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Chad Love: Who Wrote The Dogs Out?

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January 27, 2009

Chad Love: Who Wrote The Dogs Out?

By Chad Love

hobo dogs

"Wags" is a regular blog reader who often posts on the Flytalk or Gun Nut blogs. I've never met Wags, but he is a gentlemen of impeccable taste and style. How do I know? Simple. He's a dog man and a bird hunter, which are two of the most virtuous traits to which a man can aspire.

Wags often laments that F&S fails miserably in covering both sporting dogs and upland hunting. It is, in my opinion, a fair criticism, especially in light of Field & Stream's long history of great dog literature.

But a magazine is simply a mirror that reflects the interests of its readers, and the sad fact is America's great sporting dog and upland bird hunting tradition is in decline.

Nothing illustrates this more than the just-released annual list of the American Kennel Club's most popular dogs.

Here's the 2008 list:

1. Labrador Retriever
2. Yorkshire Terrier
3. German Shepherd Dog
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Dachshund
8. Bulldog
9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu

And here's the list of registered breeds from 1884 and their respective ranking today:

Pointer, Rank 111
Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Rank 48
English Setter, Rank 86
Gordon Setter, Rank 92
Irish Setter, Rank 69
Clumber Spaniel, Rank 117
Cocker Spaniel, Rank 21

Although many pointing dogs are registered with the Field Dog Stud Book rather than AKC the numbers are still shocking. Yes, the Lab is the most popular dog in the country and the golden is fourth, but the vast (and I mean VAST) majority of those dogs aren't hunting dogs. They're fat, lazy, bandana-wearing, frisbee-chasing sausages with legs who wouldn't know a duck or pheasant if you smacked them with one.

So here we are in 2009, where dogs are more popular than ever but hunting with those dogs has never been less popular, even among hunters. The litany of reasons why is beyond the word-count limit for this blog, but the blame for why general-interest outdoors magazines publish far fewer gundog stories lies not with publishers or editors, but with their increasingly non-gundog-owning readership.
 
Where does that leave all those grand old sporting dog breeds not as popular as labs and goldens? Who knows, but they better start learning how to do cute tricks and wear knit sweaters or they'll end up like this unfortunate pair.

Comments (70)

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm curious about the costs and maintenance effort required in owning a good gun dog. I wouldn't want a perfect show dog, or some registered expensive breed dog. Just a dog that can let me know when I'm about to bust into a patch of quail, or when a cottontail is lurking nearby.

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from jcarlin wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I for one am still sending my fat sausage of a beagle after rabbits when I get the chance. For a generally lazy house dog, he somehow finds the energy to run for hours on end if fresh bunny scent is around. I'd like to see some more dog stories.
I will say that "getting the chance" is the operative word. SE PA isn't the easiest place to find a suitable location to let your dog run, though I know this story is regarding bird dogs and you guys work a good bit closer.

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from Douglas wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The most important thing I have found about having a dog as a hunting partner is being sure the dog gets PLENTY of outdoor time to be free to do what they love.
So many of us are limited in the time we can spend afield, and its a heart breaker to see good hunting dogs stuck in a house or apartment all day.
I have a Brittany that doubles as a house clown and great bird finder. You will never see me with a Shih tzu - poo!

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The reason there are less Upland Hunters and Bird Dogs could be the nature of the hunting itself, Chad. A person that hunts birds must walk!!!!

I’ve seen too many hunters at clubs I doubt could walk 400-yards. The main game taking with these hunters are deer and turkeys….from stands….which they drive to with their ATV’s unloaded from a 4x4 w/trailer….on cleared trails!!!! Oh, Did I forget to mention all the technical gadgetry in hardware and clothing needed to sit in a stand that’s a 100-yard walk or less from a 4x4 or ATV?

Granted this may be overstatements, but not by much.

A bird dog requires a commitment and is a responsibility that’s not seen in many today’s hunters. As you well know a hunter gets out of a dog exactly what they put in.
Again, a person has to walk to produce a seasoned bird dog.

+10 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

HA HA you desribed my Bother-in-laws fat clueless Lab to the letter. I try to spend 30 min everyday working with my German Shorthaired Pointer. She is 11 months old and already worth $!K if I would sell her. Most hunting breeds do not make good pets. That is the reason they are not as popular as Labs.

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from woofbarkenarf wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm pushing 50, and my dog-friend is middle aged at 8 yrs now, yet we still get out there and put in some miles every chance we get. No, the dog's not perfect, and niether am I for that matter, but like Mark-1 said above "a person has to walk to produce a seasoned bird dog" There are far too many people out here in AZ using quads and driving off trail to pursue thier game. It's disgusting to me that they call that hunting.

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

As all of the kids in my family left for college, my parents replaced each of us in turn with a hunting dog. Today, they are the proud parents of three Brittany's which they train and hunt with on a regular basis (Every weekend year-round and quite a few weeknights).

I think most people no longer have the time or energy to properly train a hunting dog. (Neither would my parents if they weren't empty-nesters and semi-retired).

It's a huge time commitment (and I won't even get started on the vet bills/feeding costs/expensive-chewed-items fund.)

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One more note: I don't know that those AKC rankings demonstrate a decreasing number of hunting dogs. Based just on that information, it seems equally likely that other breeds have just grown in numbers faster, not that hunting breed numbers have declined.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nick Jensen wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

To me, a dog is an essential part of the hunt, I have even on occasion given up carrying a gun just so I can focus on working my dog. I recently took a trip to North Dakota to do some pheasant hunting and my best memory of the trip was my chocolate lab Ellie pointing a pheasant. It was only a hen but it was something she had never done before and I will never forget it.

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from Love2Hunt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have just started college but desperately want a gun dog. I have been around and hunted with many people who own dogs. I really want to train and be out in the field with a dog who can hunt. I think that it would be a neat experience to raise your own gun dog and work fields with him.

Watching these dogs work is a really cool experience and I think it would be a really satisfying experience to know that you have trained the dog into an effective hunter.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

love2hunt,

I bought my first bird dog [english setter] 35-years ago while in college from a very gracious breeder who took monthly payments.

I think I sold my plasma for that last payment. No one would buy my sperm.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nick Jensen wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Love2Hunt, I married into my bird dog, it was a package deal, get the girl, get the dog. It couldn't have worked out better. So my advice for getting a dog, Find a girl with a dog, and don't let go. Good luck to ya.

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from dwaynez wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have a great dog that will go on a hunt or a fishing trip she is 1/2 American bulldog and 1/2 Lab and she is a natural.

I have a neighbor who raises bird dogs and hog dogs and they are very intelligent dogs, lot of respect for people who have highly trained dogs, it takes some dedication and hard work

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Andrew Ferraro wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I love my German Shorthair Pointer and couldn't be happier with a dog. He's no show dog, but he'll always find the birds. I spend @ 30 minutes a day running him in the field behind my house. He is a great dog when he gets to run and a PITA when he doesn't. If you have the time and space gun dogs are the best, but many people in live in urban areas or have a difficult work schedule. Low energy dogs are a good option for these people.

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from jcarlin wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm with some of the others on the opinion that I'd rather get my dog out than hunt. I've probably had him out on more Sundays than Saturdays in season because of my other priorities and Sunday is a no hunting day in PA. Neither the dog nor the rabbits seem to know that.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Brittany spaniels seem like good natured dogs, from what I've read. This discussion definitely has started me thinking "Hmmmm.... what if?"

