|In late summer of 1986, a couple of years before Stephanie was born and very early into my career in the USAF,
I moved with my then spouse to the boonies outside Murray, Nebraska. Literally aabout a stones throw from what is now Rake's Creek WMA. We bought our first house and found good neighbors, a bad septic system, peace and quiet and when I started stomping about the farm fields, ditches and wood lots nearby, I also found tons of quail. It's hard to believe the numbers of quail that are not in that area of Nebraska here barely 20 years later.
I had never hunted quail before, but I had read enough to know that to hunt quail properly, one needed a bird dog. So, I opened up the phone book the first week of December that year after the quail were almost doing schooling me one day and whipping my butt the next.
So, under Kennels... "A" is for Armbrust, hunting dogs it said, bred and trained. Armbrust Kennels, then at 180th and Harrison St. Called the number, no answer. This was almost before answering machines! OK, then, B is for Brewer... more bird dogs, it says. I'm loving this state more and more all the timel . Betty Brewer out in Wahoo. Any of you ever know her? Man, you should have.
Betty is long gone now and she was about 140 even then, but she still had some good dogs around. Legend has it, I learned, that Betty bred and whelped the first litter of German Shorthaired Pointers in the state of Nebraska not long after WW2 ended. Betty had a litter coming, she said, but nothing available until April.
If I only even knew what GSP's where at that point. I had to run to the base library and find out!!
So, I called Art back. He wouldn't have anything until January, but would I like to come out and hunt some pheasant with him right after Christmas? I packed up my buddy Tim and I and we headed out there the day after Christmas, hunted right there where all the houses are now and over where that Millard high school now sits, clear down to 156th St. on the north side of Harrison. Tons of birds in there. We hunted with the sire of the litter Art was peddling for a January whelping date, FC Rawhide's Smokin' Joe.
Joe was a heck of a dog, sired by FC Jigs White Smoke, owned by a gentlemen who lived in Plattsmouth at the time named Marty Wyant. Jigs would later be voted into the the GSPC of America Hall of Fame and Smokin' Joe himself would become the first pointing dog of any breed in the state of Nebraska (and about the 2nd or 3rd in the whole USA) to pin an AKC Master Hunter title at the end of his name to go with the AKC Field Championship at the beginning of his name. Big, solid liver with a head like cinder block and eyes that said he was born to do one thing: Hunt and find birds.
I didn't have any idea what I was watching at the time and I don't think we killed any birds that day. But I remember Joe slammed on point in a plum corner and as we approached over the snow, about 7 roosters got up one at a time, with each step we took, but out of range....and old Joe, he just stood there like a statue and watched them fly off and never twitched.
Art went over and heeled him off and sent him on his way. Dangest thing I'd ever seen. I was sold.
I went out and saw the litter a few times after it was born. I wanted a girl.
I brought her home in Feburary and immediately set about putting to work all the knowledge that had made me into a first rate bird dog trainer from the books I'd read from the base library since Christmas.
Some of those book were retriever training books and I still didn't even know the difference!!
No wonder that poor Kellie came out about half screwed up. But, she was her father's daughter, through and through. I didn't know it then, but she was and is about the greatest hunting dog I've ever seen, in her prime.
But even that first summer, Kellie knew it. I got some pigeons and chukars and kept them in the barn and did everything wrong I possibly could with her.
And I did it a lot. That was the only thing I did right.
My wife, Sue, tried to ruin her, though. She professed to think Kellie and all bird dogs ugly and stupid. But I came off the road late one night that summer and found Kellie's kennel empty. She and Sue were curled up in the bed together, sound asleep and barely any room for me to crawl in. Been there all week, Sue said. What about the ugly and stupid part?, I asked. She's used to that, she says!
So when old Art called me up that about the next week and asked how that dog was doing and did I want to send her back out to him for a month of so's training at the end of the summer?, I thought it might be good to stop all the pampering that was going on when I wasn't around get this dog down to serious business. She was over 6 months old, after all!!
Neither Art, nor I, had any idea what I was dropping off at his house that August day. I was in the USAF band in those days and we were gone a lot in the summertime. We had a couple of long tours coming up. I'd come back and get her at the end of the September. Perfect. I turned the pigeons all loose, slaughtered the chukars for the freezer and packed Kellie off to Art's in the first week of August and hit the road again.
Two weeks later, I was on the road and Sue, calls me and says, "You'd better call that bird dog guy, he keeps leaving messages for you."
I call Art and he explains that the dog is doing well and that I should think about entering her in something called a field trial down in Lincoln the first part of September. Oh really? How much? Art says he'll run her for free since he's training her anyway if I'll pay the entry fee. OK... and he says he can tell I've been working her some. She's doing great for him. She's a real go'er, says Art.
About two weeks later I'm home between tours on a Sunday night and the phone rings. It's Art. Kellie won the Open Puppy down in Lincoln. What's an Open Puppy? She's a screamer, he says!! I need to put her in another trial the next week, it's down in Kansas.
