Bird Hunting

double_a85

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Apr 30, 2014
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Roundup, MT
So my wife and I have been talkin a lot this winter about trying to get into upland bird hunting more--- Even to the point of getting a dog and really getting into it. She has never hunted over a dog before... and wants to try it before we actually get a dog.

Anyone know of Central MT guides/outfitters that we could hunt over a dog for a weekend? I would much rather find a guide for us to hunt with for a day or two than get a dog and have wife not enjoy it-- wouldn't be fair to the pup!

We wouldn't be getting a dog for a few years--- have other mutts still around... but something to start looking into/planning...
 

double_a85

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Thanks for the reply Nemont--- I guess this summer I will call around to a few guides and see what they can do--- most offer 3-4 day hunts... I would like to just do a weekend--- and since we live in MT, not really sure about lodging... although that would depend on how far away from Roundup we go--

I have hunted over dogs and love it. The guy I hunted with no longer lives anywhere near here, so that takes him out of the equation for helping the wife out. None of my coworkers/friends/family are into upland bird hunting so have no one to tag along with--- why I thought a local guide/outfitter may be the best bet-
 

double_a85

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Well after talking more with the wife, we decided it would be money better spent on a dog versus hiring an outfitter for a weekend. I looked at different breeds, chatted with a few guys on here and decided on a French Brittany. I was expecting to end up on a waiting list somewhere, but found a breeder that had one ready to go---

So here is "Scotch."

I am fortunate that I can take him with me to work most days. Little bugger has tons of energy!
 

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BigBull301

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Jun 3, 2012
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Congrats on the pup!

I think you will soon find out that bird hunting is all about the dog work. Nothing better than watching as your dog does as they are trained and bred to do!

Good luck,
TMac
 

Highwood

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Judith Basin MT
Double_a85, Nice pup, you won't go wrong with him.
Good luck with the bird hunting, you won't have to go far to find a variety of species.:)
Britts are full of energy, I have one that's going to be 3 and what a FUN pup.
 

double_a85

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Roundup, MT
Thanks All--- It didn't take long for the newness of a new home to wear off and the puppy come out in him.

Double_a85, Nice pup, you won't go wrong with him.
Good luck with the bird hunting, you won't have to go far to find a variety of species.:)
Britts are full of energy, I have one that's going to be 3 and what a FUN pup.

Highwood--- Yes, TONS of energy. But when that goes he naps just as hard as he played! This is my first time around this breed, and what a treat he is.

I agree with my location--- getting the dog was an excuse to get more time out in the field, and hopefully have some birds for dinner a little more as well:)
 

DrH

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My black and white French Brittany is nearly three years old, and my sarcastic wife says he and I are attached at the hip. He has become an excellent hunter, on blue grouse, pheasants, and Gambel's and Mearn's quail. His only fault is the habit of barking he picked up by being in a kennel until he was 4 months old. One barks, they all bark. We are working on that. You made a good choice.
The people who commented are correct, it's much more fun with a good dog, and as the dog learns the dog work is as much fun as the hunting. Ben Williams says you should teach the dog "whoa" and "come", then expose the dog to as many birds as possible and genetics will take care of the rest. That is exactly what the breeder told me, too. Both were right.
 

Highwood

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Thanks All--- It didn't take long for the newness of a new home to wear off and the puppy come out in him.



Highwood--- Yes, TONS of energy. But when that goes he naps just as hard as he played! This is my first time around this breed, and what a treat he is.

I agree with my location--- getting the dog was an excuse to get more time out in the field, and hopefully have some birds for dinner a little more as well:)

Yes, and as you know, these Britts are the nicest, softest lap dogs. Mine will first of all crawl on my Wife's lap for a nap,(after the romp) then when he really wants to rest up, up on my lap. Although if I don't get the energy used up, our Britt is restless, got to use up the puppy energy. :)
 

double_a85

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Roundup, MT
So maybe I should start a new thread for this question, but how do you guys go about training your pups on birds? Pigeons? Pheasant wings? Where do ya take the dog to train?

Also, anyone in the Billings, MT area know where I could get pigeons for training? Has any of the locals run their dogs on the training fields at Blue Creek Shooting Complex? Thinking if its a good place to let the dog get on birds I would join in a heartbeat.
 

JLS

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I took him out and hunted him, but mine was a pup in the fall.

Read Charlie Johnson's "Training the Versatile Dog". It's a great book.

