Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Dog of the Day: “Elmer”

Thursday, April 17th, 2014


Hunters Ace Elmer, call name “Elmer,” is Lee Hemze’s English pointer. “He’s a big runner and a lot of fun,” Hemze says. Elmer pointed this rooster in west central Minnesota during the 2014 hunting season.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Callie”

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014



Scott Buhler loves the great times hunting pheasants with his black Lab, “Callie.” The pair hunt near Lincoln, California.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Wolters’ Gun Dog: A Great Place to Start for New Bird Dog Puppy Owners

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

GunDogOver the course of the last few weeks, I’ve received dozens of messages from bird hunters excited to welcome a puppy into their lives for the first time this spring. Most of these messages have revolved around one central question:

“Do I have any tips for starting off on the right foot in a pup’s training process?”

Yes, yes I do. Although it was first published in 1961, it’s my opinion Richard Wolters’ book Gun Dog remains the gold standard for beginning bird dog owners.

  • Fundamentals of Obedience. While the book covers more advanced elements of your hunting dog’s education (introduction to guns, birds, and water), it’s Wolters’ focus on the basics of obedience that keep me pointing folks toward Gun Dog as a wonderful foundation upon which to create the bird dog of your dreams.
  • Visual Learners. Gun Dog is also filled with photos and easy-to-understand captions of the training process. Like a good cookbook that includes a snapshot from every step of a recipe, Wolters does a wonderful service to the reader including photos to bring home his text for more visual learners.
  • Bowties & Bird Dogs. Speaking of photos, I always get a kick out of the photos of Wolters training his English setter in his bowtie. The point being, Wolters’ training exercises are short and easy for the bird dog owner after a long work day.
  • Breed Agnostic. It doesn’t make any difference if you own a Lab, springer, or German wirehair, Gun Dog is a versatile training guide for retrievers, flushers or pointers.

As you progress in the training process, you’ll encounter folks who disagree with some of the finer points of Wolters’ instructions. For instance, some pointing dog trainers nowadays don’t want to teach their dog the sit command out of concern a point will slide into a sit. Additionally, Wolters’ text came prior to the advent of e-collars as training tools. There is no doubt some things have changed in the 53 years since Wolters wrote Gun Dog. The basics haven’t changed and that’s where Gun Dog shines.

I’ve used Wolters’ principles to help me establish the fundamentals in two German shorthaired pointing bird dogs that have also doubled as obedient members of our family. I plan to use Wolters’ guidance again on my pup to arrive this summer. If you’re looking for the first building block in training a bird dog yourself, then Wolters’ Gun Dog is a fantastic place to start.

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.

Dog of the Day: “Ike”

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014


This is one of Steve Grebner’s favorite pictures of his German shorthaired pointer, “Ike,” taken while on a pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Cosmo”

Monday, April 14th, 2014


Pheasants Forever member Steven Bode, from Omaha, Nebraska, and his English springer spaniel, “Cosmo,” pursue pheasants around Omaha and also travel to hunt near Kennebec, South Dakota.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dogs of the Day: “Mac” and “Costa”

Friday, April 11th, 2014


Adam Augustine’s bird dogs, “Mac,” a Deutsch-Drahthaar and “Costa,” a German shorthair/Lab mix, showed off their pointing skills on this hunt near Higbee, Missouri.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Buster”

Thursday, April 10th, 2014


“Buster,” Dave Lardy’s Labrador retriever, was the type of companion every dog owner dreams of. The sharp-looking, hard-hunting Lab passed away this April. “He never growled, mistreated or blew off a single person he ever met. He was an extremely friendly dog, always happy to meet new people. Besides shedding his white hair on a black pair of slacks, there was nothing a person could hold against Buster,” says Dave’s son, Ben Lardy. Buster helped introduce both Dave and Ben to hunting. “He could sniff out a table scrap small enough to be invisible to the human eye, but would also track a downed bird like it was his life’s mission,” says Ben, who is now a Pheasants Forever farm bill biologist.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

Dog of the Day: “Harley”

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014


Eric Doughtie’s German shorthaired pointer pup, “Harley,” is only spring training and already showing off a rock solid point.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at

The Difference between Field Trials and Hunt Tests

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014


Lots of hunting dog owners, especially newbies, aren’t sure what the difference is between a field trial and a hunt test. While both are great things to do in the offseason to keep us and our dogs in shape, training, and having fun, it can be confusing to figure out what’s right for you and your dog.

