Posts Tagged ‘shorthairs’

Your Pheasant Hunting Season is Over, Now What?

Friday, January 4th, 2013

Izzy the shorthair

The author’s German shorthair pup, “Izzy,” loves pheasant hunting and doesn’t want her first season to end. Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

As I contemplate my recreational options for the first weekend in January, my pheasant hunting choices are rapidly disappearing.  Pheasant hunting in my home state of Minnesota closed on New Year’s Day not to reopen till mid-October; ten long months away.  So now what do I do with my weekends?

Although Kansas and Nebraska have provided excellent January destinations for me in the past, I don’t have the time available this year to make those trips from my Minnesota home.

Both South Dakota and North Dakota’s seasons extend through Sunday, while Iowa’s continues through the 10th of January, so this trio of states does indeed provide a more manageable option from Minnesota.

Local game farm hunt clubs also provide a closer, yet pricier, alternative to run my pair of shorthairs and shoulder the scattergun.  While the hunting isn’t near as challenging as a wild bird adventure, my dogs delight in January and February days filled with a nose full of pheasant at the local hunt club.

The reality of my situation is one we all confront this time of year, the winding down of pheasant season and the ten month wait for another opening day.

What do you do when your state’s pheasant hunting closes for the year?  Do you travel to a different state, hit the game farm, find a friend with a beagle to chase rabbits or drill a hole in the ice and go fishing?

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

A Bird Dog Christmas

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The bird dogs’ stockings have been hung by the chimney with care.

Based upon a completely unscientific poll of my friends, family and co-workers, I’ve come to the conclusion most folks wrap a little something under the Fraser fir for their bird dog.  Truth be told, my wife already has some fancy doggy biscuits and chew toy pheasants stuffed into our two shorthair’s stockings.  Yes, both of our GSPs have stockings hanging from the fireplace mantel.

 

However, after my recent run of hunting outings involving dog accidents, I’d like to offer a more practical, and potentially life-saving, Christmas idea for you and your bird dog- a sporting dog first aid kit.

 

Consider, during my last three hunting excursions I’ve been in the company of three separate dog injuries.  First, my buddy Matt Kucharski’s shorthair was poked in the eye with a branch during a ruffed grouse hunt that broke off and left a two inch segment inside the pup’s eye cavity resulting in my first trip to the vet for the week.

 

The very next day, Billy Hildebrand, host of FAN Outdoors radio, and I were pheasant hunting when his fabulous Brittany sliced a massive gash in her paw on some remnant barbed wire bordering a Minnesota WMA.  The second vet visit.  By the way, vets don’t offer frequent visit punch cards.  I asked.

 

And five days later, Kucharski’s shorthair attempted to eat a dead porcupine to the dismay of her owner.  A half hour later, we’d removed two dozen quills.  Somehow, I’d miraculously avoided the vet visit hat trick.

 

Add my recent string of bad bird dog juju to my young shorthair’s own porcupine encounter earlier this year and my older shorthair’s penchant for skunk sprayings, and I’ve come to the conclusion it’s inevitable for any dog owner to go through too many seasons without a bird dog medical emergency.

 

Contents of the Sporting Dog First Aid Kit offered through Pheasants Forever’s online store

While the sporting dog first aid kit offered in the Pheasants Forever online store rings the cash register with rather a large $85 mark, I’ve found it’s virtually impossible to assemble this kit’s components individually under the sticker price.  In the end, it’s a small investment on a critical piece of gear most of us believe we’ll never need, but wish like heck we had when an accident occurs.

NOTE: Items purchased through the Pheasants Forever online store by the end of Thursday, December 13th will be guaranteed arrival prior to Christmas. 

 

Will your bird dog find something under your tree on Christmas morning?

 

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

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.

How to Approach a Dog on Point

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

John Edstrom, PF & QF’s Merchandise Supervisor, approaches a Brittany on point

I learned to bird hunt behind a Brittany.  I don’t remember my dad ever teaching me how to “approach” a pointed bird, but it has always felt natural because it’s how I got my start.  What’s interesting and more than a little humorous is watching my various hunting partners the last few years who have only hunted behind flushing breeds react to my German shorthair on point.

In almost every case, I’ve witnessed “human vapor lock” as these friends look at me with twitching eyebrows, tip toe with caution as they approach the dog, then stop behind the dog and look at me again.  Are they waiting for the weasel to go pop?  Honest to goodness, I’ve witnessed pure fear on the face of a fellow hunter.

“When a rooster flushes in front of my Lab it’s all instinct and excitement,” one friend explained last season.  “With your darned pointer, it’s like watching a Friday the 13th movie and you know Jason is around the corner with an axe.”

I’ve also been told by pointing dog purists to never walk up directly behind a pointer, but rather come in from the front or at an angle.  The pointer purist worries about inadvertently causing “creeping” by approaching a dog from behind.  “Creeping” being the unwanted broken point and creep forward of the dog toward the bird.

