Monthly Archives: March 2016

Dogs of Wehrspan I

During the last 30 days I’ve taken some photos of the dogs that frequent the dog run at Lake Wehrspann near Chalco Hills. These are quick snapshots taken with a Canon SL1. The dogs are there to run and have fun so you can imagine that they probably don’t stay still for portraits. The pictures are a record and not meant to be fancy photos. A good portrait of a dog needs to be taken in a studio where light control and the dogs position can be manipulated. It’s much easier to get a photo with the ears up when the canine has fewer distractions.

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This dog is deaf

This dog is deaf

This dog is under one year old and responds well to hand signals. The dog vest with “deaf dog” is there in case the dog gets away from the owners.

13.5 year old Springer Spaniel

13.5 year old Springer Spaniel

This is Cosmo. He is a 13 1/2 year old Springer Spaniel. He has an arthritic shoulder and limps because of it. He still enjoys his walks

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The Brittany in this photo belongs to me. He is the “Forrest Gump” of Wehrspann since he get into lots of the photos. He feels compelled to greet every dog at the park and ends up in many of the photos.

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Some people run their dogs on the dam. They are required to leash those animals. The dog run allows the dogs to run free.

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This little guy is one of the most photogenic at the park and he is a real regular at the park.

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Tbone is a Brittany. This breed needs a minimum of one hour of good exercise a day. He gets a morning walk and another one in the afternoon.IMG_2301 IMG_2302 IMG_2304b IMG_2307 Untitled-1bb

This big guy is really laid back and a little easier to get a photo of. I used a Canon SL1 at the park with a Tamron 18-270 lens. This is a handy lens to photograph dogs. The autofocus is a little slow for fast moving animals however. I chose the camera because it is very light and I have a lens with a broad zoom range that fits on it. To get truly sharp photos with fast moving dogs one would probably need a pro body or at least a Canon 5d mark III combined with a stabilized Canon L glass lens such as a 70-200. Such a combo is quite heavy compared to the SL1 and would be tiring to carry around.

This is group one of the dogs I photographed. There will be more to come in future posts.

The best way to capture video of a pheasant hunt

The video below was taken in South Dakota November 2015. For many years I wanted to capture video of one of my pheasant hunts. I hunt alone or with one other person and it was hard to find a cameraman. I tried using the first go pro hero that came out but the camera was heavy enough on my head mount that it threw off my timing and I had trouble hitting birds. The the Hero IV session came out. It was much smaller and light enough that it did not affect my shooting. The video below was taken with the session. I didn’t do anything fancy with it and the video is primarily for my personal use. That’s why I left the original audio.

The Hero session works with the same headband as the other go pros which was nice.

go pro session along side an iphone to compare size

go pro session along side an iphone to compare size

go pro session

go pro session

You get an idea how small this camera is when compared to the size of an iphone 5. Video from this camera is acceptable from my standpoint but color wasn’t the greatest if the camera is pointed into the sun. The camera did do a good job adjusting brightness. The little red circle on top of the camera is the start button. You press the button for a second or less and a light starts blinking indicating the camera is capturing video. If you press the button for about 3 seconds it captures stills in time lapse. It is hard to turn on the camera and know if it’s working if you have the band on your head. Several times I thought I was capturing video and I was capturing time lapse which was a big disappointment when I loaded the card into my computer. It uses a micro sd card. It also has wifi capability when used with a go pro app. Battery life on this camera was about an hour for me. If used in wifi mode it uses more battery. Unfortunately when you’re hunting you never know when you will run into the birds. It could be in the first few minutes or an hour later. You’ll have to do a lot of editing to get a couple of minutes of action. I did my video in South Dakota because bird numbers are significantly higher than in Nebraska. I had my limit in 45 minutes during this video.

Ideally a second cameraman will give you a much better idea what the pheasant hunt is like. A friend of mine did some video with a Canon T3I while I used the session. The birds in the video below were released and a little easier to get close to.

 

I love to hunt the ringneck Pheasant

pheasant hunt Nebraska

pheasant hunt Nebraska

The surprise of a flushing rooster is one of the reasons I prefer pheasant hunting. Waterfowl hunters call in their prey (not much of a surprise factor in that although it takes real skill). Deer hunters sit in a tree stand and wait for their game to appear. ( This requires some skill but there’s no big surprise) . I’ve missed many a pheasant that flushed right from under me. Nothing is more pleasurable than watching your dogs hunt. I’ve hunted in 6 decades and have an enjoyed every hunt. I shot my first bird in Gibbon Minnesota on my uncles farm. My dad was with me. He seldom found time to hunt and that day in November is probably the last time he went hunting. It’s a memory that I cherish. I only wish I had photographs of it. He was just too busy trying to support a family with 5 children.

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Pheasant hunting can be a real challenge unless you have a dog. My dad picked up a 6 month old female German Shorthair which my high school buddies and I found very helpful in finding the birds. I named her Penny and she had pretty good instincts as far as pointing birds. She was dumb as a box of rocks when it came to retrieving though.

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Archie- my first Springer Spaniel

Archie- my first Springer Spaniel

When I moved to Leigh, Nebraska in the early 70’s I had t get serious about getting my own hunting dog. The first year I lived there I hunted without a dog and bird numbers were pretty good so I got some shooting in. In February of 1971 I saw an add for Springer puppies in the Columbus paper. I’d read that Springer’s were an excellent choice for pheasant hunting. When I arrived to select a pup I was lucky because all the pups were still there and I had first choice. I picked the most aggressive one I could find and home he went with me. We called him Archie (after Archie Bunker) He would prove to be one of the best hunting dogs I ever had. I lived in Leigh for 3 years and the hunting was good and access was also very good. Having been a teacher at the time I knew a lot of farmers since their children attended school. Those first 3 years in Nebraska were my best hunting days in the state.

