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Report cards please!!!


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Lets reflect on our pooch's performance this year. What things did your dog do well this year that you can build on? What things does your dog need to improve on?

I'll start.

The good:

Handles well. Covers the ground well and investigates most of the likely spots. Good at not losing her cool on running birds. Getting good at finding cripples and downed birds, especially in thick cover. Figured out how to shift gears between hunting mode and finding downed birds mode.

Needs improvement:

Could be a little more staunch on birds. Every once in a while she'll break point and go in for the flush which I hate (see the Pheasants and Presents thread for a good description of this). Needs more work on retrieving. Retrieved well when there was competition with other dogs but not when alone which is most of the time.

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Overall a great season for both Brittanys that I hunt with. The dry fall did not make it easy.

Ruffed grouse, woodcock, huns, sharptails, prairie chickens, and of course pheasants in terrain that varied from thick woods and swamps, to cattails, to grain fields, to wide open prairie. I find patience is the best virtue a dog owner can have if they expect to hunt multi-species over such a wide range in cover.

Roxy (9): Just enjoy every day that I have with her. Her ability to pin running birds remains excellent. I actually picked up two winged and very alive roosters (we did not shoot) in front of her points this fall. Excellent retriever for both upland and waterfowl.

Bonnie (1): Her nose in unbelievable. Points and holds points well. Range is good most of the time. She rarely chases birds on the flush anymore.

Needs improvement: All she wants to do at home is play fetch, but she rarely picks up birds and brings them back to me. Need to train ... then we are set ...

Interesting comment regarding retrieving with "competition". To what extent does your dog compete - aggressive?

I do not hunt my dogs with other dogs that can not honor another dogs retrieve. I can not afford to have my dogs start "blinking" on shot birds.

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My Griffon and I just finished our second season of bird hunting. We hunted ducks and pheasants.

What went well:

- Retrieving overall was much improved in 2006. Still needs some fine tuning.

- Team work continues to grow. I rarely have to use any commands in the field. We read each other and hunt silently.

- He is improving on cutting a track and finding the bird

- Started the season great on cripples and found some birds I did not think he would find

- Hunts hard and covers lots of ground

- Decent sitting in the duck boat

What needs improvement:

- During the last week of the season, he started pointing cripples

- Hunts hard, but needs to learn to hunt smart

- Hand signals on water retrieves (finding downed ducks that he did not see go down)

- Retrieves on crippled birds that he did not see drop

- Overall fine tuning on tracking / following a scent trail (he does not always know how to shift gears for this)

I am very happy with his progress in 2006, but we have some things to work on this spring / summer. I had a chance to hunt some productive areas in ND with his mother this fall. I was able to see how much more growth he could have with the proper training / exposure on my part.

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Interesting comment regarding retrieving with "competition". To what extent does your dog compete - aggressive?

I don't tolerate aggressiveness at all. Dixie's not aggressive towards other dogs in any form. In fact she's usually submissive and/or playful which I prefer.

Out in SoDak we had the outfitter's lab retrieving birds and Dixie decided she could do it too. So the outfitter held his dog back and Dixie did almost all the retrieving for the last 2 days of our 3 day trip and did a decent job of it. Once we got back to MN then Dixie was back to her old ways which is a below average retrieve. I think I need to speed her up so she doesn't think about what she's doing so she just does it. Right now she gets the bird, picks it up, dinks around with feathers, picks it up, comes my way a little bit, puts it down, dinks with the feathers, etc... In SoDak she'd hit the bird hard, pick it up and come back. She made some long retrieves that way too so I know she can do it.

I see "trained retrieve" in Dixie's future. I'll be asking for advice in a few months if I decide to do this myself.

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Well my eight month old lab and I just finished our first season together. We hunted waterfowl and pheasants.

Here is what went well:

His patients in the duck blind. He listened well for never being in the blind before and even retrieved his first goose at 5 1/2 months.

His nose was awesome.

He hunts hard in all cover when hunting pheasants.

He needs work on:

Retrieving - In the yard he is great, in the feild he wants to play and not bring the bird back right away

His range in the feild. - Sometimes he will range out to far or even chase running birds mad.gif

His listening - I know he can hear me but sometimes will ignore me!

Overall I was thrilled with his progress, the time spent with him as a little pup last summer paid off. It was fun to shoot the first pheasant he flushed and have him mark it and retrieve it. I was amazed how much better he got each time out. I am excited to see more advancement in the years to come.

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Depending upon the disposition of your dog, be very careful with the force break retrieval training method(s). You can damage the dog as easily as you can reach that goal - I believe this is especially true when trying to do this with an older more experienced dog.

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My year old chocolate lab and I also finished our first season together. I am a student at NDSU so I got to duck and pheasant hunt in ND all fall which was the best thing that could have happened for her first year.

The Good:

Her nose was way better than expected

She was a cattail machine. We would walk a slough, finish and be heading back to the truck and everyone but her would walk in the field. She would rather run through cattails than the field.

