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Last Day in Montana

As I was reluctant to leave my friends behind along with such an amazing place. I embraced one last long day of bird hunting in Montana before I officially headed home to get back to work and gear up for the upcoming Chukar hunting season. I was heading east when I remembered one last piece of BLM that Brad had told me about north of the hwy that I had not yet hunted. Once again it didn't look like much and I didn't know what to expect. The little Red Setter was due for one last good hunt. She had showed a lot of immaturity in the beginning but so much potential. She also was the only dog on the entire trip to get into a Porcupine. So this was my last stitch effort to give her an opportunity to put it together. This BLM was divided into two distinct parts. The north end had a small canyon that bordered a tree line. I had a hunch that if I was going to have one last chance at Huns, that this was it. It wasn't long before Penny once again had a mouth full of Porcupine quills. I was unprepared in the field, so after pulling the tough ones out with my teeth, off we went. Not long after a wild flush of a pretty large covey of Huns, Penny was on point and after another covey find I had taken 4 Gray Partridge. Penny ran great and finally pointed and retrieved Hungarian Partridge in Montana and hopefully learned her final lesson about Porcupines.

That afternoon I decided the best way to finish this amazing trip was one last long hike across the Prairie with my own dogs. I have had high hopes but so far had been unimpressed with the range of my little Setter pup we call Lottie. So that last hunt turning her out with the older dogs I had very little expectations. Just wanted all the dogs to take one last roll across the Prairie. It was a beautiful sight as a turned them loose and off they went. All of them mostly in different directions covering a vast amount of land. Even Lottie was finally a dot on the horizon. After about a two hour brace we produced one measly Sharptail Grouse. It was a wild flush but because Lottie was in the area and she saw it flush I decided to shoot it. I believe her prey drive was finally building and I think that last Sharptail of the trip was the icing on the cake. It was time to round up all these Long Hollow Bird Dogs and head home.

- Ryan Fortier

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