First Season

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First Season

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:07 pm

The pup and I are approaching our first hunting season. 7 month old PP. We have a good amount of obedience work in.(recall, change direction, whoa, sit, down and heel) We have been with our local NAVHDA chapter a few time training and trained a fair amount on our own. He has been exposed to all phases of the hunt in a controlled way ( pointing birds, gunfire, retrieving dead birds on land and water) He has done great with all that has been exposed to so far. Most of this has been done while he was on a checkcord. I have recently been working on ecollar conditioning and getting him off the checkcord. We have made good progress. He has a solid recall in fields with no birds present. The pup has really intense bird drive. What do you guys do on your first few "real" hunting trips?

Here in Illinois most of the upland hunting is done on state controlled release grounds. There are some spots that I know of that have wild birds, and I do have a membership at a hunt club(our chapter training grounds). My game plan is to go out with a friend to the hunt club in a couple weeks and buy a couple pheasants, then head out to the state and wild bird grounds once our official season starts. I also do some waterfowl hunting occasionally but I am more comfortable with how to approach that as its what I have mostly hunted in the past.

So I know I will first and foremost keep the hunting fun/safe and understand he's a ways out from the finished gundog I will have eventually. But what advice do you guys have. and what should I try to avoid doing?
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Re: First Season

Postby Dmog » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:27 pm

I would suggest keep commands to a minimum and only when needed for safety. Let him and you enjoy and get him into as many birds as you can. A recall when retrieving is okay and be sure and let the dog hold the bird for a while as you let him know he did a good job finding, pointing, and bringing that bird to you. I let the pup chase and you will see after the first couple, he will realize he cant catch them and come back to work with you to find more birds. Make sure he gets to find more birds! I also respect the hunters that do not want the pup to chase but are conditioning for steadiness already. You maybe tempted to call him back if he gets out too far hunting, but as long as its safe, let him figure it out. He may bust a few birds but after that will hold his point to work with you. Leave the friends at home unless they know that you may or may not shoot any birds. Only shoot at the ones he holds point on.
You never have to tell a dog what time to be home, give them the keys, and they never ask for money.
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Re: First Season

Postby AverageGuy » Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm

All good advice from Dmog.

For upland bird hunts I let my pups range where they will within reason, I flush and shoot the birds they point and hold fire on the ones they purposefully bust into flight. I hunt them alone, just me and the pup, which teaches the pup to hunt with me, eliminates distractions/temptations to play chase/tag with other dogs, and keeps gunfire under my complete control, shooting only when it is productive to the pup's learning experience. Only one gun going off.

My first hunts are dictated by when seasons open, so doves, then teal, then grouse, quail, pheasants, ducks. In the past I have had taken some pups to a released bird operation for some work, but more recently I have enough wild birds around to avoid that scene, (I do use pigeons). I think released birds have at least equal potential to teach bad habits as good ones, as you cannot control them and they often will not flush or fly strongly. A bold Vdog breed puppy catching birds can really set back their pointing instinct so word to the wise on that. Chukars might be a better choice than pheasants as they have no potential to spur a puppy, are easier for a pup to deal with when they hit the ground and put out a ton of scent.
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Re: First Season

Postby Willie T » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:12 pm

I’m sure there will be those who disagree with my opinions here. They have served me well though.
1 Steer clear of hunting pen raised birds the first year. The likelihood of your dog catching one on its own Is something to avoid with a first year pup.
2 Put the dog on as many wild birds as is possible. Don’t shoot the birds it bumps or busts. Don’t sweat it if it chases. Don’t miss the first ones it holds and allows you to flush.
3 Lose the check cord and keep the whistle in your pocket. Let a young inexperienced dog roll. Don’t expect perfection. Let range and momentum continue to build.
4 The point is between the dog and the bird. Don’t try to stick your nose where it does not belong.

Willie

Edited to add:
5 Use of a GPS tracking collar will give you the peace of mind to let your dog open up and develop the confidence to keep up with you, rather than hack on it. I learned to bring young dogs along without a GPS collar. I have grown to appreciate the safety net they provide.
Last edited by Willie T on Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First Season

Postby ForTheBirds84 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:30 pm

All good advice. I appreciate it. I have had a bird dog before.(GSP) He turned out ok, but through nothing other than his own ability. I was in high school when I had got him and had no clue what I was doing...Fast forward 15 years or so and here I am. I'm just trying to do the dog justice. All the things that have been mentioned above make sense. I'll do my best to keep him on the right track.
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Re: First Season

Postby hunter94 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 8:52 am

Willie T wrote:I’m sure there will be those who disagree with my opinions here. They have served me well though.
1 Steer clear of hunting pen raised birds the first year. The likelihood of your dog catching one on its own Is something to avoid with a first year pup.
2 Put the dog on as many wild birds as is possible. Don’t shoot the birds it bumps or busts. Don’t sweat it if it chases. Don’t miss the first ones it holds and allows you to flush.
3 Lose the check cord and keep the whistle in your pocket. Let a young inexperienced dog roll. Don’t expect perfection. Let range and momentum continue to build.
4 The point is between the dog and the bird. Don’t try to stick your nose where it does not belong.

Willie

Edited to add:
5 Use of a GPS tracking collar will give you the peace of mind to let your dog open up and develop the confidence to keep up with you, rather than hack on it. I learned to bring young dogs along without a GPS collar. I have grown to appreciate the safety net they provide.



all good advice.....let him learn on his own about wild birds.....just the two of you for the first season. be patient, he is learning every time he makes game....when in doubt, stay quiet.
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Re: First Season

Postby AverageGuy » Sat Oct 19, 2019 2:29 pm

ForTheBirds84,

The overall advice Willie T posted is actually highly similar to my advice.

I wanted to follow up on his add on edit because I too brought up all my puppies but my current dog without the aid of GPS, and so it obviously is possible to do so and turn out a nice dog. However, I had the aid of a Garmin GPS and a mini-collar when bringing along my current dog and it was the best thing since sliced bread.

Being able to just let a pup roam, explore and learn while having the secure knowledge where he is and that he is safe while doing it is huge. It allowed this pup to develop his natural range (which adjusts wonderfully to different cover and birds on his own) with minimal fingerprints from me. That vs a nervous handler calling a pup because they have not seen it in awhile is a big improvement. Especially when calling a pup while it is buried in cover may well be interrupting a key learning experience for the pup, as well as choosing a very poor moment as to the likelihood of the pup paying attention to your Here request because it is engrossed in something far more interesting ...

I second this add on in Willie T's post. It pays big dividends is my experience since adopting the new technology.


Willie T wrote:Edited to add:
5 Use of a GPS tracking collar will give you the peace of mind to let your dog open up and develop the confidence to keep up with you, rather than hack on it. I learned to bring young dogs along without a GPS collar. I have grown to appreciate the safety net they provide.
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