2020 Epic Hunting Trip

Day #1 – Weds, Oct 14, 2020
Day 1 travel north from Austin towards ND afap
We’re off to Jamestown,ND
I had a little heart attack when I thought I forgot my duck gun. I stopped and checked and I’m OK
OK near noon
KS 3 p
Wichita 4 p
TX tag works on KS Toll
First trees turning near Salina. 430p 89 deg
I want to hunt all this N KS country
Concordia 6 p
Neb 630
I80 730 done. Last best place to stay.
Day #2 – Thurs Oct 15, 2020
40 is cold
Look at those eyes!
Dot heat started – proestrus should run approx 9 days.  Hmph.
33 deg at sunrise in NE Sandhills. Stunning. Need to come back.
Chicken flying along the road!
It’s backroads through little towns in NE. Very cool.
Lots of yellow leaves in North Nebraska
Lol 1 lane bridge in N NE
MO river into SD @ 830
Mitchell SD 10 am
The wind is howling
Jamestown ND 2 p
ND PLOTS guide – https://gf.nd.gov/plots/guide
I’m from out of state and can’t hunt most PLOTS until Sat – have to hunt limited category of public properties.
Scouting north and west from Jamestown
First spot lost – pavement ends
Any of these waterfowl production areas should also be huntable for at least some pheasants and maybe some sharpies too.
I’m going to Carrington and then going to Scout up by Spirit Lake on the state trust land. That will be closer to John who I should meet up with tomorrow.
I found another big decent spot up high.
Headed quickly north to Rockford near Devils Lake with lots of blue square that I think I can hunt if they’re not swamps and marshes.
We’re going to look.
That’s very interesting. That cluster of blue and yellow blocks didn’t appear to be very Birdy. But I did flush half a dozen sharp tails out of the ditch right next to a yellow area that is connected to blue area I don’t know.
I got no brilliant ideas so I’m headed back to Jamestown where there is a decent hotel and a Walmart so I can stock up
Went to the top of 281 New Rockdale ND!
Day #3 – Fri, Oct 16, 2020
Out by. 830
Limited to blue or green boxes.
No yellow plots until tomorrow b/c I’m from out of state.
No grudge, I appreciate the idea.
Light snow last nite
Loop 1  state land
Saw ditch sharpies near the start but on a different property
Medium loop
Loop 2
State land
Big loop to work windward side of draws
2 jumped long
Dot came in above them and no shot
Met John ND
Found a blue spot to hunt in New Rockford
Hunted his dog
Saw 3 sharpies all jump wild chuckling
Knee-deep grass was hard to work
Lots of hills and valleys and cover.
All birds were singles.
His dog found a dead hun.
Done at 4
Need to meet tomorrow contact @ Dunn Bros Coffee @ 8
Revised plan
Stay Bismarck 2 nites and leave early sun AM direct to hunt near Meltor in the Badlands
Stay back in Dickinson
Hunt next am then 6 hrs to Casper a day early to rest work laundry
730 settled dog fed
Still need ice and gas and cope
Big steak
TX Boy needs this I think.
9 p and into hotel tired and sore
Already raining and 42. Could be nasty tomorrow.
Day #4 – Sat, Oct 17, 2020
Hunting w Bill near Bismarck.
34. Overcast and light snow from last nite
Follow Bill to his honey hole
Big loop for Pheasants
Big point and steady on 12 bird flush
Pointed hens flushed I shot she held
More hens flushed
She held
Rooster flush but no shot she held
Hens flushed and she held
Rooster flushed I shot she held then fetched on command
Bumped 50 more wild in 3 large groups
Creek bottom loop. 2 hens jump wild
Dot found a Blue tongue deer
1230 to last loop
1p somebody already there!
Deep plots barren and ran out of road!
130 & Bill needs to be done
We’ll hunt our way back
3rd loop likely but zilch
Tore my chaps on barb wire. Shit.
34 deg windy sunny cold as f – icky
This last WMA up on top is a honey hole!
MO breaks WMA
Back by 5
Day #5 – Sun, Oct 18, 2020
2 hrs to ND Badlands, 27 deg
Time change to Mtn Time
Little pieces of snow falling all AM
Medora @ 830
Hunting beside Little MO River thru badlands
A kind Drahthaar friend shared a pin with me so I know what to look for.
Loop 1 a and b zilch
Big running Dot!
25 windy and cold.
Loop 2 zilch
She showed really great hand signs, points, and check back on big runs. Hope her nose is working!
Big deep loop in bl on nice wide gravel rd. Met deer hunter scouting.
Dots in heat!
Last big loop 11 45
