Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seriously Awesome Holiday Gifts for Dogs (and People too)

I laugh out loud every time I see this photo

It's almost that time of year again. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are lurking around the corner like creepy zombie walkers. There patiently waiting for you to save the day by throwing your wallet at them like a ninja chucks a chinese star. To help arm you for this holiday season I've decided to put together a list of seriously bitching and affordable suggestions of things to get your dog both hunting and non-hunting related (even some stuff for humans too). Before we begin I would like to take this opportunity to say I am getting ZERO kickbacks and I am receiving no benefits for suggesting these items to you. Although you would be shocked at the amount of people who solicit me on a weekly basis to advertise on this blog. This blog is ad free for a reason. But lets be honest if Cabela's or Uplanders Warehouse called tomorrow I'd be jumping on that bandwagon before you could scream sellout. BUT that hasn't happened so.....these are all things I either own, bought other people, know people who have these things and or I really wish someone from my family would read this post and maybe buy them for me. **Hint hint Jimbo - now is the time to pay attention** Let's begin.

Dog Gifts

1. Meteorlight K9 L.E.D. Ball
Come November when Daylight savings kicks in it's dark by 5:00pm here in Pennsylvania. By the time I get home from work between 5:30 and 6:00pm I have very few exercise options for the girls. We all know that tired and stimulated GSP's are happy and non-desctructive GSP's. So even though I can't take them for a field run, what I can do is play night fetch in our yard. But that requires a light up ball. (Exit stage right Meteorilight K9 ball!) It's the size of a tennis ball, floats in water and can take replacement batteries. It's usually $12.99 but I'm sure if you do your research you can maybe find it cheaper. Here is a link to the manufacturer but check places like amazon as well.  And takes batteries so don't let your dog have it when your not around....use your brain.

2. Dog Cave (AKA the Pointer Pita)
Our dogs LOVE the dog cave. But they are the kind of dogs that prefer to be buried under covers. If your dog hates to be covered this is probably not the dog bed for them. We buy an extra large so if they want to snuggle in there together they can. Besides they love to spread out and take up some room so they can do that in an extra large. With that said for a 60 pound GSP a size large is sufficient for one dog. Here is a blog post I did when we got Cleo's first dog cave. Prices for these vary depending on the size you get and what time of the year you buy them. Fosters and Smith often has sales. Look for the Dog Cave here.

3. Doggie Sleep Sack
I love this thing and let me tell you why: It's so well made, It's easy to clean AND it's travel friendly more so than a bulky dog bed or Pointer Pita. This is what we throw on the couch that the dogs can snuggle on or in. When we take the RV out for the weekend we don't want to fuss with dragging along an entire dog bed since we are limited on space. If we head to my parents shore house this is what I bring to keep the dogs off their couch.  The doggie sleep sack is handmade by Sew Paws. There are all kinds of fabric choices to choose from but if you want one for the holidays I'd get an order in sooner rather than later. Check out their facebook page and send them a private message. They are incredibly easy to deal with and besides Cleo and Luna totally endorse this product. #fourpawsapproved

4. Antler Chews
Jim deer hunts so we always have antlers around the house and the dogs LOVE to chew on them. I like them because they don't smell bad, they last forever and they don't splinter. Most dogs especially ones that like to chew bones usually like antlers. Keep in mind not all dogs will like them. We gave an antler to my brothers basset hound last year and he looked at us like we lost our flippin minds. He clearly wanted a blueberry bagel or something. BUT if you've never given one to your dog they might be missing out. If free access to antlers or sheds are not possible for you then check this site out: Grateful Shed Antler Chews. They have various antler offerings including moose, deer, elk and caribou. Keep in mind it is almost Christmas and Santa might not appreciate you buying reindeer antlers this time of the year. Just throwing that out there. If you want to get full size uncut antlers like the girls have above go to ebay and do a quick search for "Antlers".

5. Custom made collars with name plates
These custom made collars come with name plates (The collar plates on our collars list Jim's name and a phone number for each of us). The top four collars in the first photo are 2" collars, the bottom one is 1 1/2" collar. The tab portions come in at 1". The beauty of these collars are they are sized specifically to your dogs neck so there is not any excess material (Take a look at the bottom right photo). In addition the name plate always rides at the top of the neck. The collars are top notch quality and cost between $10 and $20 depending on what options you pick. They can be ordered through Sporting Dog Specialties Inc. They are located in Colorado and can be contacted by calling 720-438-0300 or by emailing Custom leads are also available so ask about them if you are in the market for one.

