Sunday, November 28, 2010

Willmar and Benson MN Pheasant Hunt

November 27th 2010

This was my first group pheasant hunt of the season. Usually it is just myself and maybe one other hunter. Today we had between 4 and 6 hunters in the field at one time. Even though we had a group we didn’t do the traditional push and block type of hunting that most people associate with group hunts.

It was a nice day for hunting with just a couple of inches of snow and at 32 degrees it was comfortable for both hunters and dogs.

The first farm was just outside of Benson, MN.

We started working a fence line and Young Mark ( We had 3 Marks hunting ) dropped two roosters in quick order. Both of them looked well hit but we were unable to find one of them. We had 3 dogs looking for it and still couldn’t find it. After abandoning our search we hit a section of thicker cover and after pushing through it Mark L put one up out the thinner cover and dropped it in one shot.

We then tackled the cover on two sides of a drainage ditch and Young Mark and his Springer Diesel took two more rooster in his usual quick shot fashion. After the two birds we almost had a disaster as two of the dogs went off the ice and into the open water of the drainage ditch and the water was moving faster than expected and the dogs weren’t able to get back on top of the ice. After some spread eagle on the ice action by Tony O and Young Mark they were able to bring the dogs back to safety.

After working the field for a bit longer we decided not to pound it any longer and made the move to a new farm outside of Willmar, MN. The last time I hunted this property was the opening weekend of 2006 and I had just had a round of chemo where they had added a new drug to my regimen and I had trouble walking through all but the thinnest cover. It was much nicer today.

We started out following another drainage ditch hoping to pinch the birds. We didn’t see any along the main portion but we went along a smaller ditch that was frozen over we put up two rooster and I was able to pull some feathers off of one but it flew into some think cover that we don’t have access to. The next strategy was to work a couple of fence lines and the nearby cover. This strategy didn’t pan out. There was a small area of thick cover and willows that we hadn’t hit so we decided to employ a little push and block action. Tony O, his two GSPs, myself and Tina the setter set out across the cut corn field towards the thinner grass and the thick cover at the end of it. As soon as we hit the thin cover the dogs started to lock up. Tony had a rooster get up just behind him that he dropped with his second shot. I had one get up that I was able to connect on ( finally ) that then flew right into the trunk of a tree. A couple of hens got up then a Rooster went high and Young Mark who was post below the cover took him on a high overhead shot. After retelling the action for a bit we decided to drive to the other side of the farm and re-hunt a couple of spots. We walked in through the smaller drainage ditch that we had hit before but didn’t move any birds. We walked the edges some more and decided to call it a day and as we walked out on the small ditch ( the fourth time we hit this cover ) Young Mark flushed and dropped his 5th rooster of the day. His shooting made the rest of us look bad but made the group look good.

It was a great six hours of hunting and all the hunters and dogs we tired from all of the walking.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Wet But Productive Sunday

Sunday 10/24

Tina with her wet but worth it harvest.

It was looking like this weekend could be a total loss.  I had bailed on hunting on Saturday because it was supposed to rain all day ( it didn't ) and it was raining on me as I was approaching Hutchinson where I was going to hunt a farm just south of town.  I figured that if worse came to worse I'd take a nap at the field and then a two hour drive home.  As I pulled up to the farm the rain had become just a mist so I unloaded Tina and we started to hunt.

Wet was the operative work for this farm.  There were areas totally underwater that most years I have been able to walk across as they were dry.

Tina started to get birdy almost as soon as we started to work the area.  She went on point right as we reached and the first area with thinner cover.  Three hens got up when I approached and they went right for the heavy cattails.  We started to work towards the south side of the field where the corn was down.  We usually push this edge until we he hit the far edge where the cover is thinner.  More ofter than not we will put up birds off of the corner but today was the exception proving the rule.

We turned towards an area of thick willows but Tina kept wanting to move towards the grass cover so I followed her and put three more hens up from her point.  After working the area for a little while I heard a cackle and looked up to see a Rooster land about 100 yards away.  It tried to refresh but I think it was too tired to make a good flight of it so it remanded in the same area.  Tina and I made a beeline for it and got a fast point, flush, and shot.  I was happy to connect on this bird as we hadn't been seeing any other roosters so far.  After putting the bird in the game bag we made our way back to the grassy area.  I was planning on work a set of pine trees that bordered the corn field.  We didn't make it to the edge as Tina locked on point as we approached an area of cattails and a rooster tried to make it's escape through the air and was met with a load of #6 shot.

On our way out of the cover we saw three more roosters along with a number of hens wild flush.

It ended up being a good hunt especially when you consider I thought I might just end up napping and driving home.

Monday Post Script
Tina is limping heavily today which has me concerned as she was fine the rest of the afternoon yesterday and when I put her out before her bed time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pheasant Opener MN 2010

October 16 and 17 MN Pheasant Opener

Each opener starts nervously for me. Will there be birds? Will the dogs adjust from one species to another? Will I be able to hit anything?

It was going to be a different opener than last year when I woke to snow on the ground, it was supposed to top out at over 50 degs this weekend.

We went to a farm west of Hutchinson, Mn. The corn was still up around the CRP so I wasn’t sure if the birds would be in the corn already or not. Tina and I worked the grass for 10 minutes before the first point of the season, it became the first rooster in the bag of the season. We kept working the grass and didn’t see any more birds. I was concerned about the lack of hens even getting pointed. We worked towards and areas with 5 or 6 trees along a small ridge. As we got closer to the trees Tina started to get birdy. Two birds came out the backside of the trees and I was able to connect on the second one with what looked to be a solid hit. As Tina went over to make the retrieve it took off and I was so startled I didn’t even get off a shot. I decided to walk over to where it went down and see if there were any feathers or other evidence of a hit. As I got closer I saw that my bird was actually dead and laying in the grass.

