Re­triev­ing game is crit­i­cal

Fail­ure to re­trieve game birds is un­eth­i­cal and leaves the broader hunt­ing com­mu­nity open to jus­ti­fied crit­i­cism. As Mark Davis ex­plains, re­triev­ing doesn’t have to be dif­fi­cult, you just need a faith­ful com­pan­ion and pa­tience.

Field and Game - - GUN DOGS -

The use of a well-trained gun­dog in the field en­ables those of us who hunt with a dog to be com­fort­able in the knowl­edge that we, as eth­i­cal hunters, are do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to en­sure that game is re­cov­ered for the ta­ble in a hu­mane man­ner. In do­ing so, we meet our re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spect the game we hunt and the ex­pec­ta­tions of the com­mu­nity.

It is not dif­fi­cult to com­ply and there is much more to be gained from us­ing a gun­dog than ef­fi­cient re­trieval. You can ex­pe­ri­ence the sat­is­fac­tion and sheer plea­sure that one feels when your dog makes a fan­tas­tic re­trieve on a bird that would be im­pos­si­ble for the lone hunter to re­cover, then there is the com­pan­ion­ship our ca­nine friends pro­vide whilst wait­ing for the birds to ar­rive.

A gun­dog will give you an edge when hunt­ing; their su­pe­rior vi­sion will of­ten alert his owner to ap­proach­ing game, long be­fore the shooter is aware — his abil­ity to scent game and in­di­cate its pres­ence al­lows the hunter to pre­pare for the shot, re­sult­ing in fewer wounded game. Hav­ing a dog re­ally does add an ex­tra di­men­sion to your hunt­ing.

This open­ing I spent two hours on the Fri­day af­ter­noon build­ing a hide and po­si­tion­ing and repo­si­tion­ing de­coys — you know how hard it is to get them just right. Satur­day morn­ing, my faith­ful com­pan­ion and I were in the hide by 7 am; we had a lot of birds in the area and they were con­tin­u­ally drop­ping in the de­coys. 7.20 am even­tu­ally ar­rived and we bagged out in short time, by 8.15 we were back in camp cook­ing a hearty break­fast. Now for me, that’s duck hunt­ing.

The lit­tle ef­fort it takes to train a dog to the stan­dard re­quired to re­trieve most birds is neg­li­gi­ble com­pared to the re­wards gained. A mere 10 to 15 min­utes ev­ery sec­ond night or even once a week will be enough to have your dog steady to shot, come when called and re­trieve to hand; the find­ing of dif­fi­cult birds comes with ex­pe­ri­ence and parent­age.

If I couldn’t hunt with a dog I wouldn’t bother; for me it is the com­plete hunt­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Mark was also posed a ques­tion about a 13-month-old labrador that per­formed well in train­ing but seemed to lose in­ter­est when Duck Sea­son started.

Sounds like there has been a lot hap­pen­ing for your young dog: re­triev­ing dum­mies, toys, live birds, dead birds and all ap­par­ently from a very young age.

This firstly tells me the re­triev­ing de­sire is not the prob­lem here. It sounds more like over­load, con­fu­sion and her age. You have sim­ply in­tro­duced her to game be­fore she is ready.

Young dogs ex­hibit this typ­i­cal re­sponse when you do not fol­low some sort of struc­tured for­mat and es­tab­lish re­li­able re­sults be­fore mov­ing to game.

De­sex­ing can have an ef­fect on dogs, even just hav­ing time to fully re­cover, how­ever, proper train­ing is the cul­prithere.

At 13 months Ella is still in the puppy cat­e­gory; you have un­for­tu­nately in­ter­rupted her nat­u­ral de­liv­ery. I sug­gest sus­pend­ing any type of re­triev­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for a while and let her set­tle. You should con­cen­trate on some obe­di­ence work for a cou­ple of months: heel­ing, sit-stays, and es­pe­cially re­calls.

Some folk might sug­gest a pro­gram of force fetch, but I’m not a fan and have never em­ployed these meth­ods with any dog I’ve trained, main­tain­ing nat­u­ral de­liv­ery, in my opin­ion, is the only way to go, be­cause it is pos­si­ble to build re­sent­ment in the dog, which will hap­pen with force fetch.

When you think she is ready to try re­triev­ing again, go back to square one: start with a dummy and stick with it un­til she is reg­u­larly de­liv­er­ing to hand. You want her to re­turn di­rectly to you, so use the side of the house or hall­way, get her ex­cited, throw the dummy and then kneel down and make a fuss of her on re­turn while she is hold­ing the dummy, you can then grad­u­ally set­tle her down. Re­peat a cou­ple of times ev­ery sec­ond or third night un­til you have re-es­tab­lished nat­u­ral de­liv­ery.

The tran­si­tion to game should be dummy, frozen or cold game then warm game, and do not move on un­til she is re­li­ably re­triev­ing each in that or­der.

I em­ploy the three P’s when train­ing dogs: Pa­tience, Per­se­ver­ance and Praise. I rec­om­mend it to ev­ery­one.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.