Great dog photos you’ll really want to see…

Maisey, © Craig Koshyk Photography
Maisey, © Craig Koshyk Photography
Souris-Manon © Craig Koshyk Photography
Souris-Manon © Craig Koshyk Photography
French Spaniel © Craig Koshyk Photography
French Spaniel © Craig Koshyk Photography

Craig Koshyk is a great researcher and writer. He’s also a skilled. The pics you see here are just a few of the fantastic shots you’ll see when you visit his site: Craig Koshyk Photography.

And if you love hunting dogs, you need to follow Craig’s Pointing Dog Blog and pick up a copy of his book: Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals

All pics © Craig Koshyk Photography

Eyes or nose –which one is your pup relying on?

Eyes or Nose--which one is your pup using?
Eyes or Nose–which one is your pup using?

Every pup is different. Martha Greenlee at Steady with Style writes that one of the big differences is how pups learns to find birds. Some start with their eyes. Others discover the power of their noses right away. Greenlees believes these differences can send pups down diverging paths the rest of their lives. Read why in her latest from Steady with Style:

“Have you noticed how differently pups Steady with Style, from Martha Greenleerun? Some pups reach for the horizon and chase anything that flies. Other pups work at a closer range, use the wind and point when they find birds. These differences have a lot to do with whether they use their eyes or their nose.”

You can read the entire post here.

Let’s go hunting with Dave Brown Outfitters…

Dave Brown Outfitters is a upland hunting and fly fishing outfit that offers trips through the northwestern US. Check out these videos to see a little of his work. From what I can see, he has real nice dogs. Best of all, he knows how to out them into wild birds.

My review of Pointing Dogs Volume One: The Continentals…

Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals

If you follow this blog, you know how much I love Craig Koshyk’s book Pointing Dogs: Volume One: The Continentals. Here’s a review of it that I wrote a little while ago. It was published in July/August 2012 edition of Shooting Sportsman magazine:

I’m selfish with my time, and the older I grow the worse I get. This makes me reluctant to pick up most new books I come across. I wonder if they’ll be worth the time they’ll take to read.

Pointing Dogs: Volume One: The Continentals by Craig Koshyk is a big book with a big title, and at first this title worried me. It sounds a lot like the other breed bibles out there. Fortunately, Koshyk’s book isn’t anything like them. Part history lesson, part guide, and part love letter, Pointing Dogs is one of the finest books about hunting dogs that I’ve ever read.

Passion is what makes Pointing Dogs so worthwhile. Early on in the book Koshyk writes “We will always love our pointing dogs, and through them, forever seek a closer connection to the natural world,” and “Hunting over them (pointing dogs) is about pleasing the senses and soothing the soul.” Koshyk loves bird dogs and bird hunting, and his ardor makes this work glows. What follows in the book is as much a tribute to pointing dogs as it is a tribute to all the ways they enrich our lives.

Accuracy is an crucial part of this tribute. Instead of just recycling old breed standards and previously published information (much of which is incorrect), Koshyk spent twelve years doing original research for this book. Crisscrossing Europe with a notebook, camera and credit card, he talked to breeders, attended field trials, and hunted behind the breeds in his book.

Today, Koshyk is probably the only person in the world to have seen every one of the continental pointing breeds in action, in their native lands. This gives Pointing Dogs an impressive authority. When Koshyk writes that the Pachon Navorro (nicknamed the Double-Nosed Spanish Pointer) “…showed a good degree of desire, hunting hard despite the thick, thorny cover,” you know he didn’t just read that on the Web or in some out-of-date field guide. He actually traveled to Guadalajara, Spain, and saw Pachon Navorros in the field. This commitment comes through on every one Pointing Dogs, and it’s a big part of what make the book so special.

The three-hundred-and-sixty-five pages in Pointing Dogs go over a lot. To keep the book readable, Koshyk breaks it into six sections. First is “Pointing Dogs,” which covers the origins and history of these animals. The next two sections – “South and West” and “North and East” – detail current Continental breeds. Next there’s “Outliers,” which is about pointers at the edges of Europe, and then “Lost and Forgotten” discusses extinct breeds. At the end is “Appendices,” which includes everything from how to select a breed and dog to comparisons in sizes, gaits, populations, and more.

