One challenge pointing dog owners face is deciding whether to shoot only pointed wild birds over their pups when they take them hunting, or go ahead and shoot birds their pups bump and/or flush.

There are two schools of thought here. The first believes that shooting non-pointed birds will quickly turn your pointing dog into a flushing dog. You must only, the mantra goes, shoot pointed birds so the pup starts making the required neural connections between his point, that bird, and your bang.

The second believes that this is all well and good if you have access to enough wild birds to be selective about such things. But that for those of us who don’t, it’s a different story. When you’re on the typical public-land death march with birds few and far between, you don’t have the luxury of being selective. If, as the saying goes, birds make bird dogs, then getting your dog into birds, pointed, flushed, bumped, whatever, is what the dog needs more than anything. And if shooting a few of those birds, even if they’re not pointed, will get the dog excited about hunting and help make those connections, then it’s OK. If any issues appear, they can be easily fixed.

The hoped-for end result (a steady, stylish point) is the same. The only difference is the means by which to reach that point, pun intended.

So on which side do you fall in the argument? Do you steadfastly refuse to shoot any flushed or bumped bird over your young pointing dogs because you believe it makes a better dog or do you shoot whatever your pup gets up because you feel it can only help your pup’s confidence?