Duck Doc

December 26, 2013
Doc poses with the duck he retrieved, 12-26-13.

Doc poses with the duck he retrieved, 12-26-13.

Doc Savage, if nothing else, is a quick study. His last duck hunt was his first water retrieve and I had to wade out into the water with him. Thursday was his second duck hunt and he did the retrieving all on his own. He must have caught the fresh scent of a Pheasant because he went on a very nice point that I had to stop and video.

We came onto four Widgeon and I dropped one. Doc sized up the situation and then launched out after it. Once he got it, he wasn’t sure how to get back with it so I just waited for him to figure it out and he did a great job of retrieving.

We came on three more flocks of ducks, but with the snow crunching and the brush scraping against my coat, I wasn’t able to get into position to shoot before they flushed.

On returning to the truck, we came onto a wounded Mallard hen which swam into a thick patch of wild rose bushes. Doc spent about half an hour searching for it and on several occasions caught scent of it, but was not able to get a fix on it.

Merry Christmas

December 24, 2013

Christmas montage

Mia the duck dog

December 22, 2013

With a little more training, experience, and confidence, Mia is on course to become a heckuva retriever. I took her duck hunting Saturday morning and threw a lot of things at her in terms of retrieving.

My spread of decoys. The riffles in the background is the route Mia took for returning with her retrieves.

My spread of decoys. The riffles in the background is the route Mia took for returning with her retrieves.

Mia finds the duck for her first retrieve of the day.

Mia finds the duck for her first retrieve of the day.

We arrived to find four Whistlers (Goldeneye) sitting in the stream and Mia went on a nice point. They flushed and I dropped one on the opposite bank. Mia eagerly swam across and found it, but she has never retrieved from shore to shore and was a little indecisive, plus she was afraid to step off the ice. I finally had to walk downstream to some riffles and cross to her side, then lead her back through the riffles.

Zooming in on Mia with duck

Zooming in on Mia with duck

Mia has the duck but is afraid to step off the ice.

Mia has the duck but is afraid to step off the ice.

There were a fair number of ducks flying so I set my decoys and waited. They come in fast and I missed my next two shots before dropping a Bufflehead. It summersaulted across the water and Mia was on it. Learning from her first retrieve, she continued to the other bank and then went downstream to cross back over in the riffles – not retrieving protocol, but it worked for her.

A successful retrieve.

A successful retrieve.

Mia with her eyes to the sky for ducks.

Mia with her eyes to the sky for ducks.

I missed a couple more shots before hitting my third bird. It dropped but recovered before hitting the water and continued upstream. A few seconds later I heard four shots and assume the other hunters got it.

Mia swims out for her second and much easier retrieve of the day.

Mia swims out for her second and much easier retrieve of the day.

Retrieving through the riffles is much easier.

Retrieving through the riffles is much easier.

By noon the ducks had pretty much stopped flying so I pulled my decoys and started for home, then saw another hunter fishing a duck out of the water. He had gotten two ducks and had no dog, so his strategy was to wait until the ducks drifted close enough to fish them in with sticks or tree limbs. He had one more duck floating down so I offered to send Mia after it.

Mia starts out for the hunter's duck but it is caught up in some driftwood.

Mia starts out for the hunter’s duck which was caught up in some driftwood.

This was another new thing that I threw at her; it was essentially a blind retrieve as she had not seen the duck fall, and the duck was also floating along with several pieces of driftwood that Mia didn’t know how to negotiate. She made several attempts but couldn’t make the retrieve so I called her back and the other hunter ended up fishing the it out with a tree limb.

Mia poses with her retrieves.

Mia poses with her retrieves.

I was really happy with the way Mia conducted herself, the enthusiasm she showed, and the big leap forward she took as a retriever. She reminds me of Sophie in a number of ways and shows all the potential that Sophie had at that age.

Friday therapy visit

December 20, 2013

Elvis finished a busy month of therapy visits with a trip to the rehab center Friday morning. As a team, Sophie and Elvis made two visits delivering gifts to residents of local care facilities, and Friday was Elvis’ third visit of the month. Both guys did an excellent job and Elvis was a little distracted today, due primarily to the hustle and bustle of the rehab center preparing for a day of Christmas activities.

Elvis brought a lot of smiles to both long-term residents who have come to expect their visits as well new residents meeting him for the first time. Several of the new residents weren’t looking forward to spending Christmas away from home but Elvis seemed to brighten them up a little.

