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Wishing I was out west

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Wishing I was out west
UGH!!!!!! Watching Tod's trip out west, seeing duck season start already, watching folks' bird trips on other forums.......I WANNA BE OUT THERE DOING THAT TOO!!!!!!! I don't regret my Africa trip one bit. It was incredible. Would do it again in a heartbeat. But it sure sucked that work told me to pick one. You can't do two big trips in a year like that. So, my out west trip got nixed this year.

But lordy, people are posting pretty fall colors. Bird dogs doing bird dog things. Temps have dropped unseasonably here in N. FL for a few days. Sure makes me excited for bird season. I have even checked on the bird sightings that people are posting out at the NWR. Pintail, widgeon, teal, coots, and gadwall are being seen. I am actually really excited for duck season to start again. Keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have a late storm because one of the WMAs has incredible potential for ducks if it doesn't get inundated with salt water as has been typical the last six years or so.

While I was mooning over everyone's trips that have been made or are currently making it occurred to me that I didn't post my trip to Montana last year. So, I figured I'd share.

I left FL and hauled butt to Montana. I was only given about two weeks off so I had to get up there as quickly as possible. Since speed was imperative, the camper stayed home and I stayed with a friend in his motor home. He was wanting to get his pups on their first sage grouse so we met in my favorite sage grousing areas.

On the way up, I did have to stop and say hello to The Badlands. No matter how fast or slow I get up there, it seems that The Badlands is always an evening stop. I didn't get there in time to see the sun go down but I was up early enough to watch the sun come up. It was chilly, windy and a welcome change from the hot, muggy weather of FL. Belle was rarin' to go but of course she had to chill in the truck just one more day.










I was able to even see a lone buffalo waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out there.





I like getting to The Badlands earlyish in the evening because there is usually time to explore just a little. Drive the drive a bit. However, I was needing to get to MT as soon as possible. And I was close. Belle was excited. I was excited. So, we didn't stick around long to explore and watch the sun come up even more. Turns out there was a buffalo that was more accommodating than the far, far off one. He had an itch to scratch and the National Park Service was kind to put up a good scratching post.





On the way out, we saw the first sharptails of the trip. Right near the park entrance.





Belle was quite harumphy that she was not allowed to do more than sniff at them from the truck. Ah well. Such is the life of a poor bird dog.


We got up to the sage grouse stomping grounds with enough time for an afternoon hunt with Roy and his setters. He had been scouting a few days prior to my arrival and the best he had found up to that point was a flock spooking from far away.





I took him to a spot that had traditionally been a good evening spot for Steve and me though I told him it had been two years since I had been there. No promises. Turns out it was a good choice since not 40 yards from the truck, pointy dogs go on point. It was a big flock and I managed a bird out of the flock. I think Roy was shooting blanks or something cuz he is normally a great shot.





It was brutally hot up there though so we didn't hunt all the way until sunset. We had run out of water. We did enjoy watching the sun go down while the dogs cooled off.





Belle had blown out two pads and my dad was meeting us that evening so the next day was a rest day for Belle. I hadn't seen my dad in three years and he was driving over to visit for just one full day all the way from WA. Roy had business to take care of in town and it was going to be even hotter the next day. My dad and I went exploring and I took him up to see the elk at Slippery Ann Elk Viewing. It was a full day of driving but it was well worth it. We enjoyed ourselves even though the elk didn't totally cooperate. They hung back in the shade of the cottonwoods rather than come out of the flats. It was still eerie listening to them bugle.











My dad left the next day and Roy and I spent a few days trying to find where the sage grouse went. It was tough finding birds. We had a good day on sharptails and pheasants that were not yet in season. Belle also pointed a covey of huns that I dropped one of and lost. None of the dogs we had out are strong retrievers or dead bird finders. Sometimes by the time Roy and I got down or up to the dogs, the birds had disappeared or had been flushed. The pups were learning all about how crowding doesn't work as well on sharptails or pheasant as it does on quail back home in AZ.











We did have to stop and refill our waterbottles. Remembering not to drink from those was tough for me...





