Sage Monkey

Sage Monkey

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wolves in the Woods

This past Labor Day weekend Wyatt and I were lucky enough to be invited by some friends to stay in a rustic and family owned cabin in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. The Cabin is located beyond the tiny and whimsical town of Wisdom, MT. I had been to Wisdom (population 98) in the Fire Hole Valley once two years ago to test Sage in her NAVHDA Natural Ability test. You can read about that adventure here: A Tale of two Sages and a Dog named Sprig.

The cabin is a hidden gem. Nestled solo above the shore of a 75 acre alpine lake. A connecting smaller lake lay not far away and the beautiful adjacent ridgeline crests over into Idaho. The only other people within miles were a few scattered campers down the road camped along the lake in designated campsites. Upon our arrival we stormed into the 1928 built cabin and happily chaperoned it from its often dormant state into full use. Andrew who's family has owned the cabin since the 1950's hiked up a ridge 150 yards or so into the deep woods to turn the water for the cabin on. On the way down he turned a necessary second water connection on and soon after we had the propane fridge fired up, beers had been cracked and some wood was chopped for later use.

Sage and Figs sunset stick fetching

Sage, Figs and our friends German Shepard Reika were plunging into the lake chasing each other immersed in a fanatical game of keep away. All was right with the world. We spent the next two days kayaking and fly fishing the lake from an old row boat. Filling the cabin with smells of bacon and thick coffee in the morning. Mimosa's and then later beers and bourbon would flow. We hiked the woods with the dogs and enjoyed campfires and laughter outside.

Reika getting her hike on

The last night in the cabin the evening drew in and with it came a snow storm that would dump snow all night into the day we left. The few campers who sporatically littered the lower lake packed up and left. The cold weather also brought with it a wolf pack most likely from Idaho.

Hi! I'm from Idaho. I've come to eat you and your dogs.

When the weather turned everything changed. We listened with hairs standing on end as the first howls crept up over the far ridge but soon enough they settled into the woods behind the cabin. The air felt different, the dogs demeanor changed, we all felt eyes on us. We moved our party inside, fired up the wood stove and enjoyed the solace from within the safety of the cabin. The dogs were instantly kept on leashes when taken outside to do their business. Reika who slept by the locked door each night seemed to patrol the windows occasionally growling and barking into the night and early morning. It was cozy but easily could have been the making of a Stephen King novel.

Sage Monkey sidled up to a warm stove

In the morning we started to undo the initial spell that brought the cabin to life. It was time for us to rig up and head out and return it to it's state of slumber. We all felt nervous outside and stayed together in pairs or as a group when heading down to the bathroom, returning the boat to the boathouse or dragging up the kayak.  Figs protested any involvement with being outside and promptly held her business refusing to go to the bathroom entirely. When it came time for Andrew to venture off into the woods to turn the water off I offered to accompany him.

As we headed out I grabbed a can of bear spray off the table in the screen porch. Andrew picked up the ax we used to chop wood the day before. Sure wish I had brought a gun....but off we went into the woods. I couldn't help the feeling that we were walking into a gun battle with knives. We got back about 25 yards to the first water pipe destination. We tentatively looked around. It was snowing, the cabin was out of sight, and we were off trail. Andrew put the ax down and used both hands to turn the water off. That's when a zombie wolf jumped out from behind a tree and killed us both. Angry and restless Ghost of Robyn is writing this blog post now. As soon as its posted I'll be off to haunt the woods and fuck with new campers. Just kidding!

Andrew picked up the ax and I said to him, Do you want to try and make it up on the ridge to the turn the rest of the water off? We both stared at each other as the snow fell silently to the ground around us. We were a quarter of the way there.  He said sure and we turned and set off away from the cabin again.

