Last weekend we had the awesome opportunity to truck it down to Gainesville, Florida to visit my brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend as well as combine the trip with a Boykin Fun Day being sponsored at the wonderful Watermelon Pond Plantation in Archer, Florida—about 20 minutes west of Gainesville.
While Boykins are South Carolina’s state dog, they’re growing in popularity out of state with their ability to hunt both waterfowl (Samson’s job) and upland. So it was pleasantly odd to be outnumbered by Floridian Boykin owners! Kate Boulos, owner of Watermelon Pond Planatation and lifelong English Setter breeder/trainer, offered such a wonderful day and use of her land. Over 400 acres set aside just for hunting—it was the most beautiful quail hunting land I’ve seen. Being the granddaughter of a pointer/setter trainer and avid upland bird hunter, it was a wonderful place to draw on memories and scenes of my granddad growing up.
Samson hit so many milestones this day! We started the day’s events on his check cord because my little guy will NOT leave a body of water once he has entered. As witnessed when he ran straight for the pond and delayed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve event until we finally had to set out in a row boat to retreive my dog! However, the beauty of the day was it was for fun. So once we completed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve times, you could spend the rest of the day at that pond if desired—or continue on to time the other events. We opted to spend some decent time at the pond.
If I can backtrack a minute, Samson’s recent stubborness in training, mostly from boredom because the breed is so smart, led me to regroup with clicker training and goldfish. However, we’d only just charged him on a clicker the day before we left. So intermittently we’d been using it as it made sense but we were also traveling and out of his routine so not too worried if he wasn’t responding.
Back to our pond training. He fell in love on his check cord with his water retreives. He’d get a slight tug at point of retrieval to prompt his turn back on the whistle blow and by 4 retreives in, no more tugs were needed. He’d spin around and start coming back, holding his bumper all the way in. Remembering I had extra goldfish in my pocket just incase, the next two retreives in—still on cord—I’d lure in his return and hold with a goldfish. Much interest gained. The next mark and retreive thereafter was succesfully completed with no check cord. Completely responded on whistle (and some goldfish).
And he stayed so hungry for more. All the light bulbs went off for my little Samson in Florida on Saturday. He finally understood what all those yard drills were about and how much fun the end product can be. I can’t wait to see his excitement when he’s pulling ducks in instead of bumpers.
With us both working dogs, very few pictures if any were taken Saturday by us—but we should be getting some soon from a photographer that was on hand that day to capture some great moments. I’ll post anymore if I get these. But here is Samson flat worn out after his big retreives.
Posted in Dogs, Hunting, Outdoors, Training
Tagged Boykin Spaniel, Gun Dog, hunting land, quail hunting, Retrieves, Training, watermelon pond, Watermelon Pond Plantation
While we finish our kitchen cabinet project—final pictures coming very soon—we also recognized our big-hearted, little brown Boykin, Samson passed a new milestone this week seeing his 6 month birthday.
I know 6 months sounds silly but as a new Boykin owner, I’ve been just amazed at his personality and progress. Only being able to compare to Labs before this—and my Beaufort was even such a laid back Lab—but Samson’s ability to listen and roll with the punches at his early age impresses me. Maybe that’s just a common Boykin trait, and if so, I’m a fan.
I started his training Richard Wolters style at 7 weeks and he took to his obedience commands and whistle training like a champ. But as time came to start working on basic retrieve concepts, it coincided with his awful teething. I never noticed teething as much with my Lab—partly because I was younger, maybe even because they’re larger dogs, also I didn’t work my Lab like I am Samson. But his teeth were bad and really put a hold on his overall training. I opted to not push the issue and give a break on his training rather than risk bad training experiences for him—especially at the retrieving portion.
As we rounded out the duck season and have now begun a solid month of serious house renovations, this all kinda timed itself well. We have an official countdown for Samson—27 more days—and training will get ramped up for him. After a good week or so of confidence building and reminding him what he knows, I’m going to set him up a fetch table to work on his holds. He loves to retrieve and he’s birdy as all get out but needs to learn in the bigger picture, it’s not a game of keep away. He’ll only be retrieving what I grant him and must return it to me. So hopefully with some focused but simple work in this department, we can make that connection before going back to retrieving work.
Any other Boykin owners experience a similar reaction at this point?
Here are some pictures of him growing up since coming home last September.
With this past weekend, our waterfowl season comes to a close. While we didn’t go out with a bang, literally, we did have some awesome hunts in some brand new spots that we will be sure to work on next year. From the open waters of Lake Moultrie to the flooded timber of the old Santee and back to cypress swamps, we definitely covered some ground. Here are some of my favorite pictures I was able to take throughout this season either from the boat or the blind.