6. Unique Pet Tags by Tag Me Pet Tags
If the custom collar with name tags isn't your speed maybe one of these snazzy pet tags is more your style. Tag Me Pet Tags has dozens of creative designs that are customizable with pet name and attachment style. They are well crafted collar bling and worth checking out. The designer of the tags also happens to be an owner of two GSP's. Click here to check out her designs and keep in mind she's open to creating your custom design as well.

7. Rivers West Pointer Vest
Both Cleo and Luna have these vests and they wear them when hunting in extreme cold or if they go to daycare and it will be under 25 degrees. Cleo always rocks orange and Luna who is darker in color looks fab in the high viz green. The vests are high quality fleece, come with a hearty zipper and a Velcro flap to keep everything secure. Cleo's has lasted 4 years and is going strong. Not to mention Cleo hasn't been able to rip Luna's off so that speaks volumes. Cleo is a serial de-vester. You may think I just created that word but I assure you I didn't. It's totally a real word. In addition the vests are cut for pointers. Often times a lot of vests you find are designed for labs and they never fit shorthairs well. I also like that I can just throw the vests in the wash for when they tumbleweed each other through the mud. We picked ours up from Ugly Dog Hunting but again...check out Amazon.

8. Old Mother Hubbard Dog Treats
I'm not a big fan of buying dog treats and I normally make all of Cleo and Luna's treats myself. But that's not realistic all of the time and I don't expect other people to be able do it. BUT you can be selective on what kinds of treats you do buy your dogs. For starters DO NOT by jerky treats. The news is full of heart breaking stories of beloved pets dying from these treats. Furthermore do not purchase treats not made in the United States. Cheap treats imported from China just might end up making your dog incredibly sick or even worst killing them.  When I do buy Cleo and Luna treats I buy them Old Mother Hubbard treats.  OMH uses natural ingredients and all the treats are made in North America (they have one plant in Canada). When you compare the label of a P-Nuttier biscuit box to that of Milk Bones you'll see a lot less crap and more words you can pronounce. So if you decide to stuff your pets stocking this year give Old Mother Hubbard a go if you've never bought their products before.

Human Gifts

1. High Quality Meat Sticks
If someone bought these and put them in my stocking I would know they love me. Chalet Market in Belgrade, MT makes some seriously delicious meat sticks. I got turned on to them 8 years ago when my best friend since age six ran off to live in Bozeman, MT. Every time I'm in town to visit her I stuff my backpack with as much as I can carry on a plane. In addition I order us these sticks a couple of times a year when we run out of our own homemade deer sticks. Jim's favorites are the buffalo and elk. My favorite are the beef with jalapeno. Soooooooo good. They also carry teriyaki, plain beef and smoked with pepper. These sticks have great flavor and importantly they are not dry or hard. I haven't been able to find any non-homemade sticks that come close to as good as these. Prices vary from $6.99 to $12.99 a pack depending on the size package you order. They can be ordered here.

2. Upland T-shirts
I love these T-shirts sold by Uplander's Warehouse. Some hunting T's you find are down right cheesy but these are well designed and I like the play on words. The I Chase Tail shirt comes in short and long sleeves in both brown and white. The eat more fast food T-shirt comes with 3 choices of bird species so you can get your favorite upland bird between quail, pheasant and ruffed grouse. The T's are a nice quality and range between $9.95 for short sleeves to $14.95 for long sleeves. Check them out here.

3. Waterfowl Cook Book - Duck, Duck, Goose
I don't own this book....yet. But I do own Hank Shaw's other book Hunter, Gather, Cook which I really enjoy. I stumbled across Hank's blog two years ago and have been drinking the Kool-Aid ever since. He just released this book which is being hailed as the end all of all waterfowl cookbooks so if either you or someone you hunt with or maybe someone you love is an avid duck or goose hunter this could be the ticket for them. Hank is also driving across the country as we speak doing a book tour at selected restaurants where you can show up, hang out and eat some of his waterfowl recipes. Click here for tour information which will continue through the end of January. That could be a cool gift as well......just saying. Here is the link to Amazon for where you can purchase Duck, Duck, Goose.

4. Out with the new and in with the old - Drinkware
I love the idea of buying and using old glassware. Companies such as Libbey, Federal Glass Co and the Hazel Atlas Glass Co made some seriously cool game bird glasses in the 1950's and 60's. You can easily find sets of rocks glasses, tumblers, pilsners, and shot glasses all adorned with grouse, quail, pheasants, geese and ducks. Just when you thought drinking bourbon couldn't get more fun!!! The glasses have character and between Etsy and Ebay you can pick up a set for give or take $20 - $30. Try this link to find some glass sets Game Bird Glasses, or try typing in Quail, Pheasant, Ducks, Geese or game birds in this search.