We walked in silence at first although we both know silence is bad. The situation was so tense basic chit chat was hard to create. We made forced quiet small talk and pushed on. About 20 more feet I reached out and grabbed Andrew's arm. I pointed to a massive wolf track in the snow next to our shoe prints. My brain instantly struggled to make sense of the print. My gut reaction was a split second of denial. Could it have been one of the dogs that obviously hasn't left our sides and have been kept on leashes the last 24 hours? Could they have snuck out here to have made that? OF COURSE NOT STUPID. And for fucks sake its HUGE and its fresh in the snow!! RUN FOR YOUR GOD DAMNED LIFE! Andrew pointed around just feet from us, the prints were everywhere. Then to the left a wolf kipped about 40 feet away. Then another maybe 40 feet to the right. I think its time to go...... We turned and started to hustle.....not running but not out for a leisurely evening stroll either. I clearly remember thinking don't panic you asshole that's how you get killed! Look for the trail!

Andrew and I emerged from the woods completely rattled. Neither one of us stopped until we made it into the cabin. I think my hands shook for a solid 5 minutes. Needless to say the last water connection did not get turned off. We finished packing up, loaded the dogs safely and then made our way back to civilization and pizza and beers in Wisdom. The trip down from our camping spot was like the trip itself a total adventure complete with chopping down trees.

Please note badass Christina jumping out with ax in hand

Our long weekend was super fun and no one got eaten by wolves which is obviously a super bonus. The dogs had the best time sleeping next to the wood burning cabin stove, chasing chipmunks in the rock wall and running like wild women through the woods. We got to cast some lines and hang with dear friends. The weekend was a total win.

Follow our shenanigans on Facebook at: Adventures of a GSP

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Pigeon Burglar

There have been half a dozen situations in my life since I became involved with bird dogs that left me having come to Jesus speeches with myself. Mutterings under my breath along the lines of, "look at your life.....look at your choices". One such moment was a few years back while dragging a duck behind me in a kayak for a duck search for either Cleo or Luna when its tether broke loose and it made a rather half assed and spastic attempt at freedom. I think I cursed a bunch, pond water got in my mouth and I may or may not have thrown an oar at it before I finally scooped it up and there it sat on my lap soaking me through my underwear hissing in my face. I stuffed its crappy prisoner ass back into a bird bag and thought to myself WHAT. THE. FUCK. am I doing?

Flash forward to this past weekend when my frustration level with getting birds in Montana hit an all time high. I need pigeons for Figs. Her determined little soul has been no match for these pen raised quail and I know it. I searched everywhere, called what little bird connections I have here, scoured Craigslist and realized it would be a 6 1/2 hour round trip drive for seven dollars a pigeon. My insides basically hiss like a cantankerous serpent every time I think of making that journey and shedding that kind of dough for flying rats. So after much frustration I sent a text message to a buddy from the local MMA school where I teach who is a flusher guy and I remembered that a season or two ago he had his hands on some pigeons.

Lucky for me he answered right back. He could get us access to an abandoned and dilapidated building a few towns over and we could catch them ourselves.  I immediately signed up. We set a date to infiltrate the building with fishing nets under the cover of darkness of course. This screen shot should sum up our planned outing:

I made sure of course to let at least two people know where I'd be in case the pigeon Chupacabra got us or we fell through a sketchy rotted floor like any good after school special warns you about. I told my husband Wyatt and my sister in-law Becker. Her response was legit although not as supportive as one would have liked:

Off we set with fishing nets in tow, a ladder, a sixer of beer and flash lights. We rolled into the sleepy little western town just as the sun finished setting and waited with beer in hand until darkness over took the area. My comrade clearly had this down to a science.

We spilled out of his truck into the depths of a sincerely occult scene. Close your eyes and imagine an abandoned structure straight out of a horror movie, coupled with the distinct choking smell of the most heinous bird pen times a million. The floors were a few inches deep in pigeon shit. Hard and piled high in some areas and squishy and fresh in others. It was completely dark minus our flashlights streaming around like a sad Pink Floyd laser light show. We got to business right away. Using our nets to grab flying pigeons in mid flight. Capturing ones stunned by our lights on rafters like low hanging fruit. We made quick work of the lower levels, braved the birds shitting from above and used his ladder to ascend to the upper level.


The upper level was as sketchy as he warned me it would be. Holes in the flooring peeked down to the lower levels below. The flooring was sloped in some areas and collapsing in others. The pigeons exploded into an uproar showering us upon our arrival and filling the air with a fine mist of pigeon shit. I stopped licking my lips and cursed my self for the fresh application of lip balm I applied before entering the building. I started to randomly spit as a way to purge the nefariousness of the experience. Yet I was running and often fumbling through the treacherous space trying to snag as many flying rats as I could. My pigeon catching skills were no match for the expertise of my partner and the extra height of his net. But we nabbed about 50 pigeons in total. A good bounty and more than enough for what I need.

