Oct 2022 – Hells Canyon, Idaho and The John Day River Territory, Oregon.
Hunting Buddies and our cast of pointers (EP’s and GSP’s)
- Obie – aka ‘I’m so sweet’
- Mac – aka ‘There’s never a bad day’
- Jose – aka ‘I better be first!’
- Lucy – aka ‘Big Nose’
- Raider – aka ‘Where’s Ray Man’
- Dee – aka ‘Land Shark’
- Roxxy (MIA) – aka ‘Roxx Ann’
Calls that still ring out: Reload! Reload! Reload!
With my 6 empty hulls, a sore shoulder and an aching to return.
Our Nothern Trail Adventure with some helpful recommendations.
Physically in the best shape possible coming off a recent weeklong Sharp-tail hunt in the Oglala Grasslands, NW Nebraska. Dogs were ripped and locked in ready for the experience ahead – it’s going to be great!
Mentally you have to prepare yourself for some challenging terrain, you will be side-slopping mountain sides a lot. Most of your focus will be directed towards the ground, keeping your balance with gun safety in mind. The rocks beneath your soles were either loose or round and always moving, it certainly kept your attention on staying up-right while tracking big running pointers.
Throwing out lead like Hail Mary’s
This was my first experience with wild Pheasant at the famous John Day River Territory. These birds seemed to be part mountain goat, living in the deep Canyon walls off the John Day River. Not your average corn feed, running open pastures kind of Pheasants that I’ve read about, these were mighty birds, and I’m thinking pretty pissed off. I witnessed a pheasant turn its head during flight with a chackle ‘Is that all you got!’ and flew onto safety. Dogs were mystified and a bit frustrated with our demonstration of how to miss numerous shots, all that gun power & lead and nothing! I’d estimate the flight speed coming out of the canyon was 35 to 40 MPH, 7 Rosters with different flight patterns, wild loud screeching echoing off the canyon walls, the moment was intense, surreal and humbling.
- Quality socks and boots.
- Lots of fresh water and recovery snacks.
- Check for foxtails after each hunt. Foxtails work their way down the dog’s ear, so checking after each hunt is ideal.
- Bring a fresh bottle of saline solution to wash out eyes to remove debris – check all around the eye a apply a good cleaning.
- Yes, there are rattlesnakes in Oregon.
- Bring extra dog food, quality protein snacks and beef fat, keeping weight on the dogs can be difficult.
- You can make the hunt as hard or as easy as you want. But you know where the birds are going to be.
- Dogs need to be physically ready for the demand, booting your dog is good for some areas.
- The Garmin Fenix 6 Sapphire watch with Dog App is an excellent tool and will help keep your eyes on what matters most.
- A GSP will swim, when their life depends on it, mine did!
- Sat phone would not connect in the deeper canyon’s, not sure if the Garmin In-Reach capability had connectivity?
Been shooting and missing – learn to shot standing at a 25–30-degree angle, out of breath and birds moving like bullets “Don’t miss!”
A good read: GunDog Magazine published an article on Hells Canyon – The Snake River upland hunting – October 2022 Wild Up-Lands.