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Five Ways To Cut Down On Lost Birds

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November 13, 2013

Five Ways To Cut Down On Lost Birds

By Phil Bourjaily

I mentioned earlier ("Are you a good shot") that I have participated in a FWS survey about my dove season. It asked how many doves I shot this year and how many hit the ground unrecovered. The final tally was 119 in the bag and 4 that hit the ground that I didn't find. Add to that five or six that were hit hard that never landed, or that reflushed. Assuming every one of those birds didn't survive, my crippling losses were lower than 10 percent. Most estimates I have seen are much higher which suggests hunters need to work harder on their cripple finding skills.

Losing birds used to upset me so much it ruined a hunt and a whole day for me. I could never shrug and say "Foxes have to eat" the way some people can when a crippled bird gets away. I still hate losing birds but finally after 30-some years of doing this I have come to the realization that it's going to happen sometimes. All I can do is make my best effort to recover the bird—realizing that my best effort is pretty good but sometimes not enough—and move on.

Hunting with a trained retriever is the best way to cut cripple losses, but it's not the only way. Here are five tips:

1. Take good shots at birds in range. Also, think before you shoot about where the bird will fall. Especially when I'm dove hunting I will pass up shots that would drop birds in heavy cover.

2. Shoot doubles rarely. If I shoot a bird I usually watch it hit the ground—or watch it fly away to be sure it isn't hit—rather than go on to the next one. I've seen lots of birds fly off as if unhit, only to fall out of the sky one or two hundred yards away.

3. Get a good mark. When a bird falls get a good mark on the spot. Pick out a single tree or weed. Walk straight to it and never take your eye off the spot. If you're hunting with someone, triangulate your marks.

4. Keep looking. Persistence pays. Sometimes if your dog can't pick up the scent of a cripple the best thing to do is hunt somewhere else and come back and try again. I've even come back the next day and found birds.

5. Go right to the bird. A few years ago I was hunting a pothole in North Dakota when someone sailed a mallard that flew off into a huge picked field, then fell dead a quarter of a mile away. I picked a powerline on the horizon as a mark and got ready to go pick it up. "We'll get it after the hunt," said our host. When we went to get it all we found was a pile of feathers. Foxes do have to eat, but they should catch their own birds.

Comments (24)

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from Harold wrote 22 weeks 3 days ago

what cut down on my lost birds was a good dog! I can't count the number of birds found by a dog that I would have never found.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 22 weeks 3 days ago

My 5 tips are Dog, dog, dog, dog and dog. Then apply Phil's five as a back up.
I also allow MY dogs to go immediately after the shot.

There are two schools of thought on this.

Those opposed to letting a dog go have several good reasons:
1.) The dog could be hit by a follow up shot.
2.) The dog could bust any remaining birds in the covey
3.) It's unacceptable for field and water trials.
If that's what you want...then abide by those rules.

Me:
1.)I mostly hunt alone and I NEVER take low follow up shots (blue sky under)because I've seen the finest field trial champs break occasion. Why take that chance for a bird.
2.)This is valid if you hunt Quail or covey birds. Me...I hunt mostly Woodcock, Ruffs and Pheasant and there are low limits..so the likelihood of a report pair is slim...but even if it happens and the bird is high, I still have a chance. But most of all the dog is at least on the sure kill for recovery.
3.)I don't field trial. I'm glad others do, because it produces good dogs for me....but IMHO it's another sport in itself and takes away from either my fly fishing or practical time afield with my hunting dogs.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Here, here, haverod! I agree totally. My dogs have always broke on shot and I DO NOT have a problem with it. The faster they can get to a pheasant or hun, the greater the probability they'll catch it if it's only dinged. Those birds can almost make their scent disappear they run so fast. That business of releasing dogs after the shot is all show as far as I'm concerned. And, like you, that show does nothing for me. That crowd is generally way too plastic for my taste.

Phil's advice is all excellent. I will pull on a second pheasant if I see the first one fold completely. But that is rare. Usually they flutter to the ground and I keep my eyes on them till the dogs are there. When hunting geese in the field I'll readily pull on the next bird. They can't outrun the dogs and Pearl has a real nose for them. We rarely lose one.

