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Life with Sweetie

JTHOMP

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Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
Been a few more ups and downs lately. As predicted the weather this past weekend wasn't good for squirrels. Just too windy. It looked like the wind would die down by the end of the day Saturday so we would make a short run later in the evening. Unfortunately as we were leaving, Sweetie got in the shop and ate rat poison. Noticed it as soon as it happened, and we got her taken care of by forcing her to vomit and got some Vitamin K from the vet. By that night she was fine. Sunday was evening windier, and she seemed to have fully recovered so I ran her that evening regardless of 15mph winds. Have to say we're still both learning.

I learned from Mr. Carlton to get her to tree if she barks or whimpers on a tree. I've even killed squirrels over while doing that. The last thing I want to do is doubt her because I have seen it and have said it many times, "The moment you doubt her she'll prove you wrong." However there were 3 times she barked on a tree that she never committed to. She had to have smelled something, but how old? Considering the unfavorable weather, I never promoted her on those trees. One I shook a vine after she moved on just to see. She made one tree which I honored, however it was on a hedge bush and it had moved on to a tree elsewhere even on a good day. Just makes me wonder how many trees we have made there were on older scent.

Tuesday, my brother and I hunted on his in-law's place. Finally had good weather, and it was on a place that doesn't get squirrel hunted. Really thought we would've done better. Treed a few den trees, made one tree where there weren't any noticeable holes but didn't see anything, and we (really me) let one get away. That one still haunts me. About 2/3s into the hunt her drive started to slow down. Rather than ranging out running from tree to tree she took her time. This was her first long hunt since before I got sick and maybe some ill effects of the rat poison were lingering as well. Near the end of the hunt though she caught a second wind and hunted great. But by the end of the hunt I could tell she wasn't feeling well. At home she kept her tail tucked and wasn't excited about eating. I had another hunt lined up for Wednesday evening, but when she wasn't 100% when we got up Wednesday morning I canceled it. I've ran her into the ground before and don't want to do it again. She seemed fine when I got home yesterday evening, but threw up twice last night in the middle of the terrible. Not uncommon for it to happen once, but for it to happen twice causes some concern. Just going to let her take it easy, and the weather will suck probably until Sunday. We'll see how this weekend goes. I've really missed seeing her perform on a good hunt.
 

JTHOMP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
Not many tails on the tailgate this weekend, but we had IMO good hunts. Sunday morning hunted my buddy's lease in Mississippi. BEAUTIFUL squirrel woods that don't get squirrel hunted. Sweetie covered more ground on this hunt that she ever had. In the open woods she stayed out 100-200 yards constantly covering ground. I forgot to clear my tracks before we started the hunt, so the miles she covered was less than it showed. I'm estimating she covered 14 miles. We hunted from 0730 to 1100 and things slowed down the last hour. I lost count of how many trees she made. Little to no issue with her staying on the tree. Still having a hard time from her wanting to eat the tree though. Squirrels were hard to find. One broke and ran as we were walking away. Had one that I was able to see I piece of tail. Shot it with the .22 and made him move. Killed it but got hung up. Waste a lot of shells and the squirrel was still up there when we ended the hunt....and wasted a couple more shells.
I applied some information I learned from my last hunt with Mr. Carlton. Sweetie was on a sweetgum tree and right next to it was a short magnolia. As we approached the tree I suggested to keep eyes low on the brush because thats where the squirrel might be. Sure enough right after that he bailed out of there crossed a creek and made it to a hollowed out beach tree. Tried to smoke bomb him out but that one got away. Had another tree with 3 squirrels in it. That was exciting. Only got one but I was happy we finally knocked some fur down to her. Despite not killing many it was a very enjoyable hunt.

After the hunt Sunday morning I said Sweetie needed a break and would rest the evening instead of hunt. But as we were driving back the weather seemed to change and make me optimistic about squirrels moving good in the evening. After we got home and she got some rest, she was ready for a round 2 so we went. It was a very fast pace hunt with one tree shortly after the next. My dad hard a hard time of keeping up with me and my brother as I was trying to keep up with Sweetie in thicker woods. But he was able to catch up at the tree.