Basically, field trials are competitions and hunt tests are not competitive. In a field trial, one dog wins, or depending on the structure of the trial, one dog in each division wins. In a hunt test, each dog is judged individually, not in comparison to other dogs, and is awarded a score based on its performance. At the end of a hunt test, there may be several dogs with perfect scores, several not passing, and all possible combinations in between. The objective of a field trial is to pick a winner; the objective of a hunt test is to assess each dog independently.

Both field trials and hunt tests help breeders evaluate their lines. Both are fundamentally geared towards producing a better hunting dog by way of developing the dogs’ inherent abilities and fine-tuning their training. Both have events running on local, state and national levels, from puppy age to adult dogs.

Whatever level you’re at with your dog, there’s a program you can participate in. And hooking up with a group of bird dog owners training for trials or tests can be one of the best ways to enhance your dog’s training program and connect with people who share the passion.

There are many different organizations running field trials, and the format and style vary. One major difference is that some are walking trials and others are done with handlers, judges and galleries on horseback. Criteria for judging differ depending on whether it’s a pointing dog trial, retriever or spaniel trial. Some field trials use pen-raised birds; others conduct the search on wild birds. There are non-shooting stakes and shoot-to-retrieve stakes.

The American Kennel Club, American Field Sporting Dog Association, and National Retriever Club sponsor most of the national field trials, but other groups – such as the National Shoot to Retrieve Association and National Bird Hunters Association along with a variety of amateur field trial groups and breed clubs – also host trials.

As far as hunt tests go, the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (for pointing dogs), AKC, and United Kennel Club (for both pointers and retrievers), and North American Hunting Retriever Association (retrievers) developed hunt test programs with the initial goal of providing a non-competitive yet standardized method of evaluating breeding. Parent breed clubs and multiple breeds clubs like the German Jagdgebrauchshundverband (JGHV) also have developed their own testing systems. The wonderful byproduct of these programs is the training that’s offered for the tests provides handlers and their dog’s outstanding preparation for hunting in general whether or not participants ever end up taking the tests.

Depending on the trial or test, pointing dogs usually must demonstrate their ability to search for game; hold point; remain steady to wing, shot and drop; and retrieve downed game to hand. Versatile pointing dogs will also be expected to search in the water for game; mark and retrieve downed waterfowl; and track game on land. Retriever and spaniel events judge the dogs’ ability to hunt, ability to remain steady, mark downed birds or waterfowl; make blind retrieves; and deliver birds or ducks to hand.

Whereas in a field trial the dog usually just has one run in a day, in most hunt tests, the dog performs several times. For example, in a NAVHDA Utility Test, each dog does a 30-minute field hunt, a minimum 10-minute duck search in a large body of water, a heeling course, a long tracked field retrieve, and a combination of steadiness and retrieving tasks from a water’s edge blind. Both field trials and hunt tests have complex scoring criteria designed to make the judges’ evaluations as objective as possible.

One of the liveliest – okay, let’s be honest and say super-heated – discussions you can find in the gun dog world is whether field trials or hunt tests produce the better hunting dogs. Speed, style, practicality, hunting instinct, finish work and a bird bag full of other elements fuel the debates. What’s important to most of us, however, is what program appeals to us and what we want out of our dogs. The best advice is to attend a couple of field trials or hunt tests, ask your dogs’ breeder for recommendations, and do a little local research to find out what’s available. Then grab your dog and have some fun.

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.

Dog of the Day: “Roxy”

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014


Jared Kenny is looking forward to a spring and summer full of training with “Roxy,” his 15-week-old wirehaired pointing griffon.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor, at