Posts Tagged ‘English Cocker Spaniel’

Dog of the Day: “Gander”

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Gander

Dustin Erhardt’s English cocker spaniel, “Gander,” rousted these late season roosters in North Dakota.

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

Bird Dogs: Do Bells Really Spook Roosters?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

"Sprig," an English cocker spaniel, wears a bell while upland hunting to reveal her location at all times. Photo courtesy David Hendee

“Sprig,” an English cocker spaniel, wears a bell while upland hunting to reveal her location at all times. Photo courtesy David Hendee

When I first hunted with bird dogs wearing bells, I thought they spooked birds. Pheasants have very acute hearing – it’s underestimated and equal, if not more remarkable than, their ability to run – and it would reason a noisy bell would unsettle a bird that’s ears are always on alert. But consider me a convert on this theory.

I don’t use an e-collar on my English cocker spaniel, as, the occasional straight-line runner notwithstanding, she’s usually in gun range. I’ve ran her with a bell this entire season, on public and private land, areas with great pheasant numbers, areas with so-so pheasant numbers and areas with just a bird or two. I realize it’s my own two eyes and a small sample size, but I honestly haven’t seen anything that would lead me to believe her bell is causing birds to bust out early.

On a recent hunt in South Dakota, the guide at the outfit I was at raised a brow when I said I used a bell, he harboring the same concerns I used to. I obliged and ran “Sprig” later in the day by herself in a different area without our full group of hunters. But with gunshots ringing out, multiple dogs and a line of hunters, do I think my bell would have added much noise to the mix, at least an incremental amount impacting birds in range? No.

This doesn’t mean I’m a loud-mouth, truck-door slamming, decibel-busting machine as I work through the field. Quite the contrary, in fact. My dog’s bell is typically the only noise I tolerate on a pheasant hunt (other than a cackle followed by a gunshot) and by being quiet in all other regards, I think it lessens the bell-ringing in roosters’ ears.

If there is one exception to my use of a bell, it’s a dead-quiet day during the last two weeks of the season. With a complete absence of wind, I can hear well enough to locate the dog, or can see the thick cover move as she works through it. I find pheasants hardest to get close to on these days, and I do believe stealth mode in this situation is warranted.

I’ve actually come to enjoy the bell, its addition a soothing sound to the hunt. And if it’s use really does cost me a bird here or there? Well, at least I know where my pup is at all times. Because the thought of anything happening to her on a hunt other than flushing and retrieving is spooky enough.

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.

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.

Opening Weekend at Bird Camp 2013

Friday, September 27th, 2013

The first day, a downpour (wet dog). Then the winds picked up (dry dog). In the middle of the night, the local coyote packs made a point of waking us up (guard dog). And it dropped into the upper 30s (cold dog). But these were merely minor inconveniences as my cousin, Jake, and I opened our 2013 upland bird hunting seasons by setting up bird camp in North Dakota. And “Sprig,” my English cocker spaniel, couldn’t contain her excitement about starting her second campaign in the field (happy dog).

My bird camp doesn’t have a permanent address – it’s wherever I am that weekend – but even if we wanted a hotel in the area we hunt in North Dakota, we’d be looking at driving 30-plus miles just to find lodging. So an abandoned farm place it is, with just enough trees to block the wind, but not enough to hide the sunrises, sunsets and star shine that have a way of making me feel a little more insignificant when they fall on me from the prairie sky.

Two hunters and one close-working flushing dog isn’t exactly the ideal setup when it comes to finding birds in this wide open country to which pointing dogs are much better suited, but “ideal setup” and “how to” articles probably filled up a good portion of the pages of the outdoor magazines that filled our mailboxes while we were gone. I can read about what I was supposed to do come February.

We earned and cherished every bird, stopping to take pictures and recognize special occasions, including Jake’s first-ever sharptail and, after force fetching her this summer, Sprig’s first wild bird retrieve to hand. Not photographed were the areas of grassland hunted last year now growing beans, or the miles and miles of drain tile rolled up and ready to be laid in remarkably unproductive looking farmland. Even in this area north of the primary pheasant range, this modern agricultural revolution, fueled by the weakest federal conservation measures in a generation, marches on.

