Posts Tagged ‘bird dogs’

Hey, Nice “Pocket Rocket”…And Other Bird Dog Breed Nicknames

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

English cocker spaniels like the author's "Sprig" are often called "pocket rockets," pocket describing their size and rocket describing their drive. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

English cocker spaniels like the author’s “Sprig” are often called “pocket rockets,” pocket describing their size and rocket describing their drive. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

I consider nicknames terms of endearment, so please don’t be offended when I call your:

English cocker spaniel a “Pocket Rocket”

English setter a “Shag”

Labrador retriever a “Meat Dog”

German Wirehair an “Ugly Dog”

Golden Retriever a “Swamp Collie”

Pudelpointer a “Wookie”

Vizsla a “Velcro Dog”

Weimaraner a “Ghost Dog”

What bird dog breed nicknames am I missing?

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.organd follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Our Busy Izzy Rests

Friday, October 25th, 2013

The St.Pierre Family (Izzy, Bob, Trammell & Meredith)

The St.Pierre Family (Izzy, Bob, Trammell & Meredith)

By Meredith St.Pierre (Editor’s Note – Meredith is the wife of Bob St.Pierre, the regular author of this Blog)

It may come as a surprise for readers of this blog and FAN Outdoors radio listeners to learn that when Bob and I got married 8 years ago, I gave his Groom’s Toast. Bob was overcome with emotion and love for his family, much like he is now. So for the second time in our marriage, I’m going to do my best to convey his thoughts as he struggles to find words to write worthy of the bird dog he so dearly loved.

On Saturday, Bob and I lost our youngest pup, Izzy, in a freak accident while she was running through the woods. She collided with an oak log, ruptured her carotid artery and was gone from us in only a matter of minutes. There was nothing that could have been done to save her; even her skid plate was no match for the force of impact. Her loss has shaken us to our cores and left us with an unimaginable void. She was only 1 ½ years old; we thought she had thousands of birds yet to point. We weren’t ready to let her go; no dog owner ever is, but this was especially early and cruel.

Izzy always caught the camera, like this photo from a Gander Mountain photo shoot

Izzy always caught the camera, like this photo from a Gander Mountain photo shoot

We could go over Izzy’s best hunts, our favorite memories or what we’ll miss most about her, but the truth is, we’re not alone. Izzy’s loss has shown me once again that the hunting community is a special one. The outreach and support we’ve had has been tremendous. The stories of men who hunted behind our Izzy help us to remember her. Hearing that others thought she was a gem of dog, help too. It also helps to talk about her tornado of energy and limitless loving nature. But more so, it helps to know others have felt our pain and returned to the field behind future canine best friends.

We know life will go on, but a part of our hearts was lost in the Wisconsin grouse woods on Saturday. Top Gun Yzerman “Izzy” St.Pierre was a great dog and we’ll miss her spunk, restless energy, joy and love. To honor her memory we’ll return to the field and to the woods. We’ve got birds to find and she wouldn’t want it any other way. She died doing what she loved, and we’ll cherish her forever.

Thank you for your support. Give your bird dog a little extra scratch under their chin tonight in honor of our “Busy Izzy,” she always loved that spot.

- – Meredith St.Pierre, to see more photos of our shorthairs, Izzy & Trammell, follow @mstpete on Instagram

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.

Izzy was always excited to add a rooster to Bob's game vest

Izzy was always excited to add a rooster to Bob’s game vest

The Dogless Pheasant Hunter

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Plain and simple, the dog work of a pheasant hunt provides a very high percent of the enjoyment for me in the field.

It’s hard to hunt pheasants without a good bird dog, but not impossible.

A fan of Pheasants Forever on Facebook recently posed the following question:  “Is it hard to hunt pheasants without a dog?”  I believe the answer to this is as easy as adding 2 plus 2.  There is no doubt hunting pheasants without a dog is harder; simply no doubt in my mind.


However, there is a question I think provides greater room for debate: “Is it even possible to successfully hunt pheasants without a bird dog?”