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from wandering owl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Most people these days think they do not have the time. And it may be true with everyone chasing the almighty dollar. They don't take the time to chase the birds, etc. Time is the biggest reason - no one has enough. As for me, I'll always have a retriever. Right now it's a chocolate lab - the best duck dog I've had yet. Those busy guys are missing out on the best part of hunting.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Mike, right now I just have the two mutts in the picture and I use them for both waterfowl and upland hunting (despite what you read chessies are every bit as capable an upland retriever as a lab) but when I do get ready to get back into the pointing world I'm taking a really, really hard look at the Brittany.
They're good-natured, beautiful, easy keepers and great hunters. I think they'd compliment my chessies in the field.
The more I'm around them the more I like them. My last true bird dog was an English pointer. She came from Elhew stock so she was a real sweety, much more personable IMO than your typical pointer, but the Brittany just seems to be a natural "people" dog.

Mark-1 might want to chime in here as well because I think? he has a young Brittany.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad,

I (almost) take back every snide comment I ever made about your posts. Any man with 2 Chessies who hunt is ok in my book (unless you are a Democrat).

My Black Lab is almost 2 and is as fine a waterfowl retriever as I could ever hope for. I am going to start working him on pheasants at a game farm as soon as the snow cover is gone. He already trails and flushes pheasants at the state release site that is also a waterfowl area, so I think he is birdy enough. He's great with kids and folks he knows, but unfamiliar dogs and strangers usually get a growl. He is a bit over-protective of me and the wife, but I don't think anyone could steal him without a tranquilizer gun.

I see the city Labs every day jogging alongside somone in spandex and it make me sad for the dog without a job.

My hunting buddy lost his Lab yesterday at age 11 from an apparent heart attack two days after waterfowl season closed. Sunday, I downed the last goose he retrieved. He beat my Lab to it in a four dog scramble and returned it to Jim. May he RIP in Doggy Heaven.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steven9253 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I read this article and then went on a walk with my wifes and now my german shepard husky mix, and it got me thinking. I have not had a dog that I have payed for, every single one has been a stray puppy that someone has picked up. I think its awesome that people have dogs they hunt with but as of now its just not right for me and I would hate for anyone to get a hunting dog and not give it the attention and work it needs. So if you don't know what you are getting into do alot of research please

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from jay wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter -- Your "democrat" comment is going to get Bella all fired up and we will once again be subjected to his liberal ramblings.....

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rolfsbud wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I am a new gun dog owner and am trying to teach rolf, my weimaraner how to hunt the few small quail pockets in southwest missouri. I have to say I agree with the total report up above I know of atleast 6 other individuals who own gun dog breeds from labs to weimaraners to springers that just don't hunt with their dogs. I also find most of these dogs to be: A. overweight, B. obnoxious, and C. poor choices for pets when such people refuse to exercise or work with them. I can say thay rolf is my first gundog but won't be my last.
I wish to train him but I find he may be training me more than I am him.

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from backstrap13 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Speaking of pets, last week I went to a zoo. The only animal there was a dog. It was a Shih Tzu.....comedy club y'all chuckle, chuckle.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

jay

Bella usually needs no inspiration nor instigation to get on his liberal soap box....LMAO

Who knows, maybe Chad voted for liberals, too!

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from blue ridge wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

With 9 beagles I'm doing my part in keeping the breed in the top five. Mine range in age from 13 years to 5 months. I run as high as 8 at a time. The puppy hasn't started yet. Beagles also make great house dogs, one of mine, a house dog, has Champion papers.

Join the NRA

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steven9253 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

speaking of beagles, back in brandon florida a pest control company uses them to sniff out termites, i was just reminded of this by your comment blue ridge. its just another way to work a dog that i never would have thought of before

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One of the most calm easy to handle hunting house dogs I ever saw was an English pointer named Buddy that belonged to the owner of the local gun shop. He would lay on his bed in the shop and sleep with customers and noise all around. Beautiful dog too.

BTW guys Bella is a she not a he. She promised to post a pic in a swimsuit a few months ago but never did. On the other hand maybe I missed something.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Scott Linden wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm afraid Chad is right, which is why I started a blog all about gun dogs. It seems to have struck a chord, particularly when we discuss dog names!

Scott

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad and Mike Diehl,
As mentioned, I have quite a bit of experience hunting with Brittany's. They are extremely smart and energetic dogs and make fantastic pets. As far as drawbacks, they can definitely be a bit headstrong at times, and their high-energy level means they require quite a bit of energy (although I probably just described most hunting breeds.) While nearly perfect for upland game, they will happily retrieve out of water, but may be a bit on the small side for retrieving larger birds like Canadian Geese (especially, if the goose is alive and struggling).

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

That should have read "require quite a bit of exercise"

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Lastly,
WA Mtnhunter, we are having a discussion about dogs. The election is over. How about we give it a rest until the next topic regarding politics, gun control, etc where its actually relevant?

-2 Good Comment? | | Report
from cmstorm wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Enjoyed all your comments about bird dogs. I'm an old bird hunter originally from Indiana. Moved to PA several years ago and we have no quail hunting here. I've owned pointers and setters. Several of which have won field trials. I've had Gunsmoke dogs in past years. My experience, you hunt with a pointer and a setter hunts with you. I agree with the gentleman who mentioned to many hunters are using ATV's etc. We used to walk many miles before going to work on 2nd shift. I always wanted to try a Brittany. I have many memories of dogs and points. Put a few dogs down due to age and illness. I'm close to 70 now and my bird hunting is about done. Grouse in the state bird in PA, but they are far and few. Keep up the interest and get your dog now.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Bob81,
Since when did you become the moderator of this post? Newbe.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Hey Jim in Mo,
I'm not a moderator, but I'm definitely not a newbie either. (This new posting system just required a screen name change.)

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Wags wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad, thanks for the acknowledgement. I must admit that I have at times wandered if my rants have crossed a line. I'm glad to see they have found an ear or two. I have a few friends that will argue the "man of impeccable taste and style line", but thanks anyway.

I understand the need for a magazine to follow the tune of popularity, however, I think I can spin it a different way. Growing up on a farm in Indiana I had never caught, nor met anyone who had caught, a "steelhead" trout. I also did not know a single person who used a fly rod, or who knew what a woolly bugger was. But I read about them in my Field and Stream. And when I got older (and ended up in Michigan for a time) I got a chance to finally chase the fish with a fly rod and now am a flyfishing degenerate. My point is, maybe the occasional article on quail or pheasant, or the dogs used to pursue them, might get the interest up of a young kid who thinks that deer and turkey are the only things you hunt. Maybe that kid grows up to be involved with Quail Forever or some such organization.

And besides that, it seems to me that the spirits of Trueblood, Ruark, and especially Hill would be highly disappointed that the fine art of upland bird pursuit with a great dog is being ignored.

With regards to the breeds, you are spot on. Way too many "popular breed" dogs with clueless owners. I recently had to explain to a neighbor, much to her chagrin, that a "lab" was short for Labrador Retriever and that they were breed for retrieving game (which I then had to explain meant dead or wounded birds or animals. She was shocked). As for me and my house, we shall always love the English Setter! And as long as there is still a little rough ground somewhere, we'll take a walk just to see what we can find.

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from rustyspinner21 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

It's 11 PM and my French Brit Spaniel is asleep on my wife's lap as she reads a book. 3 days ago, Belle and I came home from a "put and take" birdhunt. Here in Kentucky, that's about the only way to experience pheasant hunting. She's a dynamo in the field,has a really good nose, would rather hunt for birds than EAT!, and a mama's girl when we're home. First bird dog I've ever owned, and it's just an awesome day when we get to share it out in the field.So my household gets the best of both worlds-me a hunting buddy, my wife a loving pet.You don't know what happiness is till you're lying exhausted by the fireplace, after being afield all day, and your hunting buddy is asleep on your chest or lying next to you on the rug. She's given it all she had, and you both have had a hell of a good time-it's the best "good tired" that there is. Gosh, I'd love to see more articles about gundogs-maybe the other poster was right-more articles may mean more recruitment of younger hunters to try upland hunting with a dog. Let's go for it!!

