Posts Tagged ‘bird dogs’
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Earlier this week, Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Online Editor, asked me to write a blog about my favorite bird dog names. Actually, what he said was, “you’ve sort of cornered the blog market on posts about names . . .
- Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That
- Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That Either
- Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 1 of 2
- Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 2 of 2
- What’s the Nickname of your Favorite Pheasant Hunting Honey Hole?
Soooo, why don’t you write a blog about some of your favorite bird dog names?”
Admittedly, I am a name snob. A dog name snob in particular. Ironic coming from a guy named “Bob,” I know. I get it. We all have our “issues.”
Well Anthony, challenge accepted. To start, here are a few of my five categories for coining a good bird dog name.
1) Be Original. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to beat this theme until I never meet another dog named “Remy.” Ever hunted in a group with three dogs all named “Remy?” Think how confusing that is for you, let alone all three of those pups! IMMEDIATELY rule out names referencing your favorite shotgun (Remy, Reta, Benelli, etc.). Also eliminate “Drake” and “Hunter.” A bird dog is a unique opportunity to be creative, personal and original. Embrace the opportunity.
2) Names Tell Stories. I believe you should have to tell a story to explain your pup’s name to someone. The conversation ends when your pup is named “Phil.”
3) Pay Homage. A dog’s name is a terrific way to honor someone or something special in your life. However, let it be known naming your Brittany “Spears” is a jailable offense for man, woman or child.
4) Sense of Place. I really like dog names that reference a special place in a person’s life.
5) Fit the Breed. When possible, it’s cool to match the pup’s name to the breed or your heritage with the dog’s name. There are lots of fun ways to connect a dog’s German, English, French, Spanish or Irish heritage through their name.
With those five bits of advice in mind, here are five dog names that stick out as favorites of the hundreds of pups I’ve encountered during the decade I’ve served with Pheasants Forever.
1) Sprig (Original). Anthony earns honors for coming up with a name for his Cocker as he references his favorite duck, the pintail.
2) Bleu (Stories). Truth be told, I didn’t fall too far from the “weird tree.” My dad named his Brittany pup using one of the weirdest decision trees ever conceived. At the time he received his new Brittany pup (it was a gift from me & my brother), my dad was addicted to blue PowerAde. He also happens to love bleu cheese. Consequently, it made sense in his mind to name his brand new pup “Bleu Skye St.Pierre” or “Bleu” for short. It’s odd . . . but, it’s original. I like original.
3) Kirby (Homage). It’s not a secret I like baseball. My first bird dog is named in honor of my childhood hero, Detroit Tigers great Alan Trammell. Similarly, my co-worker Bill Fisher named his pup “Kirby” in honor of the Minnesota Twins great, Kirby Puckett. However, the best story of this name came from another Twins great, Kent Hrbek. Kent was fond of saying Minnesotans named their dogs “Kirby,” but they named their cows “Herby.”
4) Como (Sense of Place). Wayne Carlson, a friend of mine who is also a Ramsey County Pheasants Forever Chapter officer, named his spectacular Brittany after the St. Paul neighborhood where he and his wife, Emily, reside. I love bird dog names referencing places people cherish. Dakota, Kota, Montana, and Aspen are other good place-based names that come to mind.
5) Valborg (Ethnicity). Bob Larson, Pheasants Forever’s Chairman of the Board, has deep Scandinavian roots. So deep that he named his bird hunting poodle “Valborg” to honor his heritage.
What method did you employ to generate an original name for your bird dog pup?
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.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
When Izzy joined our family last May, it marked the first time I’d ever owned two dogs at once. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been amazed at the amount Izzy has learned from my 5-year old shorthair, Trammell. Good manners, bad habits and excellent hunting skills have all been passed along from one dog to another.
However, as we progress along the Rooster Road, I’ve observed a new dynamic developing between my two shorthairs – competition for birds. This competition has been manifesting itself primarily in running pheasants, rather than tightly holding bobwhite coveys. Allow me to explain my observation of this competition through a sequence I witnessed on Monday in Nebraska.
Trammell locked up on point and Izzy dutifully honored Tram’s staunch point; however, no bird flushed after I proceed to walk in front of the point. Quickly, the dogs and I deduced that we had “a runner.” When hunting solo, Trammell and Izzy would relocate on the bird and lock up on point again without bumping the bird. Together, in contrast, the race began between the two dogs to be the first to find the running pheasant. With this particular hen pheasant, the faster Izzy accelerated by Trammell and flushed the hen at full sprint without considering a second point. I’ve had a similar sequence in which Trammell’s more-seasoned nose led her to the bird first only to bump it without a secondary point.
