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rwwong

Hunting cattail sloughs with pointers?

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I've got a question about hunting pointers in the thickest of the thickest cattail sloughs. I'm fairly new to the pointers, as I this is the first season for my 1 year old Vizsla.

He's been doing awesome since the start of the season hunting in the native grasses, tree lines, fence rows, ravines etc. I've had him to the game farm several times, and he has been steadily improving, has nice steady points on the majority of birds.

So my questions is, since it's late season we have been hunting cattails, and while he has done OK, it takes the better part of the day for him to get birds under his nose. Yesterday we were out by marshall, with an experienced Lab, he seem to be doing great right right away, while it took a while for my pup to find some birds. Towards the end he was tracking and had what I assume were a couple points, but I could never see him it was so thick. I couldn't hear him, so I called for him and the bird would flush a second later right next to him, OPPS. So I guess my questions are.......

1) Are pointers essentially flushers in the cattails?

2) Will success in the cattails come with experience?

3) Are pointers always at a disadvantage in the cattails, compared to flushers?

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1) My GSP points no matter where the birds are at. I'm guessing your Viszla is the same

2) Absolutely. It sounds as though your Viszla is doing his part. Now it's up to you to learn how your dog will react in the thick cover and hunt accordingly ( I experience the same with the GSP)

3)No. It may be more of an advantage because the birds will hold tighter. There's more obstruction for them to flush through so they're more inclined to hunker down.

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Quote:
Yesterday we were out by marshall, with an experienced Lab, he seem to be doing great right right away, while it took a while for my pup to find some birds. Towards the end he was tracking and had what I assume were a couple points, but I could never see him it was so thick.

You answered your own question.

Comments

1) Dogs will point. Many birds including roosters will sit extremely tight and/or slide back around you inside a cattail slough. The ones flushing way out in front (wild) get your attention because they are visible ... many people speed up passing by even more birds.

2) Patience. Most dogs improve as they gain experience. IMHO the learning curve is a little steeper for pointing dogs than flushers - but once they gain the experience and confidence - they out produce because they were bred to find birds with their nose.

If the cattails are full of birds - they may chase runners ... again this should improve each season ..

3) I use a dog bell on my younger dogs. My older dog hunts and points closer to me and I no longer use a bell with her.

You need to get keep listening and pay attention to where the dog is. If your dog has too much range to stay audible, a beeper caller maybe the answer for you.

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First you need to realize your dog is only 1 year old. He won't get really good at it until his third or fourth hunting season.

Second, when in the cattails you need to get a bell, a beeper, or a tracker so you know what your dog is doing in the 'tails.

If you call him and a bird usually flushes it's likely he was pointing. Consider that by calling his name when he's on point you could also be inadvertantly training him to flush on command. That could be a slippery slope especially with a young dog such as yours.

1. Absolutely not. Pointers should point no matter what cover they are in.

2. Yes, most definitely. Like I said above, he won't get really good until he's about 4 yrs old. A one year old dog has a ton of learning to do.

3. No, not always and cattails have nothing to do with it. Some days the birds will sit and some days they'll run like mad.

Get a bell or beeper for that dog and use it in the cattails.

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I would be careful hunting a young pointer with a flusher. Until he is rock solid and will hold points, seeing that lab flush everything can give your pointing dog the wrong idea of what is expected.

A beeper collar is a great tool, I would have a hard time hunting without mine. I lose sight of my pointer pretty easily and when the beeper goes off i go find him. The dogtra i have also allows me to hit a locate button at anytime. This time a year is fun cuz you can get birds to hold tight in the cattails, but birds can also be very jumpy. Yesterday I was out and watched my pointer go on point and about 2 seconds later a bird bailed out about 20 yds out. The birds are pretty educated on pub land this time of year. Adam

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get a beeper collar that has a run point mode.

i have the dogtra 2502 T&B and the old dogtra 2000 T&B

how these work is you have a couple settings, and you can set the collar to beep once the dog is standing still(on point), once the dog moves the beeping stops

that way you never have to worry about calling your dog off a bird, and you can just follow the beep

I have these on each of my dogs and I don't know how I would live with out them

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I think YOU have to hunt a little different in the cattails. Because your dog is a pointer, you need to stay closer to him/her than otherwise. This has served me well in the past. I dont use a beeper collar, that prolly works great too. If you dont have one, try staying closer and keeping your dog closer to you. Hope this helps.

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Cody: Kind a hard to stay close to dog in the cattails, they move faster than I ever could. It is the dog that often decides "closeness" not the hunter. Plus my dog is often 20 - 40 yards left or right of me - while I walk more of a straight path.

Bell works fine for me because my dogs usually do not range out that far. But you must be listening at all times, because once they go on point .. no bell noise. Simply walk to where you last heard the bell.

Beeper caller makes sense to those that use them.

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I've hunted with pointers wearing the bell, but I'm not sure if it will help me in this situation.

Brittman you are correct, my V can work much faster through the slough than I can, he works pretty close, and responds to my commands really well. But, when he starts tracking birds that seem to run on him. He works totally different. Instead of leaping and jumping, and following deer/game trails he plows through the cattails, head down and at this point I don't want to call him off in fear of discouraging the good behavior of scenting birds.

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Brittman,

that is exactly my point, you need to change your behavior. instead of walking that straight line, try just staying with the dog. Of course it moves faster than you, but you can cut corners and be amazingly close if you just change your mindset. It works especially well if you just realize you arent going to go in a straight line or in a specific direction. it is difficult to change, i know, but once you do, you will realize it works better than you think. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

Incidently, I also use this tactic in huge fields if I am by myself. give the dog her head and just follow along, cutting the corners.

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Straight line is a generic term here. It is more of a wobble around an intended straight line.

I break the line (often) mostly when she is on point. The purpose of the "straight line" is not the path, but the destination. It is at the destination where many, many birds are shot... and where do you think that destination is?

That said, I average nearly 2 birds per hunt (majority public land) when the limit was two. Most of my "hunts" are just enough walking to get me and the dogs a little tired. Wondering aimless through cattail sloughs is not for me and I have much to lose by changing my time tested and proven strategy.

In larger grass fields (CRP) I do tend to follow the dog since I can see them and I know their signs when they are birdy and often ready to point. Even then pushing birds to edges results in the best chance .... (by the way there are inside edges in every large CRP field too).

If you mean cutting the corners of the fields, you are missing too many birds. The bird's scent cones are limited in those corners because they have not been running in the grass, but hanging out in the adjacent fields.

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Brittman, I read that as you are venturing to that certain destination in a field. Like walking out a "pinch", to a corner, to the end of the grass. That is exactly how I hunt. Not necessarily a line but to a point straight to that "pinch" Then the birds are forced to decide, fly or not!!!

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Exactly. Drive the runners to the edge (what ever edge is available) and force them to fly. Many flush wild, some (more than you would ever suspect) actually run back behind you, but enough are flushed or pointed by the dogs to make this work.

Also amazing how many simply hold tight and unless the dog hits them they do not move. Last week I could have picked up several hens and a rooster from their cattail home. They all flew normal, thus not hurt. Of course that rooster was not one of the three that I took home. He got to live on to see the blizzard...

this weather needs to turn ... not good to start this tough this early ...

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