Upland Bird Hunt

Dan Betz organized an upland bird hunt at Schrader’s Outdoors, in Henderson, MD.  Attending were Dan and Nick Betz, Nick’s guide Labrador retriever, Black Sabbath, Brandon Keese, and myself, Mark Burchick.


We started with a 50-shot round of sporting clays, followed with a wonderful catered lunch at the Schraders’s Manor House, then a 20-bird game package.


The sporting clays range gave us varied opportunities to shoot different presentations, especially beneficial prior to shooting live birds.


It was a beautiful Sunday, sunny, a light breeze, with temperatures reaching up to 64-degrees in the afternoon.  At all of our wetland stations, we heard breeding spring peepers, and the red maples trees were beginning to develop bud swell, with an obvious red color.


It was time to wack clays!  After expending 50 shells each, our lunch consisted of spinach and cheese salad, homemade mac & cheese, grilled potatoes, baked chicken, rolls and brownies.  A very nice setting to be in the elegant Manor House, where it was mandatory that we took off our boots before entering.


Sabbath began the first half as our guide dog, and did a great job, considering she is still a young pup.  She worked the field in tight figure eight’s smelling for bird sign, and fetched every bird that we downed.


One of her temporary shortcomings was that she would chase after birds that eluded our gauntlet of shooters.  That will be corrected as Nick continues to work with Sabbath.


Quite atypical for a Lab, Nick’s dog can come on point!


Sabbath chased this chukar until it was exhausted and could no longer fly.  Brandon, being whistle trained, caught-up with the bird.


Brandon tucked the bird’s head up under it’s wing, gave the bird a few overhead spins and placed it back into the brush to be flushed again later in the day.


The second half of our 20-bird package swapped out Sabbath for the guide’s English setter and German short-hair.  The setter comes on point, as the other dog hold’s tight to honor the point.


We worked areas of fallow agricultural fields that are considered farmed wetlands and grassed riparian corridors.


Both dog’s are whistle-trained and won’t flush the bird until instructed, which allowed the shooters to get into position for the safe shot.


The half-day afternoon hunt was as a blast, culminating the wonderful day of shooting sports.


Our guide went on to breast-out all of our birds and package them for our ride home.

Thank you Dan, Nick and his dog Sabbath, Brandon and our guide from Schrader’s.  What a great way to spend the day!  I have dozens more photos, especially of Nick working his dog.  It’s always a treat to watch well-trained working dogs.

Congratulations to Nick Betz on his upcoming marriage to Chelsea Dionne.