Caribou Gear Tarp

Well, it was a nice day for a walk anyways.

fleabagmatt

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E WA
After my first spring season chasing turkeys (and coming home empty handed of course) I've been itching to get out and see what the fall season is all about. My plan was to get out early and check out a spot that had plenty of signs of birds late in the spring season, hoping they might stick around throughout the year. I had come across this little stand of trees and thick underbrush on some Feel Free to Hunt land, out in the middle of some wheat fields. Hiking up the farm road last April, there were lots of tracks and scat on the road, and on the way out I came upon a whole dead turkey. Not sure if it was shot or killed by a Coyote maybe, but it gave me hope that there might be other birds nearby.

Walking up the same road on Friday morning, I didn't see any signs of turkey, but the road was heavily tracked by whitetail. I stuck a post-it note on the whiteboard in the back of my brain to remember that in the future.
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As I hiked up and around the trees through the fields I spooked a couple whitetail does, off across the fields they sproinged. I moved away from the stand of trees to see what was on the other side of the hill, and as I approached the grass line seen here I flushed a covey of some game bird. I'm not familiar with my species yet, but they were fat, quail shaped birds, but bigger. It all happened fast, I just saw tan blobs taking flight and headed down the hill. Either Huns or Chuckar I assume. Had I been at the ready I might have been able to take a shot on them, but 1. I wasn't sure what they were, and 2. I wasn't sure if the season was open for them (hint: it was not, it opened the following day.)
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I made my way back to the stand of trees, and as I approached the draw center left, I spotted/spooked a couple more bedded does. I sat down in the grass and just enjoyed the view, it was turning out to be a beautiful, warm fall morning and I've missed being out here with some time to myself.
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After making a big loop of the area and seeing no signs of turkeys anywhere, I hopped in the truck to go scope out some other places not too far away. A couple minutes up the road and I spotted these buttholes, taunting me from private land.
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I happened across a new-to-me parcel of Feel Free to Hunt land, several circles of alfalfa wedged between a road and a small river. I stopped to check it out, and within 20 yards of the truck, flushed up another covey of something. Same body shape birds, but these had some tinge of reddish on their bodies. Onward to the back of the field, where it butted up against the river. The first field was tall, not yet cut. I think maybe longer than what turkeys might hang out in. But as I passed the fence line into the adjacent field, I stopped in a patch of dirt and noticed tracks. And scat. This field had been cut not too long ago and is much shorter.
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I'm not entirely sure, but I think there may be some turkeys in the area…
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I found a gate through the fence that led to the river. I suspect the birds are probably down here where the vegetation is thick since it's mid-day by this point. It looks like they may have hired some muscle for protection.
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No birds to be seen here, but I definitely plan to come back and try to be in this area at some point as the sun comes up. Off to the last spot of the day. I wasn't expecting to find anything here, but figured I'd wander around anyway. Didn't see any wildlife on this patch of public land, but it's a pretty spot.
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I hopped back in the truck and headed for home. 200 yards outside the public land boundary on a private lot, these buttholes were taunting me from a shady spot near the road.
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I guess I spoiled the ending in the thread title, but no shots were fired and no turkeys came home with me. But as I wrote, it was a nice day for a walk.
 
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Bam Bam

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Eastern Wyoming
Keep at it, Matt. If you can find out where the turkeys are roosting, you'll have all the info you need to bag one. They tend to return to the same roosts right before dark, unless the roost is disturbed. With that in mind, don't sit within 200 yards of a roosting tree, unless you are willing to go "all-in" on one sit. Post pics when you get one!
 

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
Well, it was a less nice day for a walk anyways...

I finally had a chance to head back out in search of turkeys and other flying friends. Had a wander through the alfalfa fields where I saw the turkey tracks in my previous outing. No birds, however, and one of the fields was full of cows, so I stayed away. It was cold and rainy, not sure how the wet affects the turkeys' behavior. On my way back out I decided to explore a side road that follows the river through some different feel free to hunt land. Lots of deer tracks in the road, and after a quarter mile in it opens up to a cattle grazing meadow sandwiched between the river and the hills. I followed the tree line out to the end, and the hillside back to the road. Spotted a few piles of bear scat and lots of deer tracks, but no signs of turkey or upland birds. I could see this being a great spot in the spring season, although I bet it gets hit really hard being so close to the road.
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This fella has had a rough go of it.
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By the time I got back to the truck, I was fairly wet, so decided to head for home. I spotted a huge flock of turkeys in a private field along the highway and almost stopped to knock on the door of the nearest house and ask permission to go chase them around. I kept moving, though, and took a detour to check out some more FFtH land closer to home. I was hoping this might be a decent spot to look for upland birds. The road in passed between two newly sprouted fields of winter wheat, one seen to the right of the river in the next pic. I spotted four fat pheasant roosters chillin' out in the middle of one field, and a fifth ran across the road as I passed by. Of course, that is not the land that can be accessed.
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All the grassy area where I am standing, and everything above the bluff on the left side of the pic is accessible, but it didn't seem like there was enough cover to hold birds. Hard to say, though. It will be a nice spot to bring little Ruby one of these weekends just to let her run around in the wild for a bit.

