Caribou Gear

Ella's first Quail hunt

TwistedSage

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Ella is my 4.5 month old Drahthaar, my first pointing let alone versatile dog and really the first dog that I have truly dedicated myself to training. I'm sure I'll continue to make mistakes but we'll figure it out together.

Before we started training together I had hopes that we would be able to hunt together towards the end of the season maybe in February where shed be around 7 months. This pup has been bold to say the least and with no sensitivity to gunfire and being on a few rabbit hunts already I figured we might as well start our bird training as soon as we can.

Got Ella out for her first Quail hunt this past opening weekend and first time hunting birds. We ended up with one bird and both of us learned a whole lot. I recognize some mistakes I made that I made thatll give me more to work on for next time and Ella now knows that hunting birds is the bees knees, even better than her old favorite hunting rabbits.

Because our previous outings have been about tracking and hunting rabbits I really wanted to make sure I had as much control as possible and really wanted to work on the point more than anything so Ella was on a lead the whole time with the exception of once which I'll get to later.

I had her on my over the shoulder Jaeger lead plus I tied about a 10ft peice of 550 chords to the end of that to give her a small bit more range. I'd liked to have given her longer but the yuccas and mesquite would end in more tangles than anything.

I use a peice of 550 chord for a slip tracking lead for her too so as soon as the 550 was hooked to her collar she knew it was time to start looking for something. I took her to a couple of spots that I knew quail frequented, unfortunately rabbit are there as well and use all the same trails. So while I was trying to put her on quail she was trying to put me on rabbits. I kept on following her for about an hour and a half and she put us right up to 3 different Jack's, luckily she was on lead as she wanted to trail badly. We got back in the truck and went to a different area, about 200 yards in and sleeking up a scrub oak sandhills she throws a solid point as if theres something in the grass right ahead. I get ready as we inch forward then I see it, a damn rattle snake! I about chit myself and yanked her away. Thank goodness it was already dead and no head to be found whew. The next hour or so every time her lead slipped through the scrub and rattles the dead leaves I about jumped out of my boots.

About halfway through the day I took control of the hunt and started checking out all of the old gnarled mesquites I knew the conveys like to gather. Wasn't long after we got into an area that had these old gnarled groves that I saw a cover running from tree to tree. Ella was unaware of the birds as she was still in rabbit mode but I kept us creeping in. I saw the covey flush and knocked one down right as they flushed. This is where I made my big mistake in hindsight... in wanting ella to put it together after I saw the bird down I let her off the lead and said go get it. Ella didnt see the Quail at first let alone mark the bird I hit, she did however see the covey flush and got super excited. When I let her off lead she didnt know I needed my down bird she just went to go find the rest and promptly did so bust a couple landed singles and trying to relocate again. Damnit. After I gathered her up and put her back on lead we walked back to the tree the covey flushed from and where the downed bird was at, she found the bird and i let her have her moment with it. We then played fetch a couple of times and i held it close to me petted her let her get another whiff and put it away. From then on she was on the birds, cutting all kinds of tracks and throwing points into trees the birds likely scurried from. We hunted the mile back to the truck and she bumped 2 more singles. She had tracked them and just got too close she didnt intentionally flush but the birds weren't hanging around. While cut for sure this time we bumped another rabbit but this time she just looked back at me, I said no, and she got back to looking for birds.

I am super excited to have quail wings now to put on her bumper and do some more retrieve training and also to correct my mistake next time and make sure shes on lead for the complete process of find, shoot, and retrieve the downed bird before moving on to the next birds. I probably set her back a bit on that one.

I shared my beef jerkey with her on the way home and gave her some extra attention. Looking forward to many hunts with my new partner.
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JLS

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Almost Arkansas…..
When I let her off lead she didnt know I needed my down bird she just went to go find the rest and promptly did so bust a couple landed singles and trying to relocate again.
Don’t sweat this. It’s not a big deal. Next time, either keep her on the check cord and work her down wind of the down bird or get her close and then release her.

Down birds don’t put out a lot of scent initially relative to the amount of scent the covey left there. It can be difficult getting a pup to focus on a specific area when there has been a covey there.
 

TwistedSage

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Man she’s a pretty dog!
Thank you, shes is a beaut!
Don’t sweat this. It’s not a big deal. Next time, either keep her on the check cord and work her down wind of the down bird or get her close and then release her.