First of all, I am a dog guy.  Plain and simple, the dog work of a pheasant hunt provides a lot of enjoyment for me in the field.  That being said, I do believe I’m unbiased in saying a dog is more important in pheasant hunting than in any other bird hunt.  Unlike virtually every other gamebird, a pheasants’ first survival instinct leads them to run rather than fly from danger.  Consequently, pheasants can run circles around a dogless hunter without providing any indication of its existence.  Pheasants are also tough birds to kill in the air.  Personally, I am an average shot, and I believe my dog saves at least 90 percent of the birds I cripple from going completely unrecovered.


So back to the question.  My answer is a qualified “yes.”  Here are the four instances I think you can successfully hunt pheasants without a dog:


1)      Walking linear cover.  Roadsides, drainage ditches, and fence rows create linear habitat a pheasant hunter can walk without a dog until he/she pushes a bird out the end or squeezes one out the side.

2)      Small Patches.  Same basic principle as walking linear cover.  If you can push a small piece of habitat completely surrounded by plowed fields, then your odds of boosting a bird multiplies.

3)      The Big Group Push.  If you have enough guys to walk close together, it’s possible to push a big field and jump the young birds that lack the elusiveness of running around your footsteps.

4)      Game Farms & Preserves.  There is no doubt that pen-reared birds lack the survival instincts of a wild pheasant that has evaded predation its entire existence.


I’ll add two caveats.  First, in all four of these scenarios, it’s possible to flush a rooster without the assistance of a dog; however, finding a winged bird without a dog is another story all together.  Any ethical pheasant hunter entering the field without a bird dog should take great care in making high percentage, quality shots.  Second, I would wager a good bird dog will lead to twice as many birds flushed walking these same scenarios as hunting without one.


I’m sure there are dozens of dogless pheasant hunters reading this blog who have harvested wild roosters in vast expanses of cover without the aid of a canine companion . . . Where are the holes in my opinion?

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.

Reading your Bird Dog’s “Tells”

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Trammell goes on point with ears at attention

Trammell goes on point with ears at attention

Successful poker players often talk about identifying opposing player’s “tells” in route to victory.  Some card players can’t look others in the eye when they’ve got a good hand, or they start tapping their fingers on the table when they’re bluffing.  Baseball pitchers are known to have similar “tells.”  I can remember one pitcher from high school who would only grunt when delivering a curve ball.  Fastball = no grunt.  Curve = grunt.  I hit pretty well off that guy.


I believe a parallel can be drawn between successful hunter and dog teams.  Without the ability to talk, the hunter is left to interpret the pup’s body language in the field to determine what that dog’s nose is communicating to the rest of its body.  Most of us refer to this interchange of scent to body language as a dog getting “birdy.”


While there are common traits consistent across bird dogs, I believe each birdy dog’s tells are as unique as batting stances in the Hall of Fame.  In my opinion, the basic birdy dog indicators are a pup’s tail, ears, eyes and pace.  The key to being a successful hunter over your bird dog is honing in on how your dog’s tail, ears, eyes and pace behave when your pup’s hot after a bird.


My shorthair has a couple of surefire tells.  The biggest indicator for me is the pace at which her tail wags left to right.  The faster it goes, the surer she is to be on a bird’s trail.  Contrastingly, as soon as she believes she’s located it, her tail and the rest of her body goes “rock solid” into a point and her ears are pricked at attention.  In essence, the more statuesque she is, the more certain she has the bird pinned in the cover somewhere in front of her nose.  As long as I’m not behind her, she’ll also make eye contact with me; making sure I see her and know she’s got one located.  I absolutely get a rush out of the eye contact.  To me, it galvanizes the passing of the baton from her job to mine as the shooter.


While Trammell’s tail and eye contact tells aren’t unique to her, she does have another tell that I’ve yet to witness in anyone else’s bird dog.  When Tram is hot on the trail of a running rooster, but she simply can’t locate it after an extended chase, she’ll let out a whine.  When I hear that whine, I pick up the pace as fast as I safely can with shotgun in hand, because based on past experience that whine tells me she’s on the scent of a wily old rooster that is going to flush before he ever lets her get close to a point.


