Archive for the ‘Conservation’ Category

All Bird Dogs Should Go to Heaven AND Nebraska

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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Pheasants Forever’s Bob St.Pierre and his late hunting partner, “Izzy,” were very fond of Nebraska’s uplands.

For nostalgic reasons, my most anticipated destination on the road is Nebraska. Over the years, “The Cornhusker State” has been a very fun place for me and my shorthairs.

My oldest shorthair, Trammell, and I have had some of our most epic hunts around

the Open Fields & Waters lands of southwest Nebraska. The incredibly well-managed habitat is as birdie of cover as I’ve ever encountered and the “bunching” of the grasses on these acres creates natural spots for birds to hold tight – perfect for a pointer. During our first-ever Rooster Road Trip back in 2010, Trammell locked up on six consecutive rooster points in an hour. Anthony, Andrew and I were thrilled to slip those birds into our game vests. One of those roosters in particular stands out as unquestionably the best retrieve of Tram’s life. On snowy evenings after the season, I’ve often replayed that field’s hunt, points and retrieves in my mind.

A few years later, I brought my young puppy “Izzy” to Nebraska for her introduction to the Rooster Road Trip.  Six-months old and all puppy, I watched Izzy become a bird dog locking up on a covey of bobwhite quail during our first walk in Nebraska. Magically, I dropped a double out of that covey and Izzy brought them one-by-one back to me. Sadly, Izzy passed on last autumn well before her time.

This year, I’ve got Esky, a new 6-month old puppy, along for the Rooster Road Trip. Esky is Trammell’s niece and Izzy’s half-sister. She was born in Iowa, lives in Minnesota, but I’m optimistic Nebraska will produce a moment with Esky I’ll remember forever.

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Nebraska

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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Wednesday, November 12th

We’ll be hunting in southwest Nebraska near the town of McCook.

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset

Daily Limits: 3 rooster pheasants per day / 12 in possession.  6 quail per day / 24 in possession.  3 sharp-tailed grouse per day / 12 in possession (west of hwy 81).

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.

Public Hunting Land

We’ll be focusing our day’s hunt on Nebraska’s wonderful Open Fields & Waters program.  Through the program, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission in partnership with Pheasants Forever pays private landowners to improve their CRP acres for wildlife and open those acres up for public hunting.  Additionally, Open Fields & Waters also pays landowners in southwest Nebraska a fee to allow walk-in hunting access on tall wheat and milo stubble (at least 15 inches) that is left undisturbed after harvest.  There are roughly 270,000 acres enrolled in the Open Fields & Waters program with approximately 80,000 of those acres located in southwest Nebraska.

Nonresident Licensing

Nebraska Game & Parks Commission offers a full season non-resident small game permit for $81 in tandem with a state Habitat Stamp for an additional $20 to hunt pheasants and quail in the state.  There is also a two-day permit available for $56.  A hunter education certificate number is required.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Nebraska

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 60

Quail Forever Chapters: 3

Pheasants Forever Members: 9,199

Quail Forever Members: 526

Habitat projects completed in Nebraska: 96,698 projects

Total habitat acres improved in Nebraska: 3,782,754 acres

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Kansas

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Tuesday, November 11th (Veterans Day)

We’ll be hunting in north central Kansas near Smith Center.

Pheasant/Quail Season: November 8, 2014 – January 31, 2015

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset

Daily Limits: 4 rooster pheasants per day and 8 bobwhite quail per day.

NOTE: Kansas is the only state with a 4 rooster bag limit!

KS WIHAPublic Hunting Land

We’ve got a trifecta of public land targets in Kansas with a state wildlife area, a national wildlife refuge and WIHA (Walk-In Hunter Area) acres all on our list of prospective spots.  We’ve been told to get ready for quail coveys this year as the area’s bobwhite numbers are on the upswing.