We looked at a lot of big holey trees, and two pines. She had barked on one but hadn't fully committed when I saw one squirrel moving in a skinny tree over her. Went ahead and shot it out to her before it got away. We saw another one that scurried up a big pine as we were walking under it. Sweetie was close by at the time, and did not make any notion that she thought something was there until after it went up. She treed on it though. There are so many variables and I hate to speculate but can't help it. I really think she heard it go up and smelled squirrel on some of the pieces of bark that had fallen. If so that would be the second time something like this has happened. The first being a squirrel that was cutting a pine cone and we both noticed the falling shavings at the same time.
 
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JTHOMP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
The winter storms and following rains kept us out of the woods, but Sweetie has come back with hunts Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and has done great. Where we hunted Saturday was very difficult for her. Temps in the morning were in the low 30s. My buddy got us on a property with a great squirrel population. The Guy that had the property said we'll hunt so and so section. Almost all of that section was 6 to 12 inches. Not exactly a good place to be hunting. Sweetie pushed through and mostly stayed near us rather than going out as she jumped and swam from tree to tree. Can't blame her for that. I think a lot of what she treed were already in holes because we pushed them into holes. But in 4 trees that had squirrels we killed 8 and 2 got away. Five more were killed that she didn't tree, which given to circumstances I can't see any reason that she should've treed those. Most were sunning in trees and probably hadn't come down. After a couple hours she had enough of the water and cold. I picked her up and carried her as we made our way to the truck.
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Sunday morning I made a hunt with my uncle on some property he hunts. The property was much smaller than I expected and prefer so I took my time with her working it. It was still cold when we started and I expected squirrel to be denned which seemed to be the case. She opened up on track a couple time which she is doing more often now. Rather than encouraging her to tree I now sit back and let her tell me. Still early in the morning I saw her running with nose to the ground like a paint brush on wood. I said, "I think she is tracking something" she eventually half heartedly treed on a pine tree. I though it was something old, and when I started in the direction she left it so I let it go. Eventually she went back to it and treed again. As I got closer I was a little more optimistic when I saw two nest in the tree and thought she might have something. I got to the base of the tree and was about to start pulling vines..... Thats a coon! Thats two coons!!! We put a few shots in them and knocked them down to her. These coons were BIG one is probably the biggest I've seen. My uncle tied them by the head and carried them over the shoulder to hang them in a near by deer stand. I had to hold Sweetie back while she was barking up a storm watching him carry away her coons. I was afraid she would take him down if she was loose. I tell everyone that she hates a coon, and glad she got her first one.

We moved to another spot without any luck in the first. Between 10 and 11am she made 3 trees and each had a squirrel. Each tree was absolutely perfect. She was confident and stayed until we got there. Icing on the cake was knocked all 3 down to her.
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My dad and I hunted her Monday evening. While working the edge of a field and a creek she opened up a couple time. We saw the squirrel run on the ground and went up a live oak with a hallow top. I expect it went right into it. She wasn't far behind on nose on the ground until about 10yards from the tree. She never checked that tree, and lost the track. She wanted to tree near where the squirrel came down, but never really confident on a single spot. We moved on and kept hunting. I wish she would've found it but you can't win them all. She went on to make 4 trees that evening. One she spent awhile working that track working a wide area for awhile. Something colder I suspect. The other 3 she was confident. One of those I'm positive there was one there just in a hole, and we killed the other two. It's the near the end of the season and every hunt is still a learning lesson and progress for both of us. Only got a couple hunts left and hope we can continue to have good hunts like these.

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JTHOMP

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
Forgot to post about the end of our season......

Last hunts of her first season we hunted February 26, 27, and 28. We have a BHA event lined up on a WMA that weekend, so I decided we would get there Friday for an evening hunt, and hunt the following day. That evening was super windy. I waited until 4:30 or so before leaving the campsite and going to the woods. She ran for awhile before she found something hot. It was just me and her hunting that evening, but she made 4 trees and each tree had a squirrel. Unfortunately I only killed one. She did her job though 100%.

