Gun Dog – Episode 1

It was over a year ago. I was happy with one dog. I wasn’t looking for another. I was perfectly content with one aging semi cross-eyed, pure breed, male golden retriever who wasn’t exactly the greatest retriever but I hadn’t exactly trained him to be. He would go retrieve a bird if he could see it, but he hasn’t caught on to looking up in the sky when we are shooting. Hey, I have an idea, Dakota. Why don’t you stop licking your balls for a minute and take a look up into the FREAKING SKY! I’M HUNTING HERE FOR CHRIST SAKE!

But that was all before I came to be dog sitting, somewhat permanently, my daughter’s female Catahoula puppy that, eight months later, came into heat for the first time.

I was consistent with keeping the two dogs apart, separated by a temporary cage while in the house, and let outside in shifts. I was perfect in letting one out in the backyard while the other stayed inside. I had maintained this procedure for three weeks religiously. How long does a dog stay in heat anyway, I wondered? What I didn’t count on was the random action by my son, X-man who got sick of Dakota, the retriever, howling to get out. So he let him out. It was only for a couple of minutes he said.

“You what?” I asked, incredulously, grabbing a chunk of hair out of my head. “Did something happen?”

“I don’t know but they got stuck together.” He replied.

“Oh, shit!” I wailed.

“It’s probably nothing, dad. I don’t think she’s pregnant.” My son remarked, the teenage canine obstetrician.

“I hope you’re right” I said, knowing I was wrong. And I was right.

And sixty-three days later I was trying to play birthing assistant to a very pregnant, panting dog. I had all the equipment. I had the latex gloves, I had the rolls of paper towels, I had the KY jelly in case one got stuck, I had a can of the first milk in case she wouldn’t nurse. I had towelettes and scissors and nose suckers and hot water bottles. But I was useless because the mother’s millions of years old instinct took over and she did everything she was supposed to do. Five pups later she was finished.

What I had was a group of blackish, shiny pups except for one grey and spotted black one. They looked like miniature Labradors, way cuter than human babies with all of their whining and crying and little scrunchy faces. What are you crying about you big baby? Oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry, drop and give me twenty, and not those girl pushups you tried to get away with last time.

Oh the plans swirling around in my head. I hadn’t trained a hunting dog since I was a teenager. He was a German Shorthair pointer named Brownie who could point, and find a bird in a hundred yard blind retrieve on hand signals and whistle alone. I once shot a wild band tailed pigeon that sailed far down into the heavily wooded canyon below, and Brownie raced after it. A half hour later just as I was getting sick with worry, Brownie returned, bird in mouth. Another time when we were jump shooting ducks at Grey Lodge State Wildlife Area in California, he kept bringing back ducks we didn’t even shoot.

But I had spent a lot of time training that dog. Could I do it again with less effort? German Shorthairs are not natural retrievers like Golden Retrievers are but half of a Golden Retriever’s natural retrieving ability should at least be equal to a German Shorthair’s. I mainly wanted a retriever for duck hunting and occasional dove shoots. Hunting upland game in Florida, namely quail, isn’t worth the effort unless you can get on a private plantation. The once legendary Florida Bobwhite Quail numbers have dwindled severely over the years for various suspected reasons like habitat change, limited natural fires, the type of grasses being grown, pesticides, and even such a seemingly innocuous reason as red imported fire ants eating the eggs. That’s a pity because quail hunting is really enjoyable when there are actually quail to be had.

The first few weeks I kept the puppies in a plastic kiddy pool that I had put in the enclosed porch next to my bedroom. I kept a portable heater on to keep the temperature toasty at around 90 degrees. All I had to do was feed the mamma dog as much food and water as she could ingest. The pups ate, slept and grew. At four weeks the grey and black spotted female my son named Grizzly climbed out of the kiddie pool. And then it was game on taping up cardboard extenders around the perimeter of the pool while Grizzly soon learned how to scratch at the joints until the tape came loose and she could slip between the cardboard to escape to the wood floor to take a leak. Ah, nothing like the feel of wood on your bare paws.

When they were seven weeks old, I took a trip to the feed store and picked up their first of three series of shots, the seven in one shot, and a wormer. I studied YouTube carefully on how to give a dog a shot. Always loathing shots myself, I would now have to give them one or face a big fat vet bill for my squeamishness.