Non-resident Licensing

Non-Resident licenses are $72.50 with a very affordable $2.50 greater prairie chicken permit available as an add-on.  I consider these prices a steal for the amount of public land (more than 1.5 million acres) and mixed bag opportunities available in Kansas.

News & Notes

A recent Associated Press article noted that hunters contribute more than $600 million annually to the state’s economy.

Upland Bird Forecast provided by KDWP&T

Northern High Plains

Pheasant–This region maintained the highest spring densities of pheasants. As a result of delayed wheat harvest and improved weedy cover in this region, production improved, indicated by a nearly 50 percent increase in the brood survey compared to 2013. Despite this increase, the dramatic decline of pheasant populations over the last several years limited the breeding population preventing large-scale recovery. Hunting opportunities should be improved throughout most of this region but the highest densities will be found in the northern half of the region.

Quail– Populations in this region had been increasing prior to the drought; however, the deteriorated habitat conditions associated with the drought resulted in significant declines in production. This area is at the extreme northwestern edge of bobwhite range in Kansas, and densities are relatively low compared to central Kansas. Hunting opportunities in this region will be limited this year but the best areas will be in the eastern and southeastern counties where adequate cover is present.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Kansas

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 38

Quail Forever Chapters: 8

Pheasants Forever Members: 5,544

Quail Forever Members: 1,058

Habitat projects completed in Kansas: 7,946 projects

Total habitat acres improved in Kansas: 210,419 acres

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Recap: Blown Away in Colorado

Monday, November 10th, 2014

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The Colorado of my imagination is painted by herds of elk roaming the Rocky Mountains. In reality, Colorado is a state of dramatic topographical diversity with an agricultural terrain not unlike neighboring Kansas or Nebraska dominating the eastern third.

The state’s primary pheasant range exists in a geographic triangle between the towns of Sterling, Holyoke and Yuma. This land is checkered with corn, wheat and grassy CRP blocks. In fact, Colorado has 1.98 million acres currently enrolled in CRP which is the third highest mark in the country behind only Texas and Kansas

Bob Hix, Pheasants Forever’s regional representative for Colorado, favors hunting walk-in areas of harvested wheat fields in which shin-high stubble has been left as residual cover. Upon our arrival in the state over the weekend, we spent some time hunting these areas, but found only limited success with Pheasants Forever’s Logan Hinners dropping the group’s first Colorado ringneck.

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For the first day of the Team Pointer leg of the Rooster Road Trip, we were joined by a group of representatives from Colorado Parks & Wildlife which included Director Bob Broscheid and Terrestrial Section Manager Craig McLaughlin and his talented trio of German shorthairs. As we pulled into the parking area this morning, a cloudless sun-soaked sky shined 50 degree temps onto our 10 person hunting group. Whenever I hunt in groups this large, I’m always concerned about safety. To this gathering’s credit, every hunter was diligent about safety to the point of being overly polite when the first rooster cackled to the sky at 20 yards in front of the center of our line. It was that Colorado pheasant’s lucky day with every gun’s muzzle safely pointed straight up and every safety firmly engaged in each hunter’s hand. The second rooster must have figured his chances as good as the first and he was right.  Even the third rooster flushed without a shot fired. Finally Ed Gorman, a Pheasants Forever chapter member and Parks & Wildlife employee, swung on a fourth rooster that was not to be so lucky as the first three pardoned birds.

By the time we returned to the parking area, temperatures had plummeted 25 degrees and winds had grown to a steady 30 miles per hour with gusts somewhere just shy of almost knocking us over. Winter was coming to Colorado and we were squarely in its path.

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After a few fruitless efforts to push walk-in areas along the state’s eastern border with Kansas, the wind pushed us back to our trucks in retreat. The downside of our Rooster Road Trip is the need to keep moving to the next destination. Colorado is a state with tremendous sunsets, topographical beauty and wonderfully nice people. It’s a pheasant destination worth spending more than 24 hours trying to figure out.  Count me and my pointers in for a return Colorado connection.

