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Upland Bird Hunting

Redleg

Red Shirt
5 Year Member
For me it has always been about my relationship with my dog. Working a field dog that is properly trained is one of the great joys of my life. I started with flusher/retrievers but graduated to pointers and never looked back.
Same here; there is nothing better than working a field with a pointing dog. I duck hunt as much as upland so I went with a versatile German breed and don't plan to ever be without one again.
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1960Husker

Recruit
2 Year Member
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This is my German Pudelpointer named Guss. He follows two Brittany's both who's studs where National Field Champs and who's bitch's studs were also National Field Champs. As much as I loved those dogs, I wouldn't trade Guss for anything. He is the whole package. Once you go versatile its hard to hunt with anything else.
 
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redwinghusker

All Big 10
10 Year Member
You all wax more poetically than I will. I have loved hunting and fishing as long as I can remember. Unfortunately it wasn't a family thing per se so I had to wait until I got to be driving age. Growing up, I'd immerse myself in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Fur, Fish & Game, etc. The real treat was getting the yearly Brownells catalog. I so wanted to either be a big game guide or a gunsmith. My wife could have handled the gunsmith thing, probably not the big game guide part.

Upland bird hunting in my younger years was a joy. Many early mornings spent hunting pheasants and quail in SE Nebraska or on the Omaha Indian reservation. Loved hunting grouse and chickens out in the sandhills. We used to stay in an old motel in Thedford and never got any sleep the first night because the trains came through every 15 minutes honking their horns. The 2nd night, you were just too worn out from the miles of walking that you never hear the trains.

I got my first and only bird dog Tiga, a Brittney pup when I was in my early 20's. What a great dog, a natural hunter. I know Britney's are called "County Dogs" cause they tend to run out ahead of you to the next county. Not this girl, she was a natural. Hardly did any training with her. She'd work a zig-zag pattern in front of me maybe 20 yards. All I had to do was give her a quick whistle if she got too far and she'd just wait until I caught up a bit and start doing her thing again. The only time she ran on me I was out hunting grouse in the sandhills and she saw a herd of cattle and had to go see what it was. She must have ran for a mile barking the whole time. I still don't know what got into her as that was out of character.

I'd love to find a place to hunt birds again. As I've gotten older, it's easier to walk and put up with the bad knee than it is to sit in a tree stand motionless when its 15 degrees out.
 

Sandhills Husker

Scout Team
5 Year Member
You all wax more poetically than I will. I have loved hunting and fishing as long as I can remember. Unfortunately it wasn't a family thing per se so I had to wait until I got to be driving age. Growing up, I'd immerse myself in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Fur, Fish & Game, etc. The real treat was getting the yearly Brownells catalog. I so wanted to either be a big game guide or a gunsmith. My wife could have handled the gunsmith thing, probably not the big game guide part.

Upland bird hunting in my younger years was a joy. Many early mornings spent hunting pheasants and quail in SE Nebraska or on the Omaha Indian reservation. Loved hunting grouse and chickens out in the sandhills. We used to stay in an old motel in Thedford and never got any sleep the first night because the trains came through every 15 minutes honking their horns. The 2nd night, you were just too worn out from the miles of walking that you never hear the trains.

Classic on the trains. The motel in Mullin is the exact same experience!
 

CrabHusker

Stifling Dissent Since 1965
5 Year Member
You all wax more poetically than I will. I have loved hunting and fishing as long as I can remember. Unfortunately it wasn't a family thing per se so I had to wait until I got to be driving age. Growing up, I'd immerse myself in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Fur, Fish & Game, etc. The real treat was getting the yearly Brownells catalog. I so wanted to either be a big game guide or a gunsmith. My wife could have handled the gunsmith thing, probably not the big game guide part.

Upland bird hunting in my younger years was a joy. Many early mornings spent hunting pheasants and quail in SE Nebraska or on the Omaha Indian reservation. Loved hunting grouse and chickens out in the sandhills. We used to stay in an old motel in Thedford and never got any sleep the first night because the trains came through every 15 minutes honking their horns. The 2nd night, you were just too worn out from the miles of walking that you never hear the trains.

