Category Archives: News

Season Wrap Up

We started our season as usual on Sage Grouse in Idaho. Sage Grouse are still in trouble here but there were enough birds around to get some good dog work and a couple excellent dinners.

Prince Pointing Dead Sage Grouse
Prince Pointing A Dead Sage Grouse

We then headed to Wisconsin for our annual Grouse and Woodcock fix. We had several young dogs that needed to see some birds so our emphasis was on giving them the opportunity to show us they have what it takes. Grouse numbers were disappointing given the spring drumming counts and most birds we found were spooky and hard to get close to. It seemed like a higher percentage were adults which explains their wariness. We managed to find enough to keep it interesting but overall it wasn’t fantastic hunting and made it difficult to get our youngsters going. One bright spot was a couple coverts with good numbers of woodcock which helped make up for the lack of dog work on Grouse.

Feather Warming Up After Morning Walk In Wisconsin
Violet and Prince in Wisconsin

With poor reports of Chukar numbers in Idaho after last year’s heavy snows we decided to spend the rest of our season chasing quail in Kansas. So right after Christmas we loaded up and drove to Kansas, arriving just in time for sub-zero temps and howling wind. It was too cold to hunt so we spent our first three days scouting.

Think There’s A Covey In This Cover?

January 2-10 was spent at the 2nd Breeders Gathering. Hunting was tough after the weather warmed up as birds we had located seemed to vanish. We spent a lot of time with friends old and new and had a very productive series of discussions about goals for

Walt Lesser, Bob Mele and Lisa
Walt Lesser, Bob Mele and Lisa

First day out was a reunion of sorts. We joined Walt Lesser with October Kade, and Bob Mele with October Lizzie Lee (Bob adopted Lizzie a couple years ago). We miss Lizzie and she reminded us why on this day, making a point on a covey and a single plus retrieving both birds shot over her points.

October Alder Run Kade
October Lizzie Lee

Walt Cottrell and “Rose” joined us for a hunt and Walt got these photos of Gen pointing a dead quail, Rose backing her, and Lisa with her Bobwhite.

Rose Backing Gen
Gen Pointing Dead Quail
Lisa with Bobwhite Quail

After saying our good byes we got serious about locating birds for our young dogs. This is only the second year we’ve hunted Bobwhite Quail so it’s as much a learning experience for us as for the dogs. A light snow fall helped by allowing us to locate/track birds and we altered our hunting style as well as the habitat covered to maximize our chances of finding birds. It paid off. These birds tend to sit tight which makes them pretty easy for the dogs to handle. However they don’t put off much scent so, combined with their tendency to hide rather than run (we did find coveys that ran), they are surprisingly difficult to locate. The dogs had to figure this out and cover ground more thoroughly and we had to learn to hit areas we had previously passed by. We finished the hunt with dogs making points on the last 7 coveys we found.

October Mountain Heath in Kansas / 2018

Two highlights of that last week occurred on the same day. Buck has had very limited experience despite being two years old (thanks in part to Lisa injuring her knee and foot our second day in WI and being unable to hunt the rest of the trip). He found a couple singles last year (pretty tough for a young dog) but hadn’t really had much chance otherwise. We were hunting a cover we knew held some birds and he hunted very well, covering likely areas as he should. We passed through an area where he slowed down and scoured it thoroughly. We noticed scattered droppings and Buck moved out and sped up when we got away from the sign. So we went back towards where we’d seen the droppings and he immediately slowed down and worked the area over and over. Eventually he located a good sized covey and pointed them, sitting tightly within a few feet of his nose. He clearly knew those birds were there and searched until he found them. Later that day we hunted Coulter. He’d made points on a couple coveys before but this one showed he’s got it figured out. In a brushy draw He and Candy got birdy and we again noticed scatted fresh droppings so we knew there were birds around. They both made several short points while moving up the draw, following the birds as they ran ahead of them. About 100 yards up the draw and in the last patch of brush Coulter pointed the covey and held until we arrived. A very nice piece of dog work.

Our last day of hunting capped off the trip nicely. We’d been running Piper every day and she’d seen a couple singles flush but had no other contacts. This day she got out ahead of us and pointed for a while. It was windy and we never heard the flush but she had a covey pointed and was back where they flushed checking it out, making several short points and eventually locating a single straggler from the covey.

Piper in Kansas 2018
Piper in Kansas 2018

In the end we’re really happy with the development of our youngsters and got to enjoy some quality hunts with our older dogs. Now it’s puppy season (we’re babysitting Brook’s litter right now) which will keep us busy for the next few weeks.

New Blog and Forum for Ryman-type Setters!

The issues covered in our “Call to Arms” have been getting a LOT of attention behind the scenes. The response has been universally positive and there is enthusiasm for doing something to create a good future for the Ryman-types. We are extremely excited to announce that a group of breeders has collaborated on a new blog and forum devoted to Ryman-type setters.

The purpose of the site is to promote and foster the hunting abilities, health, and an expanding gene pool within Ryman-type English setters. Members commit to breeding health tested dogs (OFA hips at a minimum) and they all hunt wild birds to prove their dogs.