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from osobear wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I agree. Field & Stream really should do more articles about gundogs and post pics of people with their gundogs on a regular basis. I personally believe more people should get into hunting with dogs. When I was growing up as a kid some of my fondest memories was with hunting dogs. I remember how much fun it was staying up all night listening to our coondogs tree coons. I spent many weekends rabbit hunting with our beagles and cocker spaniels ( the best rabbit dogs we ever had). Unfortunately, the quail we hunted was the ones that jumped up while we were rabbit hunting. Which is why I now have a weimeraner. I love to watch her hunt, but unfortunately for us we haven't had much time to go between the Air Force, school, little league, and family their isn't much time left to hunt. When I do have time to hunt I usually don't have the money to buy shell to shoot anything so we have to do it for the fun of it. My weim just turned 1 and I have jet to shoot a bird for her to retrieve and next season I probably won't be around to go hunting with her. Hopefully I will the next year. I envy you guys who get to go hunting with your gundogs and feel sorry for those who don't even know the joy of watching their dog hunt. I love to deer hunt but I would rather be hunting with my dog.

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from TommyNash wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sad sign of the times in our country. I don't get in the field as much as I would like with my Lab, but he doesn't wear bandanas, chase frisbees or perform any other jackass activity. He's great with the little kids, and has a loyalty many humans don't know. The best times in the field are being with buddies and watching great dogs.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Thanks Bob81, that's good starting information for me. With a new son on the way, it'll be a few years before I do get a gun dog, but it gives me and my 1st son a chance to save up and get ready.

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from Anthony wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

All hope is not lost for bird dogs and bird dog enthusiasts. Check out Pheasants Forever's National Pheasant Fest next weekend in Madison, Wisconsin (www.pheasantfest.org). There will be 35 dog breeds at the show, and an entire section of the show floor will be devoted to our four-legged huntin' buddies, affectionately called the Bird Dog Bonanza. Note to F&S, we love the dogs, keep 'em in the rotation!

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from ducksndeers wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I think Wags hit the nail on the head! I grew up in a family that didn't hunt. We fished a lot though, and so I subscribed to field and stream as a kid. Thanks to all of those articles I read growing up, now hunt just about every game you can think of from alligator to upland. My childhood daydreams eventually led to me learning to hunt on my own from magazine articles and books. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about hunting. By 16 my dad took thehunter safety classes with me, and I went deer hunting for the first time on the opening day of the archery season. Although I am still yet to harvest a deer in over 10 years of hunting. I have now successfully, taken 2 gators and my first wild hog this year, as well as dozens of ducks and tons of pheasants and squirrels with the help and friendship of my incredible bird dog Daisy. When I was reading the mag growing up, bird dog hunting was always the one thing that excited me the most, and last year I finally found myself a great gun dog. I trained her myself. I spend a lot of time with her, and let me tell you

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from ducksndeers wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

every minute I spend with her is worth it! She's an incredible house dog, and she can hunt! She'll be retrieving ducks on a cold morning, and be ready to go work the fields for pheasant and quail faster than I can clean the ducks, and I couldn't be happier. So, Field & Stream, just let me say if you write it, eventually the youngsters will come! I'm currently talking with breeders about getting my 2nd gun dog already, so Daisy can have a partner in crime.

A great gun dog is the greatest gift any man could ever ask for. Without a doubt I enjoy watching Daisy work and retrieve birds more than anything else in the whole world.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Bob81

MYOB.

If you have a comment, spit it out. But don't try to tell me what I can post and not post. If I feel like poking at Chad in good natured jest, I will.

Go find your meds.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Bob81

MYOB.

If you have a comment, spit it out. But don't try to tell me what I can post and not post. If I feel like poking at Chad in good natured jest, I will.

Go find your meds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Thanks for the invite, Chad! Finally took off those pair of cans from my ears [musician and recording geek]

As Chad wrote I have a Brittany now that finished her 2nd season. I’m very pleased with her performance and training. I was able to concentrate more on shooting this year: equal birds in the freezer.

--The initial purchase price of a bird dog/gun dog is cheap compared to what it’ll cost an owner to maintain it. It costs me as much to maintain a gun dog as it does to maintain a horse. However, for me a pointing dog is a long term investment so I divide the original purchase price by an average hunting life of 12-years.

--Brittany’s strong point as a pointing dog is size. It’s half the size of Setters/pointers. The dog is civilized for space restrictions.

The 2nd strong point is a Brittany seems to have intensity of English Setter/Pointers and seem to mature somewhere between a setter and pointer. Unusual for a contenital breed IMHO.

--I don’t think Brit’s range as fast or as far as setters/pointers. It’s perfect for grouse, but pheasants will run on the dog.

--Some owners prefer to kennel a dog; I prefer to have the dog live in the house. I believe the bonding is stronger and makes for a mellower dog.

--I never let my hunting dogs run although they are outside with me. The situation will have the beast hunting for them and not for you. It’s tough enforcement. Pointing and flushing dogs aren’t designed to stay on the porch. Females seem to be more homebodies.

--To train a pup I buy six-quail and have a small pen with a one-way entrance. When I take a dog for a walk I grab three or four quail stuffing the birds in an old cut-off pant leg and release the birds at various spots for the dog to find and point. The quail will make their way back to the other birds in the cage. Repeat as often as possible.

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from philbourjaily wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Chad -- One sad reason fewer people own bird dogs is that many parts of the country don't have good bird hunting anymore. Wild bobwhites are a memory in the south; states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio used to have great pheasant hunting, now they have none. Until we have more birds, we're not going to have more bird dogs.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Phil, truer words were never typed. When you parse the decline in gundog popularity down to its root cause, that's probably it.

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from Fieldand Stream wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Chad, thanks for bringing up this topic, thanks for everybody for commenting on it, and thanks to Wags especially for beating the drum for more dog and upland coverage in F&S.
One of our biggest challenges here is balancing how much coverage each topic gets. It's a good problem to have--ducks, deer, pheasants, elk, bass, trout, walleye, geese, pike, grouse. American sportsmen have plenty to choose from and we try our best to cover it all.
But I will admit that I think you guys are right. Dogs and upland hunting do sometimes get unfairly neglected. One reason is what Phil pointed out, there are fewer birds than there used to be. But that's no excuse.
Phil is too modest to point it out, but he has a terrific story on how to raise a bird dog coming up in the March issue. We'll also be running more upland and dog stories this fall. Promise.
Anthony Licata
Editor
By the way, one of my favorite things to do is hunt grouse behind a good bird dog.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Wags, I can commiserate on how the magazine influenced you. I was in the same boat - ironically enough - with dogs.
I didn't come from a bird-hunting background, no one in my family really did any hunting with dogs and at any rate my parents divorced when I was young.
So until I was well into my later teens and early twenties I had virtually no exposure to hunting dogs except in the pages of F&S and what hunts I could bum from guys who had dogs.
I credit the magazine, and above all the writing of Bill Tarrant (and Gene Hill) for stoking and maintaining my interest in dogs during those formative years when I couldn't have one.

I'm glad to see so much participation and interest in this thread. It's definitely one of my favorites. It's nice to see good dialogue that transcends the original post.

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from Wags wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

First and foremost, thank you Chad and Anthony. Sometimes just knowing that you are heard is a comfort. I look forward to reading Phil's article in March. Also, should you ever find yourself in need of 500 or so words, well, the wife has told me to start telling someone else all my stories.......

