Posts Tagged ‘flushing dogs’

Rooster Road Trip: Great Plains Pointing Dog Primer

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it's at!

Chasing autumn openers behind pointers is where it’s at! Photo by Bob St.Pierre / Pheasants Forever

As the most senior (aka oldest) member of the Rooster Road Trip, I had the advantage of picking the states I wanted to hunt with Team Pointer prior to Team Flusher’s selection.  So, my Catholic upbringing necessitates that I come clean about the advantages I weighed when factoring in my decision to select the Great Plains destinations of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska over states with arguably higher concentrations of roosters.

1) Winter is Coming: Four inches of snow fell on Wednesday night just 40 miles north of my home in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. While I consider myself a hearty Northwood’s hunter who isn’t afraid of a cold hunt, given my choice, I’d hunt 40 degree sunshine soaked days all season long. Can you blame me? After last winter’s recurring “polar vortexes” put Minnesota into 30 below zero deep freezes, I’m guilty of making autumn last as long as possible. Advantage: Pointers

2) Chasing Openers: I love opening day of the season. To me, a state’s pheasant hunting opener is more exciting than Christmas morning. So why not celebrate opening week with our Pheasants Forever brethren in Colorado and Kansas? Admittedly, this stacks the odds significantly in our favor over Team Flusher considering Andrew, Anthony and the gang hunted states with openers weeks ago. There is no secret to the science behind there being more roosters in the field on opening weekend than will be around to be chased three weeks later. Advantage: Pointers

3) Walking vs. Busting.  I’ll be the first to admit a Labrador retriever, or similar flushing breed, is a better pheasant dog in the birdie cattail sloughs of Minnesota and the Dakotas. My GSPs and my 5’7” frame would choose the rolling plains of Kansas any day of the week over getting our butts whipped by the thick thermal cover of the north. Matching a dog’s style with habitat puts both groups in their preferred situation. Advantage: Push

4) Mixed Bags.  Have you ever walked up on a dog on point expecting a rooster to cackle to the sky only to have a covey of 14 bobwhite quail rise and whirl like bumblebees all around you?  Nine times out of ten, I’ll empty the Citori without anything falling. But, on that tenth time, on that tenth time when you bag a double. Talk about a bird hunting high! Throw in the possibility of greater prairie chickens to our bag and the advantage is obviously ours. Advantage: Pointers

All right pointing dog lovers, what other advantages will Team Pointer have over the Flushers in the week to come?

Follow along to the 2014 Rooster Road Trip at www.RoosterRoadTrip.org and be sure to mention #RRT14 in all your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

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.

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.