Bird hunters love CRP. It is, without a doubt, the most successful and important gamebird conservation program we have. But could CRP have the potential to kill your gundog? That's what a study funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation hopes to investigate.
Last week in my blog post on solo training I solicited comments on what you'd like to read more of, and info on solo training, plus "creative uses of land available in a neighborhood" for training were two answers. I have previously written about my own never-ending search for training grounds, noting that I've been kicked off golf courses, soccer fields, and mall parking lots. But there's one place I haven't tried.
Not long after my post on the importance of training partners I received an e-mail from MBF reader Caleb Gaston, who wrote: "As a novice dog trainer that often works alone, I relish the opportunities I have to work with others. I am able to learn from these trainers that know more about training dogs than I. But, I'm not very often able to train with a partner. My schedule is very weather dependent: if it's a nice day to train, I really should be working on my research on the lake instead of working with my dog. This weather dependency also prevents me from planning ahead to work with a partner.
When I can spare some time for the dog, it's often short notice and not conducive to including a partner. So my question is this: what tips can a more seasoned loner like yourself provide to the rest of us loners? For example: If you were a broke college student, how would you work on marks? Remote sit: walk away from dog, throw mark, send? Or walk away from dog, throw mark, walk back, then send? Throw mark with dog at heel?"
"No one can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes." —Gene Hill
I doubt we'll ever know, in any clinical or scientific sense, what draws us to dogs so fiercely; what compels us to seek out their companionship, even in the most harrowing of circumstances. But we do. Because no matter how bad things are, no matter how bad things might get, the presence of a dog somehow makes things seem a little better. A scratch behind the ear, the wag of a tail, a warm body curled up at your feet; pharmaceutical companies would pay any price to synthesize how that makes us feel. But of course you can't just manufacture that kind of emotion and stuff it in a pill. It comes from a place pharmacology can't yet touch. That's why half a world away, in a place of constant death and misery, our soldiers still seek out dogs.
It should be self-evident for all gundog owners that the future of the dogs we love is inextricably tied to the future of the game birds we hunt. And it all starts with habitat. No habitat means no birds and ducks…no birds and ducks means no bird and duck hunters…therefore no bird and duck dogs.
But having said that, there is one species that by and large hasn't responded as well to federal conservation programs and it's the one species that, for many of us, embodies the very essence of the upland hunting and bird dog experience—the bobwhite quail.
One of the best things to happen to upland bird hunting in the past few decades are state-implemented walk-in hunting (WIHA) programs. And one of the worst things to happen to upland bird hunting in the past few decades are the printed maps telling you where to find these hidden and widely-scattered temples of feathered Nirvana.
It's not that they're inaccurate; they're not...mostly. What they are, especially to those of us with, uh, maturing eyesight, is unreadable. I know it's difficult to cram a county's worth of section lines onto one page, but when you're out in the middle of nowhere and you're trying to count how many section lines you need to drive to get to another piece of nowhere, it certainly doesn't help the cause (the cause being, "where the hell are we?") when you discover you need jeweler's loupes for eyeballs to read the damn things.
Some of you may know that in addition to my duties as a blogger here at Field & Stream, I also write a twice-weekly blog for the conservation group Quail Forever. It's an organization and a conservation mission I believe in wholeheartedly, and although what I write for QF focuses primarily on pointing dogs and quail hunting rather than all gundogs, some of it applies to all dogs regardless of breed or style. Such is the case with one of my recent blogs on roading dogs.
Off-season exercise is a must for hunting dogs, but it's something a lot of gundog owners forget about once hunting season's over. You can’t expect a dog who lies around the house all spring and summer, gobbling down Scooby Snacks and vegging on the couch, to hit the ground running on opening day.
Here's an interesting story out of the UK about dog-eating catfish. Yes, dog-eating catfish. I found it on the BBC's website.
A leading anglers' centre in north Staffordshire has banned dogs from some of its lakes - for fear they will be seized by large fish.
Cudmore Fisheries issued the ban after netting a 7ft long catfish at its Adelaide predator pool. The managing director at Cudmore, Cyril Brewster, said: "We were aware that the local mink population had shrunk to nothing - this could be the reason." Cudmore hosts the high-profile national Fish O'Mania contest. The giant catfish was caught in a stock-taking of the lake, which also contains pike and perch and more than 100 younger catfish. The fish weighed 61lb (27.6kg), and was 7ft (2.1m) long, though what staff reported as a bigger one got away because their net could not hold it.
If someone asked you to name the most important training tool you own, what would it be? Bumpers? Check cord? Whistle? E-collar? Wingers? Good training grounds?
It's a hard question to answer because dog training is a completely subjective and individualistic endeavor. What works for one guy won't work for another. What one person considers important, another doesn't bother with. Different goals, different methodologies and different philosophies mean there is no single, overarching right answer for anything.
Having said that, I will now, of course, completely ignore the above statement and give you a single, overarching right answer for the original question. I believe the most important training tool a guy can have is a partner or a training group. And before all you lone wolves out there start howling about how you prefer to train solo, let me state that that I am as genetically inclined to misanthropy as any of you.
The world of extreme sports is awash in point-of-view video footage from mountain bikers, skiers, surfers, rock climbers, snowboarders, BASE jumpers and virtually every other extreme, obscure or just plain stupid sport or recreational activity out there. And what's fueling that explosion of documented madness is the advent of very small, light, high-definition video cameras that can be mounted pretty much anywhere: on helmets, boards, bikes and even guns.
But a few weeks ago I was talking with my editor and mentioned that I would love to figure out a way to mount one of those cameras on a hunting dog, to get their unique perspective on the world. As far as I knew, no one had ever tried it. It was a great idea. So great, in fact, that someone had already gone and done it...