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Flushing retrievers rule – At least according to PF’s Gun Dog writer, PDJ/RJ editor!

Flushing retrievers get high marks even from pointer dudes in today's blog. Even though the author is a springer-head, he's hunted over many a crack pointer.

I enjoyed Tom Davis’s Gun Dog column for the upcoming Summer issue of the Pheasants Forever Journal (out at the end of April) so much that I wanted to share some of it with our loyal blog readers. As a springer man, I must say I agree with Smith. But as I pointed out to Davis, I’ve hunted over many awesome pointers. Here it is:

“My friend Steve Smith, the editor-in-chief of both Pointing Dog Journal and Retriever Journal and one of the most respected figures in the mingled worlds of bird dogs and wingshooting, is probably better-qualified to speak to this than anyone I know. I asked Steve if he’d share some of his thoughts on this topic and, as usual, his reply cuts straight to the heart of things:

 “I’ve written and said more times than I can recall that when it comes to bird hunting, all of this is supposed to be fun. But it’s also true that men don’t trifle with their sport. Bird hunting isn’t what we do – it’s who we are.

         “So let’s talk about fun. If your idea of a good time is a German shorthair pointing, relocating, pointing, relocating all the way down a fencerow or creek bed with typical Teutonic thoroughness until the runner runs out of running room, then that is the dog for you, and that is your version of the sport. I’ve done it and have to remind myself to breathe.

         “If you thrill to a pointer or setter blasting through the CRP for a hundred yards and then screeching into a pretzel point on a rooster that thought he’d wait there while the dog cruised right on by, then that’s how you should hunt. My pointers and setters have all sent shivers down my spine doing that very thing.

“If the shorthair never does catch up with the running rooster, so be it; if the pointer or setter does the screeching thing too close to the bird and it takes wing, well, it happens.

“But if someone said to me, ‘Mr. Smith, here are five 12-gauge shotshells, and there is an eighty-acre patch of grass. If you do not return within two hours with three rooster pheasants, we will pull the fingernails off your grandchildren,’ then I take the shells, load my double, and whistle up Murphy, my Lab. Fun in hunting takes many forms; but when the weather closes in, the birds are scarce and spooky, and you are deadly serious about the whole enterprise, nothing puts birds in the bag like a flushing retriever. Nothing.”

I tend to agree with Steve—but I have a hunch there are plenty of readers out there who take strenuous issue with this opinion. The debate rages on…”

   Tar and feathers anyone?

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9 Responses to “Flushing retrievers rule – At least according to PF’s Gun Dog writer, PDJ/RJ editor!”

  1. Lylev says:

    Hunted behind a out of control English Setter as a kid. then spent 30 years following labs that wore out after a couple of hours of tough cover on a warm day. To hunting Vizla’s. As for me I will always have a pointer from here out. On late season birds he will track the runners at a controlled pace till we catch up with em. My labs would flush them wild nearly every time. If I kept the lab close the birds would circle or move out of the direction of travel. I let the pointer range and trust him to not flush wild. More birds in the bag by far if numbers are few and cover is big…
    C’mon Tucker let’s go! Hunt em up!

    Lylev Nebraska

  2. Paul says:

    The first pheasant hunt I took my “Duck” dog on was a late season SD hunt. All the crops were out so it was fence rows, CRP and Shelter belts.
    We were in “mixed” company hunting with other labs and a setter named George. It was hard hunting but it was George’s timely set that turned the light on for Bone at the end of a Shelter Belt. He had the chance to see the set, honor it and be sent in to bust the cover. Up came three roosters and one of my hunting partners took a double and another the third. They were the first birds after two days of hunting. From that point on as other dogs ran and the snow accumulated, old bone hit every tented tuft of grass with a snow cap we passed. By the end of the day his snout was chapped and bloody, and he had flushed and retrieved the better part of limits for a party of 8. Bone was a great hunter, I tear up thinking about him, and I wonder if his education would have been as fast or complete with out old George, but if I have to pick a dog, it is the lab everyday, every time, regardless the bird.