On a side note I bought my newest piece of hunting equipment, a set of wire cutters capable of cutting up to 16 gauge wire or cable. If we run into any more snares, I should be equipped to snip through them.

Elvis and Sophie play Santa

December 15, 2013

A special thanks to all who donated to the “Adopt a Grandparent for Christmas” this year, it was a huge success and the residents of our local care facilities appreciated the gifts very much. The event was sponsored by a local Mary Kay Director, and Carrie conducted a fundraiser for three of the care facilities. Sophie and Elvis contributed by teaming up for the first time on their therapy visits to deliver the gifts.

Sophie and Elvis wear backpacks to deliver Mary Kay gifts for "Adopt a Grandparent for Christmas".

Sophie and Elvis wear backpacks to deliver Mary Kay gifts for “Adopt a Grandparent for Christmas”.

Friday morning we met other Mary Kay ladies to deliver gifts to residents of an assisted living center. Sophie and Elvis were in the Christmas spirit and played Santa as they carried gifts in their backpacks. It was a nice surprise to the residents and they thoroughly enjoyed both the gifts and visiting with Sophie and Elvis. As a reward for their service, Sophie and Elvis split a large order of finger steaks.

Elvis and Sophie patiently wait to visit the veteran's care facility for the first time.

Elvis and Sophie patiently wait to visit the veteran’s care facility for the first time.

Saturday afternoon was their first visit to the Veterans care facility and the guys did an incredible job of bringing joy to those who served our country. The residents received their “Adopt a Grandparent for Christmas” gift which they enjoyed immensely, and as a bonus got to meet Sophie and Elvis. Speaking of bonuses, Sophie and Elvis were each rewarded with a taquito for their hard work.

Doc’s water retrieves

December 7, 2013
Covered in ice, Doc enjoys the ride home in a warm truck.

Covered in ice, Doc enjoys the ride home in a warm truck.

Doc made his first two water retrieves on Friday. Although they weren’t textbook retrieves and we both ended up in the water, he’s off to a great start. As with Sophie 10 years before him, I waded through ice and water to help on their inaugural water retrieves.

The temperature remained in single digits (Fahrenheit) throughout the morning, although the wind chill was at times clearly below zero. For the first couple of hours we had our opportunities and I missed a couple of shots; I one missed opportunity when Doc went on point with four Whistlers (Goldeneye). I didn’t want to shoot right on top of him so i went around a large bush, but the ducks flushed and I wasn’t able to get a shot.

Doc starts the morning with his nose to the ground.

Doc starts the morning with his nose to the ground.

We then hunted some new area I found while Pheasant hunting with Mia, and came upon some Bluebills and Shovelers. I got two ducks and had it not been for the ice along the banks, I think that Doc would have retrieved them without any trouble. As it was he was afraid to step off the ice.

The two ducks separated with one drifting downstream and the other getting hung up on some moss, both on the opposite side of the stream. I took Doc downstream to get the duck floating away and again, Doc was afraid to step off the ice so that meant leading by example and going into the water myself. He followed but by now had forgotten about the ducks, so I tossed sticks and chunks of ice towards the duck to encourage him to swim close enough to either see or scent the bird.

A young moose watches us while duck hunting.

A young moose watches us while duck hunting.

He was finally able to find the duck and at first didn’t know what to do with it but then did a nice job of retrieving. My clothes and Doc’s fur immediately turned to ice and we went back upstream for the second duck. Again, I needed to wade out with him and this time, he did a much better job of retrieving. We were less than a mile from the truck and walking back, Doc dropped from time to time to roll in the dirt and snow.

Doc poses with his first two water retrieves.

Doc poses with his first two water retrieves.

My clothes and Doc’s fur was frozen solid long before we got back to the truck and we were both a little chilled, but back home a nice warm shower for both of us went a long way to warming us back up.

Passwords hacked

December 6, 2013

An alert to all my Facebook followers, a news article reported that over 2 million Facebook and Google passwords have been hacked. Hacking your Facebook and Google passwords may not be a big concern, many people use the same passwords for different accounts. So if you use the same passwords for Facebook and Google that you use for bank and other personal accounts, they could be compromised as well.

Elvis snared

November 30, 2013
Nice sunrise while going hunting with Mia.

Nice sunrise while going hunting with Mia.