If those aren’t called Titty Mtns then I quit!
It’s like the desert but smoother w grass
Warmed up to 33 at 130p
Big Galts Gulch river valley at the turn before SD. Cool place big grass
I’d sure like to have someone teach me how to hunt the badlands. Very easy walk and slopes if you have a big running dog
Left turn Lower right corner headed back up
Head back across middle maybe drone first spot
Grassland edge of badlands
2p see 160 ac sunflowers badly planted.
Notice is PLOTS w label
Thought cool they did that
See 10 sharps blow out of the ditch into it!
This is your sign!
Park downwind for big U to scoop them
Halfway in Dot is running deep and wide on a perfect line.
Excellent cover in medium thick weeds and 24” sunflowers
Not easy for 4th trip today
She was tired getting out of the truck
Dot points at 80y
7 flush she holds
3 singles flush she holds
They fly across the road and she returns to me
I blow her down and start walking
At 40 y I see she’s up so blow her again
Late sharp jumps from 15y upwind.
I shoot it drops leg and falls
Need to hurry but she didn’t see fall bc she was down.
Send Dot on Search. Points. Get it. Flushes
I shoot hard and she fetches
Out of GoPro battery
Dots first Sharpie and my first in ND!
Feathers into the truck trophy case!
2 points sharpie
1 hit
1 retr
Headed on thru middle
Late day in badlands
Pavement into town 4 p
I really like BL and want someone teach me how to hunt it
5p into Dickinson for holiday inn hotel and work tomorrow am
Then onward maybe to Casper but poss short of there as 6 hr drive
Dot is pooped hard and can use the rest and food.
6p supper Applebee’s
Day #6 – Mon, Oct 19, 2020
Out of Dickinson 1030 work done
7 hrs to Casper a day early
Icy roads into SD
Steady light snow in SD
245 p Beulah WY
Casper 545 60 deg! Hot
Day #7 – Tues, Oct 20, 2020
Rest and laundry in Casper
No coffee pot in hotel room
Sent details to Grey Reef
Day #8 – Weds Oct 21, 2020
WY Huns & Chukars
Loop 1
3 hun coveys
Flush one
Dot point
Hit, Retrieve
Big loop
Loop 2
Sage Grouse Flushes! See vid
Hun flush long
330 done very tired
Front coming in tonight
Same guide as first time – Andy
Three Advil and a pint of pickle juice Yum
DOT is very tired
45m back to hotel
Day #9 –  Oct 22, 2020
25 snowy windy
Hun hunt on private
Late start
Big covey flush before start
Very big loop and no contact
Dog points the covey when we were loading up in the truck
Andy released Dot and she barked and snapped at him! Heaty bitch!
Came to me on whistle to work wo gps
Chased them with points and steady and easy
3 points
2 ground shot
1 flight shot
1 retr
Loop 2
3 long flushes
1 point
1 retr on cool under hill. Video
Loop 3
Dot in truck
Big loop w his 4 dogs
Cool vids and sweet work
Long flush
No bird
Done 230 legs pooped dog pooped
Req the same for tomorrow for Dot training on Huns
Walmart reload cooler
Magical hunting day!
Hotel at 4
Day #10 –  Oct 23, 2020
Late start
All bird hunting is an hour away
Private Hun lease again
20 calm clear
Snow gone here
10 covey pushes
4 points
4 retr
New place
Loop 1
Easy setup and miss
Popo chk and selfie!
Loop 2
Back to yesterday’s place
Loop 3
Entry covey then chase in yesterday’s spots
Dot only first loop
Failed to find fresh dead hun on bare ground
Refuse or smelled out?
She pointed the covey and held
No Dot after initial covey
Chased out singles
Another  w 3 in his ass went 100y
Last bird
Done at 3
Magnificent day blurry but lots of dog and bird action w lots of ground covered
Dot pooped hard
Weather was perfect today
Shot Ber for 3”:shells but long shots w CG would have been better.
Day #11 –  Oct 24, 2020
630 out
Boise 530
OR 615
Burns 830 but 730 pst
Day #12 –  Oct 25, 2020
15 and bad hotel heat
On to Grants Pass
Saw Valley Qquail this am walking Dot at hotel
I think Dot is almost done bleeding
Across the top of Great Basin
Out of desert into forest 1030
Thru Klamath forest near crater lake cc
Aspens changing
28 deg 1130
Klamath marsh is very cool
BW early check-in
Dot getting skinny on the road!
Day #13 –  Oct 26, 2020
Brk w Dom then off to mtns
Dom is a bird bio
Loop 1
old burn w thick slash
Barely saw first covey
Perfect knob post on second covey
1 down
Shot his top knot off
Re-saw first covey at end and shot another
Slow flushes are cool
Loop 2 short