Thanks to all the kindred spirits out there for giving this thread some legs.

Chad, good one that Bill Tarrant. I had forgotten that name. I wonder in this age of information if it would be possible to have section of the website devoted to old classic writers. Man some of that stuff they wrote about is just as relevant now as it was back then, especially when it comes to training a dog. Maybe some of the old "Hill Country" pieces or "Grandpa and the Kid"...now I'm going to have to dig up some of the really old stuff just to see what I've forgotten!

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Thank you, Anthony.

BTW, you're welcomed to shoot grouse with me and behind my Brit anytime.....a foot over and two feet behind.

You can use my shells, too. :-)

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from rustyspinner21 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Phil, I too cannot wait for the March issue to read your story. Anthony, we'll hold you to your promise about more upland/dog articles this coming fall. There really is NOTHING like watching your dog work and retrieve. Heck it's awesome just to watch the dog go nuts when she see's you putting on your bonafide pair of canvas hunting pants! Why can't F&S have a regular section of repeats of old classics-Gene Hill, etc. just a page an issue,showing what the thinking was like back then. I personally think it would be a blast!

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from wsimien wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Although gun dog owners are on the decline I would agree that at the very least, an ocassional article would add value to the magizine and its readers. In a previous issue there was an article on the major decline of the younger generation hunting, does that mean F&S is going to stop its publishing when they become of age? I sure hope not.

Gun dogs are just as every bit as important to bird hunters as a tree stand, camo, or optics are to hunters who hunt other game and we have articles on those every issue. Who knows it could even spark interest in readers like Wags was for fly fishing. I look forward to reading some gun dog articles in the future.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I don't know Chad; I think th pup on the left has some potential from the look of him.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Jcarlin,

I used to live in SE PA and hunted Marsh Creek State Park near Exton quite a bit for stocked pheasants rabbits and ducks (especially).

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from Robert Ewing wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Having two Brittanys,I appreciate all the comments made about them.I would like to add that Brittanys are a little sensitive and become head strong when delt with a strong hand.
They are a dual Breed having over 500 registered dual champions in 2006.That is they where a champion in the show ring and a champion of field trialing;But most are just a welcome member of the family inside the home and a member of the hunting party in the field.
Just as we work our dogs all year I would look forward to future articles and stories all year.
One tid-bit or story could help a dog and handler avoid a pit fall that could produce one more gundog.

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from Robert Ewing wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

As to local bird hunting in northern Illinois.Most of us are limited to placed birds at a hunt club or controlled hunt at a state site.In my area noticed a sharp decrease in the crow population from west nile in the last few years and in that time a increase or reintroduction of other species such as Owls,pheasant,hawks,rails and sandhill cranes.
As I looked out the window today, I could 30 or more Crow in the trees here in town and wonder how quick they are coming back? I also wonder how I could invite them out of town for a contolled hunt,after all I need to stay sharp.I hate to let the dog down when he does his job and I just blow the shot.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

When I was a kid growing up in the deep south "bird hunting" meant bob white quail only. We took our A-5's or M-12's or whatever along with our best pointers and or setters and hunted as often as possible. There were few posted signs and almost everyone let us hunt on their farms and land. "Jus dont shoot the cows or around the house boys" the owner would say as he hitched up the strap on his overalls before climbing on his John Deere, "oh and dont bother stopping to ask as more as I know you. Look behind the peach orchard, I used to find a covey or two there". I loved to hear those bobs whistleespecially at near sunset. For several decades when I revisit the land of my youth you rarely see a pointing dog outside of field trials people's kennels. Old Charlie told me often "No point in having a good dog when there ain't no birds..." For numerous reasons the younger generation of hunters prefer labs including playing games and waterfowl retrieving hence its high spot on the AKC list. They are great dogs but the lack some of the character of the ripraps, lemons, and livers of my younger days. Some day I will tell you about "Chicken eater", one of my best liver and white pointers if you could keep him away from chickens and other dogs.

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from matt wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I have to say that I do find it a little frustrating that when some one mentions "gun dog" every one seems to think more along the lines of pointers, and leave out labs. I am an avid bird hunter, and have no greater companion in or out of the field than my 2yr old black lab. He is always ready to go whether its early season ducks, Kansas quail, or late season pheasants. Now nothing against all you pointers out there, but for my money a well trained lab is all the hunting dog I need.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

We have two big Chessies that were born with the hard-wiring needed for birds (big plus). Goofy, headstrong, affectionate and very willing helpers.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Brian, both my chessies are pretty decent upland hunters but with completely different styles. My female (on the right) is slow, unflashy and methodical, while my male on the left should be competing in those big air contests. Awesome style, but occasionally a little scatterbrained. Plus he thinks he's human so that complicates our relationship sometimes.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Matt,

A good dog is a good dog no matter what the breed, but some breeds perform certain tasks than others because of breeding.

I would not expect, nor did I ever expect my setters and my Brit to retrieve a duck in cold January water, nor believe the dogs sit quietly in a blind. That’s not their forte or temperament.

Like-wise I would not expect a lab or other retriever to range and cover ground like a pointing or flushing dog.

It’s not a slight on your dog when we talk about the strengths of pointers, spaniels, and setters in the Uplands.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

We have fantastic upland/grouse hunting (3 species) and ptarmigan up top (3 species) with very generous bag limits. The dogs are fun to work, but some days, I wish the CBR breed was much older for more consistent personality. When we hunt a forest along a river, Tia thinks no more than it is a well thought out excuse to go swimming.

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from beagler wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Gun dogs are a blessing from the Lord. His blessings will be there for as long as we seek them. I know as long as I live I will have mine . My Weinmaraner "Emma"
is the best friend I've ever had and a true feather/fur huntress ...perhaps I'm a little bias.My ten beagles
are the toughest hunters I know,but how they want to be loved. "Maggie Sue",American Black and Tan Coonhound, is the best snuggler on a cold winter night, unless she's jumpin on a coon, in the USA. Yes Chad and friends, there will always be gun dogs
and good " Americans" to be their companions.
Remember :Beagles Rule, Weinmaraners Reign and coonhounds
just love to chase coons.

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from matt wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Dear Mark-1
I do not believe that any one is trying to slight my dog, or any othe rdog for that matter. However, I do believe that some do over look labs as gun dogs. On the other hand, I believe also that a gun dog is a gun dog, whether it be lab,pointer,or spaniel. Dogs, regardless of breed, have the potential to be anything their handler,and or trainer want them to be. I am guilty though of my own convictions, cause I would over look a Brit as a duck dog, but I think it is awesome that you have an eager partner no matter what the season.

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from kyka1865 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

There are many reasons we do not see as many gun dogs outt here, first they take time. Also the incredible interest in deer and turkey hunting, unfortunately we do not the budding superstars of quail hunting that we see in deer hunting today, that may bengood or bad. Maybe witht he ever increasing prices of big game hunting some hunters will return to their roots hunting squirrel, rabbit and game birds with the aid of dogs.

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from kyka1865 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

There are many reasons we do not see as many gun dogs outt here, first they take time. Also the incredible interest in deer and turkey hunting, unfortunately we do not the budding superstars of quail hunting that we see in deer hunting today, that may bengood or bad. Maybe witht he ever increasing prices of big game hunting some hunters will return to their roots hunting squirrel, rabbit and game birds with the aid of dogs.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I have been a bird hunter for as long as I can remember. Around 54N in British Columbia, I know I'm in an eccentric minority. Don't care. The dog-thing is a recent and welcome addition.
I will agree that gun dogs may be on the wane because many gun dog owners are in an older age class and we are pegging out, left, right and center. Plus, there's far more work in building a good gun dog than buying a rifle. What price do you put on your time for that? The very first bird was the first bird that my big CBR, 'Muddy', brought back to me and that was more than payment enough for everything. What a thrill for both of us.

