Saturday, September 29, 2012

Into the Field

Hastings Island is a working farm island.  Islands in the San Joaquin Valley Delta area were created in the late 1800's by building hundreds of miles of levees and draining the swamps.

This has made the soil exceedingly rich for farming. Water is abundant from the channels that flow sometimes ten feet higher than the islands that are created behind the levees.  The crops are fed water through shallow ditches that criss-cross Hastings.  The fields that grow food crops get watered, but the farrow fields are left dry and just receive the rains that come in the late fall.   All this area hasn't seen any rain since April.  That is six months of dry.

On Thursday morning with Bailey out front, we entered our first hunting field.  The dew had developed on the grass and my boots and lower legs of my Levis became soaked.  The ground cover ranged from four inches to almost thirty inches high but under the cover the clay soil was cracked and very uneven.  The fissures in the soil was a couple inches wide and many inches deep.  How a hunting dog is able to run these fields without breaking a leg amazes me.  It is hard to even walk.  My ankles were twisting constantly making the going tough.   Thought about how my knees were going to hurt that evening.

The closest hunter was maybe a half mile away.   Bailey was in heaven again.  He ran hard staying about fifty yards ahead of me as he worked left, center front, right, then back to the center using his nose in the air.  He knew the objectives smell.  Pheasant.  He was on a mission.  My Acme 211 whistle was used to keep him working with me when he went off on a mission that did not include me.  We were hunting together.  Just had to remind him every once in awhile.

This is our second season hunting these fields.  Bailey, at 4 years old, is fully mature and trained.  He has been through all the skills training done professionally.  He knows how to find, point, be steady to wing, be steady to shot, retrieve to hand.   When just the two of us are hunting I find myself "judging" my dog on his skills.   Is that what I need?   A Master Hunter?  Bailey is not that and never will with me as his rookie hunting partner.

Within half an hour the dew was gone and the temperatures were raising quickly.  The air off the delta waters felt good as we walked into the wind.  Bailey working the scents on the breeze coming from the hidden prey.

Next: Part III  The Point.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Start of the First Pheasant Hunt 2012

This post will be without pictures.

 I took my little Nikon Coolpix.  "Batteries Exhausted" came up when I turned it on.  So no pictures. 

As I entered the fields, for the first time this year,  I decided to work on my "paint a picture" in my writing.  Wish me luck.  A post to RBD without pictures?  Like a bagel without cream cheese.

Opening day at Hastings Island was last Saturday.  This morning, as I got my club "20-bird card" I was talking to one of the employees of the club.  "So, how many came out for opening day?" I asked.  "It was good.  Well over 100."  On this fine Thursday morning, there were 8 hunters ready to take into the fields.  The weather was perfect!  55 degrees with about a 10-mile-per-hour breeze coming out of the west.  Couldn't have really wished for better conditions for a pheasant hunt.

I wrote to the management of my company from my office desk the following e-mail at 5:15 this morning:
Title:  Mental Health Morning
"Taking the morning off to get out into the fields with my dog pheasant hunting. (Season opened at the club Saturday.)  I'll be out by Rio Vista this morning for  a couple hours.  I'll have my radio off only from 8 until 10.  Should be back by noon."

In the dark, I drove an hour along the River Road out into the heart of the San Joaquin Delta to Hastings Island.  I was one of the first hunters there.  The sun was just coming up at 7 a.m. as I parked the truck in the clubhouse's lot.  Went inside the 70-year-old hunting club house where I got my "club card" and a couple slices of toast. 

Waiting for the starting of the hunting day: 7:30.

Bailey was ready.  I was ready.  The pheasants had been salted in the thousand-acre hunting preserve.

We headed out into the fields and I parked the truck after a short 1/4 mile drive.  We had a hundred acres to ourselves.  The air was crisp when we got out of the truck.  I got on my bright orange hunting vest, loaded my CZ 20 gauge, before I let Bailey off his leash.  Then I blew a quick toot on my whistle to send him out into the first of four fields we hunted today.

The tension of work was still heavy in my shoulders.  Stress is high at work.  I have been looking forward to the feeling of farm fields under my boots with a good shotgun in my hand, and a wonderful Hungarian Pointer heading out into the seed grass hunting the hidden pheasants.  I knew all this would happen. 

Part II tomorrow.  "Into the Field."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Pointer - 1939 Walt Disney

Found on Vizsla Talk today.  Bailey is so much like Pluto!
Double click video to make full screen once it starts.  Enjoy.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Wonderful World with Vizslas

A short video with sound track in the background to celibate the 100th Friend of the Red Bird Dog joining today.

 Happy trails and trials with these great Hungarian Pointers.
Pack of Hungrian Pointers on the beach at Point Pinole

Pack of Hungarian Pointers at a swimming hole at Sunol Wilderness Area
 The below pictures are sure signs of a great walk for the dogs.

Chloe crashed out on her sleeping bag
Bailey passed out on the couch in the early afternoon after a walk

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vizslas - 5 Months to 5 Years Old on a Viz Wiz

From left to right: Fawkes, Bo, Bailey, Louie
The picture above is of Bailey and three of his "boys" from the two liters he has sired.  Fawkes is a wonderful and confident 17-month-old.  Bo and Louie are 6-month-old goofy pups.  

10 Vizslas at the "W" tree on a Sunol Wilderness trail
After 90 minutes of walking and enjoying a wonderful stream running through the Sunol Valley, we all gathered for a group picture.  10 Vizslas ranging from a very sweet 5-month-old male to the "old lady" Chloe at 5 years old. 

 Bailey, at 4 years old, is the "old man" of this group.   

A great swimming hole just 15 minutes into the walk. 
 The pups watched the older dogs enjoying the water.

Chloe hanging out with the youngsters.  Bo and Louie up ahead.
Late fall and the landscape is very dry.  Can't wait for the rain to green  things up.
Heading back to the start after a couple hours of walking, running and playing in the  water.
A very enjoyable Saturday morning with great dogs and wonderful people.

To find out where we walk, go to the Yahoo Group: VizslaWalk
You'll have to sign up to view.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lily on a Viz Wiz SF Bay

Lily and Chloe on a Viz Wiz

A  Viz Wiz along the woods of Point Pinole
Lily playing with her red-headed friends
The mud was warm and delightful
Lily and her great dad
18 Vizslas and 20 humans enjoying a late summer morning
Bo and Louie.  Two of Bailey's pups 5 months old
Seven Hungarian Pointers enjoying the SF Bay
Gampi being Lily's horse

156 more pictures of Vizslas enjoying the day