Deep down, I believe we’re going to turn the habitat tide. That for the sake of the land, we will realize the unsustainability of our current ways. And, a bit more selfishly, that better days for man and gun dog lie ahead. But Monday and this hard work will come. It always comes. The opening of seasons are about remembering good times and hunting for new ones. And on this trip, we found them:  first birds, fresh sharptail on the grill and enjoying the company of one very, very happy dog.

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.

CONTEST: What’s Your Greatest Bird Dog Training Success?

Friday, August 9th, 2013

"Sprig," an English cocker spaniel, with a retrieve on a training pigeon. Photo by Keryl Ashbach

“Sprig,” an English cocker spaniel, with a retrieve on a training pigeon. Photo by Keryl Ashbach

Two months into the force fetching process with “Sprig,” my year-and-a-half old English cocker spaniel, I ran into the proverbial wall. A particularly grueling session had shaken my confidence and left me wondering if I could do it. A couple indoor sessions were a bit noisy - look up the ear pinch force fetch method – so my apartment neighbors were likely wondering about my condition as well.

So I called Tony Roettger, the professional dog trainer who leads the weekly training group I’m part of. “You’re almost there,” he reassured me, “We still have half the summer to work this out. You’ve come this far, so now it’s time to finish it off.” The next few field sessions didn’t yield any progress, but I did see signs of a coming breakthrough during weekly drills. Small signs, but signs nonetheless.

Last week in the training field, “Sprig” found the planted pigeon and flushed it. On the report, she marked the falling bird and raced over to it. There was no pulling at feathers, no playing and no butter-mouthing as there’d been countless times before. No, this time Sprig dutifully picked up the bird and raised her head, trying to pinpoint my location. When she spotted me through the tall grass, she raced over and sat down right at my feet, handing her prize over on command. No whistle, no words until “Drop.” She knew what she was supposed to do, and appeared to have plenty of fun doing it. After well-deserved pats on the head, she leapt into my arms. Breakthrough!

“That’s why I love training dogs,” Roettger said as we exited the field, “Many days it feels like you’re beating your head against a wall, but then you have days like this and it’s all worth it.” To “prove it,” Sprig followed up by going four-for-four on bird retrieves during the next run. Heck, maybe I’ll have her steady to wing and shot yet this year…

Now it’s your turn. In the comments section, share your greatest bird dog training success. What issue did you overcome? What technique(s) did you institute to prevail? These moments happen at every level, so whether your experience was with a puppy, an intermediate dog, a field veteran or a master hunter, please share in the comments section. Three (3) readers will be randomly selected to win a SportDOG four-pack which includes one canister of each – SportDOG Brand Hip/Joint Supplements, SportDOG Brand Digestive Enzymes, SportDOG Brand Hydration Supplements and SportDOG Brand Performance Vitamins.

Happy training!

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.

Dog of the Day: “Molly”

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Molly2

“Blue Chip Sweet Lady Molly” is Ron Langowski’s field bred English cocker spaniel. Even at age 10, “Molly” is still hunting hard. “She breaks ice to fetch late-season mallards, does a great job on ruffed grouse but is in heaven when pheasant hunting,” Langowski says. This hunting pair call Winona, Minnesota home.

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

Dog of the Day: “Smoke”

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Smoke

Kevin Gaddie’s English cocker spaniel, “Smoke,” trained over the winter to stay sharp for spring field trials.

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

The Best Compliment for a Bird Hunter: I Want a Bird Dog like Yours

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Me with my pride and joy, Trammell, a German shorthaired pointer

Me with my pride and joy, Trammell, a German shorthaired pointer

Last autumn, on a bird hunting trip with Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s online editor, we stopped by my brother’s house in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.  Anthony’s little nugget of a bird dog, “Sprig,” was in tow.