I like a competitive streak in my bird dogs. I believe it makes them better retrievers in particular. However, with Izzy’s exceptional progress for a 7-month old pup, I’m planning to err on the side of caution and begin rotating Izzy and Trammell between fields in the hopes of steadying her pointing and tracking abilities. To be honest, I’d planned to rotate my two dogs for the simple reason of resting them during the 5-day, 5-state grind, but now I’ve got added purpose behind the rotation.
All that being said; I’ll return to the point I made in the first sentence starting this blog – I’ve never owned two bird dogs at the same time before. And, I’m certainly not a professional dog trainer. So, that’s where I’m looking for the owners of multiple pointing dogs to offer me some advice based on their experiences. How should I best handle the evolving competition between my two bird dogs?
Monday, September 24th, 2012
I was struggling. It was Sunday morning and I was on the second day of a fruitless grouse hunting/scouting excursion intended to produce some new spots. You see, I’ve been hunting my exact same haunts the last five years and “my” aspen stands were starting to age out of their grousey prime. So, I’d set off east and north of my normal destinations in search of new coverts.
I spent Saturday pounding decent looking grouse woods with very little flushes. And the one layup shot presented to me clanked off the backboard with a horribly makeable miss.
Truth be told, I was really struggling with two nagging thoughts in my mind. First, it was my first solo exploring expedition with two dogs, so I was very nervous about losing my 6-month old pup in the woods. Second, I was nervous about getting lost myself. Despite my GPS lock on my truck’s location, I had trouble diving into the grouse woods with abandon. Fortunately, hope was just around the corner.
Around 11AM on Sunday, I rounded the corner of a state forest gravel road and passed two trucks on my right. To my surprise, I recognized the two faces under the blaze orange hats. If you’ve attended Pheasant Fest or Game Fair in the last ten years, then you’d probably have recognized both of them too. They were Tom Poorker and Mark Haslup from Focus Outdoors Television and Midwest GunDog Kennels.
After commenting on the serendipity of their coming out of the woods at the exact moment I drove by, I shared with them my frustration of learning a new grouse woods. That’s when my luck turned around. Although, they’d both been set to finish their hunting for the day with dog training obligations waiting at Midwest GunDog Kennels, they offered to show me a spot in their home woods. They even went so far as to insist on my two pups being the only dogs in the woods as their bird dogs had already completed their work for the morning.
Needless to say, we found grouse and woodcock in the woods where these two veteran hunters aimed our trio. In fact, Mark bagged a nice opening weekend timberdoodle that my young pup was able to deliver to his hand, and Tom brought down a beautiful ruff with a dandy shot. However, I earned the trophy of the morning’s walk with renewed confidence.
After sharing a few laughs over our impromptu hunting trip and thanking them for their generosity, I went north in search of some spots of my own. And I finally started to find what I was looking for in the woods. In fact, in one particular alder/aspen mix, I elected to hunt my 6-month old shorthair solo for the first time and she produced three neatly pointed woodcock, quickly earning me a day’s limit.
To me, the moral of the story is that membership in Pheasants Forever definitely delivers more habitat on the ground – we’ve got 8.5 million acres of proof of that fact – however, membership in Pheasants Forever also creates friendships. Whether you’re a chapter officer, banquet goer or Pheasant Fest attendee, your involvement in Pheasants Forever will introduce you to new people, good people. Some will even become your friends, help you train your dog, and show you a new hunting spot.
To Mark & Tom: Thanks a bunch for a great experience! It truly meant a lot to me for you to take the time out of your plans to give me a little nudge in the right direction.
Wednesday, August 29th, 2012
“It’s not the size of dog in the fight…” the old saying begins, but the concept doesn’t carry much weight with a certain segment of wingshots, to whom bigger dogs are automatically more capable pheasant hunters. “Are you sure that dog will be big enough to carry a rooster?” If I had a dog biscuit for each time someone’s asked me that about my first bird dog, a not-even 25-pound English cocker spaniel, “Sprig” would be set with treats for life.