She made some amazing retreives on wounded birds. A couple of which were over half a mile.

She retreived very well and did not stop to play with too many birds unless they were still alive.

The Bad:

She got really impatient waiting for shooting hours in the duck blind.

She flushed a few running birds about 300 yards away and then came running back like "Hey, I did good! Why didn't you shoot."

She cased some missed birds and some hens a long ways in the beginning of the year but that got fixed at the end.

I trained her myself so I had no idea what to expect and she ended up being much better than expected. My dad, brother and buddies that joined were all very impressed with her desire to hunt. Overall, it was a fantastic season. Hopefully I can find a job that allows me to hunt as much next year.

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The Good:

Great on a cripples, be patient, he'll bring it back. Made some wonderful points, 5 harvested over points. Scenting ability, a vacuum cleaner on some days, swear he didn't miss a thing.

The bad:

My allowing him to chase on runners in thin cover, flushes out of range. On his bad days, fewer this year than last, hunts for himself. Not retrieving to hand consistently.

Gets better each year, at least in my eyes.

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I have three grades to give out for my Red Setters.

Kati my main dog will turn two in a couple weeks. This was her second season with me. She gets an A.

The good: She hunts and handles exceptionally well. I was able to send her with three other hunters (grouse hunting) this year and she pointed and had birds shot over her by people other than me. She either marked, or retrieved to hand every bird I shot. She held point on grouse in some cases a couple hundred yards out in the woods for 5 plus minutes until I found her. One afternoon she pointed over a dozen birds on one trail in about an hour and a half.

Stella is Kati's litter mate (almost 2). I have only had her since mid summer. She gets a C-.

The good: I got to shoot my first bird over her this fall. She is getting better about staying closer in the grouse woods and not running off as much. If I have the Dogtra on her she will stay within around 50 yards in the woods. Hopefully I can increase that with more training.

The bad: Stella still does not understand she is out there to hunt for me. She thinks she hunts for Stella or is just out for a game. When she gets the Dogtra on she has figured out that I don’t want her out playing around anymore, but she now is hunting too close...sometimes a pure bootlicker. She ran off for up to a half hour three different times this fall.

Hank is my male Red Setter and turned 1 in Sept. This was his first hunting season and he gets a C.

The good: When Hank is out there as the only dog he handles VERY well. He ranges out around a hundred yards and works back to me until I cast him out again. He responds to the whistle well and has shown great potential to identify and work towards good cover. He is a hunting machine and can hunt all day for multiple days in a row.

The bad: Hank did not point a single bird this fall. I only know that he bumped one, and flashed pointed another, but I would have liked to see at least one solid point.

Tomorrow begins winter training. Stella and Hank have a lot of work to do. Hopefully next seasons grades increase a lot smile.gif.

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Real mixed bag for me. Very very hard to see my nearly 13 year old lab not being able to do what he used to do. He can't hardly hear the whistle half the time and he doesn't have any stamina, but he still tries hard and for about 1/2 hour he's pretty darn decent yet.

The youngster 1 1/2 has got natural instincts for birds that I'm pleased with for the most part except he's developed a very hard mouth and doesn't want to retrieve, he tends to want the birds for himself sometimes. Very frustrating and needs to be fixed BIG TIME.

I get the worst grade. The dog's lack of polish is caused by my failures in training, not his faults...

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This was my first full season hunting with my ylf Gabbi.

The Good:

She has a great nose and found many cripples. Has so much desire to hunt and quarters pretty good. Retrieves to hand and doesn't play with cripples.

The Bad:

On runners she will still push them up out of range on occassion and when given a correction looks at me like hurry up the birds are up here. Looks like back to the checkcord for some training.

Over all I would say B+. As for the fun we had A+, can't wait til we can do it all over again.

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My yellow lab, Kirby, had a great year. He was trained at TKO Retrievers this year and at 5 months was retrieving birds. He got his first wild retrieve at 7 months. During the season he retrieved over 45 birds and is now 9 months old. We continue to hit game farms to get him on as many birds as we can. I hope the winter stays calm and the farms have enough birds to last through March!!


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Lucky One, Glad to hear you are having fun with Kirby!! We hunted together by Clara City early season. I think Tim let Kirby have a weekend pass as long as my brother Shaun was along. Hope to see you again next season and have fun with Kirby.

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Great topic - this is an excellent time of year to take inventory from last season. Here's Jake's report card - and yes, just like me, recess is his favorite class. laugh.gif

Big Jake

Search: A

Point: B+

Tracking: A

Retrieving: A+

Cooperation: B+

Basically, Jake (1.5 yr old drahthaar) and I finished our 2nd season together. Although we didn't get out nearly enough, when we did we had good success and he produced birds every outing, even in cover that had just be hunted by others. Here's the rundown in my mind of how this season went:

Search: Jake did well covering ground, but checked in and hunted for me, not just himself. He worked birdy looking cover first then would use the wind to cover sparse cover between prime areas. Same in searching for downed ducks - he used the wind very well and targeted prime areas first. He has definitely developed over the last year.