Tight holding sharptail





We often walked farther than we anticipated. If you look off in the distance, you can see the two white blobs. Those are the trucks.





Luckily we could almost always count on shade at the truck





I also learned not to leave birds unattended where dogs could possibly get a hold of them. Somehow, a couple of birds just disappeared. Ah well.


Roy had to spend a few days dealing with paperwork at the bank in town so Belle and I took the opportunity to explore a little set of mountains that I had always tried to get Steve to go explore with me. He was funny sometimes...he was happy to go back to the same general areas rather than go explore new areas. Belle's feet could use a little rest anyway so Belle and I went exploring in the mountains. One night I seriously contemplated staying the night up in the mountains. It was gorgeous. However, I didn't have signal to even text Roy to let him know not to worry so we came down off the mountains.














Belle also had her first ruffled grouse find while we were up there.














I enjoyed sitting up in the mountains, listening to the elk bugling, enjoying the much cooler air and watching the world just slowly wander by.





Belle did a good job finding a few birds. A shame that my shooting wasn't as good as her nose.





Getting up to the mountains we saw lots of deer and elk.

















We did finally find the sage grouse. The day after season closed.





Oh well.








That's just the way it goes sometimes.


It was a great trip with a great friend and great dogs. It wasn't the best trip birdwise (at least bringing them home) but we had sharptails, huns, sage grouse, ruffed grouse and pheasants for the dogs. OH!!! There was also one lone bobwhite rooster flushed. I saw him in the sage as I was driving down one of the roads. He was a wise bird because I stopped to get a picture and he did not want his picture taken....he got out of there quickly.




The antelope were plentiful.




I was sad to have to say good bye to Montana, but I gotta pay for my hunting habit somehow...so it was sadly time to go.







Last edited by:

Dani: Oct 20, 2022, 11:48 AM
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
Sweet trip and super writeup. Beautiful pics, I mean really beautiful pics. Don't tell me those were phone pics.

Not to rub salt in the wound, but it looks like I'm headed West again in a couple weeks. Wink I don't have much for hunting planned, but I do have a badger that needs killing and I may try to find a reason to bring a shotgun and a couple decoys - there were quite a few ducks on the river when I was there in October.
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
Great pics and story Dani.

You two need to quit stopping in the midwest and make it all the way to the West. Duck season opens in CA on Saturday. 107 days plus a few more for early and late geese with 7 ducks and 30 geese limits. There's 250 specklebellies using the pond that my dad and I will be hunting for the opener, can't wait!
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
tod osier wrote:
Sweet trip and super writeup. Beautiful pics, I mean really beautiful pics. Don't tell me those were phone pics.

Not to rub salt in the wound, but it looks like I'm headed West again in a couple weeks. Wink I don't have much for hunting planned, but I do have a badger that needs killing and I may try to find a reason to bring a shotgun and a couple decoys - there were quite a few ducks on the river when I was there in October.


Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh sitting here in my concrete box ......oh well....at least someone gets to go west

The critter pictures other than dogs and scritchy butt bison were taken with my camera. The Badlands pictures were also my camera. Everything else was my phone.

Kevin....eventually I will make it all of the way west for some mountain quail and hopefully even some cinnamon teal. I am still trying to work out the mountain quail trip....
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
A few more pictures....just cuz







This is not a good shot, but I do love seeing the elk down in the valley at night



I really gotta work on my low light camera work, but there were some nice white tails in the valley too


Last edited by:

Dani: Oct 21, 2022, 7:13 AM
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
Good stuff, amazing photos.


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
 Dani,

Thanks for sharing pictures of your trip. Many moons ago I work for a ranch one summer outside of Livingston . Absolutely beautiful country.
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
What a marvelous trip you had. It was good to see that you took advantage of your environment and it seems to me that you saw a great variety of animals and birds. Well done, Dani. You take such beautiful pictures and I do look forward to your posts. What a story.

I did zero in on this one sentence of yours "I left FL and hauled butt to Montana." I was wondering if you could have said "I left FL and hauled butt to Butte. Montana. Sorry---
Al
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Re: Wishing I was out west In reply to
Another super write up Dani.

Thanks so much for sharing that with us.





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