High Plains Adventure


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Reggie, Belle and I had a grand time out in Nebraska. This was Belle's first time hunting Nebraska and Reggie's first trip away from everything he has ever known. The first day on the road the poor fella spent the entire 500 mile trip drooling...it was like Niagra Falls coming out of his mouth. And who knew that there were so few actual rest areas in Missouri and Arkansas? He got to experience a truck rest stop for the first time. He was not impressed with all the sounds and smells at all. I am glad that I brought a big knotted rope toy for him because his first hotel stay was about as nerve wracking for him as well. The next day, either the antinausea meds kicked in well or the distraction of the knotted rope to chew on made his travelling life a lot easier for him. I am happy to say that over the course of the week, I did not have to give him any more antinausea meds and the waterworks didn't put in another appearance.

We made it to Nebraska in time for a quick afternoon walk. I kept Belle close and Reggie immediately found a dried up cow patty to haul around. He did attempt to get Belle to play with him with it but not surprisingly, she had no interest in it.

I wish I could say that my shooting was stellar this trip. It was not. So, I didn't come home with many birds but I also didn't use a lot of shells either.

The first few days of the trip, Reggie spent a lot of his time glued to my leg. No biggie. I was not putting pressure on him to do anything other than to hang out with me and gain some confidence. By the end of the trip, he was beginning to range out and run with Belle. He'd run with her and try to get her to play and then run straight back to me. He also began ranging out a little more and exploring around me even when Belle was off doing her own thing. It pleased me to see his confidence growing about being out and about in a new world.

The first few days were HOT. We hunted the mornings and then explored in the afternoons. Initially, I was going to hunt the dogs separately but with the heat, I didn't want to be leaving one in the truck. Our first morning that we were there, I was checking out an Open Fields property and we had a BIG flock of prairie chickens fly over. Right into legally huntable land. But they also flew in amongst the cattle on that property. I am leery of hunting around cattle in general and I didn't know how Reggie would handle them. Belle has hunted around cattle before and knows to leave them be. I explored that property by truck and saw that it was broken up into about 4 or 5 large fenced off sections. So, we hunted the section next to the cattle.


We ended up hunting that property two mornings in a row. Belle did a great job finding sharptails that chose not to cooperate and a big covey of quail that cooperated beautifully.




Reggie had his first skunk encounter. I was pleased to see how interested he was getting in something, until I smelled the skunk. I looked around and the little striped beauty was cocked, locked and ready to let'er rip. I immediately called him off and we headed off in a separate direction. I knew that if Belle got a whiff of the skunk, I'd be dealing with a stinky mess. She has a thing for small mammals.

A short time later, I crest a hill and see both dogs out maybe 50 yards and a big ole 8pt following somewhat aggressively. Reggie was already coming back to me but either Belle didn't know the deer was there, or she didn't care since she sees deer frequently back here at home. But not deer that big. And the deer have never showed interest in her. He was following Belle around and it kind of struck me as semi-aggressive but also curious....a what the hell are you kind of thing. He would stop and watch her and if she got kinda close he'd come after her. As soon as I saw that he was going to keep that up, I called Belle in to me. I was reminded of a few stories of dogs getting dead from deer and I didn't want some rut charged buck deciding for sure that my dog needs to be taken care of.



Good thing I did. He kept coming. The wind was in my favor had I been a deer hunter. Eventually he hauled butt when I started hollering at him to go away. Again, we changed directions entirely so that that deer could have his section of the property and we could be in another. I kept an eye out for him the rest of the morning though.

Reggie got to have his first feathered lesson with the quail Belle found. I forgot the term that the trainers used for hunting dead so he just kinda watched me as I looked for my quail. I called Belle in to hunt dead and after Belle pointed the quail I shot, Reggie and I did dead bird drills and I let him carry that quail all around. He liked it lots.


