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2springers

Hunting untrained Springers

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This year I have finally had the time to get out for some pheasant hunting. I am new to it myself but have had intentions for the last several years to get into it. I have 2 Springers, a 4 year old male and 3 year old female. They have had no formal training in the the field. They have been out once or twice and are familiar with gun noise. This year Ive been out a few times with the dogs individually. They instinctively have the desire to hunt and root for birds.

My question is what can I do as a beginner myself to refine my dog's hunting skills?

Is it all about time in the field? Keep putting them on birds and their scent?

They are well behaved and stay close by me(the female more so than the male), but I have noticed they dont seem to quarter as well as Id like, but like to run leap and bound through the grass as if it's playtime.

Any insights from you veterans?

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Bigggest thing is going to be experience in my opinion. If possible, some funds expended at a game farm is a great way to get the dogs on birds.

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If your dogs do not mind gunfire then you need to spend some time over birds. You dogs need experience making the connection between scent, birds, the shot and the retrieve.

Each one needs to be worked on. The trainer I used would show the dog birds, let him chase them and bring them back. He would then show the bird to the dog and place it in the grass. The dog would learn that just cause it can't see it doesn't mean its not there. Then the dog uses its nose to find the bird with the same reward at the end.

After that it went to "hunting" type situations with planted birds. This is where the game farm comes in. You should spend some time there and help your dogs make the connection.

As far as working in the grass and quartering, they need to learn the proper distance and to range out. If they don't know that they are supposed to be looking for something (finding the scent/birds) then for them it is just time to play in the grass.

My dog is the same way, except that he is always smelling. When he gets birdy, I know it and I wait for a flush. I got to see it several times this weekend and it was very satisfying. He is only 2 yrs old.

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They are well behaved and stay close by me(the female more so than the male), but I have noticed they dont seem to quarter as well as Id like, but like to run leap and bound through the grass as if it's playtime.

Any insights from you veterans?

I'm not a veteran, but the way I'm teaching my 6mo YLM to quarter is to walk him to the local soccer field, then put him on a 25' check cord. First I only let out about 8 feet of cord and start by saying "Where's the birds" to get him excited. Then I started jogging in one direction and he'd follow me and when it was time to change back I'd say "hunt 'em up", and give him a slight jerk on the cord to get him to go the other way with me.

As he caught on to the game, I'd let more cord out and give him a chance to change direction on his own after calling "hunt 'em up" before jerking the cord.

My first two times at the game farm, all I did was control the dog on a check cord and brought along a gunner with me. We'd plant one bird at a time and I'd guide him so he'd quarter up to it until he caught the scent, then let him use his nose to find and flush.

One problem I'm having is that since this is still new to him, he's smelling everything. At first I couldn't tell if he was birdy or curious. I don't want to make him quarter if he's birdy, but I don't know that I want to let him sniff around if he's not.

Finally, after shooting all the birds we paid for, we started kicking around the tall grass for scratch birds and right in front of me he got very excited and a few moments later, kicked up a rooster.

I'm going one more time tomorrow as a final training session before we go to SoDak Saturday. My only real problem with him is he's not steady to flush, gun or wing. He sees bird, he tries to get bird. He's a pup, though, so I expected that. I have a feeling I'll be chasing him down a few times is SoDak. Thankfully I'm hunting with family and they understand he's a pup, he's learning, and there are plenty of birds if he ends up flushing out of range. Also, being young, i'll only hunting about 1/2 to 1/3 of the time out there.

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