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Pomoxis

Musings of a oldish grouse hunter

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Pomoxis

I am a converted flushing guy (always have had springers) to a guy with a Pointer. The last 3 years, I have been hunting pretty much exclusively with my pointer June Bug. She is a great dog; biddable, great nose, great race, and is steady to flush but breaks a bit on the shot (I can live with that), and she retrieves. She is a lot of dog and Im pleased to own her and hunt behind her. She is also a great dog in the house.

 

This past Friday, I took my daughter’s lab May May out for a hunt. May was ecstatic that she finally got to jump in and ride shotgun out to the woods. It was a beautiful fall day about 50 degrees and a light wind. My plan was to just walk this trail that I call Par 5-Dog Leg Right. It is a half mile mowed trail in the middle of paper mill land and it takes a mile walk in thru the woods to get to and a mile out. (An adjacent land owner keeps it up and how he has gotten away with it is beyond me). Anyway, May quartered 25 yards on each side on the trail and proceeds to put up 12 birds in this half mile stroll (one was a re-flush). With a full game bag and on the way out, I stopped to perform a West Nile Study Kit on the last bird and sit in the sunshine and give praises to Chocolate Thunder (as I call her).

 

I started to think about the future of my hunts and here in lies the dilemma. Im 59 and about 20 LBS overweight. Walking those trails for those birds was a hell of a lot easier than swimming through broom handle sized aspen, and stumbling over slash racing to get to the point 130 yards away. Don’t get me wrong, I relish that hunt as well but I am starting to feel my age (or weight) and I am wondering whether or not at this stage in my life, my next dog shouldn’t be of the trail walking variety. Ive got many very good years of hunting left with my pointer but after her, Im wondering if my body will keep up with another pointer.

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redwing

It's a no brainer, loss the 20 lbs and stick with the pointers(maybe ask Walt lister for a tip or two😂)

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Ndi32

Tough call.  A flusher that understands pace and how to stay "connected" with his/her hunter in thick grouse cover or how to do loops off a trail can produce a lot of good shooting opportunities. I obviously lean the flusher way so grain of salt and all.

 

Experience has shown me that trail focused hunting has lots benefits for and can extend the career of an aging dog. The same logic probably applies to an aging hunter........

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WI Outdoor Nut

As you can imagine, the best thing you can do is drop the weight.  And I know that is easier said then done.  But you don't see many overweight grouse hunters - just too hard on the body, especially joints.  Then hunt with what ever kind of dog you like - that becomes a personal preference.  Even pointers, you can bring back in and shorten their range with some training.  Buddy of mine runs a French brit, and he is a 40 yard dog all day long.  If you like the pointy type dogs, find a blood line that is a bit closer than 130 yards. 

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Brad Eden

New Topic on the aging Upland hunter over in Upland Health Topic worth looking at too.

 

I think I can address your observations. I am currently somewhat hobbled by a recuperating knee. So most of my hunts this fall are as you described. I go to easier covers with my Springer Cash, that have decent open trails or overgrown twitch roads, and I walk those while he cruises the edges popping back and forth over the trail on his own or to a toot on the whistle. I haven't shot a lot of birds but that's not his fault. It's amazing how many birds will fly across or straight down a trail. Certainly as many flush the wrong way, but so be it. Cash isn't steady to wing or shot but has always taken a short run at a flying bird but turns and comes back to the flush spot to fill his nose. Not taught , I'm just lucky.  What is most interesting is he seems to know I am not able to crash cover or work quickly right now, and has adjusted by going slower, even stopping and sitting, and looking back at me without any whistle or hand signal. That's the working relationship and partnership that keeps me in Springers after all these years. At this juncture I really couldnt do any steeple chase or even 100 yard crawl into a thick cover to a point. It's a fallacy that flushers are only for younger hunters, they in fact may be a good choice for the older hunter if trained and developed to what you need and want.

 

I just spent a few days at my northwoods camp with a UJer who had his GSP. I didn't even think about hunting with them. This guy is naturally athletic with long legs and his dog would be good on the Prairie as well as the Maine woods.  They went their way which was hunting cross country and me and Cash went ours as described above. 

 

Regardless, sounds like you need to start exercising, stretching and watching your weight like the rest of us aging Upland bird hunter.