  3. Joel Gargan says:

    I respectfully disagree…I prefer my dogs in front, not walking through cover at my ankles. You may be correct if all you ever wanted to hunt was ONE field.

  4. CR says:

    I agree 100% with Steve’s point and I’m an avid German Shorthair Pointer hunter and fan. Let me share why I agree. Much has to do with the birds and the hunter. When hunting roosters it is not if they run it is when they run. And when in an area where there is a lot of scent and running roosters the pointers can get confused. They are not sure where to point, they might run by sitting birds, they might point then relocate, point again, then relocate again. Also, it is hard for me to keep my pointer always in gun range, he likes to range from 10-100 yards out and at times this causes wild roosters to flush or run out ahead. Let me tell you, this can be extremely frustrating.

    But with a good flushing retriever over roosters ranging closer you probably get more shots over pheasants. The point and then relocate is not an issue but you had better be ready to walk fast and run to get close enough for a shot on a running rooster. But the retrievers like to run wild, last season I hunted with another guy who had one he spent half our hunt screaming at his dog who would not COME.

    So, I’m all in favor of a pointer but at the same time, I’m a hunter and I’m not going to wait for my dog to produce this perfect point everytime before I shoot, hey, if he happens to bump a rooster within range, I’m bagging that bird, if he points and relocates and in the process flushes a rooster I’m shooting.

    Now, I hunt a lot more chukar than any other bird. On chukars I really like a pointer. They cover at least twice as much ground as a lab, don’t wear out as quick and chukar country is not brushy so the pointers scent the air and run and quarter ranging out to about 100 yards and when they find a covey they point and hold. Chukars can be as tricky as pheasants because sometimes those coveys will not hold. But in the end, I do think a pointer will give you more shots over chukars simply because they cover more ground.

    When it comes to bird dogs they all have strengths and weaknesses. I think I guy like me who is easily impressed with a pointer pointing and who puts more time into his dog than into his wingshooting typically likes a pointer. In my world, it does not get much better than seeing your dog lock on point, hold that point as you walk by him to flush the birds, that is why I have a dog. But at the same time if I were starving to death and needed a pheasant dog, I’d probably opt for the retriever until I got nourishment and then would get my pointer out of the pickup.

  5. Bruce Youngberg says:

    In judging between pointers and flushers one has to ask what is it about pheasant hunting you really enjoy. Yes I know it’s everything, but some aspects are better than others. Now I love to watch a good dog work. I enjoy watching one of my friends make a good shot as much as I enjoy making a good one, and as far as a crisp October morning there is nothing that compares. Now with that said when a rooster gets up in front of me I want to flush it. There is nothing more exciting for me than when an explosion of sound and color blows up two feet in front of me. Even when I know its going to happen it always takes my breath away. That’s why I will always hunt over a shorthair.

  6. jeff says:

    I like the idea of having both flushers and pointers. It is good to mix it up.

  7. SM says:

    Does anyone know where we can sell our Vizsla puppy (13 weeks) to someone that is interested in hunting and good to dogs. We bought a Vizsla puppy and my husband is now traveling more for work and cannot give her the time, attention and training she deserves. He was hoping to have a pheasant hunting buddy, but his work has to come first right now.

    Thank you,

  8. Rich in Missouri says:

    Well everyone makes valid points on the debate between pointers or flushers. I don’t think there is a specific breed that would best suit all die hard hunters. Personally I have hunted behind good Labs, Vislas, Wiemeriners, Setters, Pointers and Shorthairs, but I recently switched to a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon and they truly are the 4×4 of the bird hunting world. I started to get off track there. My point is poeple should’nt debate who’s dog or wich breed is best we should all unite and enjoy a good gun dog whatever the breed!!!!!Shoot straight and long live the ROOSTER!!!

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