Hello (again) Ryman Setter friends! Some news for you from New York State coverts. We had a great September running Josey and Chica in the field for exercise and scouting work in September. Looking back at last month, I realize it’s a really under-appreciated, maybe even totally unrecognized, part of the season. While not great sometimes for exercise, the weather is better than mid-summer, and the pressure is off. It’s just a training refresher, but the dogs don’t know that. They are back on wild birds. Maybe there is some wisdom there. Chica hit a year of age on September 1 and showed a lot of enthusiasm and raw talent. Well, lots of fun.
Josey is at her peak at 6 1/2 years. We found a few local woodcock, and a grouse or two as well. This year was a first for me, in that I switched over to using beepers instead of bells. Okay, the beeper lacks the charm of the bell, and the point signal seems almost unfair, but I believe the constant noise of the bell, as opposed to the intermittent beep, lets the dog track me better. I can’t prove anything, but I think the dogs handle better.
Chica is doing well. Thank you again Lisa and Cliff, we are really excited about her and feel she is our most promising young pup yet! Here she is working some quail we keep on our farm property up the road from our house. In the open, Chica moves like a field trail dog, crossing the direction of the wind looking for scent. In the heavy cover, she shows a lot of cover sense, and checks in like any good Ryman setter would (of course!).
Thinking about posts this fall from Lynn Dee and the Weisse’s, and our own experiences, its nice to have dogs of different ages to work with at one time. An older dog or two or more you know you can rely on to hunt with takes the pressure off the performance of the young upstarts and as you will see, let’s training be a little more important than hunting for its own sake.
Pre-season training means scouting new coverts too. Last month we looked for a few new places to hunt now that our season is open. So one day, we explored a little bit to see how far the good bird cover extended in little spot we found last winter. Completely hid on all sides we found this lovely little pothole, loaded with wood ducks, lots of wood ducks. Maybe 50 or more. Nothing like a half dozen woodies peeling off the water ever 30 seconds to invite a swim from a bird dog. Josey heads off across the pond to see where that drake landed, and Chica discovers she can really swim without the world coming to any end.
October has been great. Good thing there is a lot of it left. The annual trip to northern NY was a great time. Sorrty we did not connect in person Chuck. Too early for the best part of the fall flight but still lots of woodcock. Oddly this year, lots of woodcock getting up wild well out in front of the dog. Grouse numbers were pretty good too. If you missed the news, the Finger Lakes has endured a severe drought this summer. Fortunately, the birds never got the memo. Local woodcock numbers seem on par with any other year, with some grouse showing up too.
We still have some work to do. After what seemed a conventional and successful introduction to gunfire this summer, Chica showed some sensitivity to gunfire shooting some chukar before our grouse and woodcock seasons opened. Nothing severe. We think the gun noise itself was not the issue, but the sudden frequency was a bit much for her. So, we are back working with some released birds to re-introduce gunfire in the context of a lot of birds. So far, so good. I think we are out of the woods, but am going a couple extra miles, shooting lots of blanks up at our farm chasing released quail. In a month, if this stays the course, we will feel comfortable going back to live rounds.
We’ll report in again this fall. Best wishes to a safe and happy time for you and your dogs.
J.C. and Gail at Sugar Creek