Surely some other “small” (a relative term if there ever was one) dog owners feel my pain, like the owner of “Gretchen,” the 21-pound female French Brittany who stopped by the Pheasants Forever booth at the recent Game Fair event. “That dog will carry a pheasant?” a fellow attendee asked the master of the two-year-old pointing dog. I bet they get that a lot…
For all its gaudiness, a big ringneck rooster checks in at all of three pounds, with more than 20 inches of its length contained in its tail. In other words, small working breeds will have no problem showing who the field boss is. The following breeds all check in at 35 pounds or less, perfectly sized and suited for the field, home, truck, lap…and in my case, bed.
American Water Spaniel – The “Townhouse Chessie” is something of a one-man dog, which could work out great if you’re a one-dog man.
Beagle – Not normally thought of as a bird dog, but search “beagle pheasant hunting” online and you’ll find enough evidence to the contrary.
Boykin Spaniel – Notoriously good for working in hot weather, which means no problem when the heat of your gun barrel has it raining southern quail or big ol’ roosters.
Cocker Spaniel – The bluegill of bird dogs, the smallest of the American Kennel Club’s sporting breeds is regarded by some as pound for pound the toughest gun dog.
English Cocker Spaniel – Have deservingly acquired the nickname “Pocket Rocket”: “Pocket” for their size, “Rocket” for their drive.
French Brittany – If you ever want to insult a French Brittany owner, just call their dog a “Brittany.” If you ever want a close-working pointing dog, consider the Epagneul Breton.
Jack Russell Terrier – Longtime Pheasants Forever magazine contributor, photographer Mitch Kezar, hunts a Jack Russell on pheasants, with much success. It’s always a good idea to trust the guy behind the lens.
Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
As I embarked on the adventure of adding a second bird dog to my family, an age-old question hung in my mind: “Do puppies learn from older dogs or are they simply clay in the hands of a human trainer?”
For years, I’d heard opinions on both sides of this argument, but having never owned more than one dog at a time, I found it hard to pick a side to believe in this debate. However, after just a few days of owning two bird dogs, I have formed a very strong opinion that puppies ABSOLUTELY mimic older dog’s mannerisms, actions and behaviors. There is zero doubt in my mind that my 5-year old shorthair is constantly “training” my 12-week old GSP puppy.
I’ve watched Tram (the 5-year old) pick up a stick during a walk. Moments later, Izzy (the 12-week old) was carrying a stick of her own. When running a field together, Izzy measures the distance Tram works away from me and stays at a similar distance. Every cue Tram drops, Izzy mimics.
Recognizing my sample size in formulating this opinion was extremely small, I asked renowned dog trainer and Purina pro-staffer Rick Smith for his opinion in the debate during a FAN Outdoors radio interview. You can Podcast the interview by following this link; listen for my question on the topic at the 19:12 mark of Hour 1 of the program originally airing on May 26th.
Without hesitation Smith confirmed my quick-formed opinion that young dogs learn a lot more from older dogs than from people. “I like having a young dog with an older dog,” added Smith.
The caveat Smith made special point of noting, however, was to keep in mind that young dogs are going to learn good AND bad habits from your older dog. That hit home with me as well. Izzy is now a dinner table beggar thanks to Trammell’s habits (obviously my fault to begin with), and Izzy also enjoys sleeping on the couch as opposed to the floor (guilty as charged).
This entire sequence of observations has me even more eager than normal for bird hunting season to see how much Izzy mimics Tram’s hunting expertise. Izzy has already honored Tram’s point of a mallard pair, so I’m hopeful that’s a sign of things to come . . . yes, I realize there won’t be much need for either of my duck pointers. Laugh it up!
So, for all those multi-dog owners out there, how much have your younger pups learned from your older bird dogs? Any special advice you’d offer me in this two-dog process?
Friday, June 1st, 2012
I took the photo above during my new shorthair pup’s first day in the Pheasants Forever office. While she spent the majority of the day focused on a fresh rawhide and catching some Z’s in her plush kennel, by afternoon she fixated on a pair of mounted pheasants I’ve got hanging in the corner of my office.
Although in a perfect world my new pup would have locked up steady pointing these roosters, she did exhibit strong “prey drive” as she barked while jumping up and down at the stuffed lower rooster. My older shorthair has also shown a strong desire to “retrieve” the same taxidermy.
I’ve gotta believe there are some funny stories out there. How does your bird dog act when encountering taxidermy?
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Since I just examined The Biggest Mistakes Pheasant Hunters Make, next let’s examine the biggest mistakes made when it comes to the other hunters in the field – the bird dogs.