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from Jacee wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

I love my dogs, and quite honestly would have a terrible day hunting without them, and my husband would have it even worse! I would like to see more articles on upland hunting and gun dogs, around here (southeast WY) that is how most kids get started hunting. BTW - We have always had pound puppy labs, who have turned out to be excellent hunting dogs, so I know that gun dogs don't have to have papers or lineage to be good. But you do have to work with them! Our chocolate lab will go for hours, honestly until she drops, hunting phesant, running around like she's a spaniel. My black lab is more methodical and even points a little. No sissy dogs at my house!

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from shane wrote 5 years 2 weeks ago

I dare you to call my boxer a fat sausage when she runs down a rabbit and rips it in half.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The reason there are less Upland Hunters and Bird Dogs could be the nature of the hunting itself, Chad. A person that hunts birds must walk!!!!

I’ve seen too many hunters at clubs I doubt could walk 400-yards. The main game taking with these hunters are deer and turkeys….from stands….which they drive to with their ATV’s unloaded from a 4x4 w/trailer….on cleared trails!!!! Oh, Did I forget to mention all the technical gadgetry in hardware and clothing needed to sit in a stand that’s a 100-yard walk or less from a 4x4 or ATV?

Granted this may be overstatements, but not by much.

A bird dog requires a commitment and is a responsibility that’s not seen in many today’s hunters. As you well know a hunter gets out of a dog exactly what they put in.
Again, a person has to walk to produce a seasoned bird dog.

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from Wags wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad, thanks for the acknowledgement. I must admit that I have at times wandered if my rants have crossed a line. I'm glad to see they have found an ear or two. I have a few friends that will argue the "man of impeccable taste and style line", but thanks anyway.

I understand the need for a magazine to follow the tune of popularity, however, I think I can spin it a different way. Growing up on a farm in Indiana I had never caught, nor met anyone who had caught, a "steelhead" trout. I also did not know a single person who used a fly rod, or who knew what a woolly bugger was. But I read about them in my Field and Stream. And when I got older (and ended up in Michigan for a time) I got a chance to finally chase the fish with a fly rod and now am a flyfishing degenerate. My point is, maybe the occasional article on quail or pheasant, or the dogs used to pursue them, might get the interest up of a young kid who thinks that deer and turkey are the only things you hunt. Maybe that kid grows up to be involved with Quail Forever or some such organization.

And besides that, it seems to me that the spirits of Trueblood, Ruark, and especially Hill would be highly disappointed that the fine art of upland bird pursuit with a great dog is being ignored.

With regards to the breeds, you are spot on. Way too many "popular breed" dogs with clueless owners. I recently had to explain to a neighbor, much to her chagrin, that a "lab" was short for Labrador Retriever and that they were breed for retrieving game (which I then had to explain meant dead or wounded birds or animals. She was shocked). As for me and my house, we shall always love the English Setter! And as long as there is still a little rough ground somewhere, we'll take a walk just to see what we can find.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm curious about the costs and maintenance effort required in owning a good gun dog. I wouldn't want a perfect show dog, or some registered expensive breed dog. Just a dog that can let me know when I'm about to bust into a patch of quail, or when a cottontail is lurking nearby.

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from rustyspinner21 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

It's 11 PM and my French Brit Spaniel is asleep on my wife's lap as she reads a book. 3 days ago, Belle and I came home from a "put and take" birdhunt. Here in Kentucky, that's about the only way to experience pheasant hunting. She's a dynamo in the field,has a really good nose, would rather hunt for birds than EAT!, and a mama's girl when we're home. First bird dog I've ever owned, and it's just an awesome day when we get to share it out in the field.So my household gets the best of both worlds-me a hunting buddy, my wife a loving pet.You don't know what happiness is till you're lying exhausted by the fireplace, after being afield all day, and your hunting buddy is asleep on your chest or lying next to you on the rug. She's given it all she had, and you both have had a hell of a good time-it's the best "good tired" that there is. Gosh, I'd love to see more articles about gundogs-maybe the other poster was right-more articles may mean more recruitment of younger hunters to try upland hunting with a dog. Let's go for it!!

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

As all of the kids in my family left for college, my parents replaced each of us in turn with a hunting dog. Today, they are the proud parents of three Brittany's which they train and hunt with on a regular basis (Every weekend year-round and quite a few weeknights).

I think most people no longer have the time or energy to properly train a hunting dog. (Neither would my parents if they weren't empty-nesters and semi-retired).

It's a huge time commitment (and I won't even get started on the vet bills/feeding costs/expensive-chewed-items fund.)

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from Nick Jensen wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

To me, a dog is an essential part of the hunt, I have even on occasion given up carrying a gun just so I can focus on working my dog. I recently took a trip to North Dakota to do some pheasant hunting and my best memory of the trip was my chocolate lab Ellie pointing a pheasant. It was only a hen but it was something she had never done before and I will never forget it.

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from Love2Hunt wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have just started college but desperately want a gun dog. I have been around and hunted with many people who own dogs. I really want to train and be out in the field with a dog who can hunt. I think that it would be a neat experience to raise your own gun dog and work fields with him.

Watching these dogs work is a really cool experience and I think it would be a really satisfying experience to know that you have trained the dog into an effective hunter.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Mike, right now I just have the two mutts in the picture and I use them for both waterfowl and upland hunting (despite what you read chessies are every bit as capable an upland retriever as a lab) but when I do get ready to get back into the pointing world I'm taking a really, really hard look at the Brittany.
They're good-natured, beautiful, easy keepers and great hunters. I think they'd compliment my chessies in the field.
The more I'm around them the more I like them. My last true bird dog was an English pointer. She came from Elhew stock so she was a real sweety, much more personable IMO than your typical pointer, but the Brittany just seems to be a natural "people" dog.

Mark-1 might want to chime in here as well because I think? he has a young Brittany.

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from philbourjaily wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Chad -- One sad reason fewer people own bird dogs is that many parts of the country don't have good bird hunting anymore. Wild bobwhites are a memory in the south; states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio used to have great pheasant hunting, now they have none. Until we have more birds, we're not going to have more bird dogs.

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One more note: I don't know that those AKC rankings demonstrate a decreasing number of hunting dogs. Based just on that information, it seems equally likely that other breeds have just grown in numbers faster, not that hunting breed numbers have declined.

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from blue ridge wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

With 9 beagles I'm doing my part in keeping the breed in the top five. Mine range in age from 13 years to 5 months. I run as high as 8 at a time. The puppy hasn't started yet. Beagles also make great house dogs, one of mine, a house dog, has Champion papers.

Join the NRA

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from Jim in Mo wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Bob81,
Since when did you become the moderator of this post? Newbe.

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from TommyNash wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Sad sign of the times in our country. I don't get in the field as much as I would like with my Lab, but he doesn't wear bandanas, chase frisbees or perform any other jackass activity. He's great with the little kids, and has a loyalty many humans don't know. The best times in the field are being with buddies and watching great dogs.

