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  • August 31, 2012

    Are Bird Dog Owners More Willing and Reliable Non-Resident Hunters?

    By Chad Love

    I like most of you, will kick off the fall wingshooting season tomorrow with my home state's dove opener, and then I'm looking forward to an upcoming bird hunting trip to Nebraska and Montana. While I haven't been on an out-of-state big-game hunting trip in (literally) years, I do a fair amount of bird hunting each year outside my home state, and I am not alone. In fact, most of my bird-hunting friends plan multiple out-of-state hunting trips every year.

  • August 27, 2012

    Reader Question: How Do You Get Your Pup Excited About Birds?

    by Chad Love

    A question recently popped up on the Field & Stream "Answers" section about a young dog, a Brittany, who wasn't showing much interest in birds.

    Here's the question in its entirety, posed by reader Turkeyhunter39:
    I could really use some advice. I have a 5 month old Brittany that I am starting to train. Let me state that this is my first attempt at training a hunting dog. We have been working on basic obedience. I have introduced him to water and he loves to swim. He has been showing interest in birds and absolutely loves playing with feathers. So, I got him some live quail and have been throwing him some lock winged quail.

  • August 23, 2012

    Beware of Grass Awn Infections This Bird Hunting Season

    By Chad Love

    I was perusing the Upland Journal bulletin boards recently and came across this thread about grass awn infections. Scary stuff, and with upland bird hunting seasons in many states set to kick off in the next few weeks, now is a good time to remind all dog owners about the very real dangers of grass awn infections. What are grass awns? I wrote about grass awns and CRP in a blog post last year but the information (and the warning) is, I believe, worth repeating.

    Here's a good explanation from the AKC's Canine Health Foundation:

    Grasses occur in a single large plant family that contains approximately 11,000 species (Chapman 1996). Although the grasses share many important characteristics of their reproductive structures, only a portion of the species have awns and an even smaller group possess barbed awns of the type of concern to dogs. The awn is part of the sheath that encloses the grass “seed.” The awns extend beyond the seed and those with barbs aid in dispersal of the seeds. One of the ways the seeds disperse is by attaching to things that come into contact with them.

  • August 21, 2012

    Have You Ever Had a Bad Encounter with the Dog Police?

    By Chad Love

    Many of you are probably familiar with the books and stories of Jim Fergus. Although primarily a novelist these days, Fergus was at one point an active hook-and-bullet freelancer (in fact, he recently wrote a piece for F&S). He also penned two very good non-fiction books: "A Hunter's Road" and "The Sporting Road." "A Hunter's Road" is his chronicle of a season spent bird hunting across the country, and "The Sporting Road" is mostly a collection and expansion of some of his better magazine pieces. Both are, I believe, out of print, but can be easily found online and well worth your time.
    Anyway, Fergus wrote a screamingly funny piece in "The Sporting Road" I think we can all relate to in some way. Its title? "A Close Call With The Dog Cops," in which Fergus is walking his lab, Sweetzer, off-lead but at heel and in control at a city park when he's confronted by, of course, the dog police. Papers and identification for both dog and man are demanded, dog and man are threatened with incarceration, dog and man make a run for it, escape in comical manner, and all ends well.

  • August 16, 2012

    Reader Gun Dog Tip: Use a Frisbee to Keep Your Dog Steady to Wing

    By Chad Love

    Getting a dog steady to wing, or at least introducing the concept, is something you might think requires resources that many urban and suburban gundog owners simply don't have access to: namely birds and land. But if you've got a frisbee, a check cord and a small patch of ground, here's a nifty tip from reader Jody Stonestreet to start getting your dog staunch.

    Jody writes: I have discovered an easy training method for keeping my two year old Brittany "steady to wing." First I will throw a frisbee for him to chase a couple of times to get him excited. Next I will bring him to heel while he is on a 20 foot check cord. Then I give him the "whoa" command. I throw the frisbee directly in front of him. If he goes after it, I can correct him with the check cord. It doesn't take him long to get the idea. This is a good option when you don't have live birds available.

  • August 14, 2012

    Pro Tip: How to Train a Dog That's Afraid of Water to Swim

    By Chad Love

    While perusing the submissions for the next reader training tip knife giveaway, I came across a question sent in by reader Jesse Brenwall. Jesse was dealing with a frustrating and not-uncommon problem: a dog who still refuses to swim despite your best efforts.

    Jesse writes: After reading some of the current tips for training the Cheetos to help with water I figured you may be able to help me with a problem I am having with my dog. I do however feel as though I have wrecked him. I rescued a lab golden when he was about 7 months and let him run into chilly deep water in April and now is almost a year and he hasn't been the same since. I have tried getting him to swim with the pack and he just stands on the shore and chases them on the bank.