I would be cautious about too many pen raised birds, because you don't want him to catch one Also, trying to do too much too fast with a pup is not a good thing. I found with my GWP that is was as much about letting him figure it out as anything.
 

MKotur325

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When my parents trained up their French Brit, we worked with a Hun Wing and a Sharptail wing on a cheap flyrod with some 40lb mono... We would spend 20-30 mins 2x or so a week during the summer training the dog with the wing. Wing training was really effective. One good way to help preserve the scent is to freeze the wing between sessions.

They worked with the local Gun Dog Club a bit her first summer with pen raised quail. We only went out there a couple times, around August. Their pup was about 5mo old at that point. It was nice to do this to see how the dog would react to a gun.

Another option depending on how you feel about it... I believe the shooting preserve season in MT goes through 3/31, so you could get the pup on some birds this weekend if there is a preserve close by. I know it would be more expensive than finding pen raised pigeons, but it's an option that exists right now.

There's something to be said for the dog catching birds. While ours didn't catch any quail, she did catch a Rooster a couple years back. It was coming out of some thicker brush and she managed to grab it by the tail and knock it out of the air, she ran it down and retrieved it. That was a good day, we put 5 birds in the air and came home with 6...

One more consideration, With our French Brit, she doesn't point any birds that we have not shot over her. We trained her with hun and sharptail wings so she has always pointed them, but it took shooting (or shooting at) phesants and mtn grouse for her to associate them as birds she should point. It only took one time with each new species and she is good to go. Her first pheasant hunt I shot a year old rooster that I bumped out, she got a good smell of the bird and had 4 other solid points that day.

It's also a really good idea to snake train the dog. One of the spots we hunt in Central MT we have seen rattlers out as late as Thanksgiving :eek:. Surprised me too... We actually ran into a 3'ish pissed off buzzworm on 11/23 a couple years ago. One last thing about snakes. Don't shoot them around the dog. For our brit, she associates anything we shoot as things she should point. It stands to reason that if we shot the snake she may start pointing them; and that sounds like bad news in my book...
 

JLS

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A couple of good points above. I don't shoot rattlers or porcupines near my dog. I want him to correlate shooting with things he should retrieve.

It goes without saying, but I'll say it again. NEVER shoot a bird that your dog flushes. If you bump it, fine. However if pup loses his composure and just goes for the flush and not the point, let that one sail. You absolutely don't want to reward that behavior.
 

double_a85

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Roundup, MT
Thanks JLS and Mike--

Mike, I will be putting this dog through Butch's snake aversion training this summer. I hadn't thought about the correlation to shooting them around the dog, excellent point. Looks I will have to retrain my school of thinking in regards to buzzworms... And yes, they stay out late. I usually stumble across one while hunting elk in the Breaks opening week.

JLS- I have read a lot of articles that state exactly what ya said about not shooting anything the pup flushes out. May be discouraging to watch the bird sail away, but will have a better dog because of it. That book is on my Amazon wish list, looks like I better just order it.

I see Cabelas has bird wings... maybe I can sneak away from work and pick some up within the next few days to work him this weekend. Get him worked up on the bird stuff and then at some point start the introduction to guns. I ordered some shotgun primed hulls to start out with, but I think he will be good. Since I get to take him to work, he has already been introduced to load noises while focused on our "shop" cat, and never flinched.


Thanks guys--- I welcome anyone's ideas/suggestions/help... as a newbie with this any info should help me and Scotch.
 

JLS

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I don't know if you've even thought of whether to force fetch your pup yet, being a Britt it might be a good thing. Done properly, I don't know that it can hurt any dog.

It's not all that hard to do yourself, the initial first week or so sucks. I made the mistake of putting too much pressure on my dog. When he wouldn't pick up the dummy later in training, I would pinch harder. This eventually made him start shutting down and he didn't even like retrieve training.

I took a break from it, sought some advise, and started again. This time, I didn't pinch harder, I just maintained a light pinch that was uncomfortable. I very quickly saw some positive results and now have a GWP that really retrieves nicely and will hold the bird until it's taken from him.

If you don't force fetch, you may very well end up with a dog that will bring the bird back to you (almost), then drop it five feet away. If you think you can outrun a mallard duck or rooster that has a five foot head start, I'll wager that any day. It can be annoying to downright aggravating as all get out when your dog drops the bird, which is still very much alive and you waste a bunch of time and energy re-catching it time and again.

It's never too early to start introducing him to gunfire, just make sure pup is doing something fun as you progress through it.
 
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