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Where did you come From and How did you Get Here?


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As an aside I will share some back ground with you all, I hope some of you will do the the same. Though I am retired and no longer building my brand my journey with dogs is still a large part of who I am. Hopefully this link will give the forum some of the back story.

 

http://spanieljournal.com/hstandish.html

 

Please share yours if you will.

 

Hal

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Esprit de corps goes a long way making mundane tasks fun.  You've earned your stripes and I think we all can tell by your comments and advice here on UJ.  Thank you! for always taking the time to help out here.

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Hal , always been impressed with your knowledge and help on this board . This explains it . Here's to many more years with continued success .

Thank you ,

Al

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Great story, I have much respect for people like yourself. Sharing a passion with others.

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10 hours ago, NW River Mac said:

Esprit de corps goes a long way making mundane tasks fun.  You've earned your stripes and I think we all can tell by your comments and advice here on UJ.  Thank you! for always taking the time to help out here.

 

10 hours ago, gunsrus said:

Hal , always been impressed with your knowledge and help on this board . This explains it . Here's to many more years with continued success .

Thank you ,

Al

 

9 hours ago, grouse28 said:

Great story, I have much respect for people like yourself. Sharing a passion with others.

 

Thanks guys Nice of you to say. however I was hoping to find out more about Forum members and life's journey with sporting dogs and their development. Your successes, your goals and stuff like that. 

What type of dogs, how much you have a chance to run them on game, how much shooting do you? Just general info if you will.

 

Al, at 70 years young I'm in the fourth quarter of this game called life. And like a good quarterback I'm managing the game I have nicely. Waking up each morning and tying my boots on is one of my favorite successes. I look forward to it every morning. I would have answered this post earlier but I was recovering from processing firewood for some 5 hours. 

 

Hal

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OK, so here is my history.....  Born March 24, 1947 in very NE New Jersey to two wonderful parents.  Father was a bird dog nut from the get go.  He won his first field trial in 1938 with a setter called Syke.  He trained his own dogs and there are any number of stories about that that I could bore you with but the best one was when at a field trial in the late 30's he was approached by a very wealthy family and asked to become their top trainer including railroad cars to Canada with horses and help from their Plantation in I think it was GA or SC.  He turned them down....  Their Name was Gaines....  Yea, That Gaines.

 

Skip forward.  I grew up hunting woodcock and grouse over his pointers and setters in NE Jersey and Southern NY state.  Life was good for a kid.  I paid as much attention as possible to what he did and built a wealth on knowledge.  Went off to college in 1965 and spent some learning time at school.  During that time I had the chance to go to work for Herb Holmes (Gunsmoke Kennels) here in Illinois.  This was an eye opener and a chance to meet and actually run dogs with folks I had only read about.  Herbs main trainers were Howard KIrk and John Gates.  They were something to see work a dog at a trial.  I also got to meet Robert Wehle and both John O'Neal Sr and Junior.  There were more but they were all good. 

 

All of Dad's dogs were Elhew/Gunsmoke bred dogs.  The day Dad passed we had 28 dogs in the kennel.

 

I finished school here in Southernmost IL and stayed, got married and continued to hunt.  Mom and Dad retired and moved out here in 1970 so Dad could run and train his dogs.  We hunted constantly and enjoyed it.  Mom and Dad are both gone and the kennel is no more.  I tried to keep at least  3 dogs around after Dad passed and continued to hunt as much as I could.  Now I dont have any dogs.  The trials of my youth and genetics have caught up to me and I can't walk very much.  Have hunted with an older friend kind of in the same situation using a sxs to get around in and dogs that work close to the vehicle.  It has bee fun but I fear with this virus and both of us getting on up there this may be the last year for us.

 

I miss the dogs and the fun with my Father and friends.  I think about our hunts every day....  Nuff said.  

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I first crossed paths with a bird dog when my father bought a setter puppy when I was maybe a kindergartner or first grader. My father was in the Air Force stationed in Idaho at the time. I loved that dog, my father loved being station in Idaho. He hunted birds every chance he got.

 

Later he got assigned overseas to England,,, and they do not let a dog into the country without a six month quarantine. He gave our setter to a friend, it was a tough pill to swallow for me and I'm certain for him.