There is a private forum for members to help each other with advice on breeding, health issues, hunting qualities- anything to do with breeding Ryman-type setters. There is also a public forum that anyone who wants to talk about the dogs can join.

Anyone interested is invited to join. Spread the word!

Back to Life, Upcoming Ryman Book

Well, it’s been a busy summer and fall around here. On top of three summer litters we have had several projects going on and are behind on blogging, email, etc. We’re about caught up though, and hopefully can stop ignoring everyone from here out.

The biggest project has been finishing up a book on Rymans that Lisa co-authored. This required research through the summer (not to mention hundreds of hours over the last couple of years), plus a major push to get it submitted to the publisher last month. The main author of the book, Walt Lesser, is the breeder of the Alder Run line of setters. Walt is one of a very few people alive who has experience with setters bred by George Ryman, and we are excited to see his knowledge of what they were like become available to everyone. The book is scheduled for distribution late next year.

We have managed to get some hunting in. The highlight of course was our Wisconsin grouse and woodcock trip in October. The Midwest grouse cycle is on the down swing right now, but numbers were still decent this year. If you put on the miles you could find enough birds to make it interesting. There are probably some lean years coming up as the cycle bottoms out though.

We are about to head out to chukar camp. We’re late getting over there, but should be able to stay for several weeks if the weather treats us OK. Unlike last year we are expecting lots of mud. We will report. In the mean time, Cliff and our friend Bill figured out a good way to get through rainy days in Wisconsin when trudging through cold, wet woods is about the last thing you feel like doing. Here is Bill with a 39″ Muskie. Maybe not a real big one by Wisconsin standards, but huge from a trout fly fisherman’s perspective!

Important Request From October Setters to Our Readers

Normally we want to keep our blog posts about the dogs and what we’re up to with them, but something has come up that we feel is important enough to warrant a more serious post.

The USDA has proposed a rule change to the 40 year old Animal Welfare Act that is a severe threat to the Ryman types and all other rare breeds or strains.  Detailed information about the proposal and why the USDA is taking this step can be found here:

In a nutshell, any breeder owning more than four breeding age females who ships even one puppy to a remote buyer, even a repeat customer, would now be required to be licensed and inspected by the USDA.  Same goes for a breeder of any size who takes a stud fee pup or buys a potential breeding dog from someone else and later decides to sell it.

Most breeders of Ryman types fall into this category.  Most who do (all?), like us, will not be willing to submit to the substantial cost, regulations, and invasion of privacy involved in the licensing requirements.  We will basically have two options if the rule goes through.  Our most likely response will be to stop shipping puppies, never sell a dog that wasn’t born and raised at our kennel, and hope that we can keep operating.  The other option would be to downsize so that we can still ship.  We probably would not consider that option because it would be too limiting genetically.

The NAIA web site (linked to above) has many good points about the problems with the rule.  In addition, here are some of our thoughts on it.

  • You will no longer be able to buy a puppy from most breeders unless you are able to spend the time and extra money to go to the kennel in person to pick up the puppy.  The rule would cause substantial extra cost to people who would like to purchase a pup from a particular breeder who happens to be on the other side of the country.
  • Small size does not necessarily mean healthier pups.  Breeders who don’t take good care of their pups come in all sizes, and we know of some with as few as one or two females who don’t.  Conversely, there are large breeders who regularly send out healthy and well cared for pups.
  • If we had been limited to only four females during the last 20 years we never could have achieved the progress we’ve made on hips and other health issues (not to mention our goals for field performance, conformation, etc.).  Our kennel size is bare minimum to get anything done, and progress can be faster if a breeder is bigger.  Inherited health problems are part of animal welfare too, and a rule that encourages only very small breeders will have unintended detrimental consequences to genetic diversity and long term health of the breeds.
  • The USDA assumes an average of 1.5 litters per year from each female as part of how they came up with the limit of 4 breeding females, which is vastly over estimated, at least in our experience with Ryman types.  This number of litters would require breeding every female on every heat, a practice which is generally frowned on.  Breeders who do it are often accused of acting like puppy mills.  None of our females have had more than four litters in their entire lifetime.  Some have only had one.  This is typical of the breeders we know.
  • Apparently the USDA has received complaints about the condition of puppies (or other animals) shipped from breeding facilities that are not open to visits from buyers.  A kennel like ours, that is open to anyone who does want to visit or pick up their puppy in person, already has the public oversight which is one of the goals of the new rule.  In our opinion, licensing all breeding facilities that are closed to visits from customers would be a reasonable alternative to the proposed rule.

A simple way to respond is to sign the AKC’s petition.

Comments submitted directly to the USDA may be more effective.!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2011-0003-0001

We hope everyone will consider this carefully and either sign the petition or submit reasoned comments (or both).  The comment period ends July 16th.

Happy Spring!

We’ve heard a lot of reports that Woodcock have returned to breeding areas in the northeast and we’re envious.  Working dogs on spring Woodcock is a real treat, not to mention being a great opportunity to give the dogs more exposure to birds.  Older experienced dogs also enjoy working birds in spring even though you aren’t shooting at them.  We thought it would be fun to show you what it’s like here in spring.  These photos were taken in our yard on March 19, 2011.  Obviously we won’t be working dogs here for a while.