Happy 15th Birthday Souris!


Happy Birthday Souris by Craig Koshyk on Exposure


Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm


The Huntress


The Huntress by Craig Koshyk on Exposure



Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm



My Photo Essays Are Getting a Makeover

With my trusty Canons and Leicas near Broomhill, MB (photo: P. Dot Porquez)

I've recently fallen in love with a new online platform for publishing my photo essays. I've only posted two projects so far, and both are just updated versions of essays I've already published here. But stay tuned for a lot more to come!

I will still be using this blog for various rants, raves, updates, news and other features, but for picture-heavy photo essays, check out the new look at https://cdog.exposure.co/ I will also embed the essays right here, but to really appreciate the great look of the new site, click on the link at the bottom of the essay.



Prairie Dogs by Craig Koshyk on Exposure

Lisa Trades a Canon for a Shotgun

Lisa and I spend a lot of time in the field chasing game. For years, I carried a shotgun to put meat on the table and she carried a Canon to put photos in our picture albums. 


Lisa hunting with her Canon camera 
and good friends Cam Rice and Goose. 

Then, last February, Lisa said: "I think I'm ready to be a 'real' hunter now." So she purchased a sweet side by side at a local shop and had it fitted. When the snow melted, she learned to shoot clays out in the field...




and at the local trap and skeet club





Over the summer, she studied for her hunter's safety test and in August passed it with a grade of 100% ! And then, just two days before the season opener, Lisa got her very first hunting licence at the age of  REDACTED .

On the eve of opening day we went scouting. Near dusk, we found the perfect spot to hunt the next morning. There were tons of ducks and the Great Manitou gave us a sign that Lisa was in for a fantastic season.




And he was right. 


Soon enough, she shot her first mallard!

She cleaned it


And we paired it with the best wine in the house.
It was delicious!


And she also shot her first woodcock!


Mmmmmm.... pan seared timberdoodle
with caramelized onion compote
on toasted rosemary focaccia

And her first pheasant!

Roasted and served
with basmati rice and roasted veggies. 


And so it went.  When Lisa was not at the table enjoying dishes like these:

Snipe in broth and egg noodles

Pheasant soup with dumplings

Snipe legs on rosemary/fig/hazelnut crackers
Roast pheasant with spanakopita 


Seared magret de canard (mallard breast) 
with cherry coulis, fingerling potatoes and agugula
Our field lunches
tend to be a bit simpler


She was in the field, forest and marsh hunting...


Woodcock with Uma

Snipe and Sharptails with Henri

Ruffed grouse with Souris

Pheasants with Zeiss

Or just relaxing with the happy family.

As they say: "the couple that hunts together stays together!"



The only downside of the 2014 season is that we have far fewer hunting photos than we normally do at this time of year. But we did manage to take some. You can view them here.


Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm

It's TIME!!!




In the immortal words of Bruce Buffer...



The 2014 hunting season is now upon us, and it is a very special one indeed. It is Lisa's very first season with a gun. For many years, Lisa has been 'hunting' with a camera. Many of her awesome images are posted right here on this blog and some are featured in Pointing Dogs Volume One: The Continentals. But this year, armed with her brand new Yildiz A5 side by side (a sweeeeet gun!), she will be doing her best to put some free-range, organic meat on the table. And I will try to capture as much of the action as I can with my still and video cameras.

So stay tuned. I will be adding photos and videos to http://www.craigkoshykphoto.ca, in the gallery located here: http://www.craigkoshykphoto.ca/p1063773707#h22f6be34

Henri pointing a snipe for Lisa

Lisa's first duck in hand.
Lisa's first duck, right out of the oven.

Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm

Better Cold Than Sorry

The fact is, it’s hard to freeze a working dog to death on even the coldest days. But it’s quite easy to accidentally kill a hard-hunting dog on even a mildly warm day. — Brian Lynn

Every year, right about now, hunting publications everywhere run articles warning hunters about the dangers that early season heat can pose to hard driving gundogs. And I've done my best to heed those warnings, even up here in the great white north were anything above zero is considered a 'mildly warm' day.



But last year, despite our best efforts, Henri gave us a scare. We were in North Dakota in late October hunting pheasants. The days were cool and nights were down right cold. Since the dogs were spending nights in the truck, we put insulated covers on their kennels to keep them warm. And the covers worked like a charm. Despite plenty of frost on the pumpkin outdoors, I always found the dogs comfortably warm inside their kennels each morning.