The first mistake you can make is to buy a dog that’s not a hunter. Ask someone who knows a breeder of good hunting dogs, a pup whose parents are both field hunters…not some amateur starting out in his basement. You’ll pay more up front most times, but you’ll save a lot more down the road (No, I don’t breed dogs!).
Second, letting your dog get fat and not training them during the off season. I’ve seen many dogs following their owner, gasping for breath or put back in their kennel after an hour’s hunt because they are so fat and out of shape they can’t take hunting. Don’t get a dog if you can’t work it year-round; use your buddy’s – it’s better for you, the dog and hunting buddies.
Third, don’t lose control of yourself. I’ve moved away to the other side of the field to get away from clowns screaming at their out-of-control dogs. I’ve even left hunts over this or at least told the owners to get ahold of their emotions, kennel their dog and do some training with them before taking them out again.
Four, don’t go afield without an e-collar on your dog. There’s no excuse these days not to because you can’t train a dog enough, practically speaking for most folks, to make them work like they can with an e-collar. E-collars are also very affordable. E-collars were a big game changer for hunting dogs, like going from typewriters to computers. Get one. But be careful: you can screw up a dog’s behavior while hunting if you overdo it. Read the directions. I overdid it with my late, great springer, “Wolf,” one frustrating day when I borrowed a buddy’s e-collar and used it without breaking him in correctly. It took weeks before Wolf would confidently leave my side and hunt.
Lastly, watch them carefully afield. Dogs, tough as they are, are flesh and bone…they get hurt and can die. I lost a Brit, at age 7, in the prime of his hunting life when he was attacked by a coyote or badger in the woods. I tended all his wounds, but missed one hid deep in his thick chest fur. It got infected, got in his liver and killed him…all after spending hundreds at the vet. Watch your dog close in the heat, especially a new dog you haven’t hunted in hot weather. My springer, “Hunter,” came close to big problems a few years ago dove hunting in South Dakota. I let him run because we were heading to a shaded pond. He got wobbly on me just at the pond, where I bathed him in the cool water. He came out of it, but I kenneled him for the rest of the day. Close call. Scary. With a dog, the hunt comes second, the dog must come first. No hunt is worth a dead dog.
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
As I reported in the first installment of this blog, my wife and I will pick up our second bird dog this weekend. The pup will be a 10-week old female German shorthaired pointer from the same bloodlines as my five-year old GSP, “Trammell.” Trammell is named in honor of my childhood hero, Alan Trammell, who played baseball for the Detroit Tigers during my formative years growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Truth be told, my wife used her veto power to overrule my favored name for this new pup. Had I the sole vote in the matter, the new GSP would be named “Fidryich.” You see, Fidrych references Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, the deceased Detroit Tigers pitcher, 1976 American League Rookie of the Year, Yankee killer, and pop culture transcending character. “The Bird” was known for his quirky personality, which included grooming the mound and talking to the baseball between pitches. To me, Fidrych’s nickname – The Bird – made it a perfect fit for a bird dog’s name.
My wife’s veto was used because of the tragic nature of “The Bird’s” life and untimely death. You see, Fidrych flamed out after a torn rotator cuff injury ended his career after only a few shortened seasons. Then in 2009, Fidrych died while working underneath his 10-wheeled dump truck. In the best interest of a happy marriage, her veto ultimately ended this name’s contention. And in all honesty, I can see her point. It’s probably bad karma for the new pup to name her after such a tragic character.
So, back to the drawing board I went. Finalists included:
- Whitaker (call name Whit) – referencing Trammell’s double play partner with the Detroit Tigers, Lou Whitaker.
- Yooper (pronounced You Pur) – I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and some would say I’ve never left either. Ultimately, this name didn’t make the cut because it also happens to be my nickname with some circles of friends.
- Bine (pronounced BeNay) – The Ojibwa word for ruffed grouse was a contender for a moment, but ultimately it seems odd for a Pheasants Forever guy to have a dog name referencing a bird other than a pheasant.
So ultimately, I circled back to a name I’d penciled in years ago for bird dog number two:
Yzerman (pronounced I zer man / Call Name Izzy)
Steve Yzerman is my generation’s Gordie Howe. The retired center and captain of the Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman was to hockey fans from Michigan what Alan Trammell was to Tigers fans during my childhood years of the ‘80s. Ultimately, the call name of Izzy will be an easy two syllable pronunciation in the field, I’ve never encountered another hunting dog with the name and it personalizes the pup to me while adding on to the story of my Michigan upbringing with Trammell as my bird dog tag team.