I picked the mellowest puppy first, and the biggest who I named Whalen. I figured he’d be a cinch. All he ever did was lie around looking for a free meal. I carefully inserted the needle into the saline ampoule, sucked out the liquid, and then injected it into the ampoule of freeze dried serum. After lightly shaking the mixture, I re-inserted the needle and sucked out the serum.

I was nervous, my palms were sweating but it was crucial to remain calm. Animals will sense your fear and run like hell if they read “I’m about to give you a shot and I don’t know what the frick I’m doing” anywhere in your body language. What I used was misdirection. A big, fat tablespoon of peanut butter with honey dribbled over it.

I picked Whalen up set him on the counter and pushed his nose into the peanut butter. Then I pinched some skin together on the back of his upper neck and inserted the needle. Only it didn’t insert. Shit. I thought I had done it right. I tried it again but Whalen started to squirm. I pushed his head back into the peanut butter but the spoon squirted away. I grabbed the spoon and had a wad of peanut butter stuck to my fingers. Then I readjusted my hold on the puppy, smearing peanut butter all over his head. I was sweating profusely now. I picked the hypodermic up and ran it under the skin and slowly injected the shot. After that I messaged the area lightly and then put the puppy down. My nerves were shot. No wonder most people take their dogs to the Vet.

I only had four dogs to go. But they went much easier. In fact the most hyper dog, Grizzly, was the easiest. Maybe she had the thinnest skin.

They were still a little young for formal training but not too young for house breaking. I had started them at a few weeks old with paper in the bottom of the kiddie pool. Then I built a little wooden enclosure in the kitchen with the paper on one side and their bedding on the other. They seemed mixed up at first, but over time more and more of their messes ended on the paper.

I put some of the used paper on the backyard and started taking the pups out when they were about four weeks old. I had watched the video, “House break your puppy in twenty-four hours” anyone can do it.

Yeah? Apparently these pups hadn’t watched the video. It was puppy peeing mayhem once they got out of their little pen. They peed outside, and then they peed inside. They pooped outside and they pooped inside. House break? More like house wreck. And no, I couldn’t take them outside every twenty minutes during the day, I work for a living.

At eight weeks I was pretty attached to all of the pups but knew my sanity required giving some of them new homes. We had no problem finding potential owners for three of the puppies, and gave them their walking papers. Only two were left, Whalen and Grizzly, the two opposites. Whalen looked like a lab and Grizzly looked more like the classic Catahoula. I really only wanted to keep one but my son wanted Grizzly and I wanted to keep Whalen.

The first test I gave them was the bird wing on a fishing pole test. I pulled one of the frozen duck wings out of a bag in the freezer and tied it on ten feet of line on my fishing pole I never use. Oh, you think it odd that a person would keep a bag of frozen duck wings in the freezer? In case of emergency, break open bag and grab one wing.

Sitting in my lawn chair in the backyard, I flipped the wing towards Whalen. He looked interested but he was just too large and fat to push his underdeveloped muscles into action. I flipped it on top of his head and he grabbed it with his teeth. I gave him praise and pulled it out of his mouth. Then I flipped it a couple feet away. He laboriously gathered himself up and slowly walked over to it. Wow, that retriever blood runs thick in this dog.

I passed it off as his oversized features impeding his nimbleness. At this point in his growth, his ears and feet were way too large for the rest of him. In fact, if I were to just poke one of his legs and feet from around a corner you would expect it to be attached to something like a Great Dane. And his ears? More like Dumbo ears. This could be one of those freaky genetic mutations that happen from time to time. Cross breeding can be tricky.

Grizzly, on the other hand, weighing about half as much as Whalen, bolted right after the bird wing and chased it with enthusiasm. I let her catch it a couple of times and had to pry it out of her mouth as she savagely attempted to devour it.

I hate to jump to conclusions based on just one test. Brownie used to chase that damn bird wing until he was exhausted, and he hated retrieving in the beginning. I would have to find something a little more definitive to base my findings on. A trip to a Bass Pro Shop led me to find the perfect specimen. A dummy retrieving mallard duck that looked more like a raggedy doll but made more durable.