Afternoons were spent exploring and there was lots of neat stuff to see. Lots of mallards and geese too. Although not many on places where I could actually hunt. I wasn't going to be there long enough for me to spend the time to track down landowners to see about permission to hunt some of the potholes, but I strongly considered it. I also had considered getting a new camera prior to the trip but decided not to since I had also upgraded my GPS tracking system to include the Garmin inReach service and a new collar. I wish that I had just gone ahead and gotten the new camera as my old one began having issues on the trip. Ah well. My cell phone did an okay job for the majority of the trip.




As I said, the first few days were hot. The snakes were out and about in force. I saw the biggest garter snake I'd ever seen.


And a bull snake that hissed at me.


After talking with fish and game and getting some advice on which WMAs to explore for chickens, we did that the next couple of days. Those were tough hunting days. The winds were really blowing. Belle found chickens, sharptails and pheasants but I could never get close enough before they were spooking. I did almost step on a sharptail that I missed with both barrels. I'll blame the wind for that. It was blowing so hard it just blew all my shot away. This summer, I had a gentleman fix Steve's Browning that he had broken the wrist on. He kept it together with electrical tape and Cuties stickers. At least until that no longer worked. So, this hunt was the first trip to see how well the fix would hold up. I had been warned that because of the nature of the break, there was a possibility it might not hold. I am happy to report that so far, so good.

Rarin' to go





The cold shoulder


Because I didn't get close enough, quick enough to her to get the birds


Traffic jam


The end of the trip came far too quickly. And sadly, the day I was heading out was PERFECT hunting weather. Wind was not supposed to be strong and it was nice and cool. Ah well.


I wish I could say that I shot the Nebraska slam (pheasant, quail, sharptail and prairie chicken) while I was there, but that's hunting sometimes. Belle certainly found the Nebraska slam in the short time we were there. I didn't go out with the mindset that that is what we would be trying for but did think it would be cool if it worked out. So, it did kind of work out....
Great writeup and pictures as usual Dani. I wish I'd known you were so close. Maybe not so many birds but it looks like you had a great trip.
What a great trip! Reggie is a handsome fella! Glad you got to get out and enjoy time, just you and your dogs!
Good morning, Dani~

As always a great tale well-illustrated! Sorry it was so windy for you (I guess it should've been a duck adventure....)

We have no dangerous snakes where I am - but this Green Frog might not agree when it comes to our Garters - which can get fairly large.

Garter Snake with Green Frog - captured.jpg

I think this is the "Never give up!" posture....

Garter Snake with Green Frog - penultimate cropped.JPG

Nevertheless - the Garter Snake prevailed.

All the best,


Great story telling, and photos as always. You put on some miles in the bush, by the looks of Belles booties from the first photo of her to the last. Destroyed. That a bird or two got away is understandable, you must have ten pounds of whistles, collar controls and cameras around your neck.

Little Reggie looks to be a fine retriever, not many pups his age will sit for a picture with a bird in mouth. Without chewing it to pieces anyway.
I was hoping you'd be back to post up your adventure. How great that the dogs got along and they were able to hunt together.
That looks like beautiful country, and that Buck!

I am so jealous. Hope to see more of your great write ups and photos as the season progresses Dani.
Thanks a lot y'all!

Steve...that garter snake you posted reminded me of a frog I picked up one day. We were hunting south FL and heard croaking like HELP! HELP! It was a slow day so we paddled over to see what we could find. We found a leopard frog that wasn't going away from us, so (genius that I am) I picked it up. On the other end of it was a very healthy water moccassin. I told that poor frog to Go to God and quickly released him.

That a bird or two got away is understandable, you must have ten pounds of whistles, collar controls and cameras around your neck.

Forget around my neck....I only have a whistle. Everything else is connected to my upland pack...and the handheld and phone weigh nothing compared to the amount of water I have to take to keep two dogs cool. That is a plus about having just two dogs and a hunting partner...someone to share the water load with you. Now, I have to haul it all myself. I could definitely see the appeal of horseback hunting in big open land like Nebraska or Montana.