Edges then into the valley riparian
Point on Rough Grouse in tree
Ground flush
more flushes
work it down to another covey
work them more flushes
Work back up
Flushes again
Tree RG and video
Fun Rough Grouse Rodeo!
Plenty of shooting today
All either fast low quiet quail or dense bush RG
430 done
Sore hard. Some was like sky chk hunt
Day #14 –  Oct 27, 2020
Gold Hill OR Airbnb
Out by 8
Road grouse in forest too quick away
Loop 1 zilch
Mtn Quail road covey tried but too steep
Lunch tailgate
Road blue grouse sneak miss
Blue grouse from road but couldn’t find
Pressed Dot hard but should fired the gun or thrown a rock. Over trained.
One side for Mountain quail
One side for forest grouse!
Steep loop. Lots of sideways New big toe blisters from it.
Pm loop along ridge zilch
Ran Dot. She’s a doofus.
430 done
May June July canyon pigeon hunt in OR
Aug banded pigeon in CA
Day #15 –  Oct 28, 2020
Ready to be done w mountains
Out early short day
Nice trails but 2x bushwhacking downhill in bb vines was nasty
One big loop saw 1 quail covey but didn’t get on them
I hit Dots whistle goal!
One and done so Dom can get 5 hrs to highland hills ranch
We’re headed back after dog bowl w pins for onX
Rescued the dog bowl
Shopped ate at home and slept
Day #16 –  Oct 29, 2020
Travel to Boise
Dot cycle changed last night from bleeding to licking
5k miles 262k at Klamath marsh
Albert basin cool cc
Poverty basin deserves its name
Smog in Ontario makes my eyes water and my nose clog up
Boise 7p
Day #17 –  Oct 30, 2020
Boise to Ogden Easy
Updated the trophy case
Out by 10
Dot discovered that people walk their cats
3p into Layton and hotel took me day early
Denny supper
Day #18 –  Oct 31, 2020
Layton holiday inn near Ogden UT
MRL and KS scouting in am
Duck truck oil change and get larry in pm
Good lord day 2 Dot is hot heat on fire humping everything
Day #19-  Nov 1, 2020
W Larry
Ducks in Salt Lake
4am meet
In place 6 for 630 start
Water frigid! Shivers waiting in Dot !
Father and son too 4 shooters in the boat
I’m up front on deck and running dot out the back
Slow enough
Great view.
1 Wigeon w rust
1 Redhead
6 retr
Blue bird day
Out by 11
Deep mud was hard and tricky
Day #20 –  Nov 2, 2020
Behind giant swan sills
Stale ducks and blue bird day
1 retrieve on cripple
Off by 10
Maverick at 2
6 realeased chukars and 6 pheas.
In a dog training area in thick cover.
Everyone’s first time
Little old man dog trainer placing birds
Bad flyers bad bad
Dot caught 3 of 5 pheasant bc thick brush
Larry shot chukars but missed more than hit and DE boys backed up and got them.
Chukars were better but only bc she couldn’t catch them
Bad for all steadies.
Need teach point then flush
I worked the pond and sides w dog and I’m whooped
5 of 6 chukars
5 retr pheasant
5 retr chukar
Day #21 –  Nov 3, 2020
SLC ducks w Larry
Dipshit guide forgot to fill boat gas tank
Set us up badly then hiked a mile out on the dike and in marsh to fill gas tank and return
Then he pushed us deeper and nothing changed
Saw 1 flight pf bluebills and nothing else
Done at 11 for 2 hr long to get us out and pick up 200 dekes
Big lunch
Nap elections laundry
Room got cleaned
Day #22 –  Nov 4, 2020
Larry to airport at 830
Off-Day Humor!
Get JLH 1030
Park City tour wo snow
Near river bird refuge
Saw pheasants in the marsh
Blue iguana supper
Day #23 –  Nov 5, 2020
Off to grand junction 11 to see Cynthia
Arr 4 la Quinta
Super w Cyn 6
Day #24 –  Nov 6, 2020
JLH approval for 50 miner plus deal
Out 1130 to La in Bolder
Day #25 –  Nov 7, 2020
Late start see La at barn 1130
Me n Dreamer
Estes Park and RMNP
Jens first elk
Lebanese for supper
So good savory
Home by 7
730 am depart and should be in KS near noon then time change but far west side so little later
Day #26 –  Nov 8, 2020
Drop Jen at airport 830
Reconfigure truck for hunt
Dot Ready To Go
Windy off to KS
Scouting at noon
Dot needed 6 poops first run
Wrong open date. Is 11/14
Finished scouting Norton
Almost north to Nebraska
Could hunt there but only public and hard to figure
Could go home n work then RnR
12 hrs home ovn greensburg is fine.
Plan Better Next Time!
Stay Wichita at 930
Long day
Day #27 –  Nov 9, 2020
8 hrs home Wichita to home
Arr 430
Return Thur pm back to Tipton and beyond
EPIC Trip Ends – To Be Continued in 2021

