What the Dogs Taught Him
With National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic coming quickly on the calendar, it’s time to contemplate your plan of attack. Scott Linden, host of the Wingshooting USA TV series and a regular contributor to the Quail Forever Journal, told me he’s on tap for presenting two different seminars each day at Pheasant Fest – Go West, Young Man [or woman] for Wild Quail and What the Dogs Taught Me. Scott’s seminars are informative, fun and usually audience interactive. Definitely put him on your Pheasant Fest schedule.
Along with that plug for Scott’s seminars, I’d like to give a big recommendation for his new book, not-so-surprisingly titled What the Dogs Taught Me. Scott, who owns two German wirehaired pointers, has compiled a book of training and hunting tips, advice and anecdotes – a wealth of practical info for bird dog owners and upland bird hunters.
It’s hard to characterize What the Dogs Taught Me. Scott’s discussions range from general to specific, novice to advanced, researched to anecdotal. He has hunted upland birds across the country and has an impressive amount of experience to draw on, but his humility and respect for the wonders of upland hunting and bird dogs are always evident. While some readers might disagree with a comment here or there (we bird dog owners are a notably opinionated bunch), it’s hard to argue with clear-headed advice such as not using your hands for corrections until your dog truly understands the command you’re teaching: “…A dog should trust your hands.”
The first half of the book covers dog behavior and a variety of training issues along with how to shoot better and hunt better. The second half is organized more as a reference book, with chapters on “Care and Feeding,” “Skills Every Bird Hunter Should Have,” questions from Scott’s viewers with his answers, and a terrific chapter that is a straightforward bullet list of tips such as using a ball of duct tape as a fire starter, how to move cows off a road and what direction is best for squirting water in a dog’s mouth. Also included is a chapter titled “Road to the Utility Test” in which Scott chronicles training his dog Manny for the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association Utility Test. While analyzing the challenges of teaching steadiness, clean retrieves and a 10-minute duck search, Scott touches on many of the issues he discussed in the earlier chapters on dog – and human – behavior. The book concludes with Scott’s handy “Ultimate Upland Checklist” and a glossary of terms.
Throughout the book, Scott’s sense of humor keeps the tone lively. Talking about “face time” with your dog, Scott says, “Anyone who doesn’t let their dog lick their face once in a while probably prefers cats.” Talking about trying to see things [while hunting] in a different light, he says, “…there is a lot more to bird hunting than obtaining protein.”
What the Dogs Taught Me is one of those books you read straight through, learn a lot, then leave on the coffee table or nightstand to pick up and leaf through again, each time discovering something new.
Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.
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