5. GoPro Dog Harness
I just picked one of these harnesses up for our girls in the last couple of weeks so we can start recording our hunts partially from their perspective. The harness itself is rather affordable and offers two areas to mount a GoPro from. The back mount option is shown in the photo above but the camera can also be mounted from the chest area. I haven't had a chance to really take it out and play with it but if you know someone who has a GoPro and they are into hunting, dock diving or agility it could be the gift that keeps on giving. We got ours from Kurgo but as always shop Amazon to see if you can maybe pick it up cheaper. We got a size large.

6. A good pair of Chaps
When Jim and I first got into upland hunting we bought and wore brush pants. It didn't take long for us to realize that when it came time for actually hunting getting a good pair of chaps was the way to go. Especially for female hunters there is nothing that compares to having a good pair of chaps. For some reason manufactures of women's field pants still haven't figured out how to get them to fit well. Maybe if it was 1982 I wouldn't mind the belt loops coming up to my armpits but damn it's 2013 and I've been poisoned by low cut jeans most of my life. So the beauty of chaps is you can wear your own comfortable jeans and just throw these on top. Both Jim and I own Filson tin cloth chaps and LOVE them. Filson also makes tin cloth chaps specifically for women. But there are other manufactures out there as well. Check out this link from Uplanders for some the men's selections. Depending on the manufacture and options of zippers ect for a good pair of chaps your looking at anywhere between $80 to $145.

7. Another cool Pheasant Shirt from FieldDress

You can never have enough T-shirts. I found these guys on Etsy and they offer some cool hunting and fly fishing T-shirts. I like the simple yet classy designs. I particularly like that the shirt has an established date of  1515 AD  for the advent of guns and ammo. Pretty cool stuff. Be sure to check out their other shirts as well. I really dig the evolutions archery one and besides there is something I love about buying from people rather than corporations. Shirts are reasonable at $15.95. View FieldDress's T's here.

8. Amazing cookbook - The Homesick Texan

The Homesick Texan Cookbook should be made illegal as its basically promoting hardcore food porn. This is Lisa Fain's first cookbook and I hope to god it's not her last. I found her blog about a year and half ago and it's become a go to website for me. Lisa is a seventh generation Texan who has transplanted herself to the Big Apple. Her recipes are fresh and bold. You can pick up a copy of The Homesick Texan from Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.

9. Jaegar Lead
Above is a picture of Jim doing his best Vanna White while rocking a pretty lame Jaeger lead. He has since upgraded from the lame lead in this picture to a nice leather one with bolt snaps. In case you've never see one the Jaeger lead is a German designed lead that offers several options of use. Jim is demonstrating the around the shoulder hands off lead set up but it can also be configured for a short lead, a heeling lead or be used as a long lead for obedience and walking. Some vinyl Jaeger leads also let the handler do a around the waist hands free configuration. Jaeger leads come in vinyl, coated nylon and leather and can have either bolt or French snaps depending on what you prefer. Here are three links to some Jaeger lead variations. Dogs Unlimited. Gun Dog Supply. Lion Country Supply

10. Custom Calendars

Every year I make custom calendars as gifts. Jim always gets one of just our dog adventures (pictured above is this month from last years gift to him), and I make each family member a custom family calendar with recent pics and awful / borderline embarrassing pics from the last 30 years of shenanigans that we would all otherwise wish were forgotten. Each year the calendar has become the coveted gift that everyone in my family expects and looks forward too. The calendars are enjoyable and they give everyone something fun to look at as the year marches on. Over the years I have made calendars through different businesses but my personal favorite is Shutterfly. They offer tons of customizations while staying affordable.  If you choose to make someone a calendar consider showing the desk jockey in your life some extra love by adding on a custom mouse pad of dogs on point or sweet pheasant retrieves. Nothing makes the day at the office a bit better than thoughts of being afield.  And if you don't think your up for making your own calendar click here to buy a really well put together GSP Rescue calendar that all proceeds go to helping shorthairs. 

11. Handler Bags

If you or a loved one are new to upland hunting a handler bag is a good place to start. It makes for an easily portable place to keep your soon to be growing collection of training paraphernalia. Both versions listed above come with perfect places to stash whistles, blank guns, leads, E-collars and CANINE FIRST AID KITS. That's right....I just shouted that at all of you as friendly reminder to make sure you all have one. But I digress. The bag on the left is a Browning Handlers bag and the one on the right is made by Muddy River. Both are nice bags. The Muddy River bag can be bought in Realtree camo in addition to the color shown above.