In all, Pointing Dogs covers 52 breeds from Europe and into Turkey and Russia. Koshyk writes about each dog’s history, form, function, and character. He also details the pointer’s selection & breeding prospects, and gives his opinion of each dog’s hunting ability.

There’s information about dogs we’ve heard about, like German Wirehair Pointers, and about dogs few people have seen, like the Saint-Usage Spaniel. Koshyk judges each breed with an understanding of how different dogs have been bred to hunt in different ways, while still holding to an objective standard of what it takes to be a good gun dog.

The handiest part of the breed reviews is a synopsis called “At A Glance”. It outlines the breed’s Pros and Cons and includes a useful little blurb called the “Risk Profile”. Buying a hunting dog is a gamble, and when you bet on any of the rarer breeds presented in this book, the odds against getting a good one for the field can really grow. The Risk Profile accounts for this phenomenon. It’s good to see that Koshyk is knowledgeable enough about hunting dogs to include this and responsible enough as a writer to report on it.

Beautiful, full-color pictures are another impressive part of Pointing Dogs. Koshyk is just as talented with a camera as he is with a pen, and page after page of his book come to life with photos of the dogs he writes about. This mean Pointing Dogs is rewarding to study and just plain fun to flip through and admire.

Early on in his book Koshyk explains what drove him to put the time, money, and effort into creating Pointing Dogs: Volume One: The Continentals. “If I wanted to read a book that did not exist,” he says, “I’d have to write it myself.” I’m glad he did, and I’m happy to spend time reading it again and again. If you love bird dogs, you will be, too.

Hunting Dogs for Sale, from

Years ago, I used to hunt birds without a dog. Today I wouldn’t dream of it. If you’re in the market for a new four legged companion, here are some listings worth checking out from

Where did pointing dogs come from, anyway?

Elhew Pointers
Elhew Pointers

Have you ever wondered about the history of pointing dogs? For the story, here’s a fascinating piece I recommend from Craig Koshyk’s excellent Pointing Dog Blog:

The History of the Pointing Dog, Part 1: Origins

“On June 16th, 2009 American President Barack Obama appeared in a televised interview. About half way into the program, a fly began buzzing about his head as he was answering a question. Despite repeated attempts to scare it away, the very persistent fly eventually landed on the President’s hand. Ed Pilkington, writing in the next day’s edition of the English newspaper the Guardian, described Mr. Obama’s reaction:

His body went rigid and he cast his eyes down toward the fly that had settled on his left hand. At this point he looked swathed in the stillness that comes from absolute concentration…

Then, with lighting speed, the President swatted the fly and exclaimed, “I got the sucker!” Naturally, the rather humorous event was reported around the world. I saw it on the evening news and watched it again on You Tube the next day. But it wasn’t the swift presidential action that caught my attention. It was what Mr. Obama did immediately before he swatted the fly…” Read all of The History of the Pointing Dog, Part 1: Origins

Forcing the issue…

Force-fetch training goes by many names: force breaking, force retrieving, conditioned retrieve, etc. While the techniques that fall under these names vary a bit (here’s the right way to do it), the desired results are the same: to produce a soft-mouthed dog that retrieves to hand on command. Oddly, it’s a training technique that’s used a lot on labradors and other retrievers.

Puck retrieving a grouse
Puck retrieving a grouse

It’s also used more and more in the pointer world, especially on English Pointers and English Setters. While plenty of people agree with using it, not everyone thinks Forced Fetch is the best way to go. The folks at Superior Pointers are in this “not everyone” camp. You can read why by checking out this thoughtful article article from their website.


Field Trial this weekend in Mass…

Meat dog vs. Field Trial Dog. It’s a debate you hear all the time. Of course, the first step to an informed opinion on the subject is to see an actual field trial.

Field Trial
Field Trial

So if you live in the eastern Massachusetts area, here’s the listing for the Setter Club of New England’s trial this weekend. It’s being held at the FA Crane Management Area, Falmouth, MA.

This trial is open to setter, pointers, and to any other breed of pointing dog. It’s being run on liberated quail and native woodcock.

FYI: Dog entered in Saturday’s Classic and Sunday’s Amateur Shooting Dog stake needs to rock steady to wing and shot.