It not only important, but almost everywhere it's the law to retrieve downed game immediately. In October I drove out in the field when I saw a couple of slob hunters I recognized to see if they needed any help finding birds. They were busy making a mess dressing their birds in the farmer's field! Said they had watched a honker fall at the far end of the field and were wondering if I could help them look for it. No need. I just saw what was left of it in the middle of the road. Foxes and birds had already about cleaned it to the bones. They had a limit of mallards all laid out (sans feathers and guts). Then Pearl walked behind their truck and picked up another one. Oops. Before they could scoot she found two more laying within fifteen yards. I had a talk with the landlord. Don't think I'll see them again in that place.

Yesterday I only got one shot all afternoon and it wasn't much of one. Terrible thick stuff and only an instantaneous window of opportunity. Seemed almost a waste of ammo. I was sure I missed the rooster but Opal was gone quite a while. I continued to work the dogs back and forth through that garbage as the snow was full of tracks in there. About a quarter mile away as I rounded a corner in the cattle track my Brittany pup went nose down and froze. I was very close so I called Opal up to flush it. Figured it was probably a hen. She picked up a fine dead rooster. I would have never thought I could have killed that bird! But there it was and I'm the only guy who has hunted the place for days. I think Opal must have seen the rooster take a tumble when I shot. I sure didn't see anything. A few yards away I barely clipped another rooster two days earlier. We had to keep looking in horrible weather for more than hour. Finally Opal kicked it up but I couldn't shoot without hitting her. They went out of sight down the creek and I finally saw her racing around the neighbor's field. Walked the fence line and the Britt nailed it down in the tall grass. Perseverance may produce rewards. Or it may not. But it is an obligation both legally and ethically. Anyway, I just can't imagine hunting birds without a dog! Or living without one either.

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from PbHead wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Good tips Phil. One thing I do for doves is to place three wind operated decoys on stakes to define my shooting area and to serve as markers for downed birds.

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Good points, and good ethics from Phil as a hunter. Starts with someone with a good sense of values to start with. And my recommendation for limiting pheasants from running off and dying is to increase the shot size. When I reloaded 12 ga hulls my pheasant load was 1 3/8 oz. of #2 shot. Now I buy 20 ga shells 1 1/4 oz #4 shot. Thumps'um dead, and no more damage to meat than the popular #6 loads. Thumped 2 roosters yesterday, and my lab retrieved 2 dead birds.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I should clarify: What irked me about the two slob hunters was that they had retrieved their truck and cleaned their birds before they even bothered to attempt looking for the lost honker. I may not get right after a goose that's finally cartwheeled to the ground a half mile away because I know it's not going anywhere and I have dogs. Haven't lost one to scavengers yet but this was a good lesson for me.

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from keithjoyner wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I was sure this was going to be take FIVE dogs with you. Wisely you preface your list with the "well trained" retriever comment. You must hunt where there are LOTS of other hunters that you don't want to disturb. Here in the west we often don't even see another hunter. Having a good hunting dog with you is like having the sky open up and the Almighty giving his blessing on your hunting endeavor. If you don't hunt birds with a dog, you are not being a responsible bird hunter, period! Plus, it's a whole lot more fun to have an enthusiastic hunting dog with you, and you'll feel much better at the end of your hunt, that you didn't lose many (if any) birds in the field.

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

And if you find a pile of feathers especially in a circle looking like a wreath? Doesn't have to be a fox. or another 4 legged critter; good chance it is an owl, or another bird of prey. They are deadly.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I will not hunt birds without a dawg, period. I have lost birds to critters with 2 legs, 4 legs, and with wings. Dawg doesn't mind running a long way to get a sailed goose or duck. I do...

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from 99explorer wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I have always hunted partridge (ruffed grouse) without a dog, and have occasionally lost one.
A small tip: After the shot, stop and listen for the flutter of wings beating against the dry leaves on the ground. Then, if the bird is not where you thought it would be, place your hat where you expected to find the dead bird, then walk in ever-widening circles around it.

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from Mark-1 wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I mark every bird from experience. I don't know why, but everyone of my pointing dogs [setters and brit's] had no interest in a dead bird. They are off looking for live prey as I'm searching for the dead, down bird and calling them back to help me find it.

...And that's something since the dog's blood is up and they are fired.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Those dogs need a refresher course! LOL

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I've given my "purebred mutt" the whatfor for not staying around, and finding my bird only to have him come back from a long distance off with my "dead bird."