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from Fieldand Stream wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Chad, thanks for bringing up this topic, thanks for everybody for commenting on it, and thanks to Wags especially for beating the drum for more dog and upland coverage in F&S.
One of our biggest challenges here is balancing how much coverage each topic gets. It's a good problem to have--ducks, deer, pheasants, elk, bass, trout, walleye, geese, pike, grouse. American sportsmen have plenty to choose from and we try our best to cover it all.
But I will admit that I think you guys are right. Dogs and upland hunting do sometimes get unfairly neglected. One reason is what Phil pointed out, there are fewer birds than there used to be. But that's no excuse.
Phil is too modest to point it out, but he has a terrific story on how to raise a bird dog coming up in the March issue. We'll also be running more upland and dog stories this fall. Promise.
Anthony Licata
Editor
By the way, one of my favorite things to do is hunt grouse behind a good bird dog.

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from Douglas wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

The most important thing I have found about having a dog as a hunting partner is being sure the dog gets PLENTY of outdoor time to be free to do what they love.
So many of us are limited in the time we can spend afield, and its a heart breaker to see good hunting dogs stuck in a house or apartment all day.
I have a Brittany that doubles as a house clown and great bird finder. You will never see me with a Shih tzu - poo!

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from Andrew Ferraro wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I love my German Shorthair Pointer and couldn't be happier with a dog. He's no show dog, but he'll always find the birds. I spend @ 30 minutes a day running him in the field behind my house. He is a great dog when he gets to run and a PITA when he doesn't. If you have the time and space gun dogs are the best, but many people in live in urban areas or have a difficult work schedule. Low energy dogs are a good option for these people.

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Brittany spaniels seem like good natured dogs, from what I've read. This discussion definitely has started me thinking "Hmmmm.... what if?"

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad,

I (almost) take back every snide comment I ever made about your posts. Any man with 2 Chessies who hunt is ok in my book (unless you are a Democrat).

My Black Lab is almost 2 and is as fine a waterfowl retriever as I could ever hope for. I am going to start working him on pheasants at a game farm as soon as the snow cover is gone. He already trails and flushes pheasants at the state release site that is also a waterfowl area, so I think he is birdy enough. He's great with kids and folks he knows, but unfamiliar dogs and strangers usually get a growl. He is a bit over-protective of me and the wife, but I don't think anyone could steal him without a tranquilizer gun.

I see the city Labs every day jogging alongside somone in spandex and it make me sad for the dog without a job.

My hunting buddy lost his Lab yesterday at age 11 from an apparent heart attack two days after waterfowl season closed. Sunday, I downed the last goose he retrieved. He beat my Lab to it in a four dog scramble and returned it to Jim. May he RIP in Doggy Heaven.

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from Steven9253 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I read this article and then went on a walk with my wifes and now my german shepard husky mix, and it got me thinking. I have not had a dog that I have payed for, every single one has been a stray puppy that someone has picked up. I think its awesome that people have dogs they hunt with but as of now its just not right for me and I would hate for anyone to get a hunting dog and not give it the attention and work it needs. So if you don't know what you are getting into do alot of research please

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from rolfsbud wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I am a new gun dog owner and am trying to teach rolf, my weimaraner how to hunt the few small quail pockets in southwest missouri. I have to say I agree with the total report up above I know of atleast 6 other individuals who own gun dog breeds from labs to weimaraners to springers that just don't hunt with their dogs. I also find most of these dogs to be: A. overweight, B. obnoxious, and C. poor choices for pets when such people refuse to exercise or work with them. I can say thay rolf is my first gundog but won't be my last.
I wish to train him but I find he may be training me more than I am him.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

One of the most calm easy to handle hunting house dogs I ever saw was an English pointer named Buddy that belonged to the owner of the local gun shop. He would lay on his bed in the shop and sleep with customers and noise all around. Beautiful dog too.

BTW guys Bella is a she not a he. She promised to post a pic in a swimsuit a few months ago but never did. On the other hand maybe I missed something.

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from osobear wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I agree. Field & Stream really should do more articles about gundogs and post pics of people with their gundogs on a regular basis. I personally believe more people should get into hunting with dogs. When I was growing up as a kid some of my fondest memories was with hunting dogs. I remember how much fun it was staying up all night listening to our coondogs tree coons. I spent many weekends rabbit hunting with our beagles and cocker spaniels ( the best rabbit dogs we ever had). Unfortunately, the quail we hunted was the ones that jumped up while we were rabbit hunting. Which is why I now have a weimeraner. I love to watch her hunt, but unfortunately for us we haven't had much time to go between the Air Force, school, little league, and family their isn't much time left to hunt. When I do have time to hunt I usually don't have the money to buy shell to shoot anything so we have to do it for the fun of it. My weim just turned 1 and I have jet to shoot a bird for her to retrieve and next season I probably won't be around to go hunting with her. Hopefully I will the next year. I envy you guys who get to go hunting with your gundogs and feel sorry for those who don't even know the joy of watching their dog hunt. I love to deer hunt but I would rather be hunting with my dog.

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from Anthony wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

All hope is not lost for bird dogs and bird dog enthusiasts. Check out Pheasants Forever's National Pheasant Fest next weekend in Madison, Wisconsin (www.pheasantfest.org). There will be 35 dog breeds at the show, and an entire section of the show floor will be devoted to our four-legged huntin' buddies, affectionately called the Bird Dog Bonanza. Note to F&S, we love the dogs, keep 'em in the rotation!

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from ducksndeers wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I think Wags hit the nail on the head! I grew up in a family that didn't hunt. We fished a lot though, and so I subscribed to field and stream as a kid. Thanks to all of those articles I read growing up, now hunt just about every game you can think of from alligator to upland. My childhood daydreams eventually led to me learning to hunt on my own from magazine articles and books. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about hunting. By 16 my dad took thehunter safety classes with me, and I went deer hunting for the first time on the opening day of the archery season. Although I am still yet to harvest a deer in over 10 years of hunting. I have now successfully, taken 2 gators and my first wild hog this year, as well as dozens of ducks and tons of pheasants and squirrels with the help and friendship of my incredible bird dog Daisy. When I was reading the mag growing up, bird dog hunting was always the one thing that excited me the most, and last year I finally found myself a great gun dog. I trained her myself. I spend a lot of time with her, and let me tell you

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Thanks for the invite, Chad! Finally took off those pair of cans from my ears [musician and recording geek]

As Chad wrote I have a Brittany now that finished her 2nd season. I’m very pleased with her performance and training. I was able to concentrate more on shooting this year: equal birds in the freezer.

--The initial purchase price of a bird dog/gun dog is cheap compared to what it’ll cost an owner to maintain it. It costs me as much to maintain a gun dog as it does to maintain a horse. However, for me a pointing dog is a long term investment so I divide the original purchase price by an average hunting life of 12-years.

--Brittany’s strong point as a pointing dog is size. It’s half the size of Setters/pointers. The dog is civilized for space restrictions.

The 2nd strong point is a Brittany seems to have intensity of English Setter/Pointers and seem to mature somewhere between a setter and pointer. Unusual for a contenital breed IMHO.

--I don’t think Brit’s range as fast or as far as setters/pointers. It’s perfect for grouse, but pheasants will run on the dog.

--Some owners prefer to kennel a dog; I prefer to have the dog live in the house. I believe the bonding is stronger and makes for a mellower dog.

--I never let my hunting dogs run although they are outside with me. The situation will have the beast hunting for them and not for you. It’s tough enforcement. Pointing and flushing dogs aren’t designed to stay on the porch. Females seem to be more homebodies.

--To train a pup I buy six-quail and have a small pen with a one-way entrance. When I take a dog for a walk I grab three or four quail stuffing the birds in an old cut-off pant leg and release the birds at various spots for the dog to find and point. The quail will make their way back to the other birds in the cage. Repeat as often as possible.