Dot’s 2020 VGP

Sat 10/10
We met about 7 at the BRC clubhouse and got paperwork started.
Only 2 dogs – Dot and Justin Morales w Uber dog we’ve been testing with since VJP. Justin was an excellent partner to run a VGP with and just 2 dogs should make it go quicker.
Traveled to the same ranch/preserve as last year. Deep in the E TX piney woods but perfect for VGP.
70s and foggy. I hope the temps stay down.
Started in the big field by the dammed pond.
Dot is Dog 1 – that’s nice.
Field search 4/4 
Dot started warm and quickly heated up. She covered big areas with occasional detail searches and pushes into deep weeds and sides. I asked and was told to handle her as if we were hunting. I bent her a time or two to move her along and placed her by me when I was told that was all that was needed. Probably 5 minutes duration. I scored 4/4 and that was right. I was very pleased with her first event as one of her strongest and she appeared cooperative.
Stobern Independent Forest Search 4/4
We searched the deep East TX forest below a very large tank dam/water control structure. Tall trees, scrubs, and brambles.  Just like next door to our house so that’s good. Judge asked if she’d go into the brambles and I said probably around them. We stepped off a dirt road a few steps and he said “Start her”. Dot started out sticky and I was worried. She worked up and down the road laterally for 2-3 minutes. Good detail and circling but just width, no depth to where the other judges were. I moved a little each time she checked in. She did respond to hand signals on each check-in but returned shallow twice until she decided to go deeper. Huh. Duration 10 mins total. I guessed 3 maybe 4 and was awarded a 4. This was the start of the stress.

Coming out of this, Dot was tired and wet but still eager. We were fortunate to have a large lake behind the dam so I watered her several times during the day. She also hunted a bit on the shore and I think that was a little stress reliever.