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from FSU70 wrote 22 weeks 1 day ago

I make it a practise when dove hunting that at the end of the day i sweep the edge of the field with my dog looking for cripples. Ones that sometimes my Lab couldn't find but mosty birds that I see other hunters loose in tall grass and wood line areas beside the field we are hunting. Like Phil I hate to see birds being lost and go to waste. A dog is a good way to reduce or eleiminate that problem. Plus other hunters who don't have a dog appreciate the help when I offer to bring my dog over and help them find their lost bird.

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 1 day ago

Something to remember...take doves. They do not give off very much scent, and often in Sept. it is dry conditions that hamper scent detection as well. A dog is not an automatic down bird gatherer. I've had my dogs that have a good nose move right on by a dead dove. They blend in, are small, and hard to see as well.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 18 hours ago

Mark, WAM is right. My younger lab also seemed to lose interest in retrieving recently. And now an aging Pearl isn't always with us to do the job if Opal won't. Fortunately, Opal is a real chow hound and a sucker for treats. I have been sticking with it till she brings me the bird and then give her a treat before we start hunting again. Like your dogs, Opal is a very intense hunter and she wants to get on to the next bird more than finishing up the retrieve. I seem to have her back on track already. Don't let the dogs resume hunting until the bird has been picked up and put in your hand. If it takes a half hour, so be it. I think some treats will speed thing up though. Good luck.

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 7 hours ago

Slightly more expensive than a treat are E-collars. Dog runs off hunting without me, and a slight stimulus at the appropriate time, and back they come. And stay away from those treats made in China.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

Dangle, explain to me how an e-collar is going to get a dog to pick up retrieving! C'mon! Anyone stupid enough to try that would confuse the dog and make it even more useless. Positive reinforcement is what's needed in this case.

I keep my dogs in range with a whistle and a whack on the bum if they don't come back to it. At this point in the season they have pretty much figured what is the acceptable distance. With no e-collars I can keep both my hands on the gun rather than fumbling for some button on a gizmo that's bound to fail sooner or later anyway. So far I haven't worn out my whistle and no batteries to run out of gas either. You can keep your technocrap.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

Here's a testament to hunting with good dogs and keeping line of sight. It's tough here in Montana this year. Tons of cover everywhere but a poor survival rate for first hatch. I'm really having to work for my birds. Today, after hunting the thick stuff all afternoon, the labs finally put up a rooster next to me as we were working the thick stuff on the edge of the Missouri River. I rolled it with the first shot and knocked it sideways with the second round. Both legs were flapping in the breeze as he flew out of sight over the willows. I marked his line of flight and followed it without variation. I knew that wherever it finally landed is where we would find it. With two broken legs that rooster would be out of commission as soon as it hit the ground. Gad, that crap in there was thick! But I stuck with it. And stuck with it! Finally stepped out on a little backwater and saw the labs were birdy on the other side, but Brittany was nowhere in sight. Crossed a little beaver damn and was about to climb back up into the willows when I noticed the pup on the opposite bank poking at the rooster sprawled out on a sandbank. Wrung his neck and decided to call it a day as it was starting to snow. That river bottom clay is no place to be driving when things get wet! Got back out on the road and hiked for the vehicle. But as soon as I stepped out of the brush onto the road a hun popped up. Then another. The second one was an easy shot but when I fired the ground in front of me exploded with thirty more! I took a second shot but more or less aimed at the flock. Didn't see anything fall. Got back on the road and hurried on. Thirty yards later Pearl crawled out of the snowberries with a nice fat very dead hun! Presumably I killed it with the first shot but became distracted by the flock and didn't see it fold up (it had a broken wing). I just finished cleaning those birds. That old long-spurred rooster had sixteen #4 shot holes in it's body and legs! But his lungs were still clear and no guts perforated (though one kidney was done for). Miraculously both wings were intact. What a tough bugger!

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

You said your dog wanders off hunting again while you are hopefully telling him "dead bird", and trying to locate it....not mine with e-collars. I have control over my dogs....until several days ago, and one of my e-collars quit working! My dogs get the treat at hunting days end along with a lot of praise. Even though the dog has quit retrieving they are not going to leave me, and hunt on their own....team concept, or you get a buzzzzz-reminder.