 

After that I went a few decades before getting a bird dog. When moving to Montana, it was big game that was my passion. After a time I started carrying a shotgun on big game hunts because I'd see birds most every hunt. Eventually I got a half brittany/ half setter. Lucy was a dud as a bird dog. I gave it one more chance and hit gold. Belle changed the course of my life. I am still amazed she did so well given I knew so little.

 

Her son, Rowdy, changed the course of things even more. Belle was a big running dog, honest on her birds. I was uneasy about her range but she was so willful and honest, I worked with it. Well, her son was cut from the same cloth. I knew nothing really about horseback trials but thought he likely ran enough. So I went to one, rode a very tall Tennessee Walking Horse with a weird ass saddle. I enjoyed it but did not yet know I'd ever do it seriously.

 

I went to a few more and borrowed a horse from a man who became one of the best friends I've had. He offered to sell me that horse at a very fair price. After thinking it over,, I took the plunge. Since then horses and dogs have been central to nearly all of my free time. There is no better way to spent a day than running a nice dog, while riding a nice horse. I have spent many hundreds of days doing that. I enjoy every one of them, did it earlier today.

 

 

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I started out walking with my Dad and uncle  in central Jersey fields. I was ten and my job was to flush the birds the dogs pointed so the men could have a good shot.  That was back in the late fifties and early sixties when there actually were wild pheasant, grouse and quail in NJ.  My dad did not have a dog but my uncle, who was originally from KY had some pretty fair bird dogs, but not anything pedigreed.  His dogs all ran a good lick, found birds and held them 'till we got there.  

 

I bird hunted for many years and was happy doing that.  I cold walk all day and often did just that.   Got my first bird dog from a litter my uncle had when I was 14.   Hunted as much as I could, as often as I could.  I arranged my college schedule to have the NJ stocking days of, so i typically hunted four or five days a week( we also belonged to a semi-wild club which allowed us to hunt on Sunday).   My first job after college was a second shift job, so I hunted just about every day during the bird season, at least for a few hours.  South Jersey for quail, north jersey for grouse, central Jersey for pheasant...it didn't matter as long as I was afield with a dog.   

 

Soon after I got married, my dad passed, so I mostly hunted alone.   I occasionally needed to put my dogs in a local kennel.  Unbeknownst to me, the kennel owner, Dick Quackenbush was one of the most successful shooting dog field trialers in the country.  He was the owner of Calico kennels.   

 

He told me, years later, that he could not believe I hunted over the kind of dogs I had, because they all ran way too big.  But that is what I grew up with and was comfortable with. Dick told me that he often cut my dogs loose in the fields behind his kennel and my dogs would do the kind of job he expected of his field trial competitors.    I didn't know any different... to me that was what a bird dog was supposed to do.   Dick talked me in to going to a field trial at the Assunpink WMA.  When I got there, I walked about three braces of walking shooting dog.  It was OK, but the dog were kinda close.  When I went over to Dick's trailer and commented on the relatively short range at which the walking dogs operated...he laughed.  He put me on his horse and said, "Go ride and watch, then come and tell me what you think.  I had never ridden a live horse before and told him so, but he said...just go over to the breakaway and stay with the crowd...the horse will take care of everything else.  Little did I know that this horse was worth more than the brand new truck I was driving.    Anyway, I saw several braces including one with  an Irish setter(Bearcat, the multiple champion) and a  couple of really nice pointers and one really nice setter.  Turns out the stake was a half hour  open shooting dog stake and about half the dogs in the stake were competitive one hour dogs including several champions.  Literally the creme de la creme of northeast shooting dog field trialing.  

 

Yes, I was hooked.  I had to have some of what I saw.    Still do.

 

I was incredibly fortunate in those early years to have been taken under the wings of folks who forgot more about training and handling bird dogs than I will ever know.   They helped and showed me, hands on, allowing me learn much of what I have.  

 

Most of my early dogs were Gunsmoke breeding and Calico breeding, but one of my best was a little gyp that had Warhoop Jake on top and bottom, pretty close up.  Possibly the toughest bird dog I ever knew.  She absolutely did not know the meaning of the word "quit".  it was not in her vocabulary.    I still want to see the unquenchable fire and desire that was in those old line Gunsmoke dogs and the bird finding ability, blistering ground race and supreme style of the Calico dogs as well as the mental and physical toughness  they exhibited.  

 

Fast forward to today....  I am an old fart with an old fart of a horse that has carted my fat butt around for the last twenty years.  We are both half blind and half crippled  and we both still get fired up when there is a dog out front doing a job, so I guess we are both about half crazy too.    

 

Just acquired a new pup.  Four months old and a real firecracker.   I can't wait for the spring to cut her loose in front of a horse.  Did I say HALF crazy??

 

RayG

 

 

 

 

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I started out with a GSP my father owned. We were inseparable. Though I was to young to hunt we did everything together. But I really blame my sister. If I wanted to play with her, I had to play what she wanted to play. She liked playing house. The only thing se would let me be was the dog.  I guess it stuck.  My first dog was a GSP I used for duck hunting. I hated wading after birds. No matter how I tried or where I hunted I would always have water go over my waders or trip on a branch and do a header into the water.  She was balls to the walls on getting ducks and had a very unique way of dispatching wounded geese. She would runn full speed and nail them with her chest while grabbing their neck and throwing them over her back breaking their neck. We did a little pheasant hunting but a lot of grouse hunting. She was all in on grouse. 

 

From there I have been into watching dogs perform. Not just hunting dogs but all working dogs. When my son was into duck hunting he and I trained a lab to MH level and had one qualifying amature stake. We have a sheep farm and I train stock dogs for our needs. I competed for  a few years in working ranch trials. Through all of this I had pointing dogs as well.

 

I help a friend and his brother evaluate pups for breeding by starting them. If they meet their and my expectations I finish them. I dabble in trails but it is not my big thing. I prefer to work them in the field on many different species of birds and cover types. I am fortunate where I live I can be in the grouse woods in 1/2 hour and in respectable pheasant cover in the same. We have a cabin in some of the best grouse cover in MN and we own a farm in some of the best pheasant area of MN. I also only have a 6 hour drive to the better areas of both Dakotas. All fall is about performance testing  in these varied environs.

 

My wife is also a big part of what I do with dogs. She is very supportive and has a good eye for a sound mind and good temperament. She does all of the initial socialization. For me to be able to handle puppies that may not stay with us, she requires them to be good citizens in the house. This ensures that where ever they may go and who ever they may be with, they will always fit in. With her support I am able to handle up to 6 puppies a year and I finish 3 or four a year.

 

So it seems crazy to many folks that we do this. But I don't own a $40,000 boat or a $25,000 fish house. I don't drink, well not a lot anyways ;). This is my thing. I have a fairly intense job as a Director of a Human Services Agency so I have to disengage my brain. I haven't found anything that else that does it for me. I find that if I want the dogs to be successful I need to be in the "here and now". So the partnership I hope is mutually beneficial for the pups.

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I grew up with brittanys.  My dad and grandad were serious quail hunters (it seems everyone was at the time) and we always had 3 or 4 bird dogs they were working with.  I remember them all fondly, but there were a few dogs that really stand out.  One in particular was a female brittany named Babe that was a real prize.  People used to offer my dad thousands of dollars for her, and that was in the 80s.  He used to bring her inside at night because he was afraid someone would steal her.  He later started keeping german shorthairs.

 

I followed along with my dad and grandad carrying a bb gun from the time I was big enough to keep up with them in the tall grass.  Later I was given my first shotgun, an old Davidson Firearms 63b 20 gauge side by side choked in modified/full.  It kicked like a mule, but I killed my first birds with that gun.  I still have it.

 

I took an interest in duck hunting in my teens.  When I went away to college at the University of Missouri I got my first duck dog, a 3 year old female black lab named Shadow.  She came from a hunt tester who had a few too many dogs for his wife's taste and needed to get reduce the herd for the good of his marriage.  To this day Shadow was the smartest dog  I have ever come across.  She became my partner in crime both in the marsh and field, and my companion.  A couple years later, I got a big male yellow lab puppy named Hank.  Where Shadow was the brains, Hank was the brawn.  In his prime he weighted over 100 pounds and he wasn't fat,  he was tall and muscular.  Both were excellent duck dogs, and shadow could hold her own in the field.