    I have also tried throwing his retrieving toys out and he waits for them to float back in if at all normally loses interest. I have tried bringing him out and he swims back to shore just fine. I have recently got him to standing in the water and running around in it by having him chase food around but I have hit another wall with him not leaving anything deeper than just touching his chest. So if you could show me where I can find any tips that would get him to actually leave shore and swim that would be greatly appreciated or maybe ask and see if someone has also over come this problem.

  • August 2, 2012

    Gun Dog Gear: SportDOG's New 1875 Upland Hunter E-Collar

    By Chad Love

    Here's a look at SportDOG's new 1875 Upland Hunter e-collar, which is a really nifty and well-designed piece of gear intended primarily for (as the name and bright orange color implies) the bird-hunting crowd. I haven't had a chance to actually use the 1875 in the field yet, because my receiving it last week just happened to coincide with the hottest and most miserable stretch of weather to hit so far this summer, so I haven't even been running the dogs in the early morning.

    I have, however, been playing around with it some, and while I'll do a follow-up when I actually get a chance to use it, here are my initial impressions.

    What's in the box: Transmitter, one collar, one remote beeper, battery charger, extra collar prongs for heavy fur, owner's manual, SportDOG "basic training" manual and DVD, belt clip and lanyard for the transmitter, and it's all encased in what is--I swear--the toughest, most entry-resistant, curse-inducing plastic packaging I've ever encountered. But when, two hours and three pairs of dulled scissors later, you finally get the plastic cut away, what greets you is one nice product.

  • July 31, 2012

    Garmin and Tri-Tronics Announce New Dog Tracking and Training GPS and E-Collar

    By Chad Love

    I've got several gear-related posts planned this week, and this morning I'll kick it off with a big announcement from Garmin International, the company that invented the first GPS dog-tracking system back in 2007, and in the process completely revolutionized the sport for many gundog owners and houndsmen. The Astro has been wildly successful, but in 2011 e-collar manufacturer SportDOG really upped the ante with the introduction of the world's first combination GPS tracking e-collar, the TEK 1.0, something for which many hunters had been agitating.

    But with Garmin's subsequent acquisition of e-collar manufacturer Tri-Tronics, it was clear the company wasn't going to rest on the laurels of the Astro's success. The engineers have been busy, very busy, in the depths of the Garmin skunkworks, and this morning the company rolled out its own combination GPS/e-collar, the Alpha.

  • July 26, 2012

    Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey: Nice Label, But a Good Spirit?

    By Chad Love

    Though they tend to generate a lot of conversation, I generally shy away from blog posts about favorite spirits. Not because I'm some temperance-loving Carrie Nations character, but because I've noticed that when you stick your neck out and tell the world what you enjoy, there are plenty of hatchet-wielding haters out there ready to cut you down.

    Case in point? A few months back Wild Chef blogger David Draper had the gall to proclaim his preference for scotch over bourbon. I think he's still walking a little funny from the reaming he took from all the bourbon-loving readers.

    Plus, other than the normal (and well-trod) discussion of what you enjoy sipping while sitting around the campfire, the connection between gun dogs and favorite liquors is, well, tenuous at best. But I was recently e-mailed a link to an interesting bird dog-themed, flavored, bourbon-based whiskey, called (appropriately enough) Bird Dog Whiskey.

  • July 19, 2012

    My Mid-Summer Project: Building a Training-Pigeon Coop

    By Chad Love

    I must admit, I'm not much of a carpenter. Give me a hammer and nails, a circular saw and a pile of lumber, and I'll give you...firewood studded with bent nails, and maybe a lost digit or two. I'm also something of a procrastinator. You may recall a blog I wrote last spring lamenting my lack of a semi-permanent abode for my training pigeons, which, up to that point, I had been keeping in a few large wire cages until needed. In that blog I also, optimistically proclaimed that I was going to build a coop "this spring."

    OK, so maybe last year's "this spring" turned into this year's "mid-summer." Nevertheless, a few weeks ago I decided it was time. I had eight new birds that needed a home and a young pup that needed those birds. So I took one last look at my fingers, tried to decide which ones I could probably live without, crossed said fingers, whispered a prayer and then fired up the saw. The result is this masterpiece of wavy cuts, rusty wire, hopelessly out-of-square corners and sagging doors. And it only cost me $6,000 in materials, 500 man-hours of labor and a right pinky that I never really used, anyway.*