Trial Tuneup – 5/10/08 – One week left!

Well, it’s Sunday night and I’m back in Boston. I was up in Maine over the weekend running Puck around Portland.

The Mid Coast Maine Field Trial is less than a week away. I’m going to run Puck in the Gun Dog Stake on Sunday morning. I’m pretty excited. This is going to be out first field trial.

Spring is starting to show itself in my covers (so are a lot of ticks, too). Here’s one of my spots. You can see how this is a clearcut. I think there used to be white pines in here. Now there are a lot of poplars, plus some poplars and apple trees:

Spring in my coverts

Puck had two nice solid points, both on woodcock. Here’s one of them:

Puck pointing a woodcock

Not bad. Her tail’s a bit low, but she standing up nice and sure.

On this point she was more intense:

Puck pointing a woodcock

Both of these birds were about 1o yards away from her, so I wonder if the scent was weak. On both of these both she was steady to wing and shot (I carry a blank-firing starter pistol with me that I fire on the flush), and she ran hard the full time we were in the field.

We came across two grouse while we were out. I think one of them flushed wild on her, or maybe she bumped it. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say it flushed wild. I heard the bird go and then she stopped. This is how I found her:

Puck stopped, but not pointing.

In these photos you can see all the gear I have on her. I run Puck with a Tracker Radio Collar, a Dogtra Track & Train Collar, and, on most occasions, a Swiss-style bell.

But on this trip, I forget the bell. This meant I had to turn her beeper collar on to keep track of her (normally, I only use the locate/beep function when the cover is real thick). I HATE beeper collars – using one makes me feel like I’m following a dump truck. I find a clanging bell to be much more pleasant. To me, it’s part of the soundtrack of upland hunting.

I wonder how beeper collars affect birds, too. I know people will disagree with me about this, but I swear it drives birds off. I think it spooks birds because it pauses between beeps and then switches to different pattern when a dog points.

A bell rings on a consistent pattern and then stops. This startles a bird and forces it to freeze. Because it does not know where the dog is, it does not want to move or flush and give away its position. That’s my theory, anyway.

Next week I’ll be running Puck in her first field trial. She’ll be wearing a bell then (no beeper/shock collar). I hope my theory works out and things go well.

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