For way more years then I’m willing to admit, I’ve worn the same boots — Danner Sierras uninsulated boots. I have worn out a number of pairs but they fit well and gave great support. So, when it came time to replace my current pair that had started leaking, Tommy, who may spend even more time in the woods chasing his bear dogs and guiding that Tony and I do with our bird dogs, recommended that I try a pair of Meindl boots. I wanted another pair of Danners but it turns out they now only make the Sierra with 200 grams of thinsulate and the last thing you need grouse and woodcock hunting is insulated feet. Danner still makes a very similar boot that they call the “Grouse Boot” but it has the “bobbed” sole and I found those soles really slippery in the woods when I tried tehm once before. So, I went to Cabela’s in April and bought a pair of light weight Meindls made in Vietnam. They fit well and lasted almost through the summer before one then both boots started to leak. Cabela’s was really good about giving me a full refund I also returned my last pair of Sierras that had also started to leak (but that was after much use). They gave me $99.00 for the Sierras since they were a discontinued boot. So, I decided to get the Meindl Denalis which are made In Germany. They’re a little heavy, more like a tall hiking boot but feel really solid. I also picked up a pair of Danner Pronghorns (made in China) the Pronghorns leaked the first time I wore them. Took those back and bought a pair of Cabela’s rubber boots. I wore those for two hours this morning and they were fine. Then switched to the Meindl Denalis for the last brace and really like them. We’ll see how they hold up because they will surely take a beating in the next three or four months.
So, with dry feet this morning, Tony and I worked three braces of dogs. Jack and the Little Thudster were in the first brace. Jack had four woodcock finds and backed Thuddy on a stop-to-flush on a pair of grouse. The Little Thudster went on to have a really nice broke grouse find on his own but showed he’s still a young dog today (We walked up some grouse as well.) The last three times I’ve seen him he’s looked like a star pupil — today he was feeling his oats and needed quite a bit of “training”. But that’s to be expected with a young dog. Even the seasoned campaigners need to be reminded about things once in a while. What you hope for with a high-flying fall derby is that they have their off days during training and not during a trial. Thuddy’s got the snap on the ground and always seems to find birds but putting it all together in a trial is asking a lot of derbies especially those that weren’t redshirted and born in “January.” LJ and Thuddy were both spring puppies (LJ was born early May not sure about Thuddy) and those months between “January” and May can make a difference in maturity come this fall.
The next brace was LJ and Bee and they had four woodcock and grouse each just down the road from where we ran Jack and Thuddy. Most of the birds were way up on the hillside. It keeps amazing me how high up on the sides of mountains and ridges we are finding woodcock this summer.
For the last brace we ran Trip and Bertha at the spot where we had found the grouse nest this spring (check some of the May blog posts for details). Bertha is making good progress on the ground as she is running herself into shape. They started off by pointing a pair of grouse right off the road. And then Trip dug out a woodcock up in the dry spruces where I was expecting a grouse. On the way back to the truck Bertha pointed a third grouse. For the morning we had 13 woodcock and an even dozen grouse. The temperature was in the high 40s when we started at 6:00 am and only up into the mid-50s by the time we headed out for breakfast — a good day for working dogs.