March 31-April 1, 2012. Starts 7 a.m. daily

7 a.m. – PHIL FOGG CLASSIC (45 min.)
7 a.m. – OPEN PUPPY (20 min.)

AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG (30 min). Starts at completion of Classic, but not before Sunday at 7 a.m.
7 a.m. AMATEUR PUPPY (20 min.)
AMATEUR DERBY (30 min.) follow sAmateur Puppy)

GROUNDS: FA Crane Management Area, Falmouth, MA. From Bourne Bridge, take Route 28 South to Route 151 East and follow signs. Lunch served daily. Use of tracking collars and scouting on horseback is permitted. However, handlers must provide collar and make own scouting arrangements.

Creating superior grouse dogs…

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.

Puck Pointing
Puck Pointing

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…”

I encourage you to read the rest.


Breed of the Week: The Pachón Navarro

The Pachón Navarro, a Spanish pointing dog
Double-barrel nose on a Pachón Navarro

I’m interested in side by sides — that’s pretty obvious. So when I came across the Pachón Navarros, a  Spanish pointing dog with a double barrel nose, I was intrigued.

According to Craig Koshyk’s Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals, the Pachón Navarros trace back to the very first sporting breeds to appear around the Pyrenees Mountains, way back in the 13th century. The dogs almost disappeared in the early 20th century, but today a growing group of hunters and enthusiasts are rebuilding the breed.

You can go hear to read more about Pachón Navarros. And for the full story, along with tons of great info on a lot more hunting dogs, pick up a copy of Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals today.

The Pachón Navarro
A Pachón Navarro in the field

Introducing Breed of the Week…

Over the last 12 years Craig Koshyk has been on a mad pursuit. You should thank him. Koshyk has dedicated thousands of hours and even more $$$$ to create a beautiful new book titled Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals.

Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals
Buy this book now

You’re probably thinking breed book, great (eyes rolling, fight back a yawn). But please understand this: Pointing Dogs is much, much more than that.

While it is filled with original research on 52+ breeds, Pointing Dogs book is as much about Koshyk’s passion for these dogs as it is about their ancestry, coat colors, and hunting styles. This passion is what makes the book such a great read.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to feature a bit about each breed in the book: one dog a week, 52 weeks. To get the full story behind these dogs, purchase a copy Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals for yourself.

BTW: I want to ask you for a favor: Spread the word about this book. Email your buddies. Talk it up. Give it as a gift and buy multiple copies for yourself. This will help Koshyk complete his next book — Pointing, Dogs Volume Two: The British Pointing Dogs.

Time for a check-cord check up…

What could be simple than a check cord? It’s just a chunk of rope. You attach it to your dog and train away. Of course,  it’s not that simple. There are right and wrong ways to use this training essential. Here are a couple articles that point out some of those dos and don’t. If you’re training a bird dog, both are worth a read.

2” x 30’ Pro-Trainer Check Cord
2” x 30’ Pro-Trainer Check Cord

Understanding the Check Cord, by Martha Greenless, from Steady with Style.

“Sometimes the more simple the tool, the harder it is to understand. The human mind seems to like making simple things more complicated. Maybe simple is more complicated. Take the check-cord. There are few pieces of training equipment as simple, yet this short piece of rope is the single most important tool you will own, and it is vastly misunderstood. Unlike a leash where the dog walks next to you, a dog should hunt in front of you while walking on the check-cord…”

You can read the complete post here.

The Checkcord, from, the official site for Rick Smith, Inc.

“…In every dog’s training, there comes a time to ask the dog to work out away from us at a distance. This is best accomplished gradually and in small steps using a valuable tool called the check cord. Using a check cord gives us control over our dog’s movement at an increasing distance, reinforcing how and where we want the dog to work when hunting in front of us. This is simply an extension of the previous step, the command lead. If the lead work was done thoroughly and correctly, and we’ve developed a point of contact on the dog’s neck, then the check cord work will go easily. If it does not, it means more time is needed on the lead and development of the cue on the neck…”

You can read the rest of it here.

Woodcock season is just 9 months away…

Woodcock season is a long way away. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about them. They should be back up my way in just 6 weeks. I’m looking forward to welcoming them home. Until then, here are a few nice videos to enjoy. Here’s to Timberdoodles.

Nice dog work here:

I like hearing her say Woodcock:

Aerial dancing, very cool: