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Montana Trip


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I’ve been to Montana quite a few times, but this was my first upland hunting trip, it was great seeing different areas than I’d seen before.  It’s a big learning curve hunting the “endless” sage, grassland, and conifers with seemingly little disturbances to concentrate birds, but we kept at it and finally got into birds on our last push on the fourth day.  I have no frame of reference, but the drought and 93* temps seemed to affect the birds.  We saw plenty of sign but tough to locate birds before the heat impacted the dogs.  Great experience seeing Pronghorn and moose while out running the dogs, and seeing the dogs tough it out in the heat with torn up pads made me respect them even more.  I gave them the choice if they wanted to run even though they were hobbled they’d run hard once the tailgate dropped. I will need to figure out how to toughen pads in the East that preps them for western conditions (Nebraska grasses burned them up too), they’ve been running all summer but there’s no easy way to prep with all the soft grass where we run. 10-C1-D532-8751-4-F72-9-A9-C-13-A7409-EE573180-C0-4123-4850-AC47-96079-E23-FF4-C818-E5126-0-B04-43-B8-A9-FF-EBAB08-BA3518-A3589-D8-4475-4-A58-AF8-F-E49179-D3-D5C94-D5-F6-D-A9-CC-42-F1-9-EFB-98871-BDE6FA20-FD1-A-7-E63-4-FD9-AA1-C-7-DFF5-D5957-A6916-E7-74-C1-451-C-B7-C8-30-C8-BF443FE3-C5680-44-C1-47-D2-B514-618-C406-C59-0-AFB027-D-0-FBC-4809-8624-B7126-D748-C01-F54139-F-E619-4-CA8-9-A27-E467-B96885-D12-DCC67-120-A-4-FA8-B6-B4-DD6400-D7025

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So I’ve been working to steady Blanton all summer, apparently too well as he locked up once he tracked down a wounded grouse and wouldn’t release to run it down (I usually tap him on the head to release).  Had to do a little edit to cut out colorful language as after four days of not seeing birds I just wanted this one in the bag.  Poor fella got an earful just for doing what he was trained to do but it worked out.  It was 93* at this point so he didn’t quite complete the retrieve after getting a mouthful of feathers from the big bird but he did OK. 

 

 

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Very cool experience, flushing cow moose and calf out of a willow bottom.  We were headed right where she was so glad we didn’t startle her at close range. 
 

 

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NW River Mac

Good stuff!  My hats off to you for going it on your own without a guide. Hope you had enough fun to try it again next year. 

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ESetterSage

That's how its done right there. Jealous again, multiple dogs and a trip out west.  

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Good for you, that's the way to do it. Get some good boots on the ground experience and go from there. You'll figure it out. Hope the dogs are doing ok out there. I can't imagine hunting in 93 deg temps. Hell, I don't even like being outside in those temps! Good luck the rest of your trip!

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I'm glad you had a good time.

 

If the photo of your dog's pad is as bad as it got, at the end of the trip, that isn't too bad. I've seen far worse for sure. If there are any semi -quiet graveled roads where you live, you could road the dogs on them. If you do, be careful as to how long they are on it, it is very abrasive.

 

Your dog was panting really hard in the sage grouse retrieve. Frankly, I won't hunt a dog when it's that hot. I know when you are time limited you have to deal with the weather you get. But be really careful when it's that hot.  

 

 

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Thanks for the comments we didn’t hunt long in those temperatures because it was too hard on the dogs and yes he was chugging  pretty good from running down the bird. ill say that the lack of humidity gave them a lot more window than in the east,  I won’t hunt them in anything over 70 where they seem more affected than 85 or so in the west.  
 

I had exactly the same thought on roading them, there is a state park around 45 minutes south of me where I can road them on a bike that is the plan.  That picture was the second to last day the pads got a little worse and they had some worse spots, Being the last day I let them push it as much as they were willing. I could tell it was affecting their gate a bit so I didn’t push too much, and I didn’t hunt Mae on Wednesday and she just looked too sore but she ran terrific on Thursday
 

I would definitely come back I really enjoyed the country, I would just come later season when it’s cooler and do more to have the dogs feet ready.  

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1 hour ago, snood said:

Good for you, that's the way to do it. Get some good boots on the ground experience and go from there. You'll figure it out. Hope the dogs are doing ok out there. I can't imagine hunting in 93 deg temps. Hell, I don't even like being outside in those temps! Good luck the rest of your trip!

As I alluded to above, it was hard to comprehend the difference in humidity.  We have had mornings when it is 98% humidity around 75° versus the 7% humidity I saw in Montana .  I can say that the dogs look better running in 85 to 90° for short hints out west then they do at 75° in Richmond when it’s humid. That said, I would never Try to hunt in those temperatures again if At all avoidable as you are constantly managing the dogs water and finding spots for them to take a dip and still can’t hunt any of the afternoons

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Thanks for the post. We are headed out for our first trip out there the 2nd week of  October.

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Jazz4Brazo

My only trip west was to Pierre SD for early grouse with Steve (River19) and we were very fortunate to have BigJohn show us the ropes for a few days 👍👍

 

Very helpful including how to handle early season heat. Being east coast dogs I booted mine up after seeing how quickly pads get shredded on that prairie grass...next time I would seriously try to toughen up pads via roading and pad treatment salves (not sure what the east coast guys to toughen then up in advance?? Maybe Greg, Don, or others will chine in here?)

 

Great experience and can't wait to get back ♥️

 

J4B (Pierre...but pronounced correctly 😄)

 

 

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UplandVirginia

Ditto on that humidity comment, Chilly. I live in Goochland and my hunting partner in Charleston SC and we figured out quickly on my western trip that 80 degrees is apples to oranges comparatively. 

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The humidity is dramatically lower out here. That makes it doable to hunt in warmer weather. It still has risks, it can kill or ruin a dog before you even realize it is in trouble. I've seen it at summer field trials. You do not want to lose a dog to the heat. 

 

I have advantages most don't. With a horse, I can easily carry nearly four gallons of water. Most of it is to pour on the dog to keep it wet. They are on a clock. When its warm/hot, they get watered every 10 minutes. I feel their back to make certain they are cool to the touch. I would not let a dog get so warm as to pant as hard as chilly460's dog was panting.

 

Another thing I do is carry the coldest water I can. I put ice into the water jugs so that the water is much cooler than ambient. It is crucial not to have their body temperature get too elevated.

 

The other thing you can do is get up EARLY and start hunting as soon as legal light allows. It will be fairly cool most mornings. That gives you 2 or 3 hours before  it starts getting warm.

 

 

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Greg Hartman

Yeah, something I've discovered over the years out here in MT is the hot weather affects people MUCH differently than at home with all the miserable humidity and little wind.  So, you may feel OK, but it's still way too hot for dogs because they don't sweat; they are down in the cover mostly out of the wind; and the ground radiates heat up.  As Dave sagely says, you can get a dog in trouble very fast without being aware of the problem yourself.  No having horses, we lug LOTS of HEAVY water and try to keep the dogs wet as well as hydrated.  Short, early morning hunts are the solution, as noted.

 

Glad you enjoyed your trip!  I first came west 25 years ago and slept under the truck cap with the dogs.  Things have improved a bit since then.  🙂  I also hunted the thickest lowest wettest cover I could fid because that's where you find birds at home.  Took me a good while to figure out by trial and error that it's a very different world here.

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Kansas Big Dog

Great pics, thanks for sharing.  Looks like you had a good time. Run them on gravel roads.

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