Total Productive Points Today: 13

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip Refresher

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

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Welcome aboard the Rooster Road Trip for the second half of this year’s adventure.  If you’re new to the Rooster Road Trip or Pheasants Forever, here are the Top 5 things you need to know.

  1. The Messenger Hunters.  Anthony, Andrew, Elsa and I are avid bird hunters who have the good fortune of being employed by Pheasants Forever.  We are not professional hunters, expert dog trainers or members of any company’s pro staff.  Some shots we make, some shots we miss.  We’re just like the average pheasant hunter.  We are, however, expert communicators of Pheasants Forever’s mission who have set out to tell the story of how membership in Pheasants Forever leads to quality wildlife habitat and publicly accessible hunting lands.  Thank you for checking out our videos, photos, blogs and tweets along the way.
  2. Public Lands Only.  All hunting along the trip is done exclusively on lands open to public hunters.  Sure we’ve been invited to private honey holes, but that’s not the point of the Rooster Road Trip.  Our mission is to demonstrate that anyone with a desire to lace up their Irish Setter boots and follow a good bird dog can find roosters on public land made possible through Pheasants Forever and our partners.  Our travels include Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs), Public Lands Open to Sportsmen (PLOTS), Walk In Hunter Access (WIHA), Open Fields & Waters program, and many other programs turning habitat into opportunity.
  3. Sponsors Riding Shotgun.  Every good road trip requires a trusty navigator to help pay for gas and spin a good yarn when eyes grow windshield-weary.  Thanks to Apple Autos, Browning, Garmin, Irish Setter, Zeiss, Leer and Federal Premium Ammunition, we have seven featured sponsors who have contributed generously to our conservation cause in the form of dollars, prize giveaways and gear to review.  We also are pleased to have North Dakota Tourism, Explore Minnesota, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission along as day sponsors.
  4. Win a Browning Citori.  Every person that joins or renews a Pheasants Forever membership through the exclusive Rooster Road Trip membership link will receive a chance on a brand new Browning Citori 725 field 20 gauge over/under shotgun.  Additionally, all Rooster Road Trip memberships come with a year’s subscription to the Pheasants Forever Journal, Pheasants Forever vehicle decal and a special gift from Browning.
  5. Effectively Efficient.  One of the facts I’m most proud about as a Pheasants Forever employee is our ability to convert our members’ dollars into our wildlife habitat mission.  In fact since the organization’s formation in 1982, Pheasants Forever has been able to turn more than 91 cents of every dollar into more habitat.  You’ll also be comforted to know that national charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, also gives us their highest rating.

Jump on in and ride along.  There is plenty of room in the truck!  Follow the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

 VIDEO: Rooster Road Trip 2014 Teaser

 

Sponsors

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

 

Rooster Road Trip Preview – Team Pointer in Colorado

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Monday, November 10th

We’ll be hunting in Colorado’s famed pheasant golden triangle located between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Shooting Hours: 30 minutes before sunrise till sunset

Daily Pheasant Limits: 3 rooster pheasants per day / 9 in possession.

Mixed Bag Potential: we’ll be hunting where we may run into some bobwhite quail.  Daily bag is 8 quail with 24 in possession.

Nonresident Licensing

Colorado Parks & Wildlife offers an easy online license purchasing experience and it is one of the most affordable pheasant destinations for the traveling wingshooter.  A daily small game one day non-resident license costs $10 with an additional $10 habitat stamp.  A second day can be added for a mere $5 more.  One special note unique to Colorado is that they do require you to have your Hunters Safety Certificate on you unless that card has been verified at a CPW office.  Once verified, hunters are in the system and are no longer required to carry their certificate in the field.

Future Chukars

One other note of interest: Colorado has chukar hunting opportunities on the west slope and has recently started an introduction program up the Poudre Canyon on the front range (this area is currently closed for hunting).  Although we won’t have chukar opportunities on this hunting trip, it will soon provide a unique hunt for the traveling upland hunter in the future.