During the day, as we ran one dog, we would leave the others in their kennels. We kept their kennel covers on but we cracked the windows on the truck to make sure things didn't get too warm — even though the outdoor temps never got above 5 degrees (40F).  Again, it worked like a charm. Every time we got back to the truck, we found comfortable dogs eagerly awaiting their turn to hunt.
And then Henri's eagerness got the better of him, and of us. 

Eager Henri
On day three of the hunt, we decided our first stop would be a small patch of great looking rooster cover. Since Uma is our closest working dog, she got the nod.  45 minutes and three roosters later (Uma was on FIRE!!), we were back at the truck. As I opened the tailgate I saw our dog Souris in her crate fast asleep, shivering. Next to her was Henri in his crate. But he wasn't asleep, and he sure as heck wasn't shivering. He was laying on his back, panting, wide eyed. His bright red tongue was hanging out like he'd just run a marathon in the desert!


Henri was showing the classic signs of heat stress. We needed to cool him down, fast. Fortunately, the grass right outside the truck was cold and wet with melted frost. So I opened Henri's crate, picked him up, put him on the ground and said "down!". He was more than happy to oblige. He plopped down and began to roll in the grass as we poured an entire jug of cool water on his belly, under his arms and inner thighs. 



In a couple of minutes Henri was up and around, seemingly no worse for wear. We dried him off and took him for a short walk just to make sure he wasn't woozy or wobbly or suffering from any lingering effects. And right there and then we decided that 1. Henri would not hunt that day. We'd give him some time to recover from what was probably not a severe case of heat stress, but what could have easily been much worse and 2. from now on, when we leave any dog in a crate while we hunt with another, it is better to be cold than sorry.


Henri overheated in a cold truck on a cold day. He was in a crate that was covered with an insulated jacket. And such a setup is designed to keep a dog relatively warm when it is sleeping or just chillaxing waiting for its turn to run. Unfortunately, when we started the day with Uma instead of the usual 'first stringer' Henri, well, let's just say that he did NOT take it lightly. Henri did NOT sleep or chillax. In fact, it seems that while we were in the field with Uma, out of sheer frustration and indignation, Henri decided to paw at the bottom of his crate like he was digging to China. There is no way of knowing how long it took for the crate to heat up, but as Henri threw a tantrum, heat up it did. And heat stress suddenly became an issue.


And there is also no way of knowing what would have happened if we'd been in the field with Uma for longer than 45 minutes. Clearly, Henri had stopped doing whatever he was doing to heat things up before we got back. His brain said 'cut it out you idiot!" and forced him to just lay there and pant. So would he have recovered on his own just by being still (and panting his tongue off)? Or would the temperature have remained high enough, for long enough, to cause permanent damage...or worse?

We will never know. And we never want to find out.



Since Henri's near melt-down, we've installed wireless temperature gauges in the crates so we can monitor them from the cab of the truck as we drive. And we've decided that from now on, when we are in the field with one dog we will leave the others in kennels with all the cover flaps off and all the windows open. The dogs will just have to get used to shivering. It’s hard to freeze a working dog to death on even the coldest days. But it’s quite easy to accidentally kill a hard-hunting dog on even a mildly warm day.



Stay safe everyone!



Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm







Opening Day, Waterfowl 2014


This morning, my nephew Craig James and I headed out at insane o'clock for the waterfowl opener. We had scouted a great new spot over the weekend and were pretty sure that we'd be bringing home some fresh duck for diner. And we were right. By 8:30 am, we had 6 mallards and 3 teal, all fetched to hand by my go-to dog Henri. By 9 am, temps were rising fast so we decided to shed the chest-waders, lace up the upland boots and head to the field in search of snipe. 


Snipe are migratory, so we can hunt them when the general waterfowl season opens, usually a week before the upland season. But in some areas they are actually found in the very same pastures frequented by sharp-tails. So we had a hunch that we'd come across both. And we were right again. Henri had a total of 10 points in a little less than an hour. 6 points were on snipe and 4 on sharptails. All the snipe were singles, the grouse were in pairs for the most part, but one point was a sort of 'popcorn all around him' kind of thing with probably 8-10 birds flushing in one's and two's.


As for our shooting, well... it sucked. We only shot at snipe of course (sharptail season doesn't open till next week), but we missed them ALL! I blame it on the new shells. You see, I ran out of my regular snipe cartridges, so we had to use a new load, Kent TealSteel #6s. And sure, they went 'boom' just fine when we pulled the trigger, I am sure they are a decent load. But blaming them is easier on the ego than blaming our rusty shooting skills, so I will stick with the 'bad shells' excuse until I start knocking down more snipe with them. Then I will change my tune to 'these shells are awesome!'


