Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Boy and His Dogs!

Chances are that if you come from a family that is rich in bird hunting traditions, then you have had your fair share of dealings with a good bird dog along the way.  Bird dogs are part of the family and I would like to tell you that I have been fortunate enough to own some champion pure breeds during my time on this earth, but unfortunately I cannot.  I have never had the pleasure of being Master to a field trial champion or a legend making retriever.  I have always enjoyed watching a good dog and envy those how can train them to react to their every command, however I have never had the time or resources to put towards the proper schooling to have such a dog.  This does not mean that I have not had some fine canine friends along the way though, and I would like to dedicate this post to the dogs who have blessed my life up until this point. 

Our first real dog was a stray that came up in our yard.  We tried to run the little Brittany Spaniel off, but she wouldn't leave.  You could tell that she was hungry and very scared.  I think I was about 6 years old at the time, so I'm sure that the first thing that I asked was "Can I keep her?"  The typical parent answer soon followed..."No!"  My parents decided that she could stay with us until we could find her owner.  I fed her and played with her as we waited for someone to answer the ad that we ran in the local paper.  I also decided that she needed a name as long as she was going to be staying with us.  I decided to call her "Ginger" and she seemed to respond to that pretty well.  It was only a couple of days before someone called to claim her.  My parents told the man to come to the house well after my bed time (that was really sneaky Mama) because I had become attached to this little dog that my parents were not ready to take in.  The plan did not work however as I came running down the stairs at the sound of the doorbell.  I latched on to the little Brittany and cried my hardest.  The man told my folks that he had to keep her couped up all of the time and I don't think he really wanted her anyway.  I don't know if it was my crying or the fact that my Dad could tell that this was not a man fit for a bird dog, but he agreed to let the dog stay.  I was so excited and almost forgot to ask the man a most important question as I ran to give my new dog yet another hug.  "By the way, What is her name?"  The man turned around as he was walking out the door and simply said "Ginger.  Her name is Ginger."  Now if that is not meant to be, then I don't know what is!!  Ginger was the best dog that any kid could have.  She followed my sister and me every step that we took in our neighborhood.  She was well mannered and an overall good dog.  She was happy being loved by a family that treated her well.  We found out that her previous owner beat her when she barked and did not provide a good home for her.  In fact, the ten years that Ginger was with us, I heard her bark exactly one time.  She was not a hunting dog and really couldn't do any tricks to speak of, but she was the world to our family and we were sad to see her go.  She grew to a very old age and when it became apparent that she could no longer enjoy life, we let her go in peace to chase my sister in heaven.  Its funny how a stray dog can change your life, but Ginger did just that!

My Mama always wanted a Cocker Spaniel.  She got her wish when "Mickey" was given to her.  Mickey was a blond bottle of energy that quickly became my dog and loyal follower.  I spent some time training him to fetch and do other tricks, but he was really best at just playing his role as family pet.  He and I spent a lot of time together and when I left for college something happened to him.  There are really no other words to describe what happened to him than to simply say that Mickey went crazy.  Mickey would let you know that he needed to go outside by going to the front door and giving you a little bark.  After you let him out you could just leave the door cracked a bit and he would let himself back in.  When I left for school, Mickey started going to the door asking to be let out about every five minutes.  It would drive you nuts!  My Mama took him to the vet and he was even sent to the University of Georgia to be studied.  He saw a dog "shrink" and my parents were told that Mickey had suffered a nervous breakdown because I was no longer home.  Well, leaving school was not an option and a college apartment was not a place for a dog, so my parents decided to do what was best for Mickey and give him to a home that could spend much needed quality time with him.  My parents have not had a dog since.  Mickey was a great dog and I am glad that he was part of my life.

I graduated from college and was living on my on.  I thought I wanted and was ready for a bird dog to hunt with.  I knew what I wanted and didn't take the time to do my homework like I should have.  I found a breeder and went and picked up my brand new Brittany Spaniel that I named "Jackson".  Jackson was given every opportunity to become a great bird dog except for one thing... an owner that knew what he was doing!  I was working for East Georgia Turf Farms at the time and had run of the place chasing doves, snipe, ducks and quail.  I took Jackson with me every time I went hunting and tried to introduce him to my hunting world.  Let's just say that Jackson and I did not meet eye to eye.  He was a very stubborn dog and did not take to my directions very well (of course I didn't know what I was doing).  I stayed frustrated with him as well as myself and the match just was not working out.  I expected this Brittany to have the same temperament as my Ginger and that was just not fair to Jackson.  I had gotten into a relationship with a bird dog that I was not ready for and I knew it.  I asked my vet if he could find a good home for Jackson and he told me that he would be happy to take him into his kennel.  My vet was a bird hunter and later told me that Jackson turned into a pretty good hunter, although he was still rather hard headed.  I vowed to not make the same mistake again.  I would do my research and be ready the next time a hunting dog came into my life.  It didn't take long.