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

You said your dog wanders off hunting again while you are hopefully telling him "dead bird", and trying to locate it....not mine with e-collars. I have control over my dogs....until several days ago, and one of my e-collars quit working! My dogs get the treat at hunting days end along with a lot of praise. Even though the dog has quit retrieving they are not going to leave me, and hunt on their own....team concept, or you get a buzzzzz-reminder.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Never said Opal runs off. She had temporarily lost interest in retrieving dead birds. She'd pick pheasants up and then drop them. She's used to Pearl doing all the retrieving when we're goose hunting, though she's allowed to "help" by hanging onto a wing, bill, foot, etc. However, Pearl has traditionally deferred to Opal when we're upland hunting. Opal just needed some encouragement. An e-collar offers no encouragement.

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Gottcha...I've got a frustrating retrieving problem. The 3 yr. of lab is a great retriever, and makes some super retrieves, BUT, the 23 yr. old mutt takes her bird from her, and she is willing to give it up. The old guy has proved valuable to help in the training of my young lab, but I now have to hunt just her at times. And I don't want to use the E-collar on the old guy when he takes away her bird!

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from SCBuilder66 wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Great tips, Great advice. The other thing that I have found is I didn't "see" them down where I though. I get over this by marking my starting point and retracing my steps if I can't find the bird. If you can mark your starting point and where you thought you saw the bird down you may be more apt to find it.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 22 weeks 3 days ago

My 5 tips are Dog, dog, dog, dog and dog. Then apply Phil's five as a back up.
I also allow MY dogs to go immediately after the shot.

There are two schools of thought on this.

Those opposed to letting a dog go have several good reasons:
1.) The dog could be hit by a follow up shot.
2.) The dog could bust any remaining birds in the covey
3.) It's unacceptable for field and water trials.
If that's what you want...then abide by those rules.

Me:
1.)I mostly hunt alone and I NEVER take low follow up shots (blue sky under)because I've seen the finest field trial champs break occasion. Why take that chance for a bird.
2.)This is valid if you hunt Quail or covey birds. Me...I hunt mostly Woodcock, Ruffs and Pheasant and there are low limits..so the likelihood of a report pair is slim...but even if it happens and the bird is high, I still have a chance. But most of all the dog is at least on the sure kill for recovery.
3.)I don't field trial. I'm glad others do, because it produces good dogs for me....but IMHO it's another sport in itself and takes away from either my fly fishing or practical time afield with my hunting dogs.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Those dogs need a refresher course! LOL

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I've given my "purebred mutt" the whatfor for not staying around, and finding my bird only to have him come back from a long distance off with my "dead bird."

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Harold wrote 22 weeks 3 days ago

what cut down on my lost birds was a good dog! I can't count the number of birds found by a dog that I would have never found.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Here, here, haverod! I agree totally. My dogs have always broke on shot and I DO NOT have a problem with it. The faster they can get to a pheasant or hun, the greater the probability they'll catch it if it's only dinged. Those birds can almost make their scent disappear they run so fast. That business of releasing dogs after the shot is all show as far as I'm concerned. And, like you, that show does nothing for me. That crowd is generally way too plastic for my taste.

Phil's advice is all excellent. I will pull on a second pheasant if I see the first one fold completely. But that is rare. Usually they flutter to the ground and I keep my eyes on them till the dogs are there. When hunting geese in the field I'll readily pull on the next bird. They can't outrun the dogs and Pearl has a real nose for them. We rarely lose one.

It not only important, but almost everywhere it's the law to retrieve downed game immediately. In October I drove out in the field when I saw a couple of slob hunters I recognized to see if they needed any help finding birds. They were busy making a mess dressing their birds in the farmer's field! Said they had watched a honker fall at the far end of the field and were wondering if I could help them look for it. No need. I just saw what was left of it in the middle of the road. Foxes and birds had already about cleaned it to the bones. They had a limit of mallards all laid out (sans feathers and guts). Then Pearl walked behind their truck and picked up another one. Oops. Before they could scoot she found two more laying within fifteen yards. I had a talk with the landlord. Don't think I'll see them again in that place.