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The next morning we had a crew with us. Had a total of 6 guns in the woods including these 2 young boys. Their dad had been taking them hunting but these were they first squirrels they had killed. Sweetie hunted great. She made 5 trees and we killed a squirrel in each tree. After 0830 they stopped moving. She went on to make two more trees later in the morning presumably on colder scent by how she was acting. That evening we went back out. Treed a couple of dens and just before dark made 2 trees and got two squirrels.

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We went back home that night and she rested all day on Sunday. I knew she was worn out, but it was last day of the season so I let her decide if we would hunt. I woke her up from sleeping on the couch, "Wanna make a run?" She looked at me with that wide eyed stare, and ran to door. So we made one last hunt. Me, Ashley, and my dad hunted her and I got to see one of the coolest things of the season. I saw on the GPS her running back to me and expected to see her through the wood. The woods were pretty thick. I saw a flash of movement and coming almost directly to me was a squirrel. As it passes by, a second or two behind the squirrel is Sweetie. She doesn't see it but it running on scent. The squirrel jumps up a big oak and goes up. Sweetie double checked herself after she got to the oak and she treed. Absolutely beautiful to see it play out.

There ended up being another squirrel (maybe 2) already in that tree, and we got one. Went on to tree a few more trees that evening that a squirrel had already timbered or someone saw a squirrel but it found a hole.
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JTHOMP

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Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
It's nice to be able to say "We killed X many squirrels with my dog." and while that would make me proud, that number doesn't justify her worth to me, how hard she hunted each time out, or quantify all the squirrels that got away. So I refuse to go back and count them all up. However I have some numbers I am proud of that shows what we accomplished this season.

We were in the woods 32 days this season for a total of 39 hunts. Across Louisiana and Mississippi, we hunted 9 private properties, 2 National Forests, and 8 WMAs. Only once did we hunt the same woods more than twice. We brought 12 people the for their first time ever hunting with a squirrel dog, and 3 people killed their first squirrel over Sweetie. The only thing that kept us out of the woods were a couple small injuries, me getting COVID (still made one run that I paid for the following day), the winter storm and the following rains. I made a commitment to give her the best first season possible, and I did the best I could do. I'm proud about every part of that.
 

Bhill552

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Jun 7, 2016
Messages
89
It's nice to be able to say "We killed X many squirrels with my dog." and while that would make me proud, that number doesn't justify her worth to me, how hard she hunted each time out, or quantify all the squirrels that got away. So I refuse to go back and count them all up. However I have some numbers I am proud of that shows what we accomplished this season.

We were in the woods 32 days this season for a total of 39 hunts. Across Louisiana and Mississippi, we hunted 9 private properties, 2 National Forests, and 8 WMAs. Only once did we hunt the same woods more than twice. We brought 12 people the for their first time ever hunting with a squirrel dog, and 3 people killed their first squirrel over Sweetie. The only thing that kept us out of the woods were a couple small injuries, me getting COVID (still made one run that I paid for the following day), the winter storm and the following rains. I made a commitment to give her the best first season possible, and I did the best I could do. I'm proud about every part of that.

Good job. They give us their everything. The least we can give them is our time.
 

JTHOMP

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Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
The long dog days of summer will be over soon. Sweetie is ready to hit the woods any time and I'm very much looking forward to knocking out the first one of the year. Since April we've been out a handfull of times. Probably once every 2 weeks, at times 3. Although the times have been fewer than previously I absolutely love the excitement and fire under her ass when I grab the lead and ask "wanna make a run". We're still working on not biting the tree. I find that it happens less when before I cut her loose we have an eye to eye conversation, "Sweetie, no bite. Ok? Nooo Bite. Alright lets go!" May sound odd but I swear I really think it helps.