My Uncle called me and asked me if I wanted a dog.  His beautiful Yellow Lab had been used as a stud and my Uncle was offering me the pick of the litter.  I couldn't pass it up.  I love Labs and I could see many days in the field with a new pup before me.  I read all the training books and was ready when I picked "Gunner" up from the breeder.  He was beautiful and he and I took to each other very fast.  I spent time with him everyday doing various training exercises.  I was still living in Statesboro at the time and it was really just him and I.  He was doing so well and I was starting to think that I had finally gotten the bird dog that I always wanted.  Things can change so fast!  I took a new job and moved back home to Fitzgerald.  No more days on the farm.  I started traveling for my job which meant less time with Gunner.  Our training secessions became few and far between because of my new work schedule.  He got lonely and started to escape the fenced back yard and wander, sometimes ending up miles from home.  He had become unhappy and it was again my fault.  Several times he ended up miles away on a farm that belonged to a friend of mine.  How he got there, I'm not sure, but he kept going back.  They loved him and would call when he showed up offering to let him stay as long as he wanted.  I knew what I needed to do and offered to let him stay.  They gave him the much needed attention that he deserved.  Gunner made them a wonderful pet and made me realize that I did not need another dog.  It would be 10 years before I was ready!

My current dog is none other than "Josey the Wonder Dog".  Josey is a Boykin Spaniel and is a pure joy.  I was ready this time!  My kids needed a dog and I knew friends who had Boykins.  I knew that they were very smart loving dogs that were small and good with kids.  I also knew that they were very good hunters, but my past experience in bird dog training could speak for itself.  I was in the market for a pet for my kids.  I did however dust off some old training books so that I could work on teaching Josey good manners.  We brought Josey home and we all fell in love.  She really is the sweetest little dog and fell right into our household routine.  She learned the ropes fairly quickly and even showed some promise when I tried to show her how terrible I was at bird dog training.  I didn't care however because I had a good dog that was great with my kids and that was what I was expecting.  It wasn't until I shot a squirrel in the yard one day while Josey was watching that I figured out that I might just have a bird dog after all.  After the squirrel fell from the tree, Josey shot off after it and brought it to me.  The rest is history and you can read about Josey's first dove hunt here.    I will be the first to tell you that I am no dog trainer and I'm not sure why Josey chooses to be the dog that she is today in spite of me, but I will say that I have enjoyed having a bird dog, even when I wasn't trying to find one.

So as I get ready for another bird season, I am very excited to see what Josey will do.  She seems to have taken to the limited training that we have been through with her new electronic color as we try and prepare for the season, but I really hope that her natural instincts will kick in and make me look good.  If I had to tell someone who may be reading this wanting ideas about being a dog owner, my best piece of advice would be to learn from my mistakes.  Be ready to be a dog owner and commit yourself fully to the life that you will be responsible for.  The dogs deserve it and will reward you more than you know if you spend the time to treat them right.  All I did was love Josey and care for her like she was part of the family.  I now have a constant traveling companion, a snuggle partner, a kid watcher, a house protector and a dang fine hunting partner! 

I have found my Ginger once more!  It has finally come full circle! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Work Day at the Club!

One of Dad's food plots ready for planting!

Even though the temperature was reaching for triple digits yesterday, my Dad and I decided to get some work done at the Hunting Club.  With college football games and dove season starting next weekend, I was determined to get some things done while my schedule was clear.  My plan was to trim up some limbs along our roads and improve an older stand sight.  Daddy's job was to ride the tractor and do some mowing.

We left the house a little after lunch with plenty of water and the golf cart in tow.  Once there, we secured our neighbors tractor and Daddy set off to mow roads to stands and grown up food plots.  I started trimming limbs and bushes and when I was done I was proud of the fact that I could drive down the roads in my Jeep without enduring any more scratches.  I also started making some improvements to an old stand site that needed some tweaking. 