Colorado’s most productive pheasant country is the triangular area between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Colorado’s most productive pheasant country is the triangular area between Holyoke, Sterling and Yuma.

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Colorado

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 16

Pheasants Forever Members: 3,372

Pheasants Forever Expenditures in Colorado: $11.6 Million

Habitat projects completed by Pheasants Forever in Colorado: 8,412 projects

Total habitat acres improved by Pheasants Forever chapters in Colorado: 104,929 acres

Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists in Colorado have also improved 531,859 acres

Grand Total: 636,788 acres improved by Pheasants Forever in Colorado!

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Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Rooster Road Trip: Great Plains Pointing Dog Primer

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it's at!

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it’s at! Photo by Bob St.Pierre / Pheasants Forever

As the most senior (aka oldest) member of the Rooster Road Trip, I had the advantage of picking the states I wanted to hunt with Team Pointer prior to Team Flusher’s selection.  So, my Catholic upbringing necessitates that I come clean about the advantages I weighed when factoring in my decision to select the Great Plains destinations of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska over states with arguably higher concentrations of roosters.

1) Winter is Coming: Four inches of snow fell on Wednesday night just 40 miles north of my home in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. While I consider myself a hearty Northwood’s hunter who isn’t afraid of a cold hunt, given my choice, I’d hunt 40 degree sunshine soaked days all season long. Can you blame me? After last winter’s recurring “polar vortexes” put Minnesota into 30 below zero deep freezes, I’m guilty of making autumn last as long as possible. Advantage: Pointers

2) Chasing Openers: I love opening day of the season. To me, a state’s pheasant hunting opener is more exciting than Christmas morning. So why not celebrate opening week with our Pheasants Forever brethren in Colorado and Kansas? Admittedly, this stacks the odds significantly in our favor over Team Flusher considering Andrew, Anthony and the gang hunted states with openers weeks ago. There is no secret to the science behind there being more roosters in the field on opening weekend than will be around to be chased three weeks later. Advantage: Pointers

3) Walking vs. Busting.  I’ll be the first to admit a Labrador retriever, or similar flushing breed, is a better pheasant dog in the birdie cattail sloughs of Minnesota and the Dakotas. My GSPs and my 5’7” frame would choose the rolling plains of Kansas any day of the week over getting our butts whipped by the thick thermal cover of the north. Matching a dog’s style with habitat puts both groups in their preferred situation. Advantage: Push

4) Mixed Bags.  Have you ever walked up on a dog on point expecting a rooster to cackle to the sky only to have a covey of 14 bobwhite quail rise and whirl like bumblebees all around you?  Nine times out of ten, I’ll empty the Citori without anything falling. But, on that tenth time, on that tenth time when you bag a double. Talk about a bird hunting high! Throw in the possibility of greater prairie chickens to our bag and the advantage is obviously ours. Advantage: Pointers

All right pointing dog lovers, what other advantages will Team Pointer have over the Flushers in the week to come?

Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre and listen to Bob and Billy Hildebrand every Saturday morning on FAN Outdoors radio on KFAN FM100.3.

Minnesota Preview – Flushers Gain Home Field Advantage on Day 3 of Rooster Road Trip

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Members with Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever pose at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Management Area, an upland project which the chapter contributed to, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2012.

Members with Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever pose at the Rolling Hills Wildlife Management Area, an upland project which the chapter contributed to, with Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton at the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in 2012.

Home field advantage is on our minds this evening as we travel through the night from South Dakota to our resident state of Minnesota. The work being done by chapters in the southwestern part of Minnesota is nothing short of incredible- land acquisition and wildlife habitat projects completed by our devoted chapters span across most counties near the city of Marshall. Pheasant hunting is a tradition for the Lyon County Pheasants Forever members who will be joining us tomorrow, and we are looking forward to our time afield with these individuals- many of which have been part of Pheasants Forever since 1982.