Yesterday I only got one shot all afternoon and it wasn't much of one. Terrible thick stuff and only an instantaneous window of opportunity. Seemed almost a waste of ammo. I was sure I missed the rooster but Opal was gone quite a while. I continued to work the dogs back and forth through that garbage as the snow was full of tracks in there. About a quarter mile away as I rounded a corner in the cattle track my Brittany pup went nose down and froze. I was very close so I called Opal up to flush it. Figured it was probably a hen. She picked up a fine dead rooster. I would have never thought I could have killed that bird! But there it was and I'm the only guy who has hunted the place for days. I think Opal must have seen the rooster take a tumble when I shot. I sure didn't see anything. A few yards away I barely clipped another rooster two days earlier. We had to keep looking in horrible weather for more than hour. Finally Opal kicked it up but I couldn't shoot without hitting her. They went out of sight down the creek and I finally saw her racing around the neighbor's field. Walked the fence line and the Britt nailed it down in the tall grass. Perseverance may produce rewards. Or it may not. But it is an obligation both legally and ethically. Anyway, I just can't imagine hunting birds without a dog! Or living without one either.

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from PbHead wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Good tips Phil. One thing I do for doves is to place three wind operated decoys on stakes to define my shooting area and to serve as markers for downed birds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

Good points, and good ethics from Phil as a hunter. Starts with someone with a good sense of values to start with. And my recommendation for limiting pheasants from running off and dying is to increase the shot size. When I reloaded 12 ga hulls my pheasant load was 1 3/8 oz. of #2 shot. Now I buy 20 ga shells 1 1/4 oz #4 shot. Thumps'um dead, and no more damage to meat than the popular #6 loads. Thumped 2 roosters yesterday, and my lab retrieved 2 dead birds.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I should clarify: What irked me about the two slob hunters was that they had retrieved their truck and cleaned their birds before they even bothered to attempt looking for the lost honker. I may not get right after a goose that's finally cartwheeled to the ground a half mile away because I know it's not going anywhere and I have dogs. Haven't lost one to scavengers yet but this was a good lesson for me.

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from keithjoyner wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I was sure this was going to be take FIVE dogs with you. Wisely you preface your list with the "well trained" retriever comment. You must hunt where there are LOTS of other hunters that you don't want to disturb. Here in the west we often don't even see another hunter. Having a good hunting dog with you is like having the sky open up and the Almighty giving his blessing on your hunting endeavor. If you don't hunt birds with a dog, you are not being a responsible bird hunter, period! Plus, it's a whole lot more fun to have an enthusiastic hunting dog with you, and you'll feel much better at the end of your hunt, that you didn't lose many (if any) birds in the field.

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from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

And if you find a pile of feathers especially in a circle looking like a wreath? Doesn't have to be a fox. or another 4 legged critter; good chance it is an owl, or another bird of prey. They are deadly.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I will not hunt birds without a dawg, period. I have lost birds to critters with 2 legs, 4 legs, and with wings. Dawg doesn't mind running a long way to get a sailed goose or duck. I do...

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from 99explorer wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I have always hunted partridge (ruffed grouse) without a dog, and have occasionally lost one.
A small tip: After the shot, stop and listen for the flutter of wings beating against the dry leaves on the ground. Then, if the bird is not where you thought it would be, place your hat where you expected to find the dead bird, then walk in ever-widening circles around it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 22 weeks 2 days ago

I mark every bird from experience. I don't know why, but everyone of my pointing dogs [setters and brit's] had no interest in a dead bird. They are off looking for live prey as I'm searching for the dead, down bird and calling them back to help me find it.

...And that's something since the dog's blood is up and they are fired.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 22 weeks 1 day ago

I make it a practise when dove hunting that at the end of the day i sweep the edge of the field with my dog looking for cripples. Ones that sometimes my Lab couldn't find but mosty birds that I see other hunters loose in tall grass and wood line areas beside the field we are hunting. Like Phil I hate to see birds being lost and go to waste. A dog is a good way to reduce or eleiminate that problem. Plus other hunters who don't have a dog appreciate the help when I offer to bring my dog over and help them find their lost bird.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 1 day ago

Something to remember...take doves. They do not give off very much scent, and often in Sept. it is dry conditions that hamper scent detection as well. A dog is not an automatic down bird gatherer. I've had my dogs that have a good nose move right on by a dead dove. They blend in, are small, and hard to see as well.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 22 weeks 18 hours ago

Mark, WAM is right. My younger lab also seemed to lose interest in retrieving recently. And now an aging Pearl isn't always with us to do the job if Opal won't. Fortunately, Opal is a real chow hound and a sucker for treats. I have been sticking with it till she brings me the bird and then give her a treat before we start hunting again. Like your dogs, Opal is a very intense hunter and she wants to get on to the next bird more than finishing up the retrieve. I seem to have her back on track already. Don't let the dogs resume hunting until the bird has been picked up and put in your hand. If it takes a half hour, so be it. I think some treats will speed thing up though. Good luck.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 22 weeks 7 hours ago

Slightly more expensive than a treat are E-collars. Dog runs off hunting without me, and a slight stimulus at the appropriate time, and back they come. And stay away from those treats made in China.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

Dangle, explain to me how an e-collar is going to get a dog to pick up retrieving! C'mon! Anyone stupid enough to try that would confuse the dog and make it even more useless. Positive reinforcement is what's needed in this case.