I got my first and only bird dog Tiga, a Brittney pup when I was in my early 20's. What a great dog, a natural hunter. I know Britney's are called "County Dogs" cause they tend to run out ahead of you to the next county. Not this girl, she was a natural. Hardly did any training with her. She'd work a zig-zag pattern in front of me maybe 20 yards. All I had to do was give her a quick whistle if she got too far and she'd just wait until I caught up a bit and start doing her thing again. The only time she ran on me I was out hunting grouse in the sandhills and she saw a herd of cattle and had to go see what it was. She must have ran for a mile barking the whole time. I still don't know what got into her as that was out of character.

I'd love to find a place to hunt birds again. As I've gotten older, it's easier to walk and put up with the bad knee than it is to sit in a tree stand motionless when its 15 degrees out.

Brittanys are my favorite breed of dog. I've got one sleeping on the couch now and the other laid out in front of the fire.

All of them have hunted in the zig, zag fashion you mentioned. Tireless animals that really aim to please and a how to hunt over.

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Elwood von Kiowa

Grad Assistant
10 Year Member
I am from a large family. Growing up I remember 15 to 20 of us walking corn fields, prairie land and draws around the Kearney area hunting pheasant. Most of us walked the field with a few blocking at the end. Pheasant were thick back then but by the time I graduated high school they had almost entirely disappeared. There was still rabbit, duck, goose, and turkey hunting but it wasn't the same.

I was never big on quail, probably because of my short attention span :Biggrin:. I'd be walking, not seeing anything to shoot and begin daydreaming. About that time a covey would break and scare the crap out of me. By the time I drew there was nothing to shoot.

After I graduated college and moved out of Nebraska I never had much opportunity to hunt. Now that I've moved back I'm hoping to go out more but the landscape has changed a lot. Finding a place to hunt is much more difficult and expensive.

I kinda had the opposite experience (pheasant vs. quail). My dad never really hunted (my first shotgun experience with him was "hunting" ground squirrels). I grew up thinking hunting was mostly for the "town kids" who didn't get to be around it every day like me...

Anyway, by high school I decided I wanted to hunt pheasants. Our cattle dog was no good for that, as he'd run way ahead and flush them out way too soon. So then I'd go all alone (no hunting buddies :Bananalazy:). I'd end up flushing the pheasants when I was right on top of them; it startled me so bad, by the time I got my gun up, they were gone...

My only hope was to stumble upon a covey of quail. They were thick enough that I just had to point in their general direction and I'd get something!

It wasn't until years later when I discovered trap shooting, and actually learned how to hit something...
 

redwinghusker

All Big 10
10 Year Member
Brittanys are my favorite breed of dog. I've got one sleeping on the couch now and the other laid out in front of the fire.

All of them have hunted in the zig, zag fashion you mentioned. Tireless animals that really aim to please and a how to hunt over.

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Beautiful dogs Crab. Mine looked very similar to the one on the left. Great hunters, great family dogs. Once my two pit bulls pass (you're welcome Basil), I'll probably get another Brittney.
 

ksuhusker

In a tree somewhere
10 Year Member
Having spent most of the first 35 years of my life in the Nebraska and/or Colorado, I grew up hunting upland birds. Easy access. Equipment was cheap. All you really needed was a shotgun and a good pair of boots. Public land was usually pretty close to wherever I lived and even in Colorado, I'd find birds most days. Maybe not a limit, but it was rare that I'd walk a field and not flush at least a few birds. Mostly pheasants, but occasionally a quail or two. Taking them home was another question, but even then, that wasn't really always the point. For years I mostly hunted alone, then I got to hunt over a great dog for the first time. He and I were frequent companions on weekends in the fall and winter and he seemed to enjoy the trips as much as I did. I don't think I understood how relaxing upland hunting was for me or how much I really enjoyed it until years later it wasn't an option, or at least hunting actual birds was more of a fantasy than reality.

