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What Bird Best Compliments Your Dog?

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June 13, 2011

What Bird Best Compliments Your Dog?

By Chad Love

Kirk Deeter's blog on smallmouth as the ultimate fly rod fish got to thinking about birds, specifically, what's the ultimate game bird for an upland gundog? Unlike flyfishing, the world of bird hunting has no equivalent to the primacy of the fly angler's trout. In fact, we're a pretty fractured bunch. I suppose that in terms of sheer numbers and participation, pheasants come closest to being the most ubiquitous species, but by no means are pheasants the "face" of upland hunting like trout is so dominantly the face of flyfishing. So maybe the analogy doesn't hold, but I'm going to try, anyway.

What's your personal ultimate gamebird for your dog? This isn’t a bucket list question of what you'd like to hunt, but rather what bird you think represents the best, most rewarding challenge to you and your dog's hunting style. And for many of us it probably will be pheasants. And that's cool. I absolutely love hunting pheasants, the wily, frustrating bastards, but as a pointing dog owner I don't think (and I'm sure this will touch off some debate here...) pheasants are the ultimate gamebird for a dog like my setter.

Only one bird occupies that spot for me, and it's the bobwhite quail. I could wax poetic about how the bob is the bird closest to my heart, the bird I grew up hunting, etc, etc. ad nauseum, but the truth is, I think for me the bobwhite quail is the best compliment for the abilities and characteristics of the dog I own.

Now that's not to say I'm not going to try my damndest to knock it off the perch. I've got sharptails, sage grouse, huns and mountain grouse on tap for this fall, and desert quail if I can swing it, any of which may usurp king Bob's position, but right now 'ol Colinus Virginianus is it for me.

But what about you? High desert chukars? Deep woods ruffs? Woodcock? What bird best compliments your dog?

Comments (9)

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from Douglas wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Woodcock for my Brittany, with Ruffed grouse a very close second. He just seems keener on woodcock because they tend to hold still a bit longer for him.

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from tourneyking734 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

i would have to say that partridge are by far the most complimenting bird for my dog, followed by a distant second of pheasant.

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from GregMc wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'd rather eat grouse and hunt quail, but I have a springer.
She's a jack-of-all trades, but is at her best on pheasants...

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from Timothy Pifher wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

One of the most challenging and a test of your dog’s ability and ability to perceiver has to be the Sage Grouse, especially when hunting on BLM desert prairies.
It took a couple of covies and a morning in the Montanna high desert but we did collect one for the trophy room.

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from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I have to say pheasants with my setters in the grasslands of Montana. Wonderful combination to watch the dog work with numerous birds.

East: I have to say woodcock since they lie close and individuals can be flushed a number of times. Good for any my pointing dogs.

Best challenge for my pointing dog and my hunting skills, with best open habitat: Huns in Montana.

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from jamesti wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

i'm gonna be the pheasant guy here as that is the main upland bird my dog is used to. quail is a close second.

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from dmeister wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'm going with pheasants followed by woodcock. No coincidence that they are the only wild birds available locally.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Well, I now have three hunting dogs. Just brought home a very fine French Brittany pup the other day to join my two black labs. Here in northwestern Ontario I hunt mostly geese in the fields and ruff grouse in the woods. Pearl, my older lab, is the goose hunter but she defers to Opal when it comes to uplands. Pearl was run over at age 11 months and sustained a fractured skull. Her nasal passages above and between the eyes were damaged and she doesn't track nearly as well as Opal (who has a fantastic nose by any standards). When we go back to Montana each fall they both work very well as a team hunting pheasants and huns. Again, Pearl will defer to Opal, honors her ocassional points, and will even give her the bird to retrieve. But geese belong to Pearl. She lets Opal help with the retrieve (she can hang onto the head or wing). Anything that falls in the water (which is not that often) is up for grabs. Pearl will not defer to Opal if a rooster dumps in the pond. And they don't fight over the birds either (they know I won't tolerate that). The tandem goose retrieves aren't very "pretty" but they enjoy themselves and never tear up the bird.