Rabbit Drag 4/4
The rabbit drag was back up on the hill in the forest with more brambles. We had a slight breeze up here though. She started slower and more deliberate than I’ve become used to and I was concerned. She went nose down and came back out just fine a few minutes later. I alerted her and the judge when we first made contact on her return and she acknowledged. Then, she turned hard right and the judge said “don’t say anything”. She went about 10 steps and then took the easy path back to where we were. She sat & delivered like a champ. I guessed 4/4 and was right.
One of her faults out of HZP was her tendency to parade on the delivery. I’d taught her to deliver at my side and that created situations where she could parade around me with game in her mouth. That was difficult to correct without sending the wrong message. She wasn’t bad but she was 9/10 on Manner of Retrieve in HZP and I wanted to fix that. We both worked hard on front delivery and it paid off. She still likes to slide into a side delivery if I don’t give her the signal for front delivery and that’s actually what I want. I was very proud of her (and me) for getting that done the proper way.
Blood Track 2/4 
We drew the short straw and went second. We spent time in the shade being calm while Justin ran. Blood has always been a challenge for us. She doesn’t like it and I got a really late start doing it properly after improperly training her to track twice before. I was hoping for a clean run but we both made some mistakes. Here’s what I remember because it was more than a little foggy
  • We got a good start – she was on track and I was spotting blood.
  • I called out and dropped cotton on every spot I could find. I knew I could call myself back to the last blood without penalty. I used this tactic 3 times that I remember.
  • I knew I was called back once but wasn’t surprised to find out it was actually 2 judge callbacks. Later, I found out I was within a single stop of getting the dreaded 3rd callback. Whew!
  • I can tell when Dot is tracking and not tracking. When she turned not-tracking I stopped her and went searching for my last blood drop, put her down, and then I searched for the next spot to get a direction. Once I got that, we restarted.
  • It was hot and I was sweating like a pig. One time Dot even took some water from my hand! She was hot, too. I did get frustrated but caught it quickly so I could get my head back in this game. That helped.
  • At least twice, maybe 3 times, she tracked me right into the damn brambles! I’m 16’ behind her on a leash and by the time I get the wrongness of the situation in my mind, we’re tangled in catclaw brambles. I got scratched getting us out of those messes.
  • We found one wound bed but it didn’t mean much to either of us. Probably should have downed her and found the next blood myself. I knew she was weaker on turns than a line.
  • I did notice the general direction changes and knew when we were on the typical third leg. I also started noticing more paths and the tendency of the blood trail to follow the paths.
  • I also learned at this time that when Dot was not trailing blood, she was actually tracking box turtles. She finally found one close by – before she could drag me through the brambles again – and I learned what she was after.
  • Now I could keep her on the path and off the turtles!
  • I went back to the last blood, put her down, found the next blood, and restarted her.
  • Within 50 yards her head came up and I knew she’d scented the pig.
  • Thankfully, she did put her nose down a time or two more so that it wouldn’t be so horribly obvious.
I was ever so grateful to get there and get the leaf. Dot was glad to be finished, too. Goal achieved.
I guessed a 3 thinking we had 1 call back but was not surprised to find out we had 2 of them.
Thinking back on it, I was glad to be done with blood. She didn’t like it and I didn’t either. But, she’s a monster searcher so can I teach her to combine her talents using a bringsel? It’s worth exploring.
Close Forest Hunt 4/4
Dot likes to run big and I typically give her up to 100 yards at the ranch because I have a GPS on her. We trained in the woods using a CLOSE command that caused her to bend in my direction to stay in sight. I layered this on top of her other bend commands such as the buzzer and the bend whistle. I thought we were mostly ready and might get dinged for calling her back too much. We walked into the deep woods full of scrubs and brambles and began hunting. The judge told me to hunt her as I normally would and he’d let me know if I over handled her. I bent her maybe 3 times when she got out of sight for more than a few seconds. She seemed to know the game after the first CLOSE command and worked accordingly. Duration maybe 5 minutes. I guessed 4/4 and was pleased with her work.
Coon Drag 4/4
We did the coon drag while we were still in the deep woods. I watched a judge drag the coon off into the bush and out of sight. I was told to start her and she took 4 steps on the track and disappeared into the woods. I’d seen pups fail to retrieve on this and Dot had pulled this trick herself once recently. I was a little nervous. But, she did her work and delivered like a champ. I guessed 4/4 and was grateful for no incidents.