With this subject in mind, I called Purina’s “top dog” and pro trainer Bob West for his guidance on how best to approach a dog on point.  “There is no clear cut, best way to approach a dog on point.  You have to factor in the dog’s level of ability, the scenting conditions that day and the species of bird you anticipate being pointed to properly make the best approach for the situation,” explained West.  “When hunting pheasants, it’s not uncommon for me to make a big 20 yard circled approach in front of a dog on point in an attempt to prevent a rooster from running.”

Approaching a dog on point from the front.

West went on to explain to me that he does believe young dogs could be caused to creep by approaching them from behind and an angled approach would be advised; however, he didn’t think a seasoned bird dog would be susceptible to the same problem.  He stressed repeatedly in knowing your own dog’s tendencies and making the best decisions with your dog in mind rather than what some “expert” advised.

West did add that “perhaps more important than what angle to approach is the speed at which to make your approach.  It’s critically important, especially with pheasants, to approach a dog on point at a pace as fast as safely possible.  That bird isn’t going to hold all day and the conditions of the scent and scenario are also constantly changing for your dog.”

Lastly, West reminded me that the bird isn’t necessarily where the dog is looking.  “It’s important to be ready the entire time you approach a pointed dog and be alert in all directions.  The bird may be exactly where the dog is looking, but it oftentimes is not.  Where the dog is looking simply is where that dog picked up the scent to lock into a point.  That dog has been trained not to move any closer than the moment the scent reached a level to cause the dog to freeze.  Its eyes should have nothing to do with it.”

 

Listen to FAN Outdoors this Thursday evening from 7PM to 9PM on www.KFAN.com

To learn more about the pointing instinct and a variety of dog training questions, tune in to FAN Outdoors radio this Thursday evening at 7:45PM (CDT) as Bob West joins the show for a live interview with me and host “The Captain” Billy HildebrandFAN Outdoors airs live on 100.3 FM in Minnesota and can be streamed live across the globe at www.KFAN.com.

Billy Hildebrand, host of FAN Outdoors radio, and I approach Trammell on point.

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

 

 

Naming my Second Bird Dog, Part 1 of 2

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Pictured here is Hope, my new pup's dam. Photo courtesy of Top Gun Kennels

Bird dog names are a big deal to me.  Admittedly, they’re probably too big of a deal.  However, as I’ve written about in previous posts about dog names, a bird dog’s name says a lot about the owner as well as what you hope the bird dog will become. In naming a bird dog, there are two qualities I hold as important guidelines: creativity and personalization.

 

Creativity

Although you may not realize it at first blush, a creatively named dog is an advantage in the field.  I’ve often been in hunting groups with multiple dogs named the exact same way.  Not only are the owner’s commands confusing for the dogs, they’re confusing for the other hunters too.  Under this guideline, I personally throw out the nation’s most popular dog names as well as a few names commonly popular to other bird hunters.  The names “Drake” and “Hunter” fall in this second category, as does any name referencing your favorite brand of shotgun.

 

If you’re struggling to find a creative name, consider a different language to fit the breed of dog you’re getting.  There are lots of fun ways to connect a dog’s German, French, Spanish, English or Irish heritage through their name.

 

Personalization

For me, a bird dog’s name should tell a story about the owner.  Read some of the comments at the bottom of my Please Don’t Name Your Bird Dog That post and you’ll find fantastic examples of dog names in honor of people’s heroes, favorite book characters and idolized musicians, as well as fun stories of the circumstances surrounding the dog’s personality.

 

Admittedly odd for some to understand, I named my now five-year old female shorthair “Trammell,” in honor of a male Detroit Tigers baseball player, Alan Trammell, who retired two decades ago.  However, naming my pup “Trammell” immediately personalized that pup to me.  Her name has also always served as a conversation starter about my love of baseball and my roots as a grouse hunter from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

 

Pictured here is Fletcher, my new pup's sire. Photo courtesy of Top Gun Kennels

Later this month, my wife and I will be adding our second bird dog to the family.  The new pup comes from the same Top Gun Kennel bloodlines as Trammell.  In the sequel to this post, I’ll finally spill the beans on our new pup’s name.  Got any guesses?

 

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

Do you Look Like your Bird Dog?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

According to Doggelganger, I look more like a beagle than my German shorthaired pointer

Last week, fellow PF co-worker Rehan Nana sent me the link to a website called Doggelganger.  Are you familiar with the term “doppelganger?”  In short, the word’s definition is “a look-alike.”  Consequently, the dog version of the definition would be a dog that looks like its human counterpart. 

The creative folks behind the Doggelganger website instruct you to upload a photo of yourself, which is then scanned for your unique features, followed by a run through their database of homeless dogs available for adoption “matching up” to your physical appearance.  The website is promoted as “Human to Canine Software Pairing.”  Complete with fun graphics and a voiceover fitting “Final Fantasy,” Doggelganger is an entertaining two-minute brain break.

Circa 2003

There was a time when folks thought I looked like Mike Myers’ doppelganger, but I’ve never been mistaken for my German shorthaired pointer.  Perhaps that’s because Doggelganger says I look more like a beagle.  While I’ve heard of beagles being used to hunt pheasants before, I don’t think I’m going to be making a switch any time soon.

My doppelganger?

What about you, does your favorite breed of bird dog match up as your Doggelganger

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