I have been strongly enouraged to start this Brittany pup on woodcock. We have a few around here but I'm thinking of traveling to a better migration route. The French Brittany is noted as a close retriever and she should work very well with the other two once I get their flushing instincts a bit more controled. They are both VERY controllable so I don't think it's going to be an issue. I'd love to get back to Montana and hunt blue grouse where I formerly hunted elk (very successfully I might add). But not sure if this old body would be able to fill the bill any more. Very rugged. I have never hunted valley quail but would like very much to give it a go. My cousin who comes up for the Montana pheasant hunt has excellent chukar hunting down his way so maybe we'll make a side trip after we finish with the roosters. By then I might be in shape enough to tackle those cliff han

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from gundogger wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

mallards for my golden...it helps for him to see the mark, and pheasants for my springer spaniel, he is just an energetic bird flushing machine

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from Douglas wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Woodcock for my Brittany, with Ruffed grouse a very close second. He just seems keener on woodcock because they tend to hold still a bit longer for him.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from GregMc wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'd rather eat grouse and hunt quail, but I have a springer.
She's a jack-of-all trades, but is at her best on pheasants...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

Well, I now have three hunting dogs. Just brought home a very fine French Brittany pup the other day to join my two black labs. Here in northwestern Ontario I hunt mostly geese in the fields and ruff grouse in the woods. Pearl, my older lab, is the goose hunter but she defers to Opal when it comes to uplands. Pearl was run over at age 11 months and sustained a fractured skull. Her nasal passages above and between the eyes were damaged and she doesn't track nearly as well as Opal (who has a fantastic nose by any standards). When we go back to Montana each fall they both work very well as a team hunting pheasants and huns. Again, Pearl will defer to Opal, honors her ocassional points, and will even give her the bird to retrieve. But geese belong to Pearl. She lets Opal help with the retrieve (she can hang onto the head or wing). Anything that falls in the water (which is not that often) is up for grabs. Pearl will not defer to Opal if a rooster dumps in the pond. And they don't fight over the birds either (they know I won't tolerate that). The tandem goose retrieves aren't very "pretty" but they enjoy themselves and never tear up the bird.

I have been strongly enouraged to start this Brittany pup on woodcock. We have a few around here but I'm thinking of traveling to a better migration route. The French Brittany is noted as a close retriever and she should work very well with the other two once I get their flushing instincts a bit more controled. They are both VERY controllable so I don't think it's going to be an issue. I'd love to get back to Montana and hunt blue grouse where I formerly hunted elk (very successfully I might add). But not sure if this old body would be able to fill the bill any more. Very rugged. I have never hunted valley quail but would like very much to give it a go. My cousin who comes up for the Montana pheasant hunt has excellent chukar hunting down his way so maybe we'll make a side trip after we finish with the roosters. By then I might be in shape enough to tackle those cliff han

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tourneyking734 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

i would have to say that partridge are by far the most complimenting bird for my dog, followed by a distant second of pheasant.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Timothy Pifher wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

One of the most challenging and a test of your dog’s ability and ability to perceiver has to be the Sage Grouse, especially when hunting on BLM desert prairies.
It took a couple of covies and a morning in the Montanna high desert but we did collect one for the trophy room.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mark-1 wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I have to say pheasants with my setters in the grasslands of Montana. Wonderful combination to watch the dog work with numerous birds.

East: I have to say woodcock since they lie close and individuals can be flushed a number of times. Good for any my pointing dogs.

Best challenge for my pointing dog and my hunting skills, with best open habitat: Huns in Montana.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

i'm gonna be the pheasant guy here as that is the main upland bird my dog is used to. quail is a close second.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dmeister wrote 2 years 44 weeks ago

I'm going with pheasants followed by woodcock. No coincidence that they are the only wild birds available locally.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from gundogger wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

mallards for my golden...it helps for him to see the mark, and pheasants for my springer spaniel, he is just an energetic bird flushing machine

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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