And with the end of that season comes the start of the next for our us—home renovations! We will be refinishing and painting our kitchen cabinets, freshly painting all our baseboards and all in preparation for our brand new, beautiful hardwood floors that will be installed toward the end of this month. Talk about spring cleaning fever! Stay tuned for update pictures on these projects.
Posted in Duck, Hunting, Nature, Outdoors, Photo blogs
Tagged dogs, duck hunting, nature, outdoors, photography, sunrise, sunset, waterfowl
Now entering my 3rd year of accompanying my husband on duck hunts, the major difference was this season, I was not just accompanying and hunting every couple of weekends, but hunting all season long. As in two-a-days every weekend and with all the extra days off for holidays through winter, some very extended day trips. It was time to gear up.
Seeing as I get cold easily to begin with, I needed to invest in not only the right gear, but that actually fit. As any woman that hunts knows, we’re over trying to wear the kids XL version of something because while it sucks, it fits better than a man’s small.
I started digging and found this site by Holly Heyser, Norcal Cazadora. Finally another woman who actually has legitimate insight into what other women hunters need and want. After researching the many brands she recommended (she also field tests for companies) and comparing with the knowledge my husband’s gathered through rounds of gear and years of use, I was able to make some purchases!
Here are the waders I got and for our neck of the woods here in South Carolina, they are perfect. And for the price, you can’t go wrong. Not overly expensive in the event they do have to be replaced in a few years from a snag. They fit super well and keep me really warm and dry; dry being key. These are Cabela’s brand, 3mm Neoprene Waders.
I hunted the first half of the season with these and a combination of layered shirts/sweatshirts and stealing my husband’s Drake Waterfowl Fleece pullover. And then January came with its colder weather, prospective NC trip, and after Christmas sales. It was time to get a jacket. And man did I get a jacket! I dont’ think I’ve paid for one dress coat or cute jacket in my life that’s ever held a candle to the warmth of this puppy. And it’s really truly windproof! While this is a Men’s and not a Women’s made jacket, it’s a Men’s medium (smallest size they make) and it’s a Wader Length jacket instead of full. So these considerations make it perfect for outfitting me. The best part is, as layered and warm as this jacket is, it’s not bulky and it doesn’t hinder me from raising my gun quickly and firmly.
This is the Drake 4 in 1 Wader, complete in Old School Camo. Nothing like paying tribute to the camo I was raised on watching my grandddad and dad take off for hunts as a child.
All in all, I’ve been very pleased and it sure makes those 4:30am wake up calls a lot easier to tackle!
Our next big piece of news, that’s we’ve been patiently awaiting, is the arrival of our newest family member Samson!
Samson comes from Dovewood Kennel
—a wonderful Boykin breeder and gun dog trainer who has been exclusively working with the breed for over 20 years. I’ve never bred dogs, nor do I plan too, but while growing up as a child and watching my grandfather, his brothers, and close friends work and train Pointers, I’ve certainly come to appreciate and respect the hard—and proper work—that goes into well-bred, healthy, hunting dogs.
So we welcome Samson home at 6 weeks with a fantastic personality full of curiosity, independence, and drive as he prepares to start school next week. I hope to bring you some updates on how he progresses with his training and retrieving! And for all of you that know our Moultrie—he has become an excellent big brother over night!
We planned ahead of Beaufort’s passing to spend the entire next day on the water. Because that’s just what people do that grow up on the water—whether to mend their souls, rid their anger, or celebrate life—the water’s just a part of it all. We loaded up the War Eagle with our black lab Moultrie, 6 good crab lines, an 8′ spread beach umbrella (for the dog and his black coat), and an FM radio.
We headed down river to the salt and cut across to my husband’s long time fishing spot spent with his dad and brother and got to work. For probably 45 minutes straight, we couldn’t even get the 5th and 6th lines out for the number of crabs that kept coming up on the first 4!
Moultrie had a splendid time trying to figure out just what was so special on the end of the line—because surely it was the raw chicken. After one or two got loose in the boat, he seemed more content to stay put. And after a day of awesome creek swimming in between crabbing sessions, it became suddenly apparent our little black dog, now 2 and a half years old, really isn’t our little black dog anymore. He’s a beast!
Even last duck season, at around 20 months, he still seemed smaller than he is now and pulling him into the boat was never a struggle. In fact, to see him swim to the edge and flawlessly pull his back legs up underneath himself while knowing my husband would pull him in was such an act of teamwork. But now? He still does what he was trained to do, but why force it? So, Moultrie and my husband have a surprise early duck season gift on the way!
We’ve got another big crabbing weekend planned in 2 weeks and we’ll be trying the ladder out then. We’ll let you know how it works.