Elvis had a close call Saturday afternoon when he became snared while partridge hunting. Two things saved him – one, as a Spinone who doesn’t run big, he wasn’t far away when he became snared and two, he didn’t fight the snare.

Mia hunting, 11-30-13.

Mia hunting, 11-30-13.

The day began taking Mia on an with an early morning hunt but after a couple of hours without seeing anything, I returned home and exchanged her for Doc and Elvis. Judging from the amount of shooting that was going on, geese hunters were doing well but there was no sign of ducks or Pheasant.

Elvis and Doc braced for the first time, worked well together.

Elvis and Doc braced for the first time, worked well together.

This was the first time I braced Doc and Elvis and the brothers did very well together. We were about half a mile from the truck when Doc and Elvis became very interested in something in the sagebrush. It was a curious excitement rather than a birdy excitement so I called them back. Doc returned but Elvis seemed to be hung up on something. Thankfully he didn’t fight it but stood and waited for me.

Elvis and Doc braced for the first time.

Elvis and Doc braced for the first time.

I could see a steel cable before I got to him and thought that perhaps a wire had caught on his cooling vest. The cable was a snare and was already very tight around his neck. It took a little doing but I was able to get my fingers under the noose but couldn’t loosen it; it was a simple tension locking type that tightened when tension was placed on it. I tried working it for a minute or two without luck but then found that by tightening the snare, it released the tension on the lock. I tightened the snare around Elvis’ neck slightly which released the lock and by holding it, opened the snare and pulled it over Elvis’ head.

A beaver carcass was used to draw animals, probably coyotes, into the snare.

A beaver carcass was used to draw animals, probably coyotes, into the snare.

After he was free, I hooked the snare to a sage bush and then noticed the carcass of a large beaver had attracted them. The beaver had been placed as bait and the snare strategically located for catching coyotes. After the snare incident, we hunted for another hour or so without seeing any sign of birds, so the partridge have either died off or moved out. This was where I took Mia hunting on the opening day of partridge season and both times found no trace of birds so I’ll cross it off my hunting locations for the next several years.

This is the snare that caught Elvis, a steel cable with a tension lock. One of the dangers you don't necessarily think about while hunting.

This is the snare that caught Elvis, a steel cable with a tension lock. One of the dangers you don’t necessarily think about while hunting.

Dakota’s procedure

November 30, 2013

On Tuesday Dakota went under the knife to remove a growth on her leg. Our vet looked at it earlier this year and told us to keep an eye on it for changes, and over the past several months it grew significantly and Dakota was licking at it. The vet told us that it appeared to be benign, and also looked to him that it had grown under an old scar so it could have been scar tissue that went wild.

Dakota wearing the Cone of Shame after having a growth removed from her leg. At least the cone is soft and padded.

Dakota wearing the Cone of Shame after having a growth removed from her leg. At least the cone is soft and padded.

Just after we got Dakota, one of the first times I took her out for a walk she learned about barb wire fence by running into one and receiving a nasty cut on her leg that needed stitching. This growth was under that old scar tissue.

In any case, the growth was removed, Dakota wore the Cone of Shame for a couple of nights, and she’s back to being her old normal self.

Shopping with Spinone

November 27, 2013

Last Saturday was a lazy day following Friday’s hunt, but Doc and Mia were ready for more so I took them shopping. We ran short of dog food since their appetite is way up from the cold weather and amount of hunting they’ve been doing. We feed them twice a day and they get about two cups of dog food a day, however we feed them all they want as long as they’re hungry. Recently the Spins have been asking for more and after Friday’s hunt, Doc put away two extra cups of dog food and Mia one.

So Doc went with me on a dog food run to the nearby feed store. After picking up a bag of high quality, Made in the US, dog food, we went to the vet’s for a visit. Definitely not Doc’s favorite place but the vet had suggested bringing the guys in for occasional visits to ease their minds.

After bringing Doc back home, I took Mia for a walk downtown and then a visit to CAL Ranch. She did great, checking out the dog food and then patiently sitting in the aisle surveying the shelves of sporting goods while I picked out gun wipes. She then gave her stamp of approval on the pizza that I bought for lunch.

The Labs were happy being couch potatoes but Elvis was bored and sat with his chin on the window sill staring out. He wasn’t interested in going out in the back yard so I took him out for a run in the pasture. After his run in the pasture, he stayed out with me while I did some yard work and spent his time, sniffing, exploring, and tolerating the neighbor’s puppy. Just what the doctor ordered.


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