Back up out of the deep woods behind the dam and into fresh air and breezes. Also a good time for a quick dip in the pond.
Point and Steady 4/4
Dot hit the field like a champ – big running bird searches are her favorite. She gave a nice search and went birdy behind a hay bale. The judge said she’s pointing and then she relocated to where I could see her. The bird flushed and as I watched, she stayed steady. I was so entranced with her performance that I forgot to fire a shot for testing steady to shot. When I turned from admiring my dog, all 3 judges were scowling at me. “You have to point another now”, they said, “and remember to shoot this time, OK”? Ha! It’s like a do-over in sporting clays – another try for free! After her first steady, I wasn’t worried – she knew the game. She pointed again, relocated once, and then held nicely while I stomped around trying to find the bird. She held again when I kicked it. I waited for an extra heartbeat or two to make sure she stayed and then fired the gun. She held on the shot just fine as well.  So proud! We trained hard for this but it’s been since June that she’s seen live upland birds. I guessed 3 maybe a 4 because that first bird could have been seen as a bump. The judges were generous and awarded a 4.
Retrieve of Freshly Shot Game 4/4
The judges placed the quail and sent us in. Dot quickly found the quail and pointed. She relocated several times but wouldn’t go in to pick it up. After some time, the judges told me to walk up and release her. I issued a mild “Go On” and she didn’t budge. I tried it again and she didn’t move. I gave her “Get It” and she pounced it, (loud squeak from the quail here), picked it up, and then delivered like a champ.  I guessed 3 but the judges awarded a 4 and we were grateful.
Duck Drag 4/4
The duck drag was laid similar to the rabbit drag in that’s the territory we had to work with. Dot performed almost exactly like her rabbit drag again – very deliberate going out and delicate coming back. I can only attribute it to the massive amount of dewberry briars on this place. I appreciate that she’ll take the care to avoid injuring herself. She delivered like the champ she is and I guessed 4 and was right.
We are done on this side of the ranch/preserve and into the really deep East TX piney woods for the water work.
It is a long way back on 2 track roads with rickety bridges and mud holes. We finally circle vehicles in the only clearing around 3 ponds. A judge mentions that one of the ponds is a 4H pond.
We trained in CenTex in a dry summer and didn’t have much training water – much less something this nasty. We counted on our 4 early teal hunts in September to give us the water work prep we needed for this test. I hope I was right in this strategy.
The 4H pond, where the searches will be done, is a couple of acres with submerged logs, a moderately clear center, and 5-20 yds of giant lily pads with half of them dead stalks and stems from a previous 2’ higher water level. It’s nasty!
We know cattails but not lily pads.
Search No Duck 2/4
We picked the best spot we could find to launch where I’d have some room to move and help her. I knew this would be tough for her. If these were only cattails, we’d be on our home field. She took to the water initially on command but soon circled back out of the lily pads and stems. The movement of the dead overhead stalks when touching underwater stems was just too much spooky for her. She went in several times for me but wanted back out quickly. On the other hand, most of her training ducks were pasture ducks and she’s learned to search the edges first. She covered approximately 75% of the edges from the bank with some forays into the water in the weedy corners. She brought her best game, best as she could, to a new tough place.  Hopefully, we’ll do a duck search here and she has some lessons ready. They called time and I guessed a 1. At least she hit the water on command! The judges graciously awarded a 2.
I noticed that I was feeling a bit frustrated and she was being a bit ornery. We were both tired. It was nice to rest while the other duck search happened.
Gun Sensitivity Retrieve 4/4
This is old stuff and she did as expected with a perfect delivery. I guessed 4.
Blind Retrieve 4/4
This is also old stuff too, but she can ignore or turn a line given to her. I gave her a line slightly upwind on an almost perfect crosswind and she honored it. She quickly found the scent and then delivered perfectly. I guessed 4 and was right.
Indépendant Duck Search 3/4
This test was on a pond similar to the previous Search w/o a duck. We had a little bit of downtime between the events and this would be the last one of the day. Dot rested and watered but was interested in the duck quacking as the judges got and then placed them in the pond. That’s a good sign because it’s late in the day, she’s tired and we know how to do this but she could sure use a little motivation right about now. I scouted the pond a bit and selected a better spot to start. Dot took to the water and then proceeded to search the pond. She avoided the lily pads again, but covered the pond outside them and then worked from the shore and went deep into the corners and pockets until she winded the duck. She produced it, they shot it and she delivered.  I guessed a 3 because she didn’t spend enough time in the water. The judges awarded her 3.