 

After losing Hank to cancer at the ripe old age of 14 earlier this year I went searching for a new hunting friend and found Gus, a german shorthair puppy.  Someone had backed out of the deposit on him for personal reasons and I happened to walk into the opportunity at the right time.  I've spent the last 5 months working with him.  Life around my house is certainly different though.  I had older mature dogs for a long time.  It's been years since I've had a puppy around, but I am absolutely enjoying it.  My herd has also multiplied with the addition of Gus's "pet" quail and pigeons 😉 (Lord I forgot how messy those things are to keep).

 

Without dogs I probably wouldn't hunt.  They are really what keeps me interested in it at this point.  I also recognize that while I have been around bird dogs my whole life, I am only an amateur trainer at best.  That's why I appreciate the wealth of knowledge on this forum that comes from more experienced trainers.  It's one of the reasons I joined.       

 

  

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I was born a bird dog. 

 

My dad was a pheasant hunter, and as a kid, I was the 'bird dog' on dogless group hunts on the CO side of the KS/CO border. That's just how it was done, as far as I knew. Got the chance to hunt behind some dogs in my late 20s and saw the light. First bird dog was a lab, color chosen to match the carpet/furniture as my wife was not very excited about the proposition.  Her trainer was an idiot, but she taught him quite a bit, and together we grew on our upland hunting journey.

When we had to put her down about 5 years ago, wasn't sure I wanted to go thru that heartache again, but after a year or so, my wife began pushing me to get another one - 1) to have a dog around again and 2) so we'd be more active having to take her on walks and such. I was thinking GWP/Griff but she didn't want a dog that looked like me, so she decided on a GSP. It's been a big change from the lab (I get to remind her it was her idea and she picked her out!). Her trainer is still an idiot, but she makes him look pretty decent most of the time.

 

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I have zero childhood history with bird dogs or hunting.  I am a poster child for adult onset hunter syndrome.  I read a book by Rick Bass a decade or more ago titled "Coulter".  I don't know what it was that intrigued me so much but I became kind of obsessed with the idea of hunting birds and then a few years later big game.  I signed myself up for a hunter's safety class and started looking for a shotgun.  I made the trek out to the eastern plains of Colorado and started trying to figure out how the whole thing works. It was my first time hunting and I was hooked despite being on my own and having no idea what I was doing.  I learned a lot from reading and from this forum.  I hunted solo and dog-less for a few years.  My wife's cousin, who lives on the northern edge of Wyoming, has bird hunted for his whole life and breeds his own GSP's so it was just a matter of time before we brought a pup home.  She's three now and we're both learning from each other.  I doubt she'll ever be a great bird dog but we make the drive out to the plains every weekend we get the chance and have a grand time walking around looking for the 5 pheasant that Colorado holds.  I've brought home more Dusky Grouse with my bow while elk hunting than pheasant with my shotgun!  I got to hunt northern Wyoming once with my wife's cousin and I think I saw more birds in that one half day that I have in 6 or 7 years of hunting Colorado birds!  My success rate is dismal but being pretty much a completely self taught and solo hunter I figure I'm getting it figured out slowly.  One of these years I'll spend some time in neighboring states with more birds.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Walking with my Father as he hunted carrying his Fox, (30" tubes choked Mod. and Full) and our Britt Robie. Wasn't allowed to carry a gun or even touch one without permission and an adult present. Loved every single minute of it regardless. Later on came Bows, sling shots and hunting buddies around the same age. late teens and throughout my twenties Dad and I had permission to hunt a considerable amount of some very nice farmland. Doves and squirrels, then woodcock, snipe and early duck (Teal)

we jumped occasionally along the creeks and drainage ditches. Then Rabbits, pheasant and Bob's and in pretty good numbers. Hunting there ended in Fec every year with the Crow season and there were some honest to God Mega Roosts as they gathered in huge flocks as the moved south for winter. It was great but I spent whole days driving all over several counties cavasing for hunting grounds talking to owners. I can't tell you how many times I was told No or people simply refused to even come to the door..

I made sure our land owners receive gifts during the holidays and helped  bring in crops from truck patch fields a few times too.

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