Cover Trial Tuneup – 4/19

What a difference two weeks make. The last time I headed out with Puck, there was 2′ of snow in the woods around Portland, ME. This past Saturday, there was almost nothing. Even though the ground was still bare, spring was poking through all around.

This trip gave me the chance to think about the different kind of points I see in the field.

In the covers I checked, the woodcock had dispersed. We found a few , but they weren’t bunched up like they had been two weeks ago. Here’s a pic of Puck pointing woodcock:

Puck pointing a woodcock

This next point turned out to be Ruffed Grouse. Right before this point, Puck missed a group of about 4 grouse. They flushed wild. I was a little disappointed, but Puck redeemed herself with this nice point. In this pic, the bird was about 20 yards ahead when I flushed it.

Puck pointing a grouse

Points: the good and bad.

Along with these finds, Puck had some other good points. She also had some bird less ones.

I never know what to make of unproductive points. When Puck has one, I think the birds either flush wild or slip away. Because Puck holds her point, the scent must be strong and she must think the bird is still there.

Other times, Puck’s bell will stop and by the time find her, she’ll be standing instead pointing. This usually happens after it has taken a me a while to find her – say 10 minutes or more. Here’s a picture of her doing this on Saturday:

Unproductive point

When this happens, I’m guessing the bird walked or flew off before I could get there. Or maybe it flushed wild and Puck stopped to point.

Either way, the bird’s scent must be diminished. Puck’s relaxed posture and attitude seem to be saying “Where you been? We sure missed that one.”

The pro that can be a con.

Last fall I hunted with Bob Foshay (, 207-845-3162). He’s an excellent Maine Guide out of Washington, ME, who specializes in upland hunting over pointing dogs.

He noted that Puck is very dependent on me in the field – not a bad things for a hunting dog. When we’re in the field, Puck keeps a close eye on where I am. This is one of the reasons why she such a pleasure to hunt over.

But there is a drawbacks to this: when Puck loses track of me, she stops and looks for me. Because her bell stops, I think she’s on point. And then when I move towards her, she relocates me and continues hunting. When it takes us a long time to find another (like when she’s out 100 yards or so), she’ll stop and wait for me to come and find her.

This behavior used to piss me off. I tried a few things to cure Puck of it: whenever she paused, I whoa-ed her and made her stand until I released her.This didn’t help much and it made our training sessions a real pain. Next, I tried calling to her when she paused. When the bell stopped, I hollered to her, encouraging her to continue hunting. This works well. When she pauses, a holler or two lets her know where I am and she’ll move on. If the pause is really a point, she’ll stay still and I’ll know it’s time for me to go find her.

Our next training session is over Mother’s Day weekend. I’ll post again and let you know how it goes. We are going to run in a trial on May 17th and we’re getting excited.

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