I was pleased with her water work as she performed exactly like she’d been trained and worked on our ponds. She was effective on this pond and I appreciate how she figured it out. I also appreciate that she is more tentative entering the water rather than big splashy entries but that’s just me.

Tomorrow’s Tests include
  • Fox in the Box
  • Down Stay w Gunshot
  • Steady by Driven Hunt
  • Off leash obedience on the road
  • On leash obedience in the forest
We’re both tired and I’m grateful for what Dot delivered today.
We declined the offer to eat supper and went back to the hotel, ate quickly and went to bed.
Sun 10/11
We met early at the clubhouse with the goal of finishing quickly. Only 5 events for 2 dogs and all can be run from here without any travel or much setup.
On Leash 4/4
We walked on-leash up the road and back through the trees with different paces and multiple stops and turns. We walked by trees on the left and right on the return. We practiced this and use it frequently so she was fine if a little edgy as usual. I guessed 4.
Off-Leash 4/4
We then walked a similar path off-leash with more emphasis on varying paces, direction changes, and stops. She does this really well and was a 4.
Down/Stay Gunshot 4/4
I put Dot into a DOWN and walked off 50 steps out of sight. I was told when to fire each of 2 shots. We’ve practiced this extensively and she was fine. 4
Fox in the Box 3/4
This was Dot reminding me who’s really in charge when it comes to what happens on the ground. Dot has done a countless number of these with a 95% success rate at home. She even got in and out of this box when we arrived on Friday. The only hickey was that we were using a borrowed coon instead of one she’d killed as we’d trained with. But, she’d done fine with this same borrowed coon on the coon drag the previous day so I thought this was a lock. I sat her, walked to the box, dropped the coon, walked back, setup her up and sent her. She went to the box, jumped right in, and proceeded to sniff around for what seemed like an eternity but was probably only 30 seconds. She then jumped out of the box and came and sat by my side. What????? The judge said, “that cost a point, resend her”, so I did. But, I gave more emphasis on the command this time. She did this one just fine and earned a 3.
Driven Hunt 4/4
We were placed next to the woods where several people would pass by in front of us in the forest out of our sight. They would be hollering, banging on pots, and firing gunshots. This simulates waiting for game to be pushed out by beaters. This event is almost impossible to practice unless you have a training day. We didn’t but we’d worked on this as much as we could at Texas Dove Hunts. There’s a lot of noise and confusion there and she would be steady down beside me. But, she could see all that and she couldn’t see them this time. I was so nervous I almost forgot to unleash her which would have cost a point. Dot was fine and earned a 4.
Dot’s teeth checked fine.
We were awarded a score of 290 with a Prize 3. I was pleased and proud. Better yet, you can actually see our partnership while we hunt together.
I spend the entire 5 hr ride home doing nothing be replaying our VGP in my mind so that I’ll always have a rich set of memories. What a fantastic goal and journey.

2019 Desert Quail Hunt #2

Jan 29, 2020

Away by 730. No easy way via Google maps. Fredricksburg to Del Rio to Marathon is better than I10. Fed and ran Dot first but dog farts.

Arrived with enough daylight to scout a little

Scouting. Lol. I just got back to camp 4 by 5 PM. This place is huge!

And it’s rugged as all hell – walking is going to be very tough

Depart HQ @ 520. Just missed javelina crossing the road at Stillwell. It’s always a bit weird to come back here. Temps drop fast in the desert. 15 deg w sunset and rise to Alpine. Check in but no coffee machine so nought one $20 at grocery store.
Todo – Download onX maps, Prep all cam batteries, Shop lunch, PDF detail map on iPad, Decode paper map

We just scratched the surface.

Jan 30, 2020

6a wake but lazy and delay leaving until 8. Got taco and bread. Out of Alpine @ 820. 32 and foggy. Download onX for Black Gap!