This time of year I still go through shaking vines and looking for squirrels, but it's hard to find them so I don't worry about it too much. I've seen a couple squirrels over her and it's always a great moment when it happen. One situation we got into April was when she caught a day time coon on the ground. I heard her barking and I knew that barking meant "I got something". What that something is always worries me. I took off sprinting to catch up to her to see what she had, ran up to her find her baying a coon. When I got there she went from baying to a scrap. I looked around to quickly find the first decent limb on the ground. I picked up the pine limb, moved Sweetie out of the way, and gave one blow with the limb breaking. Sweetie jumped back on the coon, but at a bad angle. The coon got around the back side of her. I separated them as fast as I could and finished off the coon.

After the scrap, I put Sweetie on lead and walked her a ways from there before cutting her loose again. I didn't have anything to carry the coon out with and planned come back for it after we finished the run. While walking her on lead, a squirrel timbered out over us. She immediately looked up and started treeing. It was the first time I've seen her tree one in a tree by sight. Very proud of her that day.
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We last ran on Saturday morning. We hit the woods at 0630 and by 0730 the squirrels started moving. Sweetie made 3 solid trees and she never took a bite at a tree. Can't ask for much better than that. And to top it off here is a photo from last night. She's a very special dog in our house.


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JTHOMP

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Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
Squirrel season is finally here and it's time to get ready for the leaves to drop. Hurricane Ida messed up our area big time. Much of my local hardwoods have been trashed from the storm. I'm unsure of what the future will hold in regards to raising another squirrel dog. When training Sweetie it was easy to go 2min down the road and put here in the woods multiple time a week for short training runs. Now those woods are choked with down trees. Hopefully the landowner will let us burn it this season, and maybe that will help in the future. For now I'll continue to hunt Sweetie mostly in places not impacted or impacted as bad by the storm, which means an hour drive or more from the house.

Opening day we made a run along a creek in Mississippi. It's a pretty little spot and has quite a few squirrels, oaks, and good vines. The last time her and I were there was when I got my finger bite. She made 5 good trees but never saw any. The following Monday I had the day off, so I met a buddy of mine and his son at a WMA near their house. Her first tree my buddy saw one, as we approached the tree but couldn't find it again. The second tree, my friend again saw it and we knocked it down to her. First one of the year for her! After that his son wasn't feeling well so they left. Sweetie went on to tree another 6 or 7 more times that evening. For one of those, she was still working out the track around a tree when the squirrel timbered over her. She heard the branch shake above, barked and took off running after it. I caught up to her treeing on this white oak tree but never found the squirrel after that.
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She was a little stove up after each run which was expected. Especially the second time out I ran her farther than I had intended to. The next few weekends I will be busy deer hunting, and after that I'll be headed to Arkansas with Sweetie riding shotgun. I'm planning for twice a week to get her out in the training woods in the evenings after work. As thick as those woods are with all the down trees, she doesn't cover a whole lot of ground but it's better than nothing. Got to get her in shape for the mountains.
 
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asdew1880

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Sep 9, 2018
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88
Location
Louisville, KY
Do you use a leash in the woods to tie her to the tree? I've never done that because I prefer my dog to follow a timbering squirrel.
 

JTHOMP

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Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
862
Location
Louisiana
This past Saturday morning and the prior sunday evening we ran on a WMA in S MS. The evening was eventful. I turned her loose while I was still getting my stuff together, and she treed while I was still a the truck. Saw 1 but no kills. The Saturday went to a new area of the WMA with better timber. Much of the older trees throughout the WMA were heavily damaged from Katrina 16 years ago and some places have grown back better than others.

The east side looked like better timber on the map and it was worth the half mile walk down a 4wheeler trail to get out of the pines and in the bottomland. I have struggled with walking her on a lead but I saw on another hunttalk post where someone wrapped the lead under the belly. She's a totally different dog with the lead under her and walking her in and out is a pleasant walk now. Ran for about 2.5 hours and was in squirrels all morning. Killed 1 and saw 2. No telling how many others left in a tree unseen. I believe she's ready for the high country. We'll be rolling out Thursday morning.
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