Our sponsor for day three of the 2014 Rooster Road Trip is Explore Minnesota- an organization dedicated to all things Minnesotan. Looking at a list of the “20 Reasons to Explore Minnesota” on their website this evening, #19 (in no particular order) on the list is “Wonderful Wildlife.” The work done by Pheasants Forever in Minnesota contributes to this notion, and with some luck, we hope to prove their list correct with roosters in our game pouch.

If you’re looking for additional reasons to visit MN for a hunting trip in the future , check out the wing shooting story on the Explore Minnesota website for more information on starting your own Rooster Road Trip in the state!

Wednesday, November 5th

We’ll be hunting in Minnesota’s southwest corner with the Lyon County Chapter of Pheasants Forever based in Marshall, Minn. In addition to the Rooster Road Trip crew, five committee members from the local chapter will be joining us for the hunt.

Season Dates: October 11, 2014 through January 4, 2015
Daily Bag Limit: 2; changes to 3 on December 1, 2014 through end of season
Possession Limit: 6; changes to 9 on December 1, 2014 through end of season
Field Notes: The highest pheasant counts were in the southwest, south-central and west-central regions, where observers reported 28 to 62 birds per 100 miles driven. Hunters will find good harvest opportunities in these areas.

Non-resident Licensing

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a convenient website to purchase your non-resident hunting license, view hunting regulations, and read pheasant hunting prospects across the state. Non-residents will pay both a small game fee ($103) and pheasant stamp ($7.50) to hunt the entire season, with 72-hour licenses also available ($75).

Pheasants Forever’s Impact in Minnesota

Pheasants Forever Chapters: 74

Pheasants Forever Members: 24,336

Pheasants Forever Expenditures in Minnesota: $67 Million

Habitat projects completed by Pheasants Forever in Minnesota: 26,390 projects

Total habitat acres improved by Pheasants Forever chapters in Minnesota: 240,958 acres

Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Online Editor.  Follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF or email Anthony at AHauck@PheasantsForever.Org.

Is Your Bird Dog Checking You Out?

Friday, October 31st, 2014

FlyBy

Some dogs will check in naturally, but if not, check-ins are something you and your dog can work on. Photo courtesy of Gander Mountain

One of the most important skills I teach my hunting dogs is to get them to keep an eye out for me and not the other way around.

I purchased my first gun dog in the mid-1980s and trained him myself, with the help of books and friends. I didn’t use e-collars (they first became available in the late 1960s). I wanted my dogs to obey the old fashioned way, without electronics. I’m now a regular e-collar user early season, but by mid-season my dog usually doesn’t need it and I take it off. Further, I’d rather not use it then. Going without just simplifies my life and my dog is more at ease. Those springers are sensitive.

But even with an e-collar, it’s better to get a dog to ‘fly bys’ on its own than for me to be constantly wondering if he’s running off and having to reel him in. Besides, I need to focus on other things, like looking for birds and being ready to shoot.

Fly Bys

The other day I was talking with some co-workers here at Pheasants Forever about the fly by. A fly by to me is when a dog while hunting regularly, without prompting from its owner, makes a visual run by his master. A fly by lets me know the dog is staying within shooting range and not running out too far, that he’s keeping pace with me and we are working together as a team. I suppose the dog, at least my dogs, want to keep track of me too. This is especially true when hunting in a group because it’s easy for a dog to lose track of its master. Many times my dog has run up to the wrong hunter, thinking it was me. We all pretty much look alike, after all…men with guns in blaze orange.

I’ve never taught the fly by. My dogs just do it on their own. I suppose this comes about because of earlier training to teach them to stick with me afield, be it a walk, training or hunting. Voluntary sticking in is crucial because a dog can outdistance us very easily and quickly. An out of control dog is a lost or potentially dead dog. There’s no way we can keep up with a running dog, so we must train them to stick with us.