Down birds don’t put out a lot of scent initially relative to the amount of scent the covey left there. It can be difficult getting a pup to focus on a specific area when there has been a covey there.
Appreciate it, I didnt even think about the collective scent of the covey. I'm gonna go the checkcord route at least for a couple more birds and we start to develope a pattern.
 

lpshunter29

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Sorry I'm late to the party but I'll still add my piece. First of all, congrats on a great hunt with a great dog, my Brit and I are starting our second season together and hunting behind a pointer is a blast. One thing I realized pretty quickly in the training process is that the knowledge of how to hunt is instinctual, not taught. Your job is to teach her how to hunt for you, not how to hunt. I'm not saying my dog is perfect, but I can truly say I spent way too much time watching him watch a pheasant wing and not nearly enough time on obedience, quartering, and direction. Happy hunting and happy training!
 
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OntarioHunter

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When she's close enough to see and hear one of those downed birds do the funky chicken flutter, she will be hooked on retreiving them. Just wait and see. I have always allowed my dogs to break on shot. It's not a big deal unless hunting from a layout blind in the field. I don't believe they mark them any better if waiting to be released. My Lab has an uncanny ability to mark birds. Last week she caught a hen pheasant hiding in drifted snow. I released it and it flew around the corner back down the coulee. Ellie bounded after it and I thought nothing but after five minutes of blowing the whistle and no dog I went looking for her. She was bounding back 300 yards away with hen in her jaws. Yesterday she found two downed roosters in cattails that I know she couldn't see when I shot them. How does she know there's even a bird in there? She does this on a regular basis. I have concluded she hears the death flutter. Seems logical after watching her behaviour. She plunges into the thick stuff and then stops, and then goes to the area where it fell.

I have trouble with my Fr Britt and cottontails (she doesn't get excited about jack rabbits as big as her). And I do not hunt them. I think this is going to be a problem for you for understandable reasons. I'm not sure I see the utility of European "versatile" hunting dogs. Over there they pretty much shoot anything the dog kicks up so it works fine. I don't want my dogs chasing anything but birds when we're hunting. And there's lots of stuff to chase - deer, badgers, rabbits, snakes, cattle, ... So they learn very early on with some very firm enforcement that they stick to birds. But poor Puppy still can't leave those fluffy tailed bunnies alone even though she knows she's going to catch hell.
 

TwistedSage

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I think the utility of the versatile dog is that it has the ability to excel at multiple aspects of the hunt whatever it is you are hunting. I've heard and read all about people not wanting their dogs to even think about hunting rabbits so they just attempt to avoid them.

Versatile dogs equals versatile training, if you can train a dog to be steady to flush on birds you should be able to train steady to fur or rabbits.

I'm not sweating her being into hunting rabbits and I am very proud/ impressed with her tracking ability. Once she got into "bird mode" and we accidentally bumped a rabbit she simply looked back at me and a no was all it took for her to put her nose back onto the quail and forget about the jack.
 
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OntarioHunter

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I think the utility of the versatile dog is that it has the ability to excel at multiple aspects of the hunt whatever it is you are hunting. I've heard and read all about people not wanting their dogs to even think about hunting rabbits so they just attempt to avoid them.

Versatile dogs equals versatile training, if you can train a dog to be steady to flush on birds you should be able to train steady to fur or rabbits.

I'm not sweating her being into hunting rabbits and I am very proud/ impressed with her tracking ability. Once she got into "bird mode" and we accidentally bumped a rabbit she simply looked back at me and a no was all it took for her to put her nose back onto the quail and forget about the jack.
Ah, sounds like she prefers birds to bunnies. Can't blame her for that. Me too. If you can call her off game she's formerly been allowed to chase that would be remarkable. I think you may have a winner.
 

JTHOMP

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Remember, you’re not so much teaching her as you are exposing her to stuff to let her learn on her own. It’ll click.

Sound advice. She was bred to hunt and do her thing. Training is only guiding her in a manner that benefits both. Having a good handle and being commanded to not chase what’s natural has it’s benefits. My little dog hates a coon, and I want her to tree them. This morning there was one in the trash can outside when I let her out at 0500 hours. A simple “leave it” and “inside” command was much easier to deal with than me jumping into a scrap with them with nothing but a pair of drawers on.

Hope yall have many good hunts in the future!
 
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