So once you’ve set up your training bird Taj Mahal you’ll probably want to start using those birds on your pup. There are a number of ways to introduce a young dog to live birds, but my new favorite, which I started using last year, is the pigeon pole.
I first heard about the pigeon pole on the bird-hunting blog Eight More Miles. It’s a cheap and effective means to introduce your dog to birds and you can modify its construction and design to suit your needs and preferences. Its basic concept is simple: take a section of pole (and it can be made out of anything: PVC, wood, T-post, whatever) and screw an eyebolt into one end. Then take a thirty to forty-foot length of masonry line or nylon cord and tie snap swivels on either end. Snap one end into the pole’s eyebolt and attach the other end to a three-way swivel with two, two-foot lengths of cord tied to it. Tie slipknots on the end of the two sections of cord, slip them over a bird’s legs and tighten, then plant the bird and you’re in business.
Depending on how much room, and how many birds you have, you can set up as many poles as you want and work your pup from pole to pole. The height of the pole and the length of the line give the birds a good flush and since they’re attached to the pole you can re-use them as many times as you’d like. And that’s basically it.
I made my first pigeon poles out of four-foot electric fence posts and 12-foot lengths of nylon cord just because that’s what I had lying around. It worked, but I wouldn’t recommend it, because I discovered the short length and height of that set-up really limited the bird’s flush. Instead, I’d go for the recommended 30-to-40 feet of cord and an eight- to 10-foot-tall pole. In fact I’m in the process of building new ones out of eight-foot lengths of one-inch PVC capped on one end.
Anyone else use pigeon poles or some variation on the basic theme? How do you introduce your young dogs to live birds?