Javelinas running for cover

Javelinas on the road again. Arrive HQ by 10. Bird watchers said they saw a covey near camp 14. Going there first. Dump out loop. Drive and spot. Big Valley near Dell and Camp 14. 20m Loop around camp 14. Brutal hard walking on BBNP lava burp rocks. Another big valley south after bad ass climb. Loop near sheep pen. Driving loop near sheep pen. 1230 Dog farts even with windows open! Hunted a road covey in the pass. Uphill. Stalked and shot on flush. Missed. Searched but couldn’t find again. Steep hillside

Travel from HQ to the river requires going over at least 1 pass like this.

Lunch and drone flight at primitive camp on Rio Grande. Out at 245. Driving loop past camp 8 and back to HQ at 5PM.

Loma Linda, MX in the sunset.

Nothing at the End of the Road. International Bridge Closed Permanently

That’s a long road to one guy’s house. Gets dark in Black Gap early behind BBNP. 2 big loops with Dot and she didn’t have dog power for quail on the hill. No loops just drive. Hunting the desert is humbling in many ways. Size, time, scarcity, survival, and distance.

Lots of slow driving and looking

Jan 31, 2020

Out by 730. Cold and sun slow to rise.

Glamour photo at the faux Target between Marathon and Alpine, TX.

There are many strange animals in Texas.

This is the Actual Black Gap.

Dump loop at Camp 7. 40 deg cold but perfect w scattered clouds. Big covey in canyon stream hills south of camp 14. Right turn 50 birds split 3 ways up, around and down the canyon. Went up first Shot 2 Hit 1 Retr 0. Searched around but only found a single. Searched downstream and jumped covey again. Shot and missed. Missed again on late near birds. Pay attention!

From the top where I shot and you can see my truck in the upper left corner.

The second covey had the grace to bust in flatter ground but they still beat me.

With the exception of the East TX bird watchers, nobody else is here!

Lunched and droned at Primitive Camp 3-4

Rio Grande River near Black Gap WMA

1p Offward! Big horn sheep area turn around !

Approximately 1/3 of the WMA is off-limits to hunting for Desert Bighorn Sheep preservation projects.

Bighorn sheep blocked at camp 23. Makes sense. 230 Covey on old high road between Camps 23 & 13. Cliffside and went up, then over and around. Video of this hunt and shot. 1 shot and a miss. Droned from a water collection source between Camps 23 & 13. 315 onward to Camp 10/11. Seems too grassy up here but could be wrong. Tight canyon they like. Bighorn blocked again at water before Camp 12. 345

I’m the only one here today

I’m the only one here today. It’s a good reason to only hunt weekdays. Up to camp 8/9. 4p Road through arroyo Seco up to camp 9 is too brushy.

Too many scratches on my truck to go this way.

Examples of my attempts to hunt on foot.
I call these Lava Burps from BBNP just west of here.

15 m loop to find a late bird. No luck. Pooped out at 525 and de-registered at Black Gap HQ.

Similar to yesterday but the next canyon over.
The evening drive in sunset is enchanting.

Highway covey still out at 615! Perry diner, groceries and Home @ 730

Feb 1, 2020

Out w taco by 845. Big loop through Marfa and Presidio to scout Gambles and then into Elephant Mountain late pm. Marfa lights stop.

What don’t they want you to know?

Onward at 930. Rio Grande pics near Candelaria.

Rio Grande surprisingly wide near Candelaria, TX.

Candelaria at 1145 and End of the Road (paved).

Rugged Rio Grande river valley near Lajitas, TX

Gamble covey on the road just north of Riudosa and Chianti Hot Springs. OnX waypoint but no owner data. Canyons are like Rio Grande Gamble canyons in NM. Blue quail road covey saved at onX waypoint. San Jacinto Enterprises. Presidio at 1p. Jumped a time zone in there somewhere.

Early Bluebonnets but I bet these are more likely Mountain Lupines.

Blowout flat right-front tire. No cell service. Alpine 45 miles away. Spare flat too! One car passed. Second car stopped! Jeep guy pumped me up! 445 restart.

Elephant Mountain WMA

Alpine at 530. No open tire stores.

A handy 12v compressor from Tractor Supply!

Feb 2, 2020

Spare held at 32 psi overnight. Blessings! Out at 930. 1030 @ Sanderson 40# good! Ranch at 330 out at 445 to home.