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!