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from rustyspinner21 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Phil, I too cannot wait for the March issue to read your story. Anthony, we'll hold you to your promise about more upland/dog articles this coming fall. There really is NOTHING like watching your dog work and retrieve. Heck it's awesome just to watch the dog go nuts when she see's you putting on your bonafide pair of canvas hunting pants! Why can't F&S have a regular section of repeats of old classics-Gene Hill, etc. just a page an issue,showing what the thinking was like back then. I personally think it would be a blast!

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from wsimien wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Although gun dog owners are on the decline I would agree that at the very least, an ocassional article would add value to the magizine and its readers. In a previous issue there was an article on the major decline of the younger generation hunting, does that mean F&S is going to stop its publishing when they become of age? I sure hope not.

Gun dogs are just as every bit as important to bird hunters as a tree stand, camo, or optics are to hunters who hunt other game and we have articles on those every issue. Who knows it could even spark interest in readers like Wags was for fly fishing. I look forward to reading some gun dog articles in the future.

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from matt wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I have to say that I do find it a little frustrating that when some one mentions "gun dog" every one seems to think more along the lines of pointers, and leave out labs. I am an avid bird hunter, and have no greater companion in or out of the field than my 2yr old black lab. He is always ready to go whether its early season ducks, Kansas quail, or late season pheasants. Now nothing against all you pointers out there, but for my money a well trained lab is all the hunting dog I need.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Matt,

A good dog is a good dog no matter what the breed, but some breeds perform certain tasks than others because of breeding.

I would not expect, nor did I ever expect my setters and my Brit to retrieve a duck in cold January water, nor believe the dogs sit quietly in a blind. That’s not their forte or temperament.

Like-wise I would not expect a lab or other retriever to range and cover ground like a pointing or flushing dog.

It’s not a slight on your dog when we talk about the strengths of pointers, spaniels, and setters in the Uplands.

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from beagler wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Gun dogs are a blessing from the Lord. His blessings will be there for as long as we seek them. I know as long as I live I will have mine . My Weinmaraner "Emma"
is the best friend I've ever had and a true feather/fur huntress ...perhaps I'm a little bias.My ten beagles
are the toughest hunters I know,but how they want to be loved. "Maggie Sue",American Black and Tan Coonhound, is the best snuggler on a cold winter night, unless she's jumpin on a coon, in the USA. Yes Chad and friends, there will always be gun dogs
and good " Americans" to be their companions.
Remember :Beagles Rule, Weinmaraners Reign and coonhounds
just love to chase coons.

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from matt wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Dear Mark-1
I do not believe that any one is trying to slight my dog, or any othe rdog for that matter. However, I do believe that some do over look labs as gun dogs. On the other hand, I believe also that a gun dog is a gun dog, whether it be lab,pointer,or spaniel. Dogs, regardless of breed, have the potential to be anything their handler,and or trainer want them to be. I am guilty though of my own convictions, cause I would over look a Brit as a duck dog, but I think it is awesome that you have an eager partner no matter what the season.

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from jcarlin wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I for one am still sending my fat sausage of a beagle after rabbits when I get the chance. For a generally lazy house dog, he somehow finds the energy to run for hours on end if fresh bunny scent is around. I'd like to see some more dog stories.
I will say that "getting the chance" is the operative word. SE PA isn't the easiest place to find a suitable location to let your dog run, though I know this story is regarding bird dogs and you guys work a good bit closer.

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

HA HA you desribed my Bother-in-laws fat clueless Lab to the letter. I try to spend 30 min everyday working with my German Shorthaired Pointer. She is 11 months old and already worth $!K if I would sell her. Most hunting breeds do not make good pets. That is the reason they are not as popular as Labs.

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from woofbarkenarf wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm pushing 50, and my dog-friend is middle aged at 8 yrs now, yet we still get out there and put in some miles every chance we get. No, the dog's not perfect, and niether am I for that matter, but like Mark-1 said above "a person has to walk to produce a seasoned bird dog" There are far too many people out here in AZ using quads and driving off trail to pursue thier game. It's disgusting to me that they call that hunting.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

love2hunt,

I bought my first bird dog [english setter] 35-years ago while in college from a very gracious breeder who took monthly payments.

I think I sold my plasma for that last payment. No one would buy my sperm.

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from Nick Jensen wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Love2Hunt, I married into my bird dog, it was a package deal, get the girl, get the dog. It couldn't have worked out better. So my advice for getting a dog, Find a girl with a dog, and don't let go. Good luck to ya.

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from dwaynez wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I have a great dog that will go on a hunt or a fishing trip she is 1/2 American bulldog and 1/2 Lab and she is a natural.

I have a neighbor who raises bird dogs and hog dogs and they are very intelligent dogs, lot of respect for people who have highly trained dogs, it takes some dedication and hard work

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from jcarlin wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm with some of the others on the opinion that I'd rather get my dog out than hunt. I've probably had him out on more Sundays than Saturdays in season because of my other priorities and Sunday is a no hunting day in PA. Neither the dog nor the rabbits seem to know that.

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from wandering owl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Most people these days think they do not have the time. And it may be true with everyone chasing the almighty dollar. They don't take the time to chase the birds, etc. Time is the biggest reason - no one has enough. As for me, I'll always have a retriever. Right now it's a chocolate lab - the best duck dog I've had yet. Those busy guys are missing out on the best part of hunting.

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from backstrap13 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Speaking of pets, last week I went to a zoo. The only animal there was a dog. It was a Shih Tzu.....comedy club y'all chuckle, chuckle.

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from Steven9253 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

speaking of beagles, back in brandon florida a pest control company uses them to sniff out termites, i was just reminded of this by your comment blue ridge. its just another way to work a dog that i never would have thought of before

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from Scott Linden wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

I'm afraid Chad is right, which is why I started a blog all about gun dogs. It seems to have struck a chord, particularly when we discuss dog names!

Scott

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Chad and Mike Diehl,
As mentioned, I have quite a bit of experience hunting with Brittany's. They are extremely smart and energetic dogs and make fantastic pets. As far as drawbacks, they can definitely be a bit headstrong at times, and their high-energy level means they require quite a bit of energy (although I probably just described most hunting breeds.) While nearly perfect for upland game, they will happily retrieve out of water, but may be a bit on the small side for retrieving larger birds like Canadian Geese (especially, if the goose is alive and struggling).

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

That should have read "require quite a bit of exercise"

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from cmstorm wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Enjoyed all your comments about bird dogs. I'm an old bird hunter originally from Indiana. Moved to PA several years ago and we have no quail hunting here. I've owned pointers and setters. Several of which have won field trials. I've had Gunsmoke dogs in past years. My experience, you hunt with a pointer and a setter hunts with you. I agree with the gentleman who mentioned to many hunters are using ATV's etc. We used to walk many miles before going to work on 2nd shift. I always wanted to try a Brittany. I have many memories of dogs and points. Put a few dogs down due to age and illness. I'm close to 70 now and my bird hunting is about done. Grouse in the state bird in PA, but they are far and few. Keep up the interest and get your dog now.

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Hey Jim in Mo,
I'm not a moderator, but I'm definitely not a newbie either. (This new posting system just required a screen name change.)

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from Mike Diehl wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Thanks Bob81, that's good starting information for me. With a new son on the way, it'll be a few years before I do get a gun dog, but it gives me and my 1st son a chance to save up and get ready.

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from ducksndeers wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

every minute I spend with her is worth it! She's an incredible house dog, and she can hunt! She'll be retrieving ducks on a cold morning, and be ready to go work the fields for pheasant and quail faster than I can clean the ducks, and I couldn't be happier. So, Field & Stream, just let me say if you write it, eventually the youngsters will come! I'm currently talking with breeders about getting my 2nd gun dog already, so Daisy can have a partner in crime.