When it comes to pace as a tell, my buddy Matt Kucharski’s Lab, Lucy, provides my best example.  There is no doubt a dog’s chasing speed picks up as it zeros in on a rooster.  Matt’s Lucy is no exception.  As the scent grows in intensity, so does Lucy’s horse power, until Lucy finally zeros in on a rooster pinned under grass.  At that point, Lucy stops, looks up to locate Matt, and then immediately pounces on the clump of grass concealing the bird.


What is your dog’s surefire “tell” when on a bird?


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.

Bird Dog Names, From A to Z

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

The Lab may be the most popular breed in America, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an original name.

The Lab may be the most popular breed in America, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for an unoriginal name.

I’ve admitted – repeatedly – that I’m a dog name ‘Snob’ with a capital “S.” So without further adieu, allow me to offer a dog name I love for each letter of the alphabet . . . with a couple extras thrown in for good measure.

A is for Aspen.  Although this name is on the edge of too common, since I know three co-workers with dogs with this name, I must admit I love the multi-level nod to a place this name inspires. It could be referencing a town in Colorado or a favored grouse-y habitat.  Either way, I can picture it, smell it and embrace it as a dog’s moniker.

B is for Bine.  Pronounced “BeNay.”  I’m incredibly reluctant to put this name in print because I’ve ear-marked it for myself and believe it’s so dang cool that people are going to “steal” it in droves. And, you all know how snobbish I become when a dog name reaches too high a popularity level. So, at the risk of exposing my next dog’s name to the world, I introduce you to the Ojibwe name for ruffed grouse: Bine. Have a listen to its pronunciation.

C is for Como.  Wayne Carlson, a friend of mine, named his spectacular Brittany after the St. Paul, Minnesota neighborhood where he and his wife, Emily, reside. I love bird dog names referencing places people cherish.  #SenseOfPlace

D is for Dude.  The Big Lebowski.  I don’t think I need to write any more. If you don’t get it, don’t name your dog “The Dude.”  If you do get it . . .

E is for Eve.  According to Internet folklore, the band Eve 6 came up with their name after watching an episode of the X-Files also called “Eve.” I love both the X-Files and Eve 6, so naturally gravitated to this name, not to mention the underlying “Adam & Eve” references.

F is for Fydrich.  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 – makes it a perfect fit for a bird dog’s name. Unfortunately, my wife VETOED this name during the process of naming of our last puppy. NOTE: This is also the first appearance of a recurring theme that will most likely irritate all non-Michiganders. I have a strong affinity for dog names associated with Detroit and Michigan sports figures.

G is for Griswold.  “Fletch” was a first-runner-up in the “F” section, but Chevy Chase hits the list with his signature character Clark W. Griswold of the National Lampoon’s Vacation series.

H is for Herman.  Herman, the Munsterlander . . . Thanks to anonymous STEVE for this fun name he left in the comment section of my blog entry Naming Your New Bird Dog Puppy.

I is for Iago.  “My name is Iago Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die,” was the memorable line from the popular character in the 1987 movie, The Princess Bride.

J is for Jacques.  In general, I’m against using common people’s names for dogs.  My biggest complaint stems from a hunt where my companion’s dog was named “Bob.”  Needless to say, confusion ensued. However, I believe “Jacques” is uncommon enough a guy’s name (outside of Quebec) that it’s tailor-made for that new French Britt I’ve been contemplating.

K is for Klinger.  Jamie Farr’s popular character Corporal Max Klinger provides a bird dog name with a nod to all those Baby Booming M*A*S*H fans out there looking for a piece of nostalgia.

L is for LaBatt.  Since Pheasants Forever doesn’t currently have a national beer sponsor, I am free to admit my favorite barley soda is LaBatt Blue.

M is for Montana.  There is no doubt this name borders on the edge of being too popular; however, if you’ve ever been to “Big Sky” then you know . . . it’s the most under-rated of all the top bird hunting states. Only big running bird dogs deserve the name “Montana.”

N is for Nirvana.  “Load up on guns, bring your friends,” is the first line of Nirvana’s breakthrough grunge classic, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” It sounds to me like Kurt Cobain just wanted someone to go on a classic South Dakota pheasant drive.