I keep my dogs in range with a whistle and a whack on the bum if they don't come back to it. At this point in the season they have pretty much figured what is the acceptable distance. With no e-collars I can keep both my hands on the gun rather than fumbling for some button on a gizmo that's bound to fail sooner or later anyway. So far I haven't worn out my whistle and no batteries to run out of gas either. You can keep your technocrap.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

Here's a testament to hunting with good dogs and keeping line of sight. It's tough here in Montana this year. Tons of cover everywhere but a poor survival rate for first hatch. I'm really having to work for my birds. Today, after hunting the thick stuff all afternoon, the labs finally put up a rooster next to me as we were working the thick stuff on the edge of the Missouri River. I rolled it with the first shot and knocked it sideways with the second round. Both legs were flapping in the breeze as he flew out of sight over the willows. I marked his line of flight and followed it without variation. I knew that wherever it finally landed is where we would find it. With two broken legs that rooster would be out of commission as soon as it hit the ground. Gad, that crap in there was thick! But I stuck with it. And stuck with it! Finally stepped out on a little backwater and saw the labs were birdy on the other side, but Brittany was nowhere in sight. Crossed a little beaver damn and was about to climb back up into the willows when I noticed the pup on the opposite bank poking at the rooster sprawled out on a sandbank. Wrung his neck and decided to call it a day as it was starting to snow. That river bottom clay is no place to be driving when things get wet! Got back out on the road and hiked for the vehicle. But as soon as I stepped out of the brush onto the road a hun popped up. Then another. The second one was an easy shot but when I fired the ground in front of me exploded with thirty more! I took a second shot but more or less aimed at the flock. Didn't see anything fall. Got back on the road and hurried on. Thirty yards later Pearl crawled out of the snowberries with a nice fat very dead hun! Presumably I killed it with the first shot but became distracted by the flock and didn't see it fold up (it had a broken wing). I just finished cleaning those birds. That old long-spurred rooster had sixteen #4 shot holes in it's body and legs! But his lungs were still clear and no guts perforated (though one kidney was done for). Miraculously both wings were intact. What a tough bugger!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

You said your dog wanders off hunting again while you are hopefully telling him "dead bird", and trying to locate it....not mine with e-collars. I have control over my dogs....until several days ago, and one of my e-collars quit working! My dogs get the treat at hunting days end along with a lot of praise. Even though the dog has quit retrieving they are not going to leave me, and hunt on their own....team concept, or you get a buzzzzz-reminder.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 6 days ago

You said your dog wanders off hunting again while you are hopefully telling him "dead bird", and trying to locate it....not mine with e-collars. I have control over my dogs....until several days ago, and one of my e-collars quit working! My dogs get the treat at hunting days end along with a lot of praise. Even though the dog has quit retrieving they are not going to leave me, and hunt on their own....team concept, or you get a buzzzzz-reminder.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Never said Opal runs off. She had temporarily lost interest in retrieving dead birds. She'd pick pheasants up and then drop them. She's used to Pearl doing all the retrieving when we're goose hunting, though she's allowed to "help" by hanging onto a wing, bill, foot, etc. However, Pearl has traditionally deferred to Opal when we're upland hunting. Opal just needed some encouragement. An e-collar offers no encouragement.

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from Dangle wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Gottcha...I've got a frustrating retrieving problem. The 3 yr. of lab is a great retriever, and makes some super retrieves, BUT, the 23 yr. old mutt takes her bird from her, and she is willing to give it up. The old guy has proved valuable to help in the training of my young lab, but I now have to hunt just her at times. And I don't want to use the E-collar on the old guy when he takes away her bird!

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from SCBuilder66 wrote 21 weeks 5 days ago

Great tips, Great advice. The other thing that I have found is I didn't "see" them down where I though. I get over this by marking my starting point and retracing my steps if I can't find the bird. If you can mark your starting point and where you thought you saw the bird down you may be more apt to find it.

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