Fast forward to 2002 and I'm living and working in Tennessee. I'd read story after story growing up about the clouds of quail in Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolina's. I knew pheasants were scarce, but it sounded like I could easily replace one bird for another. I was wrong. Now if you wanted to hunt farm raised birds on a game preserve, you could find and kill birds. That's never been my deal, so I walked a lot. So did my dog. We found a few coveys, but there were few and far between. Next stop was Virginia and again, no wild quail to speak of. Heard a few guys talk ruffed grouse up in the Virginia mountains, so my dog and I spent weekend after weekend looking for birds. Yeah, that was a fantasy too. I walked miles in miles in the Virginia mountains looking for ruffed grouse and found a few tracks, saw a few birds flush wild 50+ yards away, but never fired a shot.

So now I'm in South Carolina. Another upland wasteland and other than my infrequent trips to Western Kansas pheasant hunting, my memories and a few pictures are all that's left. The birdiest dog I've ever know, Chester, has been gone almost eight years now. I replaced him with more Brittany's, who're just as birdy, but are momma's couch dogs these days. They'll kill a dove in the back yard from time to time, but they don't have that intense need to chase a rooster in waist deep Big Blue Stem.

I wish I'd have appreciated my time out west in the corn fields, walking fence lines and slogging through cattails and hearing that rush of beating wings and that whistle when a rooster took to the air. It wasn't all about that, but those moments, mixed with the smell of the fields, the feel of the gun and the sound of my boots covering another mile stays with me.

What are your upland memories?
Sounds like we need to do a Western Kansas hunt next season.
 

Skerfan

Red Shirt
2 Year Member
I grew up hunting pheasants with my family in Northeast Nebraska. Much of that was done without a dog until my Grandfather got a Brittany and I met my future father in law who had a Brit as well. Back then birds were everywhere and you could still have a good hunt in January when they got extremely wild. It was nothing to see a group of 30-50 pheasants all take off when you shut your car door late in the season. When there was snow on the ground there were times where we could see 150-200 birds feeding in the bean stubble out on front window in the winter months.

When I got my own first dog I went with a pair of Springers. Even though these dogs are supposed to be flushers they tended to point and it was extremely fun to watch. When you have dogs and go out and see nothing but hens it is still fun to watch them work and see them do their jobs. I don't hunt much anymore due to a lack of birds and an abundance of cheese burgers but I still have a Springer who serves mostly as a lap dog and to chase away all squirrels and rabbits in the back yard.

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ksuhusker

In a tree somewhere
10 Year Member
Being born in Hastings, but growing up in Kansas most of the Nebraska family are all bird hunters. Every year we would be up in Nebraska for opening day, finally at the age of 5 I got a single shot .410. I was allowed to sit with my grandpa while he would block, I sat and studied. By the age of 7 I was allowed to walk by my dad, and being used as a bird dog since I was small and had a point to prove. I'd power through the sunflowers and plum thickets to get downed birds. When I hit age 10 I was ready to take my spot next to my dad, but woke up with a fever and was denied. My grandma realized that my excitement of going hunting on Saturday opener actually caused me to get a fever. Each year after that she'd wake up at about 4 am to make breakfast but also give me a Tylenol. I was 14 and pre-puberty I finally shot my first rooster...of course with my single shot .410. From 15-23 I was a pheasant and quail terror, but Kansas and Nebraska populations were dwindling. I still love going upland bird hunting, but don't travel for it like I once did. At 16 I shot my second deer, but first with a bow. I dabbled in archery hunting every year but once bird season started I was done with archery. My last year (19) years ago truly chasing upland birds, we had walked 12 miles with 4 roosters and a quail. We almost felt guilty shooting them, however we saw a ton of big bucks chasing doe in the rut...and well the rest is history. My passion for bow hunting is very strong and we travel states hunting mostly public land Giants.
 
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