The area that had my interest when looking at this spot on Google Earth was that brown area sandwiched between the bluff and the river in the distance. It looked like good cover and, of course, water. Well what I found when I hiked out and climbed down the bluff was that the "good cover" was very good. As in, it's all six-foot tall grasses, and I had to bushwhack my way through it all the way back to the road. Couldn't see much of anything and I'm not sure I would have a shot even if I did flush something.

I'd like to come back here and spend some more time checking things out. Obviously there are pheasants in the area, it would be cool to figure out how to get a shot on one.

Back home in the afternoon and I warmed myself on the couch for a while with a cup of coffee and some griff puppybutt scratches.
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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
I haven't had time to get after the turkeys again, but I went out exploring for pheasant. I'm having a good time picking random "Feel Free To Hunt" spot and just going for a walk to see what I can find.

This was my spot of choice last weekend. The river runs along the bluff in the distance. Up on the hill to the left is a now tilled wheat field. Saw lots of boot tracks up there, and some spent shells (Man, if you're gonna hunt on someone's private - or any - land, pick up your shit, please.) so I know it gets hunted. I bushwhacked around in the thick grass next to the river, but no birds were seen.
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The view looking back in the direction I had come from:
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I really want to look into whether the landowner allows access other than hunting. There is some real nice looking water along here. I know downstream you can find smallmouth, and upstream it's a nice little trout stream. Could find either or both here maybe.

On Saturday I decided it was time to get over my "off-leash puppy will run away, never to be seen again" fears and drove out to a cut hay field to let Ruby have a run. Things went pretty much exactly as everything I had read said they would. She hardly left my side, and when she did she was constantly looking back to see where I was at. It was so great to see her bounding around, catching scents, and exploring on her own.
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I've been taking her out to a patch of sagebrush at night after dinner to burn off some of that energy before bed. I almost tripped over her as she decided to go on point right under my feet, presumably at a mouse or something like that.
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Took Ruby to a wheat field to explore again on Sunday, saw lots of interesting tracks and sign out there. I had no idea elk were to be found in this neck of the woods.
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We did scare up a few pheasants in this area, I am encouraged by that. They flushed far enough away that Ruby didn't take much notice, though. I may head back out there Friday morning with my shotgun and see if I can get close to one.
 
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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
I left Ruby at home this morning and took the shotgun out to the same spot I had seen the pheasants the other day. Scared up a handful of hens again in the same thicket as always, but no roosters. I made my way around the edge of the circle, as I approached this patch of green fresh growth next to the road, a few more hens kicked up. Kind of surprised me, as there wasn't much cover there for them.
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I came upon this thicket and made my way through the middle of it. When I got up between those two scraggly trees, two roosters busted out and I managed to get a couple shots off. Both swing and a miss, but it was good to actually have a chance. This thicket was full of elk tracks, you can kind of see some of them to the left in the dirt.
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Two shots, no birds.
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Everything to the left of that road is private, feel-free to hunt, most of the land to the right is private, not accessible. I could see what looked like maybe a spring in a draw out there, I'd love to go take a look, but I'm not going to tresspass. I bet the elk hang out down there.
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I walked up on these old, dead trees and as I approached, a big ol' owl flow out from right above me. I just about pooped my pants. You can just see him in the left-most tree.
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I had to cut the morning shorter than I would have liked, Ruby was due at the vet for her next set of puppy vax. This one hit her like my last COVID shot hit me, she pretty much slept through the rest of the day after we got back home.

Big brother makes for a nice pillow for naps.
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I still have no idea what I'm doing out there searching for pheasants, but I am really having a good time just exploring. I look forward to sharing more of it with Ruby.
 