After an hour plus we made our way out of the thick and cloudy stench and spilled into the fresh Montana air. The clean air reminded me of how gross we had become while entrenched in the building. I wanted to strip naked on the sidewalk, throw my clothes and boots in a bucket, douse them in lighter fluid and run away in the darkness while it burned behind me.

We packed the rats up and cracked open a well earned beer. The second my IPA hit my mouth it fuzzed up out of control, clearly some depraved reaction to the pigeon shit dust still in my mouth and whirling around my body like pig pen from peanuts. My mouth tasted like poor decisions but the beer helped. Beer always helps in situations like this. The things bird hunters do for their dogs. 

Follow our adventures on Facebook at Adventures of a German Shorthaired Pointer. If you liked this post you might like these ones too:

Sage Bears All - Adventures with Bear Spray 

The Unseen Dangers of Duck Work - Whoopsies

Bird Hunter Problems - Another Pigeon conundrum

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Figs The Destroyer: 12 Weeks and Counting

Right now I'm sitting on the couch with Sage on my lap, Figs has positioned herself across from us at the furthest end. She's flopping her entire 18 pound body around like a mental patient in the midst of uncontrollable fits. She's making mouth noise at Sage and also invisible objects around the room, the ceiling and perhaps even on her own back. She rolls her eyes all wonky as she postures up and makes contorted faces. I can't help but laugh out loud. The second she settles down Sage sticks out a paw and pokes her and the puppy wackiness starts over in full swing. This my friends is Figs the Destroyer.

Volume Required

Not every puppy gets an ancient conqueror's name but quite frankly this little beast has earned it. It's been 5 weeks since we picked our little bundle of spots up in Wisconsin and Figs has since made herself well at home. She's recruited Sage as her BEST friend, she's stolen our hearts along with the toilet plunger and she has managed to bind this little family together with spotted love cement.

Toilet Plunger? I'll be taking that.....

Pita Prison Break

Figs beats to her own drum. After chewing an escape hatch out the back of Sage's dog cave she insists on using this as her personal entrance and exit. She likes to find any squeaker toy Sage hasn't yet obliterated and runs barely controllable laps around the kitchen and living room at full speed. I've considered buying her a T-shirt that says ride it like you stole it. She has a little motor in her that's always full tilt with puppy rips. Sage Monkey is going to have her paws full once this beast gets full grown. But as hard as she plays she crashes and snugs just as hard. At nap time she bebops over, stumpy tail at full swing and sits like she's saying, "Ok! You can hold me now please!"

Figgy's prey drive is off the scale and I have been dying to get her out on birds. We allocated some chukar this past weekend but the temperatures were down in the double digit negatives and the snow is still too high to properly give her an introduction. At this point our hotel chukar guests are sitting pretty until January Montana weather decides to get on board or at least give us a tiny window of opportunity. Until that occurs we'll keep working on her basic commands and housebreaking which is going incredibly well. She's smart (and cute) as a whip. We also managed to get a pretty nice whoa table from a local source so when the time comes we finally have everything we need.

12 week old Lex Luther

As Fig's prey drive is so high she has a sincere obsession with the cats. I went through this with Cleo, Luna and Sage and managed to get all three to have a happy and healthy relationship with them. With that said there are always bizarre bumps along the way with each dog. In the photo above the baby gate blocks entrance to our laundry room where we keep the cat food and litter boxes. Figs WAS sitting right on the other side of the gate but quickly learned the cats won't keep regularly scheduled movement through cat central station when she stands there. So she's learned if she sits on the bottom step of the stairs and waits until they jump over she can make her move on them when they least suspect it. It's all very clever and rather Lex Lutherish for a 12 week old puppy. Lots of work on the leave it command in our future.

Hopefully the next update comes with some pics and videos of intro bird work. Until then I leave with you a video of Sage playing possum. Be sure to find us and follow us on Facebook at: Adventures of a GSP.