We should call you the high plains drifter. Fantastic photography and trip report. Glad Reggie didn't get hosed by the skunk. That would have been a trip downer.

I am glad that so far my dogs have remained skunk free. Once I saw Reggie would listen, my biggest worry was Belle. Belle has a particular passion for small mammals. She kind of got her butt handed to her by a young raccoon but I think that was because I called her back. Possums, armadillos, raccoons, cats....they have all been "issues" in some ways. Rabbits and rats so far she has killed with glee. I swear she was born a German dog instead of a setter in her own mind. I really didn't want to add skunk to her list.

Skunks are a large reason why I carry crates with me when I hunt. Gotta have a place to put the stinky dog if they get sprayed that is not inside my truck.
That looks great, I'm glad the dogs got along and did well together!

I'm jealous stuck in New England this fall, glad you got out there!
That does look like a great trip.

That garter snake with frog reminded me of my first official act as a college student. During Freshman Orientation, the biology department had a mandatory placement exam for anyone who was planning to take first year biology. There was one version of the course for those who had passed the AP exam in high school (back then, mostly kids who had gone to prep school), and another for us pupbic high school drudges who had not. Anyone who hadn't passed the AP exam had to take the test if they wanted to get into the Bio 201/202 sequence instead of 101/102.

The test was held in a big lecture hall, and just outside the entrance was a glass case with a big boa in it. It was normally not at all active, but the morning we came in for the test, someone had just dumped a cage full of live mice into the cage. As we were walking in, the snake was just starting to take interest in them. About 10 minutes into the test, we heard the first loud thump as the snake hit the first mouse. These continue at short intervals--big snake, small mice--the last of which came just before the 90 minute test was complete.

I've always blamed that damned snake for setting me behind my prep-school-educated classmates in the biology department. It was thumping hard on the cage while I was answering a bunch of mitosis-vs.-meiosis questions I am sure I missed.
Thanks so much for sharing your trip. Curious about the dog boots. What have you found that works well. Last trip in the cactus country we made our own and they worked out well but it was a bit of a guessing game to get tires the correct size.
[quote Brandon Yuchasz]Dani,
Thanks so much for sharing your trip. Curious about the dog boots. What have you found that works well. Last trip in the cactus country we made our own and they worked out well but it was a bit of a guessing game to get tires the correct size.[/quote]

Brandon, I haven't tried the tire tube boots yet but they might be more effective for cactus country. The dog boots I used were from www.dogbooties.com and they are reasonably priced. They may not hold up super well to rocky conditions but so far, the dogs tend to lose them before they totally wear out. Another company that I have not tried yet but have heard great things about for rough terrain is from Mountain Ridge www.mtnridge.com . Their tough boots with grip seem to do well in rocky and cactusy areas. One of the things I have found with the booties (great for sandspur protection) and cactus is that sometimes the cactus spines find their way in through the weave of the fabric and break off with them in the dogs foot. That can cause aggravation. But so far, the dog booties from dogbooties.com have been great for the price.
That country is just staggeringly beautiful. Dogs look great out in the open covers of the West. Photos really capture the feel of the place. Glad that Browning is doing just what it should. Traveling on great hunts with good dogs and a camera to help pass on the story after.
Thank you for making the time to write up the adventure and give us some great views to dream about hunting on.
Thanks Dani. The tube boots were great for the cactus. You know where I hunted and it was pretty brutal and we did have some make it through the tubes and into the feet. Each night we still spent an hour with the dogs checking the feet and pulling spines in the legs. I think ill try our some of those ones you posted next time we head out west.
Thanks again y'all.

Brandon, those cactus spines can be quite brutal. I am sure you are aware, but take extra care in wrapping front legs if your dogs have dew claws. I did not wrap quite right and one of Belles boots slipped so that her dee claw was rubbing bad. I think the it slipped so the velcro was tight over her dew claw. It is still healing from that. Looks a lot better than it did, I just wanted to pass on to be very careful in how you wrap and then boot the dogs if they have dew claws. Clearly, I still need to work on my technique.