I tossed it across the tile floor at the house and the pups skidded into the door chasing it and then both of them latched on to it as they wrestled for control. They loved it. They ran after it over and over. Now who’s questioning the pedigree of my dogs, eh? They had the desire, now I would just have to shape and mold it into something resembling a retriever.

Tips For Buying The Best Paintballs

Paintballs are made by many different producers, each using similar, but not identical, formulas for the shell and paint. These differences create small variations in the size and shape. These small differences can make a huge difference in your shooting accuracy and the reliability of your marker. This is partially caused by the slight differences in the inside diameters of paintball gun barrels. With a less stringent manufacturing requirement than real guns, paintball gun equipment manufacturers may put out products that offer noticeable inside diameter variations in a barrel from one product line to the next and sometimes even in two similar models.

The best way to determine whether a particular brand of paintballs will work in your marker is to perform the following test. Unscrew the barrel from your paintball gun, drop a single paintball in it. If the paintball rolls through without any restriction from the barrel, the ball is probably not a good choice for your barrel because it is too small. It will “bounce” down the barrel during shooting due to the higher pressures and cause inaccurate results. If the ball doesn’t drop all the way through the barrel and you have to push it out, the ball is not a good choice because it is too large.

What’s “just right?” The paintball should fall completely through the barrel with a very small amount of resistance as it goes through. Remember, when shooting, there will be a large burst of air/CO2 behind the paintball, causing a great deal of pressure. A paintball that is not well-sized for your barrel will reduce the effectiveness of your shooting, either through accuracy or reduced range and power.

You also need to consider the quality of the paintballs you are buying. For example, recreational paintballs are much cheaper than those designed for tournament use, but they are much less consistent. This may be due to a cheap paint or lower quality shell. These paintballs are more geared for someone who is practicing or for players who don’t take many precision shots. Tournament-grade paintballs are the most expensive, but will give the most consistent performance in shooting. Some brands also offer a mid-grade, in addition to the recreational- and tournament-grade offerings. No matter what you select, choose the grade that best suits how you play. Most players use recreational paintballs the most, only using tournament-grade paintballs for competitions or precision shooting positions (such as the sniper).

Choosing the wrong type of paintball can create problems with your marker. For example, if you struggle with paintballs breaking before they leave the gun’s barrel, it could be a problem with the gun (too high pressure, hopper or magazine feed issue, etc.), or it could simply be that you’re using a paintball too soft-shelled for the gun you’re using.

Buying paintballs is likely the most expensive part of playing the sport. If you participate in regular practice, you should probably purchase your paintballs from a local source rather than through mail order. This is primarily due to shipping expenses. A box of 1,000 paintballs weighs roughly 7.5 pounds. This means you must add another $10+ to the overall cost of each order (much higher if you don’t use regular ground shipping).

Two of the most popular brands available (and on opposite ends of the quality and predictability spectrum) are Monster Balls and Karnage. Monster Balls are generally available at Walmart and cost about $26 (for 2,000). They are cheap and readily available, but they are disdained by most players because they have an extremely hard shell, which causes bruising and possible injury. For this reason, many commercial fields have banned Monster Balls for anything other than practice use.

Some of the most highly-acclaimed paintballs are made by Karnage. These balls are considered very consistent, making them suitable for a wide range of paintball markers and are available in recreational-, mid- and tournament-grade. Karnage also produces a special paintball specific for playing during cold weather. Unfortunately, these paintballs are not usually available in retail outlets (unless you’re lucky enough to have a paintball store nearby or a good Pro Shop at your local paintball field.

Making an effort to find which paintball works best with your marker will be of great benefit. Try different brands and grades of paintballs to find which one works the best for you. If you haven’t found a brand you really like, consider trying Karnage. RAP4 also produces an excellent paintball called AG1. For the best prices and choices in paintballs, visit ChoicePaintballGuns.com.