The next Sunday night, Art's not back home to Omaha until late, but I call him anyway. Kellie didn't win, but she placed again!! The next weekend I'm out at Art's picking up a pile of hardware. The one trophy is a huge plaque, from the Nebraska German Shorthaired Pointer Club. It's a traveling trophy. It says "Betty Brewer Trophy" at the top and all the dogs who've ever won the thing have their names on it. The dog that won it the year before? Heidi Ho Pinehurst. Heidi is another dog that if I'm not mistaken, is also now in the GSPC of America Hall of Fame.
By about that time, I was home for a spell starting that fall and into the winter and that's where our story really starts.
I kept a hunting diary of every day Kellie and I hit the field for the next two months. By that time, Kellie knew more about bird hunting than I did. By the end of that season, she would know more about bird hunting than I ever would.
And so, that is how we began on Opening Day, November 5, 1987.
|Nov 7, 1987
Opening Day (Kellie's First!)
Hunted with my buddies Jim and Ray from up at the base. I asked Ray to please leave his beagle at home!! I don't want to screw my dog up on her first day out! We headed down to Johnson County to hunt on some public ground down there, near Tecumseh. Twin Oaks and Osage. It was windy and rainy to start, cleared off later in the day. Kellie busted up some coveys of quail without pointing them. After one of the bust ups she did work some of the singles a little better and I even knocked one down and she retrieved it back to me. This dog points rabbits!! Like mad!! Not sure if that's a good thing. Anyway, she points them and we shot 12 today along with 11 quail of which she pointed about half. We missed some pheasants we should have had. That's some nice ground the state has down there. We don't have anything like that back home in PA. Ray and Jim were pretty impressed. It's easier to shoot pointed rabbits than the ones their beagles chase around. Kellie likes to get lost though. Man. At one point she hunted off and was clear over with another group of hunters on the other side of the area at least a quarter mile away. She goes like the wind. A group of hunters couldn't cover the ground she does in an hour if they hunted all weekend. Gotta get her to handle better.
11 quail 12 rabbits
Nov 10, 1987
Hunted starting early right around the house today. Scott and Tim came down to go with. Started on Mrs. S**** place across the road. Kellie pointed a covey right off the bat going up the first fence. We got 4 on the covey rise, but we couldn't find any of the singles. Scott thought they were all hen pheasants coming out on his side, so he didn't shoot. Didn't come across any more birds across the road today. It was kinda warm today, so I'm thinking the birds were up and scattered out in the fields. Kellie did point a bunny up behind Mr. S**** house that I got. Tim and Scott couldn't stay long. Carol is due soon and Tim had to get back. Headed back to Johnson County tomorrow with Ray. Kellie chased some deer off today over across the road and was gone for about half and hour. That's going to be a problem. First time she really ever done that, but she's big enough now to chase them.
4 quail 1 bunny
Nov 14, 1987
Went to Mead with Art in the early a.m. Hunting the milo fields over there on the Univ ground. A clear, warm and sunny day. Kellie pointed a hen. That's all we got, Art's dogs got skunked, so that made me feel good. She was a mess otherwise. I almost just left and came home without her. We went back to Art's place and hunted with a dog named Tamara that he just got back from being out on the road trialing with Don P*****. That is a great dog!! She got a rooster for Art and I both within about 10 minutes of being let out of the truck. Kellie stayed in the truck. I'd had enough of her for the day. We actually had a point and a back on the bird I got as we had two of Art's dogs down. Short hunt as Art just wanted to see how Tamara was doing. Tomorrow a friend of Art's is coming in from Co. to buy a dog and he wants me to bring Kellie along so he can show him. Art wants to go back to Johnson County and hunt my spots down there.
Nov 15, 1987
(Did I ever work back then?)
We went to Tecumseh again today to hunt with Art and Joe M**** from CO. Joe flew in, he's looking for a GWP pup from Art. Started on Osage and Twin Oaks without much luck. Then we went over to H******'s and hunted with R*** there. We had 5 or six coveys in less then two hours. R**** drove us all around. Art's dogs did a nice job and I left Kellie in the truck after she chased deer over about half of Osage again. I've never seen anyone shoot like R***. He uses an old Browing A-5 and at one rise I swear he had 3 birds dead in the air before my gun even hit my shoulder. I did get a few birds. Going back down there in the morning, taking Jay and Kathy and hoping for a repeat.
(again, I ask, when did I work?)
November 16, 1987
Ray O and I went back down to Johnson County and starting our morning hunt on the Osage WMA. A nice, clear, sunny day without a whole ton of wind. Kellie got to retrieve her first rooster today!! She had pointed a rabbit, which I shot and as I went to pick up the bunny, I stepped on a rooster. Kellie was no where to be seen after the bunny took off so I shot the rooster. She came back to the shooting and I sent her in for the rooster and she found it. As the bunny was still MIA, I made her find that too. She should have the idea now that when there is shooting, there is stuff on the ground to look for. Some other hunters were out, down there and so I think the birds were chased around a bit already. Kellie did find and point a covey really nice under a cedar near a milo patch where we found a bunch of birds the other day when we were over there. We hunted singles for a awhile and I got one. Ray got one on the covey rise too and she retrieved them both really nice. I think she really likes quail. I concur.
1 rooster 1 bunny 2 quail