Archie, Augie and Harry

Archie, Augie and Harry

I ended up moving to Fremont Nebraska an area that had much lower pheasant populations. I bought a female Springer and named her Ginger. She never hunted but we had pups form Archie and Ginger. I kept two of them,  Augie and Harry. Harry had a harelip and we had to feed him by hand as a pup. He had several surgeries on his mouth and turned out to be a really nice dog with lots of personality.

Augie a Springer Spaniel

Augie , Archies son

Augie was really attached to me and had probably the best nose of any of my Springers. I used to hunt all 3 dogs at once. Archie did all the hard work. Augie was kind of lazy and would hunt in easy areas staying relatively close to me. Harry was not the best hunter and seemed to run out of energy fairly quickly. (later on I found that he had diabetes) By the late 80’s I had to spent some serious time to find new hunting areas. My contacts in Leigh were drying up primarily due to a poor farm economy, they were going broke and quit farming.

I started looking west and began hunting the federal wetlands near Clay Center Nebraska. My first hunt near Clay Center was one I’ll never forget. I flushed well over a hundred pheasants one November morning. The bird were wild but I limited out before noon. Archie was getting older and I had to rely on Augie to fill in for him. Hunting got tougher because Augie wasn’t as good. Archie passed away in 1986 and I had to rely on Augie. Augie was about 10 years old so he was also began to slow down.

Gudo

Gudio

Guido and me

Guido and me

I was photographing a client in my studio in 1992 and I mentioned my hunting dog was starting to slow down due to age. He mentioned that he knew someone in Columbus that had a litter of Springer’s that he was going to give away. I called the guy, drove to Columbus and picked out Guido. Guido was a great hunter. He was very similar to Archie except he didn’t retrieve birds.

Guido hunted for 13 years. I shifted north during his tenure. The Winnebago Indian Reservation had fairly good numbers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. However hunting access in Nebraska itself became more and more difficult. It is during this time I decided to hunt South Dakota and I’m happy I did. My first experience was a place called “Dakota Birds” near Gregory South Dakota. The company was run by two brothers. It cost $200 per day including a place to stay. The farmhouse I stayed in was near their farm. It was comfortable and a great place since dogs could come inside and my dogs were house dogs so they needed to be inside. I enjoyed hunting there. They would drive you around to different spots and let you walk and pick you up at the end of the field. In most cases I limited out in 2 hours or less.

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By 2002 Guido was 10 and he was beginning to slow down. He was a little grumpy in his old age but he still enjoyed the hunt.

cosmo at age 1

cosmo at age 1

Guido and Cosmo Gregory South Dakota

Guido and Cosmo Gregory South Dakota

My last springer is Cosmo. I also acquired Cosmo through a photo client. A couple brought in their 9 month baby with 3 Springers for a photo. The pups were up for sale so I made a deal, $300 worth of photos for one of the pups. I named him Cosmo. He was the most playful Springer I ever owned. I spent countless hours playing tug of war with him as a puppy. Later he became a frisbee fanatic and even at age 13 he still carries a frisbee with him as he goes for his walks. Cosmo was a great hunter.

Cosmo and Me

South Dakota Pheasnt

South Dakota Pheasnt

Cosmo and Me

Cosmo and Me

We still continued to hunt Nebraska in the 2000’s but South Dakota was the place to go. The image above was taken on Thanksgiving Day 2006. CRP was still pretty strong in the mid 2000’s and there were public areas to hunt some pheasants. Unfortunately most of those fields have been plowed and returned to corn. Ethanol subsidies have done a lot to destroy habitat. My South Dakota location shifted farther west to a small town of Kennebec. The first year I hunted there the rancher drove me around on his 3000 acre ranch. Pheasants were everywhere. I got so excited. He let you hunt on your own which is always my preference. There is something about hunting alone with your dog that can’t be matched. Bird hunting was fabulous on his property. It was rare to not get your limit in 2 hours. The years went by quickly and soon Cosmo hit age 11 and he was slowing down. It was time for a new hunting dog. I contacted Springer Rescue and filled out all their applications including a home interview. I passed and when it was time to adopt there were no Springer’s available locally. On a lark I got on craiglist andcheck dogs for sale. Unbelievably there was a Springer listed south of Sioux City about 30 miles. I rushed up there and met Tbone. He was skinny, obviously not well fed. The seller wanted $75 but soon dropped to $35 when I said I’d probably have vet bills with him. I took him home and he bonded almost immediately. The vet said there was nothing wrong with him. I fed him well and he went for 34 lbs to 42 lbs within 3 months

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

Tbone a Brittany

I though Tbone was a Springer. He looked a lot like Cosmo when he was young. After hunting Tbone I knew he wasn’t a Springer. He pointed on birds and ranged much more then a Springer. I hunted with Cosmo and Tbone through 2014. In fact Cosmo hunted alone with me the last hunt in South Dakota and we limited out in under an hour. Tbone was benched because of an injury.20140720_144719000_iOS 20140622_152854000_iOS

I relied on Tbone as the primary hunter in 2015. He did a great job and we ended the year with 31 pheasants 6 quail and 2 grouse.

I’ve pheasant hunted for 52 years. During that time I’ve had 7 hunting dogs. I miss the one’s that are gone. I enjoyed so many happy hunting hours with them. I’m so happy that I have photos of them. If you are a hunter print some of your hunting photos don’t let them disappear into the digital ether.

I’m 67 now and age is catching up with me. I can’t hunt without aches and pains and after a hunting day. It takes me several days to recover but I still love it and I still love watching my dogs hunt.