A great gun dog is the greatest gift any man could ever ask for. Without a doubt I enjoy watching Daisy work and retrieve birds more than anything else in the whole world.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Bob81

MYOB.

If you have a comment, spit it out. But don't try to tell me what I can post and not post. If I feel like poking at Chad in good natured jest, I will.

Go find your meds.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Phil, truer words were never typed. When you parse the decline in gundog popularity down to its root cause, that's probably it.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Wags, I can commiserate on how the magazine influenced you. I was in the same boat - ironically enough - with dogs.
I didn't come from a bird-hunting background, no one in my family really did any hunting with dogs and at any rate my parents divorced when I was young.
So until I was well into my later teens and early twenties I had virtually no exposure to hunting dogs except in the pages of F&S and what hunts I could bum from guys who had dogs.
I credit the magazine, and above all the writing of Bill Tarrant (and Gene Hill) for stoking and maintaining my interest in dogs during those formative years when I couldn't have one.

I'm glad to see so much participation and interest in this thread. It's definitely one of my favorites. It's nice to see good dialogue that transcends the original post.

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from Wags wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

First and foremost, thank you Chad and Anthony. Sometimes just knowing that you are heard is a comfort. I look forward to reading Phil's article in March. Also, should you ever find yourself in need of 500 or so words, well, the wife has told me to start telling someone else all my stories.......

Thanks to all the kindred spirits out there for giving this thread some legs.

Chad, good one that Bill Tarrant. I had forgotten that name. I wonder in this age of information if it would be possible to have section of the website devoted to old classic writers. Man some of that stuff they wrote about is just as relevant now as it was back then, especially when it comes to training a dog. Maybe some of the old "Hill Country" pieces or "Grandpa and the Kid"...now I'm going to have to dig up some of the really old stuff just to see what I've forgotten!

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Thank you, Anthony.

BTW, you're welcomed to shoot grouse with me and behind my Brit anytime.....a foot over and two feet behind.

You can use my shells, too. :-)

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I don't know Chad; I think th pup on the left has some potential from the look of him.

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from Scott in Ohio wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Jcarlin,

I used to live in SE PA and hunted Marsh Creek State Park near Exton quite a bit for stocked pheasants rabbits and ducks (especially).

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from Robert Ewing wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Having two Brittanys,I appreciate all the comments made about them.I would like to add that Brittanys are a little sensitive and become head strong when delt with a strong hand.
They are a dual Breed having over 500 registered dual champions in 2006.That is they where a champion in the show ring and a champion of field trialing;But most are just a welcome member of the family inside the home and a member of the hunting party in the field.
Just as we work our dogs all year I would look forward to future articles and stories all year.
One tid-bit or story could help a dog and handler avoid a pit fall that could produce one more gundog.

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from Robert Ewing wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

As to local bird hunting in northern Illinois.Most of us are limited to placed birds at a hunt club or controlled hunt at a state site.In my area noticed a sharp decrease in the crow population from west nile in the last few years and in that time a increase or reintroduction of other species such as Owls,pheasant,hawks,rails and sandhill cranes.
As I looked out the window today, I could 30 or more Crow in the trees here in town and wonder how quick they are coming back? I also wonder how I could invite them out of town for a contolled hunt,after all I need to stay sharp.I hate to let the dog down when he does his job and I just blow the shot.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

When I was a kid growing up in the deep south "bird hunting" meant bob white quail only. We took our A-5's or M-12's or whatever along with our best pointers and or setters and hunted as often as possible. There were few posted signs and almost everyone let us hunt on their farms and land. "Jus dont shoot the cows or around the house boys" the owner would say as he hitched up the strap on his overalls before climbing on his John Deere, "oh and dont bother stopping to ask as more as I know you. Look behind the peach orchard, I used to find a covey or two there". I loved to hear those bobs whistleespecially at near sunset. For several decades when I revisit the land of my youth you rarely see a pointing dog outside of field trials people's kennels. Old Charlie told me often "No point in having a good dog when there ain't no birds..." For numerous reasons the younger generation of hunters prefer labs including playing games and waterfowl retrieving hence its high spot on the AKC list. They are great dogs but the lack some of the character of the ripraps, lemons, and livers of my younger days. Some day I will tell you about "Chicken eater", one of my best liver and white pointers if you could keep him away from chickens and other dogs.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

We have two big Chessies that were born with the hard-wiring needed for birds (big plus). Goofy, headstrong, affectionate and very willing helpers.

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from chadlove wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Brian, both my chessies are pretty decent upland hunters but with completely different styles. My female (on the right) is slow, unflashy and methodical, while my male on the left should be competing in those big air contests. Awesome style, but occasionally a little scatterbrained. Plus he thinks he's human so that complicates our relationship sometimes.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

We have fantastic upland/grouse hunting (3 species) and ptarmigan up top (3 species) with very generous bag limits. The dogs are fun to work, but some days, I wish the CBR breed was much older for more consistent personality. When we hunt a forest along a river, Tia thinks no more than it is a well thought out excuse to go swimming.

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from kyka1865 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

There are many reasons we do not see as many gun dogs outt here, first they take time. Also the incredible interest in deer and turkey hunting, unfortunately we do not the budding superstars of quail hunting that we see in deer hunting today, that may bengood or bad. Maybe witht he ever increasing prices of big game hunting some hunters will return to their roots hunting squirrel, rabbit and game birds with the aid of dogs.

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from kyka1865 wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

There are many reasons we do not see as many gun dogs outt here, first they take time. Also the incredible interest in deer and turkey hunting, unfortunately we do not the budding superstars of quail hunting that we see in deer hunting today, that may bengood or bad. Maybe witht he ever increasing prices of big game hunting some hunters will return to their roots hunting squirrel, rabbit and game birds with the aid of dogs.

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from Brian W. Thair wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

I have been a bird hunter for as long as I can remember. Around 54N in British Columbia, I know I'm in an eccentric minority. Don't care. The dog-thing is a recent and welcome addition.
I will agree that gun dogs may be on the wane because many gun dog owners are in an older age class and we are pegging out, left, right and center. Plus, there's far more work in building a good gun dog than buying a rifle. What price do you put on your time for that? The very first bird was the first bird that my big CBR, 'Muddy', brought back to me and that was more than payment enough for everything. What a thrill for both of us.

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from Jacee wrote 5 years 9 weeks ago

I love my dogs, and quite honestly would have a terrible day hunting without them, and my husband would have it even worse! I would like to see more articles on upland hunting and gun dogs, around here (southeast WY) that is how most kids get started hunting. BTW - We have always had pound puppy labs, who have turned out to be excellent hunting dogs, so I know that gun dogs don't have to have papers or lineage to be good. But you do have to work with them! Our chocolate lab will go for hours, honestly until she drops, hunting phesant, running around like she's a spaniel. My black lab is more methodical and even points a little. No sissy dogs at my house!

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from shane wrote 5 years 2 weeks ago

I dare you to call my boxer a fat sausage when she runs down a rabbit and rips it in half.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 10 weeks ago

Bob81

MYOB.

If you have a comment, spit it out. But don't try to tell me what I can post and not post. If I feel like poking at Chad in good natured jest, I will.

Go find your meds.

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from jay wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter -- Your "democrat" comment is going to get Bella all fired up and we will once again be subjected to his liberal ramblings.....

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

jay

Bella usually needs no inspiration nor instigation to get on his liberal soap box....LMAO

Who knows, maybe Chad voted for liberals, too!

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from Bob81 wrote 5 years 11 weeks ago

Lastly,
WA Mtnhunter, we are having a discussion about dogs. The election is over. How about we give it a rest until the next topic regarding politics, gun control, etc where its actually relevant?

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