The stand sits in the corner of our property and looks down both property lines.  It is a combination of hard wood bottom and large pines.  Last year a rather large oak tree fell across one of the property lines, therefore making it impossible to plant a food plot or even see down this line any longer.  I moved the stand up the other line to take advantage of being able to see farther up that particular fire break.  Our newest club member, Steve has a tractor outfitted with a root rake.  He was working on the property a few weeks ago and I asked him if he thought he could move that fallen tree for me.  NO problem!  The lane was open once again and clear to plant about a 100 yard food plot along the boarder line creek bottom.  My only problem now was that I needed to move my stand back to the original tree to take advantage.  I got to looking at the current set up and my mind got to formulating another plan all together.  I asked Steve if he might be able to clear out some trash trees and bushes so that I could have a clear line of sight from my current stand location.  Again, NO problem! 

The new view from the stand location

I am really excited about what he was able to do.  We got it cleaned up and got the ground turned and ready for planting.  I put a feeder at the far end of the clearing and moved my camera to this location.  We will see what we can get pictures of in the next few weeks.  It was a hot day, but we didn't seem to mind because we were enjoying the work getting ready for deer season. 

Hope you are enjoying your work too!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Boys are Back!

It could be a good year!!  Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Eagles have got a good man!

Sometimes people get it right!  In my opinion, Georgia Southern University Athletics did just that!  The Athletic Foundation for Georgia Southern has hired a new Executive Director and he just so happens to be an old classmate and good friend.  David Beaubien took the reins at his new position about 6 months ago, and as an alumni I couldn't be happier with the hire.  I know the kind of person that David is and what kind of attitude that he will bring to the foundation.  David is one of those energetic people who always has a smile and thinks with a positive attitude.  I look forward to the things that he will accomplish for Georgia Southern in the upcoming future.

I am also amazed as I look back on a relationship that has seen both of us grow over the last 20 years.  I first met David at different fraternity parties and socials.  We were in two different fraternities but got along very well.  We both took business classes and would from time to time have the same class schedule.  You could always tell that David had a knack for getting along with people and that his career would lead him into working directly with others.  He became a banker after graduation in 1996 and our paths met again in 2001-2004 as we both attended Banking school at the University of Georgia.  I would run into him at football games and I was always welcome at his bank's tailgating tent.  David would also give jobs to GSU students who were from Fitzgerald just because I asked him to help them out.  David was a good banker and had a good career until he decided to change career paths and work for the greatest university in the world.

David I just want to wish you good luck in your new job and let you know that I will try and help you in any way that I can.  You know I bleed BLUE and I'm glad to know that the new head man does too!!

GATA!!!   Luckie

Monday, August 22, 2011

Testing my limits! Joe's Table!

The Master at work with his faithful dog keeping watch!
I'm not sure how long it took me to get Joe's table apart.  Evidently, the previous owner was the type of person that liked hammering nails into corners of furniture for no apparent reason.  I did finally get all of the pieces disassembled and labeled so that I could start sanding each piece one by one.  When I say that there were a lot of nails, I mean there were a lot of nails, and that makes nail holes.  Holes do not look good in a piece of refinished furniture.  I completed sanding the top part of the table and got it put back together.  I filled the holes with wood filler that can be used for staining, but I am not really sure that I am going to like the way it will look once the stain is applied.  I got to looking into some refinishing videos on YouTube and found someone that was using colored wood putty instead.  I think this may be the best route to follow, so today I purchased some wood putty with matching stain and tonight I will be digging out the wood filler that I applied this weekend.  It will cost me some time on this project, but I want to try and make it as nice as I can.  Here is a shot of the top once I got it put back together.

I see too many wood filled holes for my liking!!
If I can just get half of these nail holes to become invisible with a little putty and staining magic, then this table just might turn out OK.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 19, 2011

This one will be a Tester!

This one is going to be a real challenge!  My friend Joe has two small barns and a house full of antique furniture.  His Dad was in the antique collecting business many years ago and Joe has been fortunate enough to hang on to some very nice pieces.  This piece however is not one of the nice ones.  Joe dragged this table out of the barn in hopes that I can make something out of it.  He plans to use it as a kitchen table in a rental house that he has at the Coast.  It is a very old piece and in pretty ruff shape.  The wood is full of nail holes (and nails) and the legs have been damaged because of some "make shift" bracing that was added who knows how many years ago.  But there is some potential!

My plans are to completely tear this table apart, sand all of the finish, fill all the holes, glue and screw the pieces back together to make it more sturdy, and finally put on a stain finish.  I'm going to have to get my Dad's help with this one on some of the repairs, but we will see how she turns out.  Hope you will follow along with me as I post updates on the status of "Joe's Project"!

Have a great weekend!  I know what I will be doing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm a Wing Shooter!