Did we make the same choice you would have made in selecting our second bird dog’s name?
Monday, May 7th, 2012
Okay, so maybe your bird dog isn’t fat, but if you happen to live in Minneapolis, Minn., there’s a good chance this blog post’s title is accurate, at least according to the people at Banfield Pet Hospital. In their recent State of Health 2012 Report, Banfield revealed there has been a 38 percent increase in the number of dogs residing in Minneapolis that were considered obese after analyzing data from 2 million dogs cared for at their hospitals. This is no statistical drop-in-the-bucket.
This new found information certainly won’t help the jokes running around the office that I just have another “overweight yellow Lab” (she’s a slender 55 lbs., by the way) and that all she’s good for is finding rabbit pellets and cheeseburgers. But all good natured ribbing aside, did a recent email from the AKC really have to use a graphic of a yellow lab to explain pet obesity?
Luckily I can take solace in the fact that my beloved Labrador retrievers aren’t alone in America’s obesity epidemic. Over the past five years, the overall national average for pooches packing on too many pounds has increased an astounding 37 percent. Before you call up your Lab-owning friends to poke fun at them, turn your pup for a cold-hard-look in the mirror.
If those statistics, coupled with the prospect of finding birds in the fall, aren’t enough to get you and your pup off the couch and away from the pantry for spring training sessions, I don’t know what will. Just keep in mind, people always say you look like your pet… well, maybe your bird dog is trying to tell you something.
The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever’s Marketing Specialist.
Win a New Shotgun, Find a New Hunting Spot and Meet a New Hunting Buddy at your Local Pheasants Forever Chapter Banquet
Friday, March 9th, 2012
How would you like to spend an evening talking with a couple hundred fellow pheasant hunters about local areas to chase birds, possibly take home a new shotgun, meet a dog trainer that can help you turn a new pup into a bird hunting machine, while at the same time helping raise a little money for improved habitat and getting area youngsters outdoors. Right now across pheasant country, local Pheasants Forever chapters are hosting their annual banquets filled with shotguns, gear, raffles, and hunting stories all for the cause of wildlife habitat conservation.
If you haven’t ever attended a Pheasants Forever chapter banquet, here’s a sampling of what you can experience.
- Doggone Good Time. Ever been in a room with 200 passionate pheasant hunters sharing hunting stories and spinning yarns about their bird dog’s awesomeness? You may want to put on your Muck boots because it’s going to get deep in a hurry, but I challenge you to wipe the smile off your face when you go to bed after a night at a Pheasants Forever banquet.
- Improved Local Habitat. Pheasants Forever operates through a unique fundraising model that empowers the local chapter’s volunteers with 100 percent control of the funds they raise through a banquet’s raffles and auctions. What that means to you is improved habitat and hunting opportunities in your local area, as well as improved habitat nationwide through the organization’s policy efforts in Washington, D.C.
- Improved Hunting Access. In addition to improved habitat, Pheasants Forever chapters help open up millions of acres to public hunting each season. This improved access is primarily accomplished through either the purchase of tracts of land that become public wildlife areas or funding assistance for access programs that open up private acres to public hunting.
- Win a New Gun. Browning, Beretta, Remington, Ruger, Benelli, over/unders, side-by-sides, pistols, gold-engraving, camo, pink, .12 gauge, .28 gauge; guns in every shape and size are prizes in fun raffles with crazy names like the “Mad Hatter,” “Quail Poop Bingo,” and “Size Does Matter.” You can even win a beautiful new over/under simply by signing up for a Pheasants Forever Visa Card.
- Meet a New Hunting Buddy. Got a great piece of property, but don’t own a bird dog? Own a great bird dog, but don’t have many places to hunt? Maybe you have a youngster at home with an insatiable thirst to learn about bird hunting? Whatever your situation, Pheasants Forever banquets are filled with folks interested in the same things you are – quality habitat, good bird dogs and autumn afternoons filled with flushing roosters.
Find your local Pheasants Forever Chapter Banquet this spring and you just might take home a new shotgun or meet the best hunting buddy of your life. Either way, we promise your attendance will make a difference for the birds today and a generation of pheasant hunters tomorrow.