Santa's 10th reindeer

So there are some of my suggestions for your beloved dogs as well as your two legged companions. Hopefully you found something on these lists to help you with your gift giving this holiday season or maybe at least point you in the right direction. We hope you all have wonderful holidays this week as both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah kick us off right to another holiday season. Be safe and enjoy time with your families and furry loved ones. And be sure to check us out and show us some love on facebook at Adventures of a GSP.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Pheasant Hunt of the Season!

Luna on point

This past Saturday Jim and I got out for the first time to hunt some birds this season. We had originally intended to hunt at Jim's gun club in NJ on Sunday but an impromptu work trip for me this weekend ruined those plans. So we had a quickie morning hunt on Saturday at Powderbourne Pheasant Preserve so I could shoot some birds before skipping town to Baton Rouge. This was the first time we have ever been hunting without Cleo. It was bittersweet for sure.  

If you don't follow our shenanigans on facebook (which you totally should be doing btw) you might not be aware that Cleo is currently pregnant with her first litter. Before anyone gets all riled up and goes all PETA on us this breeding has had an immense amount of time, thought, and effort involved. This post is not really about her breeding tho. If you care to learn more about it you can do so here. (All her pups have been reserved).

Cleo is entirely too pregnant to go hunting with us. So we sadly left her standing at the doorway giving us the stink eye (and maybe even shooting us a paw when we weren't looking) as we tried to quietly back peddle out the door without her. She was completely aware of what we were sneaking off to do and it hurt our hearts to not be taking her with us.

Cleo says rub my belly.....there are future shoe chewers in it. :)

The beginning of our hunt started off a little slow. We spent the first 20 minutes walking through the frosty fields recounting our love for Cleo. She was indeed the catalyst that propelled our lives into an entirely new direction and it seemed almost like cheating on a lover to be in a field without her. But talking about her made it feel like she was at least there in essence. The silver lining of her lamented absence was that it was the very first time in Luna's life she has ever truly hunted without Cleo.  

How Luna Rolls: Retrieves the Bird

Delivers it to hand

Totally tries to steal that shit back when your finagling it into your bird bag

Rightfully gives you the "your so incredibly lame" look when she realizes she doesn't get to keep it

Luna was a blast to hunt over. I think she spent the first 20 minutes wondering where the heck Cleo was. It's a core personality trait of Luna to be a great team player. She is incredibly cooperative and has easily worked in the field with up to 6 dogs at a time. When Luna and Cleo hunt together they are like poetry in motion. Sometimes Jim and I stand there in awe of their silent teamwork, their ability to cover a field and how they honor and respect each other. But on Saturday Luna got to be a little selfish and she really blossomed. Hunting by herself this season while Cleo is sidelined might end up being a wonderful thing for her. I made a mental note that when I get my puppy (I'm keeping pick female from Cleo's litter) I'll have to sneak her out for some one on one time without the big dogs. It's just so incredibly hard to go out and not take the pack.

The morning was a bit chilly around 30 degrees. It was quiet and beautiful in so many ways. There was a time in my life when I would drive by a field in the late fall or winter and it would depress me. Everything seemed brown and lifeless. I never knew the beauty those brown fields held and it wasn't until our first upland hunting season did I start to yearn for it. I love how the frost on old berries glisten in the early morning sunrise. The way the steam rolls off the dogs as they work a field. The way feathers rest and billow on the brush. All the little signs of life past as the field ages into a state of hibernation for the winter. It's easy to past the time admiring the small things while the dogs hunt and just when you seem lost in the moment its shattered by the excitement of a dog on point.

Deer skull and bones in the field

A not so blind blind retrieve

Both Jim and I were adamant that this hunt I painstakingly put my camera down and carry a gun and shoot at least half the time. I made the initial bonehead mistake of carrying both shotgun and camera. It was my last ditch effort in not wanting to miss the perfect shot with my beloved Nikon. I have a feeling that it is something I will always struggle with but maybe that might change when I get my pup. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Luna was a blast to hunt over and it was a sincere pleasure watching her come into her own. She is still young and I think we often forget that considering she developed at such a young age and was pretty much finished at 13 months of age (she is still only 20 months old). Luna clearly loved hunting on her own but as soon as we got home she snuggled in with her beloved Cleo as quickly as she could. They love each other so much. Lu also hit the jackpot and got to go out and hunt on Monday as well when Powderbourne called and asked Jim to guide for a group of Sheriffs from NY. He said she did amazing.

Be sure to check us out on facebook as we will have all kinds of stuff going on in the coming weeks: Babies due the week of Thanksgiving, hunting season is in full force and hopefully some goose hunting too!