Paintball Gun CO2 Tank Basics

High pressure air and CO2 are both used to power paintball markers. CO2 cartridges and tanks are the most common, however, because they are cheaper and it is easier to get them refilled. While high pressure air tanks are more expensive, they can increase your performance. This is why some of the more seasoned players choose high pressure air over CO2; however the cost and availability of CO2 make it the more popular choice. Understanding the properties of CO2 will not only make you a safer player on the paintball field, but will also give you a better idea of how your gun works and just how your power source can affect your game.

Both the liquid and the gas form of CO2 may exist in your tank at any given time; and sometimes both at the same time. It is the gas form that powers your paintball marker, though. If the liquid form enters the valve of your marker you may experience some problems. The liquid CO2 can cause random fluctuations in velocity as well as damage the o-rings inside the marker. The fluctuations in velocity can cause your marker to shoot irregularly and your accuracy will vary.

To prevent liquid CO2 from entering into the valve of your marker, always be sure to hold the gun pointing upward when not in use. Carrying the gun pointing at the ground will shift the liquid CO2 to the front of the tank allowing it to enter the valve and eventually damage your o-rings. Other options you have to protect your marker from liquid CO2 are to install an “anti-siphon” piece that helps allow only air into your gun or upgrade to an expansion chamber. The expansion chamber is an ‘extra little room’ that catches the liquid before it enters the gun and equalizes the temperature of the CO2 before firing.

If liquid CO2 is already in your paintball gun you will know by the white discharge accompanying your paintball when you fire. The easy way to remove the CO2 is to point your marker upward and fire the gun repeatedly until there is no more discharge. Make sure to continue carrying the marker pointed upward to avoid any further leakage.

“Pin Valve Tanks” are the most common types of paintball gun CO2 tanks. The size ranges from 30 grams to 20 ounces and come in a variety of shapes. They are cheap, easy to find, and easy to refill; this is why they are so popular. The large variety allows you to choose the size and shape tank that best suits your paintball marker and your style of play. You can refill your CO2 tank at most any paintball field, commercial air tank supply companies, gun and firearm stores, Bass Pro Shops, and possibly even your local fire department.

You must use a CO2 tank until it is completely empty before refilling it. Topping off your tank is not an option. Also, it is recommended that you allow someone who has some experience with CO2 tanks to do the actual refilling for you. If you are inexperienced with CO2, there is a slight danger and it is possible to injure yourself while refilling it.

The main factor to consider when you are looking to purchase a CO2 tank for your marker is how many shots you expect to get from a tank. The temperature and type of marker you use (as well as many other factors) will play a part in the number of shots you can get from one tank, but here is an estimate of how many shots you should expect to get from various sizes available:

4 oz. – 150-200 shots
9 oz. – 450-500 shots
12 oz. – 500-600 shots
20 oz. – 600-650 shots

It is highly recommended to always purchase your paintball gun CO2 tanks new, especially since they are so cheap to buy. Although a used tank may look like it’s in good condition, there may be faults in the interior of the tank that can’t be seen by the naked eye. If you do choose to go with a used CO2 tank, be sure to “hydrotest” it before use. This will tell you if it is safe to refill or not. It is also a good idea to have any tank you have owned for over a year “hydrotested” as well. This process can be rather expensive, however, and you may be better off just purchasing a new tank.

If you do feel it is a must to continue using an old tank without testing it though, don’t try refilling any tanks with deep scratches or dents. Be careful not to damage the threads as you remove it from the gun or remote line. If the tank begins to unscrew from the brass part (called the valve), stop immediately. If the tank comes off the valve it can become a missile and may cause serious injury, even death.

Proper care of your CO2 cylinder doesn’t take much work and is very important to keep up with. Keep the o-ring from drying out by regularly applying a few drops of oil to it. Also, be sure to replace the o-ring whenever you notice any cracks, fraying or if it dries out. Thread saver caps are very useful in protecting the threads from getting bent or damaged. Store extra tanks in a cool environment and away from any heat source that may cause it to expand and malfunction.

CO2 tanks are cheap to replace, but if you maintain them correctly you can safely go as long as a year before replacing it. Purchase a tank cover to help keep it in prime condition. The power source of your paintball marker is an essential part of your gear. With CO2 tanks being as cheap and easy to come by as they are, there is no reason to take unnecessary risks with your old tank. For great deals on brand new CO2 tanks, check out a great selection at ChoicePaintballGuns.com!