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SelbyLowndes

Mowed trails are a Godsend for older hunters, both canine and human.  I keep a broomsage "bird field" on my farm mowed out with trails just to set out birds on.  I'll see to it my 14 year old GWP (pictured at left) gets to point a bird or twenty on that field this Fall...SelbyLowndes

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Don Steese

I'm 75 and am not in as good a shape as I should be but I still enjoy hunting behind a relatively big running( 300-600 yard on the prairie) pointing dog. When I can no longer do that, I'll sell my guns and gear and quit. I still enjoy shooting birds but not enough to go with an entirely different kind of hunting. I do not, however, rush to a point. 

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Pomoxis

Those who said lack of exercise aren't far off as I gave up my gym membership 2 years ago and am in denial that it is the problem. That said, I can still manage now but often get to the point winded, with limbs burning and my shooting attests to that. Im really talking about my next dog 6 years from now (actually 4 years from now when I have to get a pup). Right now, I consider myself a hard core grouse and woodcock hunter but walking a leisurely pace while the lab worked scent was a nice break and may be all I need 10 years from now. 

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WPG Gizmo

At 62 I know I can be in better shape than I am that said I am not going to take the easy way out and will follow the dogs where they go.  Everyone's situation is different you know your limits that is what you should look at.  There are a few older than me and I hope that when I get to their age I can still get out there like they do.

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WI Outdoor Nut
3 minutes ago, Pomoxis said:

Those who said lack of exercise aren't far off as I gave up my gym membership 2 years ago and am in denial that it is the problem. That said, I can still manage now but often get to the point winded, with limbs burning and my shooting attests to that. Im really talking about my next dog 6 years from now (actually 4 years from now when I have to get a pup). Right now, I consider myself a hard core grouse and woodcock hunter but walking a leisurely pace while the lab worked scent was a nice break and may be all I need 10 years from now. 

I can recall about 15 years back, my vizsla was working a grouse.  I bet he had 6-8 points on the bird.  I was doing my best to keep up with him when the bird decided to head up a hill about 60' in vertical.  It was steep, but on top of the hill, he had the bird pined under a big pine tree.  I ran up the hill, dog was still on point, I moved the extra 50 yards in, bird flushed and I shot and missed.  I was so out of breath and flustered, there was no way I was going to make a good shot.  Since that day, I vowed to never be out of cardio shape again, and I haven't been.  Sounds like you are at a cross-roads.  Accept where you are at, or make a change.  My thoughts are, find a way to get into shape.  You will be much better off long term. 

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MNice

Yesterday, our destination was a gated logging road. I picked this spot as I wanted to see how the cover came in and it provided an easy walk for two guys that need exercise, one being me. The dog covered a lot of ground and so did we and it was a nice change from our usual brush busting adventures. It's been a long time since I ran cockers but I certainly could see and remember the benefit of a flushing dog in such situations. My friend commented on how nice it was to walk on such a nice road and further added "I could see you hunting here on your Rascal Scooter when the time comes". Until then, I'll just follow my dog to where the birds are.

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john mcg

I have changed some in recent years as well. I will be 64 in a couple months and I have determined to have a more realistic idea of my limitations and to function below that threshold---especially when hunting alone.

I don't want my dogs to have to deal with the stress of my incapacitation in the woods and I like the idea of getting home to my wife after a hunt. I haven't asked her recently, but I suspect she feels the same.

🙂

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doodlecrazy

As a once die-hard flusher fan, I am now a die-hard close working (40-75 yd) pointing dog fan. I'm only 33 but walking 100 plus yards to a point in young aspen is not much fun when the bird ran/flushed/is a non-productive. I killed a lot more birds over flushers but a closer working pointing dog might be worth a look. If you ever want to hunt over one feel free to give a shout. 

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RuffChaser

Falling down on the way to a point is probably how I'll go. Well, I'll break a hip and starve to death first. That's OK the woodcock can feed on the worms that eat my corpse and the cycle will be complete. All kidding aside I will need to start thinking about this one day myself. I'll be reading this and planning despite not wanting to plan for it.

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paul frey

I’m a lab guy. Go with the flushers😀.

i just list 20 lbs doing a keto diet. Not done yet but I took an unscheduled break from it (stomach bug). Just started back on it today. I’m 55

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