Pointing: Jake blew through birds a couple times that should've been easy finds for him. When he was on, he was ON - pointing everything in the county - but a couple days he just wanted to burn rubber and cover ground, and if that meant blowing birds, who cares? Thinking back, it was always the first part of the day before he'd start pacing himself. I think this will improve with maturity. His staunchness is good, and he's an easy dog to read on point: he'll point old scent but quickly relocate. If the bird's there, he ain't budging.

Tracking/Retrieving: in 2 seasons of hunting, I've never lost a bird with Jake, pheasant or duck. When he sees a bird go down or smells a wounded bird, I just stand back and let him do his business. I winged a rooster straight in front of me while Jake was 50 yards+/- to the side of me. I watched the thing land on his feet and turn on the turbo, but Jake never saw it. I called him over, he hit scent and tracked him across the CRP, down a ditch for 50-60 yds, back up into the CRP, then into the cattails. 5 minutes later he sat at my feet with a very much alive rooster looking me in the eye. Simply awesome, and not the first time he's done that - did it with mallard earlier in the year.

Cooperation: as I mentioned above, Jake hunts for me very well - sometimes he will go into scent overload, as any pup will, and you can almost see his eyes popping out of his head when there's 15-20 pheasants running in front of him, and his hearing suffers in that situation. Not a big deal, but could use some improvement there.

Lastly, the one area I need to improve next year is CONDITIONING. With the warm and dry fall we had, my lack of conditioning Jake became a problem, which is 100% my fault. A dry 60 degrees is bad news for any bird dog in the field.

Can't beat a face like this! (time to comb the goatee, dude!)


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Here is a tip for conditioning and exercising. If you have an ATV and a safe place to ride take your dog along!

Mine Love there romp time along side the atv and it keeps them in great shape! They have a fit if the atv leaves the yard without em!

Just don't over do it if they are not used to it! And Be careful that they don't jump in front when riding! I try to teach mine to stay behind me for safety! Let them pick the speed!

You can get a lot of conditioning done on limited time!

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First off, great site you guys have here. I found it looking for ice fishing info and now I found the Hunting dog section.

I hunted Kansas and Nebraska this year, pheasants, quail, occasional sharptail. We had great early and mid season success, late season we had way to much snow, lots of birds died, so it was off to the preserves for the rest of the season.

Between my Dad and I we have four german shorthairs, Reggie and Sydney had a litter two years ago which we each kept a female, Arrow and Elle.

Sydney had a great early season, until a leg injury shelfed her for most of the season. She is a big runner, great retriever and hunts really well for me. She holds staunch points, has a great nose, and she really works hard.

Arrow is my pick of the litter from Sydney's first and only litter. She was hunting wild birds at 6 months old is at almost 2 years now, she is better than both of her parents were at this age.

Good: Excellent retreiver, hold staunch points, honoring and backing is excellent, this dog can run all day, and hunts multiple consecutive days no problem, she is in great shape. Quarters well and will hunt for other people, but she always brings the birds to the boss! She works a little closer than Syndey as well.

Bad: Has a tendency to follow older more experienced dogs too much. Almost tenative when one of the older dogs is on the ground with her. She is competive with other dogs for retrieves, but is coming around.

Overall, I'm very happy with my two dogs. They aren't steady to wing and shot, but I would rather have them on those wild cripples right away as oppossed to waiting for my command.


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Welcome to FM and the hunting dog forum! We hope to see you post here often. We all work together to share insight and knowledge to bring all our dogs along to be fine hunting companions. Thanks again for your 1st post and we look forward to seeing many more!

Good Luck!


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I'm working with my second GSP. His name is Blaze and he is currently 1yr. He was pointing at 9weeks and at 8 months he won a competition at a Game Farm between 25 or so dogs all which were much older then him. The competition rules were 6 birds, number of shots, and a time limit of 30 min. We got to the "starting Line" and he was already on point. After 2 birds he was on point again but I couldn't get anything to flush I just figured it was old sent. I broke him off point and he circled and went on point again. He was pointing striaght down. I was kicking in front of him and nothing. We were on some ice and if you can relate, sometimes when a slough freezes there is no water underneath. Well he started scratching at the ice so I kicked a hole through it with my boot and reached in and pulled out a hen. Just like a magician. We went on to get our six birds on 5 shots and won the competition easily. People from the cities were offering me $2000-$3000 for him and couldn't believe how old he was. Never being in a competition before was fun but it isn't hunting to me. Blaze went on to do some good hunting this year. He stays close (which is the most important aspect of a good hunting dog to me besides having the hunting mentality), retrieves, holds point, and being young has multiple days of hunting energy. The bad with him is he still has some work to do on finding birds that he didn't see go down faster and the tendancy to take a leek on everything. Good Hunting!

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