Growing up as a kid in South Georgia, I was exposed to a life in the outdoors by my Dad.  My Father came from a hunting and fishing family, so it was only natural that he would pass on the family tradition to me.  I hope to pass it on to my son and so on, ensuring that the Luckie family will always be a friend to the outdoors as well as have a genuine love for all that God's creation can offer while afield.  Because I have come from such a family, I have had the opportunities to do all kinds of hunting and fishing.  I consider myself lucky that I can say that I have hunted for deer, doves, ducks, turkeys, quail, snipe, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, crows, coons, and rattle snakes just to name a few.  I have also done my share of fishing whether it was on a lake, in a pond, on the river, or in the ocean.  I have had a well rounded outdoor experience so far in this life.  Some might say that it would be hard to pick a favorite activity out of all of these, but for me it is really simple.  I'm a wing shooter!

I live for the feel of feathers in my hand that have been retrieved by a well mannered bird dog.
I love the simple sophistication of a double barrel or over/under shotgun.
I feel the upland hunting tradition as I stride across the fields of Kansas.
The beating of quail wings is the sound of music that makes my heart jump a beat.

I love the social hour with good friends before the dove shoot.
The smell of spent shells mixed with peanut hay brings back childhood memories.
A bird dog on point is a beautiful thing.
My son with his BB gun sitting by my side is priceless.

I love brier pants and a blaze orange upland vest!
The sound of Woodys flying through the swamp at day break gives me chills.
Watching a Lab's eyes and his muscles quiver as the Mallards are getting close is spine tingling.
I have never been tired at the end of a field when that last rooster flushes from under my feet.

I always think of my Grand Daddy when I put my Browning in its case.
I loose tract of time when I am quail hunting with my cousins.
Quail hunting is the only way to make it snow in South Georgia!
Being a Grandson, son, father and friend have a a special meaning when chasing wings!

Yep, I'm a wing shooter and although I have just tried to express my feelings about this passion of mine, I find that even these words do not truly communicate the feeling that I get when I am doing what I love best.  I love bird hunting and I hope that I will continue to experience what I know and even chase some new wings in the near future. 

I think I hear a Prairie Chicken or a Grouse calling my name, or maybe it was a woodcock or a sea duck. 

Only time will tell!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Almost time!

It will not be long now.  Even though it is still hot as blazes here in the good ole' South, I can tell that fall is coming.  How can that be you might ask?  Well let's just say that my inner hunting clock is telling me so!  As I was getting dressed for work this morning I noticed a sound echoing from my gun cabinet in my home office.  I eased over to investigate what it might be and then I realized what it was.  It was the sound of anticipation.  All my pretty little Brownings were lined up neatly where they were left at the end of last season.  They are patiently waiting on me to pull one of them out of the cabinet and place it in its case to journey on that first dove hunting trip of the season.  Opening day is only a few short weeks away.  Which little beauty will it be?  It will definitely be a 20 gauge because of a shoulder that has not been battle tested this early in the season.  Heavy fire power is also not needed on early season doves because a good deal of the birds that are shot are very young birds and easy to bring down.  So which will it be?  The tried and true A-5 that has been with me the longest?  The sweet little over and under that has its own style and grace?  Or the known dove punisher that is the Browning Gold Hunter?  I'm going with the Gold!!  Easy to shoot and confidence with this gun will allow me to leave the others behind on opening day.

As I was standing there tying my tie and viewing the contents of my gun cabinet, I allowed myself to start taking inventory of my dove hunting gear in my mind.  Do I know where my dove stool is?  Did I ever find my blind?  Do my Mo Jo dove decoys need batteries?  Do I have enough shells to start the season?  Does my son have camo that still fits him?  Will Josey "The Wonder Dog" do as well this year as last year once the weather cools off?  Have I become familiar enough with her new electric collar? Etc, etc, etc.  I realized that I am not quite ready for the season to start, but the good thing is that I have a month to get ready.

I finished tying my tie and told myself that I would take a real inventory this weekend.  Getting ready for the hunt is almost as much fun as the hunt itself.  I started to close the gun cabinet when I caught the Godfather of the cabinet glaring at me from the corner.  The Browning Maxus was sitting in its perch with a look of disgust that I had not even considered taking him with me on opening day.  I calmed him down a little by telling him it was just too hot for him in September and that Kansas would be here before you know it.  I even tempted him with a possible trip to the Maine wilderness to shoot some sea ducks with the Duckman.  That will keep him happy until December when the second dove season opens.  Do I have any 12 gauge shells????