Hunting objectives, or what it means to have brains…

How smart is your dog? As humans, we like to think that we are the smartest creatures out there. Or at least I like to think we are. In some ways, I’m probably right (I don’t see dolphins doing calculus). But humans have done enough dumb things to make you wonder where we stand in the brains hierarchy (making Jersey Shore a hit TV show, backing Tea Party candidates, etc).

One of the things field-trial people talk about is a dog having the ability to hunt objectives. An intelligent pointer or setter shouldn’t work a covert in mechanical pattern, casting back and forth mindlessly in front of a hunter. Instead, they should be smart enough to seek out birdy-looking spots, or “objectives,” and hunt them on their own. Because they’re pointers, they can move ahead of the hunter and find birds. When they go on point, they should hold the birds until the hunter shows up for the flush and shot. Fair enough. But what does hunting objectives look like in real life? How does it work? I’m glad you asked. Check out this series of pictures.

I took these a couple of weeks ago when Puck and I were out chasing woodcock. This first pic is from a little spot on the southeast corner of our covert. This is facing southeast. To our back is the corn field and birdy  “objective” in the next photo. Puck just cleared this spot when this series of photos started.

Our starting point, an OK spot for spring woodcock
Our starting point, an OK spot for spring woodcock

In this photo you can see the corn field that stood between us and the birdy spot about 150 yards away. The corn field was a dead zone to us, so there was no reason for Puck to mess around with it.

Open ground between the likely spot and more cover
Open ground between the likely spot and a birdy spot or "objective"

Instead, she shot right across in a straight line and heading for the birdy area on the other side. And she did this all on her own, with no direction from me.

Puck covering the dead ground on her way to the objective
Puck covering the dead ground on her way to the objective

 

Here you can see how she has made it across the field and she’s heading over to a birdier looking spot.

Puck hitting the objective and heading into a birdy area
Puck hitting the objective and heading into a birdy area

 

 

 

 

 

And here you can see success–a point. This one turned out to be a grouse.

Puck pointing a grouse at the objective
Success! Puck pointing a grouse at the objective.

 

 

 

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