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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
Weird, a bunch of the images I posted are now showing up as broken links. Guess I will try uploading them here, rather than posting links from my Flickr page.

I've been mostly offline the past couple weeks. I haven't been out with the shotgun lately, but I have been getting Ruby out to chase after some birds. I don't know if she is learning much about tracking and pointing, but we are having a great time romping through the brush.

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How YOU doin?
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marshman

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Jul 10, 2017
Messages
765
Location
Southwest Washington
Weird, a bunch of the images I posted are now showing up as broken links. Guess I will try uploading them here, rather than posting links from my Flickr page.

I've been mostly offline the past couple weeks. I haven't been out with the shotgun lately, but I have been getting Ruby out to chase after some birds. I don't know if she is learning much about tracking and pointing, but we are having a great time romping through the brush.

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How YOU doin?
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A post back you mentioned you went out without your pup? I wouldn't recommend that scenario...Dog should be going EVERY time, you are both learning and being at home is no instruction. Once Ruby knows what you want of her she will lead you to the birds. Ryker retrieving @ the Skook  II 11.14.21.jpg
 

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
A post back you mentioned you went out without your pup? I wouldn't recommend that scenario...Dog should be going EVERY time, you are both learning and being at home is no instruction. Once Ruby knows what you want of her she will lead you to the birds. View attachment 208601
Leaving her at home was just because I was hoping to shoot some birds. I have not introduced her to gun fire yet, so didn't want her out there with me in that scenario. Otherwise she definitely goes every time.
 

marshman

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Southwest Washington
Start firing a 22 when you feed her, not too close at first, and if you live where you can do this do it every feeding time. I have never had a gun shy bird dog, I use this method with every dog I have owned.
 

fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
I took Ruby out to look for quail. Didn't see any birds, but we had fun sproinging about in the grass. IMG_1272.jpg

Makes me sad to see crap like this, people are pigs. Actually, pigs keep a cleaner home than some folks around here. This was from maybe a 20 yard stretch of road I was walking. That one in the middle is unused.
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I can't help but wonder if there is some correlation to the spent shell trash and this guy that Ruby found not too far down the road. I didn't see any blood on it, so maybe just a coincidence.
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fleabagmatt

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Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
I guess until Turkey season rolls around in a few months, this has turned into a Runnin' with Ruby™ thread.

Upland season is done and we went out to check out some local Habitat Management Units. It's Corps of Engineers land and I had no idea these places were out there. Since they are pheasant release sites, I assume they get hammered pretty hard throughout the season. Lots of Mule deer sign out there as well.

The first spot we visited had a maze of paths cut through Russian Olives and blackberries. At one point we were deep in the middle of one of these patches and a big covey of quail flushed from both sides of us. The cover was so thick we couldn't see them, but it was pretty cool hearing them everywhere.

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Ruby is getting more confident in charging into the thick cover. She is undeterred by the thorny flora and thick grass.
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I thought this was some sort of viewing platform when we came up on it, but the 'floor" is wire fencing material. It's just a big frame full of dead branches. I assume cover made for the birdies.
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Long days exploring the desert and chasing birds around, Ruby gets a nap afterward and dreams about next pheasant hunting season.
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fleabagmatt

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Joined
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Messages
141
Location
E WA
We had our first porcupine encounter today. Fortunately Ruby was adequately afraid of it and kept away.

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Them big floppy ears are the best.

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Take me home, James.
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fleabagmatt

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Joined
Nov 18, 2020
Messages
141
Location
E WA
Ruby and I went and checked out some public land that I've been meaning to visit. There is an abundance of water and plenty of thick cover, so I assume it's probably good bird habitat.

This is a sign I might be on the right track.
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A great way to burn off some of that puppy energy.
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A little ways up from here we busted a bug covey of quail. Ruby really wanted to give chase, but they escaped out over the cattails to the other hillside. We came back on that side a while later and flushed them again. While she isn't yet finding them on the ground, it's good to see her get excited when they flush. I also brought along toy cap gun to see how she responds to loud(ish) noises. No response while she was focused on the birds, pleased to see that.
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It's like a mini chukar training area. Up over the rocks at the end of this area lies a lake that I want to try hiking into and fishing this spring.
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This is a neat patch of public land. I assume it gets hunted pretty hard, but there seems to be room to hike and get some distance from the parking area.
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It was 60 degrees and sunny and I didn't bring any water, so we kept it short today. Definitely going to come back and explore some more.
 
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