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  • February 28, 2011

    New National Field Trialing Bird Dog Champion!

    By Chad Love

    by Chad Love

    After two weeks of intense competition at the historic Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, Tennessee the bird dog field trial world has a new national champion.

    From this story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
    When Ike Todd's dog, Touch's Whiteout, finished its three-hour run at Ames Plantation last Saturday morning, it had already been credited with six solid finds. But the dog was out of sight of the judges when the three hours expired -- and when the dog was located by its handler, it was pointed yet again. That qualified as its seventh find, and it was enough to put the dog over the top at the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs.

  • February 25, 2011

    The Story of a Disabled Hunting Dog

    By Chad Love

    Sometimes you stumble across something that is, well, simply amazing. Such was the case as I was perusing the forums last night on the RetrieverTraining.net website  and came across this thread about a lab named Dex and his owner, Curtiss Lindsay.

    Back in February of last year, Curtiss writes, his lab had a litter of nine healthy pups. So far, so good. But a week later they noticed one pup not using its back legs. Several vet visits later, they were told the pup was paralyzed and given the option of either euthanizing the little guy or raising him. The pup came home. But several weeks later little Dex, as he came to be known, got sick, very sick. As it turns out, Dex hadn't been born paralyzed. Shortly after birth his mother had apparently stepped on Dex, dislocating his rear hips, breaking both legs and cutting off the flow of blood. If they wanted to keep Dex, both legs would have to be amputated.

  • February 24, 2011

    Retriever Training Tip: Use Paint Rollers to Stretch Your Bumper Budget

    By Chad Love

    --Chad Love

    Are you a little dismayed after reading yesterday's blog  on the number of bumpers it takes to teach some of the more advanced retriever handling and lining drills? I'm with you. If your paycheck looks like mine, it's no small thing plunking down five or six bucks apiece for a couple dozen bumpers that you are - without a doubt - going to lose a percentage of during the course of training.

    Your dog will chew them up. They will get hung up in trees. You will drive away from your training grounds and forget them. You'll throw them directly into intergalactic worm holes to another dimension disguised as cover. You'll have floating bumpers that immediately sink. After you throw a mark for your dog at a public park, some random, unleashed mutt will invariably grab your bumper and run like hell the other way. I have done all of these things and more, because the first rule of retriever club is: your bumpers don’t like you and will always try to escape.

    So here's a little tip to stretch your bumper dollars. Save the real bumpers for throwing marks and water work and use white paint rollers for your pile work and drills. They're cheap, about the same size as a standard bumper and you can paint them (with non-toxic paint) or cover them with orange tape if you want orange bumpers for blind work.

  • February 23, 2011

    Picking the Right Number of Training Bumpers

    By Chad Love

    by Chad Love

    One of the most common questions from those new to retriever training is "how many bumpers do I need?" And as always, there's no "right" answer. When I got my first retriever back in college, I had perhaps three or four bumpers of various makes, sizes and condition. But when I first started training on a regular basis with a local pro, he told me "get yourself about 16 white bumpers, a dozen orange and maybe a half-dozen large black-and-white ones. That's a start."

    Why the huge disparity in what I thought I needed in college and what he thought I needed? Simply the natural progression and evolution of my training goals and expectations. My first dog wasn't trained to the level my second dog was. She wasn't force-fetched and wasn't trained to handle. She could do simple blinds, but when she veered off her line I had to resort to that most embarrassing of acts, chucking a rock in the direction of the bumper, because, of course, she couldn’t handle. In fact, a good argument could be made that my first retriever wasn't really trained at all. For that level of training (or lack thereof) three bumpers were plenty.

  • February 17, 2011

    Let's Put the "Sport" Back in Sporting Group

    By Chad Love

    There's a discussion over on the always-interesting Upland Journal forums concerning last night's winner of the Westminster Kennel Club's sporting group category. If you haven't heard (and quite frankly you probably haven't because most field dog owners pay no attention to dog shows, myself included) the winner of the group was an American cocker spaniel that well, how can I say this tactfully...looks more like Cousin It's lovechild than a gundog. His name is Beckham, he's very pretty and I'm fairly certain he takes more showers and owns more hair product than I do.

  • February 15, 2011

    Gun-Dog Pimp My Tired Old Ride

    By Chad Love

    This is my truck. It's an old, tired, dirty truck with many, many miles on it. The engine and tranny are still basically sound, but a bit tired. The transfer case could do with a rebuild, as could the front end and suspension. It needs new springs and a lot of the normal little stuff any 16-year-old truck needs. It just seemed like a big hassle and I recently decided to replace it with a new truck. So I took a drive to one of my local dealerships. After recovering from the heart attack brought on by seeing new truck prices, I decided maybe my tired, old truck isn't so bad after all.

    Now I have to decide exactly what to do with it and how I should fix it up. That's where you come in. I want you to pimp my truck (hypothetically speaking, of course) into the ultimate budget bird-hunting and gundog-transport rig. I already have some ideas, but I want to see what you can come up with.

  • February 14, 2011

    Stocking Your Dog's First Aid Kit, Skin Stapler Optional

    By Chad Love

    Earlier this season I was quail hunting one of my local public areas when I noticed two hunters in the parking area standing over a pointer (not the one in the picture, but similar) that had unwisely tried to take a bite out of a porcupine. The dog had a mouthful of quills, which wasn't surprising. What was surprising was one of them asking if I had a pair of pliers they could borrow. Seriously? You're in the middle of country in which pretty much everything you encounter stabs, stings, bites, cuts, punctures, scrapes or pokes, and you don't have even a basic first-aid kit for your dogs?

  • February 11, 2011

    The Hallowed Ground of Grand Junction, Tennessee

    By Chad Love

    "Except for a Kansas farm where I once lived, Grand Junction, Tennessee has spurred me to write more stories than any other place on earth." -- from Bill Tarrant's column "Grand Junction: Bird Dog Capital of the World"

    I grew up reading many of Tarrant's columns on the men and dogs who made Grand Junction such a mythologized place for bird dog enthusiasts. And one of these days, at least once, when I have the time, when I have the money, when I learn how to ride a horse, I'm going to make that pilgrimage to Tennessee. I want to watch those dogs run over the same ground that so many famous dogs have trod before. But not this year. The 112th running of the National Field Trial Championship begins on Monday at the Ames Plantation in Grand Junction, so I don’t think I'm going to make it. But I will post a blog about the winner next week.

  • February 10, 2011

    The Terminator of Gun Dogs

    By Chad Love

    Here's an interesting (and, I have to admit, a little creepy) story and accompanying video sent to me by F&S Contributing Editor Eddie Nickens. The military, it seems, is developing a transport robot called BigDog, and although it's billed as a robotic pack mule, the creature's shape and physiology are seemingly based on Man's Best Friend.

  • February 9, 2011

    Attending Any Gun Dog Events this Spring?

    By Chad Love

    Spring is just around the corner, which means all over the country local gundog and breed clubs are planning their spring, summer and fall trials and events. Retriever guys, pointy dog enthusiasts and flushers have a dizzying array of local or regional field trials and hunt tests from which to choose. If you've never been to a gundog event, do yourself a favor ands seek one out.

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