Grouse Commander

Discussion in 'Small Game Hunting' started by KY Swamp Beagler, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

    3,660
    1,702
    Feb 20, 2011
    the swamps of western KY
    Obviously, I'm no grouse hunter but I appreciate good dog work and the comraderie and fellowship hunting with dogs can bring about. I was listening to the Hunting Dog Podcast this morning while stuck at my desk at work and figured I'd share. I know the grouse hunting in KY is poor so hopefully this can curb the hunger a tad for those of you who long for the grouse hunting of old. Enjoy...

    http://youtu.be/k5q_yC0-fC4

    Edit to add: You can download the Hunting Dog Podcast from iTunes and listen to the episode with Fritz Heller and his grouse hunting labs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  2. uplandchessies

    uplandchessies 10 pointer

    1,791
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    Mar 20, 2002
    Florence, Ky, USA.
    I know them. Those Labs have more grouse shot over them in a season than most dogs see in a career. Fritz is a big fisherman too and has awesome videos of steelhead and trout fishing.
     
  3. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

    3,660
    1,702
    Feb 20, 2011
    the swamps of western KY
    I listened to the whole podcast and he is very knowledgeable. The size/confirmation of his labs piqued my interest so I watched some of his YouTube videos. His labs are definitely not your backyard garden variety, but definitely get the job done. I liked how he explained that his labs wouldn't be for everyone but do great when you know their strengths and hunt them accordingly. I appreciate that philosophy as it mirrors mine with our hounds.

    Edit to add: One thing I found very interesting was him saying that over the years he has noticed that an exceptional steelhead season coincided with having an above average grouse season. It was due to the weather and amount of rain they received.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2016
  4. uplandchessies

    uplandchessies 10 pointer

    1,791
    1
    Mar 20, 2002
    Florence, Ky, USA.
    Any breed can excel when hunted accordingly. A lot falls on the hunter, too. If one is 5' 8" out of shape and weighs 250; a flusher is not the right choice.
     
  5. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

    3,660
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    Feb 20, 2011
    the swamps of western KY
    I agree. Over the years dad and I have ran into quite a few people that hunted beagle hounds, but didn't really have a clue as to what the hound was doing at certain times or the best way to hunt a particular hound given their ability/noses (i.e. hunting cold nosed hounds or slower/faster hounds). Some guys would think their hounds were burning a rabbit up when clearly the dog was cold trailing. Another issue I've encountered is guys thinking there were multiple rabbits jumped because their dog was still barking after the kill. In reality the dog was backtracking the original track. And of course you always can run into a mouthy hound.

    I'm not savvy on the hunting styles of bird dogs but I listen to the Hunting Dog Podcast because the guests always have great insights into hunting dogs in general. And I love to listen to the stories.
     
  6. uplandchessies

    uplandchessies 10 pointer

    1,791
    1
    Mar 20, 2002
    Florence, Ky, USA.
    Nothing beats exposure and experience -- regardless of breed or breeding -- if you have a willing and workable prospect. I have an ESS that has turned out quite nice despite coming from heavy show lines (her grandmother was number 1 springer at Westminster). Chose the breed for my wife after my Chessie's passed away 2 years apart. At times I thought she wasn't going to make it as a bird dog though, but nothing ventured is nothing gained.

    Sounds like you know your stuff. I run into a few rabbit hunters each season and always enjoy talking with them.
     
  7. djs

    djs Fawn

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    Jan 30, 2010
    Years ago, I had an 85 lb Chessie male that was killer on pheasants. His nose was incredible, and every once in a while, the SOB would point a rooster. I tried him on ruffeds in Utah and Idaho when visiting relatives, and he took to it like a Chessie to water (did you see what I did there?). I had a Chessie bitch that was his equal without half of the stubbornness, but once she contracted kidney disease, she was gone in less than 3 months. I sprang for a beautiful chestnut tricolor setter and I learned first hand why grouse people preach about setters as grouse dogs. I shot a lot of ruffeds over her in WI, MI, MN, & one in KY in 2010. She's closing on the last chapter of her life; she pointed a few pheasants this year, but busted both grouse she came in contact with.
    Now I've got a yearling tricolor bitch from Berg brothers that shows real promise, and a grouchy rescued French Britt (that my boys refer to as the "sausage" given her physical makeup) that's a dynamite grouse dog.
    Any number of breeds can be good grouse dogs. Some of the best dogs I've shot over are the French Britts of Mark Nissen in Clam Lake, WI. They're NOT pretty; in fact, some of them are down right homely. But they find and point grouse like crazy. Still, from an aesthetic standpoint, I prefer the setters.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2016
  8. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

    3,660
    1,702
    Feb 20, 2011
    the swamps of western KY
    I've been around Beagle Hounds my whole life. I enjoy them as much today as I ever have. They continually educate me. I guess that's why I enjoy them so much. Each day you work them you learn a little bit more about how they decipher and work problems that arise from the mystery of scent. And of course I believe a man tends to learn a tremendous amount about himself following behind hunting dogs.

    You might be interested in listening to the podcast with Bruce Horrell. He's hunted Chesapeake Bay Retrievers for 42 years. I really enjoyed that podcast.
     
  9. grouseguy

    grouseguy Cyber-Hunter

    Your experiences seem to match up with mine. I've guided in WI for several years now. Many clients bring their own dogs and a lot of them are labs, with a few other flushing breeds ... some have been OK, but most were completely out of their league. Most of those clients wanted to hunt with my setters for at least one turn out ... of those that booked multiple days, none ever got the flushers back out of the box.

    As you say aesthetically and for the overall experience, some breeds are just better and meant for some birds, and it this case, as a general rule, English setters and ruffed grouse / woodcock go together.

    Other mileage may vary, but that has been my experience.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016

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