 

Sprig, an English cocker spaniel, made fast friends with my niece, nephew, and brother.  So much so that my sister-in-law, Julie, said that Sprig might be just the ticket for helping push my brother over the ledge to adding a bird dog to their busy family.  We ventured further on the trip to Escanaba, Michigan where both my parents also offered to “take Sprig off Anthony’s hands.”

 

While “nice shot,” is always an appreciated sentiment on a pheasant hunt, I don’t think there is any greater compliment for a bird hunter than a fellow hunter remarking “I want a bird dog like yours.”  For all the trials of potty training and the tribulations of obedience afield, bird dogs provide the greatest rewards when others appreciate the fruits of your labor.

 

Although my immediate family seems fixated on Anthony’s Sprig, I’ve been honored to have many hunting partners comment on their desire to have a shorthair like my “Trammell” pup.  A few have even gone so far as to connect with Trammell’s breeder and seek out her bloodlines through Top Gun Kennels.  That’s a fact I’m flattered by . . . although Top Gun’s breeding has more to do with Trammell’s prowess than any training I accomplished.

 

At its foundation, following the bloodlines of a bird dog you enjoy hunting behind is a great formula for finding a bird dog pup that you’ll cherish for a decade and more.  Have you ever pursued the pup or breeding of a hunting partner’s stellar bird dog?

 

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

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

 

“Indy,” a 2-year-old English cocker spaniel owned by the Reeves family from White Bear Lake, Minnesota worked hard on a public land pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota this past November. “Indy and my husband brought in a nice rooster,” said Carol Reeves, “Along with our 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, we had another great South Dakota weekend.”

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

My First Bird Dog’s First Pheasant Hunt

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

“Sprig,” and 11-month-old English cocker spaniel, with her first rooster find. Photo courtesy Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“Find it! Dead bird, find it!” “Sprig” and I came out of a cattail draw after flushing out a few ringnecks, one of which my buddy winged down. She was now tracking her first cripple.

A minute or so went by, but with the warm, dry conditions on this Minnesota pheasant hunting opening weekend, I wondered if the scent trail would vanish as they had all weekend. But Sprig’s tail kept wagging while her other end kept sniffing. She followed the trail off the edge of the cattails, up into the surrounding grass stand and zigzagged up and over a hill. A few seconds after she disappeared, I saw the flutter of the rooster on the ridge…and then Sprig came into view. The bird made it about another 10 yards before she smacked into him headstrong; hunting without pulling the trigger has never been so much fun.

I embarked on the “My First Bird Dog” series with the goal of choosing a dog breed, breeder, a litter, a pup, taking the little he or she home, naming it, training it and heading out pheasant hunting. Twenty one blog posts, 229 online comments and a year and a half later, my baby bird dog grew up right in front of my eyes during two days of pheasant hunting.

My only regret is that I didn’t get a dog much sooner. Most everyone I know either works too much, worries too much or whines too much – including me, at times – and having a devoted dog, I’ve found, is perhaps one of life’s best defense mechanisms against all that. Sprig goes with me practically everywhere I go, including work, sleeps in my bed and, including my significant other, Kailyn, has become the joy of our lives. We’ve become “those crazy dog people” and subsequently are wondering When’s the right time to add bird dog number two?

My desire to upland hunt, wingshoot and conserve wildlife habitat through Pheasants Forever’s conservation mission has only grown since Sprig entered my life. And Kailyn, smitten with her puppy and not wanting to spend her entire autumn as a “hunting widow,” without any prodding from me, completed her firearm safety course and joined hunting’s ranks. She’s become a Pheasants Forever member and is recognizing how conserving wild places is important for our wildlife, our environment, our quality of life and our dog’s quality of life.

As the “My First Bird Dog” series draws to a close, I’d like to thank Pheasants Forever’s community of members and supporters for participating. You’ve helped create an online catalog that future hunters and conservationists will find valuable. As for Sprig and me, this isn’t the last you’ll hear from us, but we’ve got to get to work and flush some more roosters. See you in the field!

“My First Bird Dog” posts:

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