Hide-N-Seek

For me, training a dog never ends. It starts with using a check cord during puppyhood. But once you turn a dog loose, it’s very tempting for them to run off. I’ll put a dog in its kennel before letting it run off and bust birds out of range. There’s no greater sin afield in my book.

A new dog is insecure about ranging too far for too long because of its early training with the lead, e-collar, whistle and his master’s voice. But once a dog is turned loose to hunt, it’s best if it realizes staying in range and checking in is routine. A relaxed dog and master hunt better when they have confidence in each other.

I’ve noticed with my springers, and I’m no professional trainer, that they do the automatic fly by after about three to four years of hunting. They understand that they can have their ‘head’ and yet stay in contact with their master and not get in trouble. Giving a dog ‘its head’ is an old horse riding term which means dropping the reins and giving a horse its head to run wide open.

I love it when a dog finally ‘gets’ the fly by because then both of us are free to focus more on the task at hand….hunting, shooting and retrieving birds. Every dog is different and therefore reacts to me, its training and hunting in a somewhat different way. I adjust to their individuality.

I also reinforce voice, whistle and check cord training with another tactic I learned from an old hunting buddy. If while working or training my dog off-leash the dog starts to get out of range or out of sight, I hide from them. I run the other way and hide. Nothing freaks out most dogs more than losing their pack mate, because that’s how dogs view us.

I’ll run the other direction and hide upwind so they have to work their nose and not their eyes or ears to find me. I climb trees to get out of scent and sight. This behavior has a very important effect on a dog: it forces him to keep an eye out for me….and not vice versa. Now, I’ve seen one of my dogs take this tactic a little too hard and stick too close to me afterwards, but after 10-15 minutes with encouragement, he’ll start ranging more appropriately. Repeat as necessary.

Pack Mates and Teammates

Of course, if a dog is doing something seriously wrong such as running into a road, chasing down young birds off-season or chasing deer, I’ll employ the e-collar tout de suite until he gets the message.

I had one hard-headed springer that didn’t take the hide-n-seek lesson too seriously, so I made greater efforts to hide from him and he eventually got the message. After all, the dog is not only facing losing his pack mate, but also its source of food and shelter. That’s a big motivation to stick in with the master.

Most of all, I just spend time with my dog and observe him closely, get to know him and how he ticks, and he does the same with me. I adjust my training according to what works best to make us ‘one’ afield. There’s nothing better than when dog and hunter work as one, seamlessly, with little talking, whistles or e-prompts. Often a look or gesture is all that’s needed with a seasoned team to get where we’re going. Such synchronicity strikes an ancient chord for me, as with the dog, a chord first played between man and dog so long ago we’ve forgotten the words, but not the tune. It’s sweet music indeed.

Mark Herwig is editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at mherwig@pheasantsforever.org.

Refresh & Conserve With Pepsi-Cola of Mitchell, S.D.

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

PF.Pepsi

Pepsi-Cola of Mitchell is proud to partner with Pheasants Forever for the Refresh & Conserve program.  Pepsi will donate 5 cents to Pheasants Forever for every Pepsi 20oz bottle sold between October 1, 2014 and November 31, 2014 in the Mitchell, Pierre, Huron and Chamberlain, S.D. areas.

Pheasants are an important part of the South Dakota economy and Pheasants Forever is focused on working with state conservation policy leaders to enhance upland habitat for long-term sustainability of pheasant hunting traditions. All proceeds will be used at a local level to help improve South Dakota’s pheasant habitat.

“As an avid outdoorsman, I’m excited to help launch the Refresh & Conserve program and contribute to one of my favorite hobbies, pheasant hunting,” said Michael Shinstine, Pepsi-Cola of Mitchell. “I know pheasant hunting plays an important role in the South Dakota economy. I look forward to working with our local communities and giving back to a cause that I am so passionate about.”

Field Notes are compiled by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.