My first bird dog was a Brittany spaniel. He knew a bit more about bird huntign than I did, but together, we still had almost no idea what we were doing.
Years later, I was getting back into bird hunting and dogs and I was interested in a Springer. An ad in Pointing Dogs Journal led me to visit with a breeder near me who had some Pointers. We took a few of them out for a run and I was hooked. They were they most incredible dogs I had ever seen.
Looking back on that day, I realize it was the Pointer’s athleticism that thrilled and excited me. Watching then run and leap is an impressive experience. I took these photos at a local beach. It was a low-tide sunrise–something I try to always take advantage of–and Lexi, Sky, and I had a great morning.
I never set out to be a Pointer guy. Back before I got Puck (my first pointer), I had never even seen one, except for in books and magazines. Then one day I was flipping through an issue of the Pointing Dog Journal, and I noticed an add from a Pointer breeder near me.
“Perhaps no other breed of bird dog has had more selective breeding based solely on their performance in the field than pointers. Even so, pointers are also excellent hunting companions and house pets.
In addition to our English setters, Jerry and I always have owned pointers. We’ve bred, trained, competed and lived with them for more than 20 years and are now producing our fifth generation.”
You can’t hunt on Sundays in Maine, but you can run a bird dog. So Lexi and I made it out this AM for a little photo safari/training run. Lexi hit birds the first place we stopped, and in about 45 minutes she pointed 2 grouse and 2 woodcock.
I saw the grouse flush wild before I could get all the way to Lexi’s point. The same thing happened with one of the woodcock. I flushed the second woodcock out from under a perfect point. Talk about proud.
I can tell Lexi is still figuring out how to handle these birds, and she may have pressured the first three a bit too much. Compared to how she did yesterday, she’s learning fast. With a little luck, I should kill her first wild bird for her tomorrow.
Here’s another video from Ross Callaway. Until this pointer blinked, I thought I was looking at a still image of rock-solid hunting dog covered in red dust. Then I realized what was going on – and saw just how steady this dog is. It’s nice to see a dog that’s trained to this level.
The folks at Superior Pointers love fine grouse dogs from Robert Wehle’s incomparable Elhew Pointers, and they’re dedicated to improving this fine line of shooting dogs. Part of the improvement process includes breeding the best dogs they can find. Another crucial part is learning what goes it takes to create a fine bird dogs, from breeding to raising and training
If you’re picking up a pup this spring, you owe it to your new pal to read this piece from Superior Pointers about raising a young dog. The first 9 months of a gun dog’s life are crucial, and the advice in this article gives a lot of insights into how you can make sure your pup gets the most out of this time.
“The new puppy arriving at your home has been abruptly uprooted from a known, comfortable environment and the companionship of siblings, and immersed in a completely foreign setting. He is confronted by, and must adjust to, new sights, sounds, food, people, and often dogs. This can be a very intimidating situation for an eight to ten week old pup, the age at which most new prospects are acquired.
Puppies, therefore, require lots of attention – the more, the better. They need to be introduced to their new family, new home and/or kennel, car rides, and other dogs in a manner which ensures a safe, positive experience. It is extremely important that your puppy not be subjected to loud noises or other frightening – to a puppy – situations. He needs to feel that he is at the center of the universe, and in an exciting, wonderful, safe place. This early socialization is vitally important in shaping your pup’s personality. How it is handled will have long lasting implications for you and your gun dog. As Joan Bailey notes in How to Help Gun Dogs Train Themselves, “How a dog is brought along during the first months of life will largely determine his future as a useful gun dog…”
HiFive Kennels in Beulah, MI, turns out some great looking English Pointers. Check out this short video to see one of them. It’s a young male named Chet. Notice how dynamic he is and how easily he handles. Also notice that he’s not wearing an e-collar.
I’ve never met Mark and Kathy Wendling, but I know we share a passion for grouse dogs. The Wendlings own Superior Pointers and I’ve learned a lot about the ins-and-outs of Elhew Pointers from their website.
The site’s Rambling Thoughts section features 13 short articles of interest to anyone with a passion for bird dogs and upland hunting. Wing On A String is one of the pieces you’ll find there. Concise and to the points, it’s knowledgeable, opinionated, and typical of the kind articles you’ll find on the site. Here are the first two sentences.
“There is a fairly widely held misconception that puppies are “trained” to point birds by being encouraged to sight point a game bird wing on a string, manipulated with a stick or fishing pole. This belief is categorically false…”
My dog’s tail says a lot. A couple of weeks ago Puck and I were hunting in Maine and we got into a bunch of grouse. Over almost 2 hours Puck had 6-7 solid points (not including follow ups).
I snapped a few pics of her and later as I was thinking back on things I wondered what Puck’s tail and body position were telling me about each point and situation.
A couple things about the scenting conditions: It was about 40 degrees out, no real air movement, and the ground was moist to wet; there had been a hard frost in the AM and the sky had been cloudless all day; we were hunting the last few hours of the day.
In this first pic, Puck’s pointing a group of 4-5 grouse. The birds were about 20 yards ahead of her, feeding under some apple trees. While it looks Puck caught the scent high in the air, her tail is showing some diffidence. She’s not 100% sure of the situation, and I’m not sure why.
This next point was a single bird, located on low ground in a mix of poplars, cedars, and spruces. The bird seem to be running to Puck’s left, and from the time I spotted her to the time I took this pic, her head turned 45 degrees. This time, her low, crooked tail shows even more diffidence. I released Puck and she relocated this bird after a few minutes. The second point was fifty+ yards away from the first.
The third pic is of a single grouse in cover crowded with poplars and cedars. Again, Puck’s tail is low and hooked. Her head, ear and body indicate a positive contact with solid scent, but for some reason she’s not 100% sure of it. This bird flushed pretty far out — 40+ yards — so maybe the scent was dissipating and this caused her to loose confidence in it?
Overall, I’m thinking that these grouse/points had a one big thing in common. The birds were moving away from Puck. This may have caused the scent to diminish, or shift. Maybe that’s why she wasn’t 100% convinced of the grouse’s location.
Anyone else have any ideas? I’d love to hear them.
BTW: if you’re wondering how many birds we killed, the answer’s zero. I’m a shitty shot.
We were inspired. After watching the video of Sugar duck hunting, Puck and I headed out into the woods to do the same thing on grouse. With a little GoPro video camera to her collar, off Puck went.
-We were on a grouse pretty quickly. You can see the whole thing in the video below.
Puck goes on point at about 3:20.
-You can see the grouse at about 4:31. It’s at the top of the screen, at about twelve o’clock. Look for a black, pigeon-shaped shadow on the ground. The grouse is moving from left to right, strutting its head up and down.
-The grouse flushes at about 5:32. It goes up and away. It’s a pretty mellow flush, not one of those explosive, thundering exits that grouse are so famous for.
There are 10 puppies there. I wonder if one of them is a future Grand National Grouse Champion? They certainly have the breeding.
Ace won the National Amateur Grouse Championsip and the International Amateur Woodcock Championships in 2003 as a derby. Leibotschaner has both derby and shooting dog placements. Together, those parents have the potential to turn out some fantastic bird dogs.
BTW: Craig Doherty is the publisher and editor of Field Trial Magazine. If you’re into bird dogs and field trials, it’s a must read. Check it out.
This clip is taken from a couple of video produced a while ago called Wing & Shot. I have both of these videos and they’re pretty good.
In this video you get to see Bob Wehle, founder of the famous Elhew line of English Pointers, along with Earl Crangle and Dick Shear. Early and Dick are also pretty famous guys in the field trial world and they both trained a lot of great dogs.