All the photos in this post are from today's waterfowl hunt. I didn't take the camera with me for the snipe hunt and now I regret it. I am pretty sure I would have shot better with my Canon than I did with my side by side. 







Do Spaniels POINT?

An illustration from the Quadrupedum Omnium Bisulcorum Historia by Ulisse Aldrovandi, published in 1621.
The writing on the left reads: Canis Hispanicus auribus demissis, Espagneulx Gallis, Can Limier Gesnero
 “Spanish dog with hanging (or drooping) ears, Gallic (i.e.: French) Spaniel, Lymer type dog”


Like the term “braque”, the word épagneul can be a tough nut to crack. For English speakers, an approximate pronunciation would be Ay- (rhymes with “say”) Pan- (rhymes with “dan”) YUL (rhymes with “pull”). Ay-Pan-YUL. The origin of the word is unclear. Gaston Phébus wrote in Le Livre de la Chasse 1388 that:
There is another type of dog that we call chiens d’oysel and espaignolz, because this type comes from Spain, even though there are some in other countries.
Chiens d'oysels from Le Livre de la Chasse
From this and other lines in Le Livre de la Chasse, many have concluded that épagneul means “from Spain”. It is also considered by many to be synonymous with chien d’oysel (dog of the bird) and to refer only to long-haired pointing dogs. But not all authorities agree on these points. Jean Castaing wrote an excruciatingly detailed analysis of the word épagneul in his monumental book, Les Chiens d'Arrêt. He suggests that épagneul may not mean “from Spain” since épagneul-type dogs probably developed somewhere further north. He presents a fairly good argument that is supported, in part, by other authors, that épagneul could have come from the Old French espanir which means to “spread out”. In any case, getting to the bottom of the word’s origin does not really help us with the main problem that it presents today: Spaniels don’t point, but épagneuls do!

Épagneul type dogs on a cart. They could be Brittanies,
but are more likely "épagneuls du pays" (country spaniels)
of mixed/unknown ancestry
In English, when it comes to sporting breed nomenclature, the word “spaniel” is used almost exclusively for breeds that flush game and never for breeds that point game. So when the name of a pointing breed such as the Épagneul Breton is translated as “Brittany Spaniel”, it causes all kinds of confusion. In fact, the “spaniel” part of the Brittany’s name was such an irritant to many English speakers that it was dropped altogether by national breed clubs in the US and UK. Today, most English speakers just call it the Brittany. 

Pont-Audemer Spaniel with Ruffed Grouse
(Manitoba, Canada)

To add to the confusion, none of the other épagneul breeds from France—the French, Picardy, Blue Picardy, Pont-Audemer and Saint-Usuge—have dropped the “spaniel” part of their names in English. English speakers who own and breed them, use the term spaniel — and soon get used to explaining that yes, the dogs point, and no, not all "spaniels" are flushing dogs. And that's not all! In French, just about any breed of pointing dog with long hair can be called an Épagneul. So to many French hunters, a Small Munsterlander is a Petit Épagneul de Munster, a Drenthe Patrijshond is an Épagneul de Drenthe and the German Longhaired Pointer is an Épagneul Allemand (or sometimes even a chien d'oysel!)

Épagneul Breton at full gallop, Picardy, France

Small Munsterlander with a nice rooster, South Dakota, USA.
In France, the breed is known as the Petit Épagneul de Munster.

And finally, there is one more curious linguistic twist. The French do not translate the English names of the flushing spaniel breeds. They call them by their English names, often with a thick French accent. So in France, you will hear French hunters call Springer Spaniels  "Spreenn-gairz”, Cocker Spaniels “Coke-air Span-yellz” and Irish Water Spaniels "Eereesh Vat'air Span-yellz". 

German Longhaired Pointer in the Netherlands
In France, the breed is known as the Épagneul Allemand or Chien d'oysel.
Here is the list of the various French "épagneul" breeds still being bred in France (and elsewhere) today. 

Épagneul Français (French Spaniel)
Épagneul Picard (Picardy Spaniel)
Épagneul Bleu de Picardie (Blue Picardy Spaniel)
Épagneul de Pont-Audemer (Pont Audemer Spaniel)
Épagneul Breton (Brittany [Spaniel])
Épagneul de Saint Usuge (Saint Usuge Spaniel)

Épagneul Français (French Spaniel) in Québec.
In my view, the most elegant of all the épagneul breeds.




Enjoy my blog posts? Check out my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
http://www.dogwilling.ca/index.cfm