Posts Tagged ‘flushing dogs’

They Don’t Point, but Flushers Have Their Bird Cues Too

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Photo courtesy David Hendee

Just as pointing dogs signal birds, flushers have ways of notifying hunters that birds are in the area. Photo courtesy David Hendee

I really like the lead time a pointing dog gives for shooting upland birds. I owned Brittanys for 10 years and have hunted with friends’ pointers all my life. A point gives you time to change up from stalking mode to shooting mode. It’s a big advantage over fast-flying game birds.

But, I’ve owned flushing dogs most my hunting life. There are many ways a flusher will cue it’s near a bird. My late English springer spaniel, “Wolf,” would “porpoise” into the air and yip if he was close to a bird. He also ran faster and held his nose more to the ground when on a hot trail. In addition to pace, many other flushing dog owners keep their eyes keyed on dogs’ tails, as the more it wags, the birdy-er that dog is.

Wolf hunted with pointers so much, in fact, that he started “flash” pointing himself as he got older. In case you don’t know, a flash point is just that, a quick point before the dog once again breaks into running pursuit of a bird. Even a flash point is helpful in telling me to get ready for a flush and shot – and it improved my kill rate. My current springer, now six-years-old, has yet to flash point – we’ll see.

Not that I’d ever say a flusher is better than a pointer or vice versa; it’s really a matter of personal hunting style and how you’re geared. I just prefer the faster pace of hunting a flusher provides. I love the more dynamic, unbroken flow of following a flusher and the added challenge of having to quickly stop and make a shot in one, unbroken action. When it works, to me, there’s nothing like it in the hunting world.

If you have a flushing dog, what are the birdy cues?

The Nomad is written by Mark Herwig, Editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at mherwig@pheasantsforever.org.

Keeping Flushing Dogs in Range

Friday, April 26th, 2013

“Hunter” on a solid retrieve after flushing a rooster in range. Photo by Todd Sauers / Pheasants Forever

“Hunter” on a solid retrieve after flushing a rooster in range. Photo by Todd Sauers / Pheasants Forever

Nothing trips my trigger more than an out-of-range flushing dog……..mine or someone else’s.

I mean, you are better off hunting pheasant without a dog than with a dog that flushes birds 75 or 100 yards out. I’ve put my own dog away in a crate when he was breaking range discipline and have insisted others do the same with their errant dogs. It’s enough to make a guy buy a pointer…naw! I’d miss the fast pace excitement of trailing a flusher too much. And that flush at the end, it don’t get any better!

I knew my current dog, a springer named “Hunter,” had arrived two years ago when he self-corrected on a hard running North Dakota rooster. Instead of running out of range, he held up for me, circled and caught the trail, eventually flushing the rooster in range (I got ‘em too).

But, it takes time and work to get a flushing dog to resist the instinct to hit the gas and chase out of range. First off, every dog I’ve ever trained is different. I’ve had to learn what it takes with each dog. I had to use an e-collar with “Hunter” the first few years, but now I don’t even put it on him. He gets it.

A dog man’s best range tool is still the check cord. Let them get out a bit and pull them back, sharply at first if the dog is a slow learner. Then, let them run with the check cord dragging behind as a reminder. Eventually, turn them loose without the cord. It takes time and repetition. The real test comes when they are hot on a bird’s trail. Keep an e-collar on them in case they need a reminder. I start with a verbal warning. If that doesn’t work, I use the tone or vibration button. If that fails, then use low stimulation. I’ve had to use mid-range stimulation when a dog first bolts after a rabbit or deer, but it usually only takes one or two lessons to make that point.

I never get tired of hunting birds with a dog. When it all comes together – a bird, close-in flush and good shot – it’s a thing of beauty.

The Nomad is written by Mark Herwig, Editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at mherwig@pheasantsforever.org.