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The Ongoing Search for Training Grounds

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December 15, 2010

The Ongoing Search for Training Grounds

By Chad Love

Ask any dog trainer, whether they're strictly a hunter or a weekend hunt tester, amateur field trialer, a pro or some combination thereof, “What's the biggest training issue you face?” The answer will most likely be finding training grounds where they can get their dogs on real birds.

It's not a very gundog-friendly world out there and urban and suburban trainers are forced to get creative with where and how they train. I've been kicked off golf course water hazards, city park ponds, neighborhood green spaces, soccer fields, state parks, deserted shopping mall parking lots, open fields destined to become housing developments and wherever else I thought might work for a bit of training. If it's big enough to throw a bumper, I've probably been asked to vacate the premises. If you can manage it (and keep from getting hassled) all those places are fine for yard work—handling drills and the like—but eventually, you have to get your dog into the real thing. And that's where many trainers turn to pen-raised birds.

So when I saw this thread on the Upland Journal bulletin board discussing a story on proposed changes to Oregon's dog-training laws it got my attention.

From the story on oregonlive.com:

The pack howled, and alpha listened. Emerging from a pit of snarling dog owners Tuesday night in the basement meeting room of a Clackamas hotel, top officials of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife suggested Wednesday they might apply the brakes to a proposal that dog owners say would sharply limit their training. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to consider new dog-training rules at its February meeting. Tuesday's meeting was the second of seven around the state to explain the new rules, which for the first time would require anyone training a dog in the field to have a free permit. Trainers for decades have been technically in violation of a state law requiring a permit to release wildlife. Pen-reared, or domestically raised, game birds such as pheasants, quail and chukar are still considered wildlife, even if marked as pen-reared and sold for dog training.

The proposal would also limit trainers to releasing three birds per day. It also applies to raptor training. Department managers want reaction from the public. They will develop a final plan by mid-January and present it to the commission two weeks later. But with barely a week's notice of the public meetings, and in the middle of bird-hunting seasons, more than three dozen trainers, owners and bird-raisers showed up and unanimously bared their fangs in Clackamas. That's too fast, the proposal is not well thought-out, it will put some propagators out of business, and it addresses a nonexistent problem, they said. The low daily limit of three is where the fur really flies. Owners and trainers frequently buy and release far more birds, especially hen pheasants, when they train in the field.

And by reading some of the comments on the Upland Journal thread, it seems this is an issue in many states, and it's certainly not going away. As societal, economic and environmental pressures continue to squeeze those of us who love hunting and training dogs into a smaller and smaller niche, it's obvious that sporting-dog owners are going to have to stay politically aware and active to hold on to what we have.

Have you had to deal with anything similar to Oregon's new dog-training proposals? What's the current sporting-dog training situation in your state?

Comments (7)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

We do realize you can get a ticket for training your dog in bird habitat during the bird, nesting season? I have been confronted with that fact in WA ST. And here's a good one. I was confronted by a Game Warden for practice casting on the Snoqualmie River in WA state...flyrod with but a piece of yarn on the end of my line. The Warden thought he had me for fishing during the closed season. Then ran me off saying he would ticket me for "harassing game" (steelhead) during the spawning season just like having a dog in the field during nesting season.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu, yes, for example in Oklahoma our WMAs are closed to training from June 1 to Aug. 31st during nesting season. In addition only individuals can train on department land, no pros.

However, I may be misinformed but I'm not aware of any restrictions in my state on the number of pen-raised birds a trainer can release on private land for training purposes, provided you can produce a receipt from a licensed gamebird breeder for said birds. But apparently that's an issue others are facing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

The area I used to frequent has started using a pair of rangers, including one with binos to ticket off leash dogs. It's a bummer because it was a close place to put my dog on some city quail for training.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

doesn't it sometimes seem like the agencies that are supposed to be working for us end up working against us? i haven't checked the laws in new york yet, but i am not very optomistic about what i will find out.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Good golly. Here in WV we can only keep 30 birds and that is with a Bird Dog Training permit that cost $10. I hate to moan about that but nowhere can I just get 30 birds...they want to sell a minimum of 50. But the biggest rub here is that I cannot legally have Chukars to turn loose with this permit, only quail and pigeons. That is absurd. I must have a wildlife raising permit where the Dept of Ag comes and test the birds, sticks a thermometer up their butt, etc. to raise and keep Chukars. I wish more wildlife commissioners were bird hunters instead of deer hunters!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

WV law: ALL PERSONS HOLDING BIRDS IN CAPTIVITY AND PARTICIPATING IN THE TRAINING MUST POSSESS A BIRD DOG TRAINING PERMIT. So even if you come to a field trial here you have to have the 10 buck permit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cpeter wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Here in Missouri we have similar laws. You can have a Hobby Permit that allows you to have 50 or fewer pheasants or bobwhite quail. It is $10.00 plus you are required to purchase leg markers to be placed on the birds at an additional cost. This allows you to have the birds but you are not allowed to release them. There is also a dog training permit that more expensive that allows you to release and shoot birds all year long. However, you have to own and designate an area of land less than 40 acres to do so. From a guy who lives inside city limits it is a real pain to train a young dog.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from jamesti wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

doesn't it sometimes seem like the agencies that are supposed to be working for us end up working against us? i haven't checked the laws in new york yet, but i am not very optomistic about what i will find out.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

We do realize you can get a ticket for training your dog in bird habitat during the bird, nesting season? I have been confronted with that fact in WA ST. And here's a good one. I was confronted by a Game Warden for practice casting on the Snoqualmie River in WA state...flyrod with but a piece of yarn on the end of my line. The Warden thought he had me for fishing during the closed season. Then ran me off saying he would ticket me for "harassing game" (steelhead) during the spawning season just like having a dog in the field during nesting season.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Good golly. Here in WV we can only keep 30 birds and that is with a Bird Dog Training permit that cost $10. I hate to moan about that but nowhere can I just get 30 birds...they want to sell a minimum of 50. But the biggest rub here is that I cannot legally have Chukars to turn loose with this permit, only quail and pigeons. That is absurd. I must have a wildlife raising permit where the Dept of Ag comes and test the birds, sticks a thermometer up their butt, etc. to raise and keep Chukars. I wish more wildlife commissioners were bird hunters instead of deer hunters!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from chadlove wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

Sayfu, yes, for example in Oklahoma our WMAs are closed to training from June 1 to Aug. 31st during nesting season. In addition only individuals can train on department land, no pros.

However, I may be misinformed but I'm not aware of any restrictions in my state on the number of pen-raised birds a trainer can release on private land for training purposes, provided you can produce a receipt from a licensed gamebird breeder for said birds. But apparently that's an issue others are facing.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 3 years 18 weeks ago

The area I used to frequent has started using a pair of rangers, including one with binos to ticket off leash dogs. It's a bummer because it was a close place to put my dog on some city quail for training.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

WV law: ALL PERSONS HOLDING BIRDS IN CAPTIVITY AND PARTICIPATING IN THE TRAINING MUST POSSESS A BIRD DOG TRAINING PERMIT. So even if you come to a field trial here you have to have the 10 buck permit.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from cpeter wrote 3 years 17 weeks ago

Here in Missouri we have similar laws. You can have a Hobby Permit that allows you to have 50 or fewer pheasants or bobwhite quail. It is $10.00 plus you are required to purchase leg markers to be placed on the birds at an additional cost. This allows you to have the birds but you are not allowed to release them. There is also a dog training permit that more expensive that allows you to release and shoot birds all year long. However, you have to own and designate an area of land less than 40 acres to do so. From a guy who lives inside city limits it is a real pain to train a young dog.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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