attachment 243809

I gave her the bird back to hang on to for a minute and let her know she's the best dog. Super happy with how she handled the situation, this was her first experience with a shot bird. We continued on, taking a few more shots at doves but not connecting with anything. No more quail sightings today.

View attachment 243811

We stopped at another spot on the way home, and again didn't see any quail where I usually have in the past. At one point we were in some old growth sagebrush and Ruby was running all over. Doves were flushing everywhere, so I thought that's what she was chasing. She was out of sight and it got quiet. A moment later she came trotting into view with this young rooster in her mouth. Not what I wanted to see. Aside from killing the bird, it's still a couple weeks before pheasant season opens. Oops. She was sure proud of that bird, though.

View attachment 243812

Unsure what to do, I left the pheasant where she dropped it, it will make a nice snack for the hawks/coyotes. Back at the truck, a WDFW truck pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to check my license and my shotgun. At the risk of maybe getting myself into trouble, I explained what happened with the pheasant and asked what the proper course of action is when that happens. As long as I didn't retain the bird, no laws were broken. Dogs will be dogs and things like that happen. I was surprised, but pleased to see the WDFW officers out there, they are spread pretty thin and aren't often seen around.


We didn't get into the quail as I'd hoped, but it ended up a successful first hunt experience. Me-n-Rubes are gonna have a lot of fun this winter.
keep thi nking I'd like to get Snicker out this winter for a shot at wild birds but pretty cold now and darn few wild birds anywhere near here. probably hve to wait till spring and do some pigeons for him. He does pretty good with his retrieving dummy. Might shoot one of those strange doves around here for him! No closed season on then and I'd bet they eat as good as a morning dove. Ring neck dove ois what they are called, just remembered!
 

Lov2hunt

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Sep 23, 2018
Messages
41
Location
LOS ANGELES, CA
After 4 hours in the car to get home yesterday, we went out for a hike to burn off some excess energy. Ended up bagging the first rooster ever for both Ruby and I, and managed a bonus quail right as we got back to the truck. We need to work on going easy on the birds while they're in her mouth, she is chomping on them pretty good before I can get them from her.

All the yellow star thistle is brutal to walk through. It would be nice if it died back in the winter, it sucks hiking through it.

View attachment 250034 View attachment 250035

Thunthet amongtht the thistles.
View attachment 250036
Man, look at that tongue on this dog. Love it. I'm in socal with literally no like-minded people as it relates to any hunt. If you're into it let's chat. I'm happy to send you my number but don't know how to dm here
 
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