With another Turkey season winding down, I realized that I have not written here much since last turkey season, so first let me apologize for having been AWOL to those who follow Taking Game Journal, whether it is here or on Facebook. The last year or so has been long and full of successes and lessons... all of which I should have been taking the time to write about here but have neglected to do so. I will be writing about all of these things in further detail down the line but here is a synopsis of what has been going on at Taking Game Journal.
In late May of last year, just after turkey season ended, I purchased Tia, a started female Pointing Labrador from Coteau View Kennels in South Dakota. Tia was purchased to be part of our newly founded breeding program Taking Game Gun Dogs. Through the summer we camped and trained and prepared for hunt tests with NAHRA, HRC and APLA. I mentioned lessons earlier— one was that when we tested with NAHRA we went home licking our wounds with a few things to work on — but a few weeks later Tia and Tanker both earned passes at the Started level in HRC tests. We will use those passes toward both of their Seasoned titles with HRC hopefully this year but if not in the next. Tia also earned her Certified Pointing Retriever title with ease, later in September. Around the time Tia tested with APLA, we added another female to our roster of dogs. Twist is a chocolate Pointing Labrador from Duffy’s Premium Retrievers with a stacked pedigree and a shitload of natural talent and drive. She has been a lot of fun to train thus far, and I am very excited about working and hunting with her more in the future.
When the end of September rolled around I realized that archery season was over and that I had basically missed it between hunt tests, a new puppy, training, and a bit of grouse hunting. So, general, any weapon Deer season in Idaho (rifle season) opened October 10th, which meant that sometime around 3rd - 5th of October I took our camper up to an undisclosed location and set up camp for a few days before the beginning of the season. We camped up there the weekend before, hit some hot springs, and then on opening day of deer season I had the coolest morning of big game hunting I have ever had, lots of deer, lots of elk and close encounters with all of them. Then, the next day, I shot a nice buck.
After filling my deer tag I fell into riding the line between not liking to hunt pen raised birds and wanting to get Tia some contacts with roosters. I eventually fell off the pen raised side of the fence into the wild bird hunting side, which led me to continuously hunting what I now believe was the same rooster for weeks on end, who continued to give me the slip in about the same spot every time no matter how I approached it.
As the weather got colder, we expected some ducks to move into the area. I had a few cool evening jump shoots with the dogs, but overall, the waterfowl season was a bust... Hunters all over southern Idaho were reporting fewer birds, particularly those who were hunting the Snake. Fewer birds eventually led me to scouting some new ground and finding some great access to an area my Uncle has been wanting to hunt for years. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that till the end of the season so we will have to take advantage of it more this fall.
Springtime is tough on a turkey hunter - not just because of the hunting, but because everyone plans activities and events for springtime. So starting in March things got pretty busy. The family and I took a trip through Washington and Oregon. I played a show for the first time in a long time. We spent some time with some close friends from Washington and Oregon and then we spent a few beautiful days (80 degrees in March!?) on the Oregon coast with friends and family. After that came the beginning of turkey hunting, more events (recitals, concerts, etc.), and then time to attend the biggest public lands party of the year at the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Rendezvous here in Boise! BHA is the Sportsmen’s and Women’s voice for public lands waters and wildlife, and their annual Rendezvous has great seminars, speakers, vendors, food, drinks, and hell, I even bought myself a new backpack from Mytery Ranch that I am digging a lot.
Right now I am working primarily on training the dogs for tests and getting ready for a job I will be working this fall as a dog handler in Eastern Idaho. In July I will be heading to Alaska with my wife’s family and we will be doing some fishing and touristing. I am in the early stages of changing the format for Taking Game Journal and have some exciting news I hope to be sharing soon, till then follow us on Facebook and Instagram. In the meantime, I managed to fill a turkey tag early on in the season, and then last week called in a young Tom for my Uncle... That said, I am considering getting out for one more evening hunt, if nothing else, as the turkey season nears its ending... still got an extra tag wearing a hole in my pocket.