O is for Orion.  Thanks to anonymous BRENNEN for this fun name he left in the comments section of my blog entry Naming Your New Bird Dog Puppy. “I named by yellow Lab ‘Orion,’ as in the hunter.  The greatest hunter in the universe”

P is for Pebbles.  What comes after Pebbles?  Bamm-Bamm! Sounds like a great bird dog’s name to me.

Q is for Q.  Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of options here; however, the simplicity in syllables makes “Q” an attractive choice, particularly for Quail Forever members.

R is for Rocky.  I have always loved boxers (the dog) named after boxers (the fighters).  Although boxers aren’t hunting dogs, I think there is room in the bird dog niche for a few male pups named Rocky Balboa.  For some reason, I think of a muscle-ripped English pointer when I think of a fitting breed for dogs named “Rocky.”  Wirehairs also seem to fit the name in my mind.

S is for Seven.  Without a doubt, this was the most controversial letter in my selection process.  I have two great friends who both own fantastic bird dogs with unique “S” names. Anthony Hauck, PF’s Online Editor, has the marvelous English cocker spaniel “Sprig,” and my radio partner Billy Hildebrand has a tremendous Brittany named “Snap.” So, I avoided the conflict and selected George Costanza’s favored baby name, “Seven.”  If you’ve never watched this episode of Seinfeld, then you MUST check out this clip.

T is for Trammell.  If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, then you know my first GSP is named in honor of former Detroit Tigers great Alan Trammell, my childhood idol. “Trammell,” the dog, is my pride and joy, so I will always be partial to this name and forever reserve the right to name another pup down the road in her honor, rather than in the baseball player’s homage the second time around. It’s also important to me to point out that my childhood dog, a Brittany, was named “Tinker.” Tinker was also a great dog, but there was considerable debate between my brother and me about whether we were naming her in reference to Tinker Toys or Tinker Belle. As I recall, I was on the Tinker Toys side.

U is for Uno.  A simple, single syllable name for your first bird dog.

V is for Vern.  “Know what I mean Vern?”

W is for Wingnut.  What do you want your bird dog to be? Crazy about birds . . . a “Wingnut!”

X is X.  It’s a simple name for a simple pointing dog equation . . . “X” marks the spot.

Y is for Yzerman.  Readers of this blog have come to know her as “Izzy,” but her real name is “Yzerman.” 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.  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.

Z is for Zetterberg.  Yes, I did it again and closed out my list with another Detroit Red Wings favorite. “Z” for short will likely be my first German wirehaired pointer some ten years down the road from today.

There you have it, my favorite bird dog names from A to Z. I don’t expect you to like all (or any of these). I guess that’s not necessarily the point. Dog names should be unique to the individual doing the naming and hopefully that will create some originality in the process.  That being said, what’s the most original new dog name you’ve come up with as a result of reading this list?


Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That

Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That Either

Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog “Bob”

Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 1 of 2

Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 2 of 2

Naming Your new Bird Dog Puppy

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.

Naming Your New Bird Dog Puppy

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

My dad with his Brittany featuring an original name: "Bleu Skye St.Pierre"

My dad with his Brittany featuring an original name: “Bleu Skye St.Pierre”

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 . . .

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.


Como, a bird hunting machine with a cool name

Como, a bird hunting machine with a cool name

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.


Bird Dogs in Competition

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.

Rooster Road Trip competitors “Izzy” (left) and “Trammell.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

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?

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Pheasants Forever, “The Friends with Benefits Organization”

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Membership 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 as evidenced by Mark Haslup (left) and Tom Poorker (right).

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.


Izzy’s first limit of Minnesota timberdoodles

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.


The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.

Lap Dogs for Longtails? Small Dogs Will Work for Big, Bad Roosters

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…

Tell this rooster the Boykin is small! “Trigger” belongs to PF supporter Bruce Warnimont of Germantown, Wis., and is an extremely avid pheasant hunter.

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.

Read more in the “My First Bird Dog” series here.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

Puppies Mimic Older Bird Dogs

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Yzerman (Izzy) mimics Trammell's every move, while the older pup ignores her shadow

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).


Try and catch me!

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?


Catching some morning rays together.

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever’s Vice President of Marketing.  Follow Bob on Twitter @BobStPierre.