After cleaning the birds I took Marge and Fergie to a different farm just to let them run and do some pretend hunting. With Marge I hunted the edge of a small stream in the hopes of putting up a duck as we have in the past. This year the water was running too fast for any ducks to be hanging out so we just ended up getting in a good workout.

Tina Thought Sunday's Birds Seemed Extra Tasty

We returned to the same farm that we started with on Saturday. I was curious to see if we would see more birds and specifically any hens. Tina and I worked the areas that we saw birds yesterday but didn’t get any action. Next we worked the edge of the corn field hoping to find any birds that hadn’t made it into there yet. Tina found lots of scent but no birds. We cut across to one of the two sides that is bordered by a dirt road and Tina was doing a lot of soft points and relocating. As we got close to the end of the thicker cover the point became a nice solid one and on walking in a lone cackling rooster got up and came down with the shot.

We moved towards the drainage ditch and followed it out to where we parked the truck. Often times we will move birds out of this thicker cover but no birds this time. We worked our way back to the middle of the field and started to push thick to thin. Again Tina got more and more birdy as the cover got thinner. A couple of relocations later and we had a nice point and we finally found four hens that were grouped up together. We worked our way back to the truck along the corn and not too far from the truck we had a nice point. I had to pull the trigger quickly on this one so that he didn’t fall into the corn. It was a nice end to a day of good dog work.

The early days of any season can be a chance to get the dogs some work on younger less experienced birds that will help to build their confidence. It is also a chance to take a few easier birds that will be balanced out by tough conditions later in the season.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Nationwide Pheasant Hunting Forecasts 2 Sources

2010 Pheasant Forecast

By Larry Brown

bird imageThe pheasant outlook for the top states is good this year. For the long term, there was a general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) this summer for the first time in several years. Although pheasant hunters won’t get any benefit from newly enrolled CRP ground this year, they will by next year -- and it should help to reverse a general trend of habitat loss across the pheasant belt.

When it comes to pheasants these days, there's  South Dakota and there's everybody else. South Dakota is the only state where hunters harvest over a million roosters annually, and last year the total was over 1.6 million. That's more than twice as many as the next best state. This year's brood survey was up from last year's, just slightly. Significant increases were observed in the areas around Mobridge and Pierre, both of which benefitted from excellent habitat due to above-average moisture. The Chamberlain area, always at or near the top in the state, was down from last year but is still very good.

As this is being written, it appears that farmers may well be harvesting early this year (as opposed to last year's extremely late harvest) due to a relatively dry summer. That means early season hunters should find most of the grain already in the bins, and the birds' safe hiding places more limited than last season. The fact that hunters bagged fewer roosters last year should mean a few more old, long-tailed, long-spurred birds in this year’s bag.

pheasant hunters bagged 746,000 roosters last year, about a 10 percent increase from 2008. Spring crowing counts were similar to last year, although with slightly different distribution: up in the western half of the state, down in the eastern third. Although August survey data have not been compiled at this time, nesting conditions were positive nearly everywhere in the state. The exception was a few counties in north-central Kansas, which were hit by heavy rains in June. This year, western Kansas should be at least as good as last year if not better, with the northwest looking like the top area. Central Kansas will also be good.

Although it's not South Dakota, North Dakota remains one of the top pheasant states. Hunters bagged a total of 650,000 roosters last year. Crowing counts this spring were down just slightly from last year. On the positive side, nesting conditions were very good across most of the state. Summer counts have not yet been tabulated, but it appears that the southwest -- west of the Missouri River and south of I-94 -- will be very good this year. There will also be significant improvement in the southeast, although there are also pockets where heavy rain and hail will have hurt bird numbers. The south-central, central, and northwest regions should be about the same as last year.

Iowa, where pheasant hunters bagged over a million birds as recently as 2003, set another all-time low last year with a total bag of 271,000. If that’s not bad enough, August roadside survey counts this summer are down 25-30 percent. The only areas of the state with decent bird numbers are the northwest and north-central.

Nebraska does not yet have harvest data from 2009. However, the July Rural Mail Carrier Survey showed counts similar to last year. The best area of the state should be the southwest, where there is also good public access.

Pheasants Forever Forecasts

Overview: Pheasant numbers appear to be holding steady in the Dakotas, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska, the heart of the Heartland's pheasant range. That means fun months ahead for pheasant hunters and their bird hunting companions.
Also holding steady are Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. The recently completed general CRP signup will likely keep the program at or near 32 million acres nationwide, much of it vital ringneck habitat. And the federal "Open Fields" initiative is off the ground, which will help states launch or enhance public hunting access programs tied to wildlife habitat improvement. Your support of Pheasants Forever has been critical in the success of both programs.
In contrast to a respectable outlook across last year's top five pheasant producing states are the bleak prospects for the longtime pheasant stronghold of Iowa (read the Iowa entry for full details). Across the rest of the U.S. pheasant range, prospects are murkier, with a snowy winter and wet springs hurting pheasant production in many areas. Still, pockets of habitat and birds to be chased exist, and any day spent pheasant hunting is a day well spent.
Remember to always consult official state hunting regulations for rules and season dates, and please carry Pheasants Forever's code with you into the field this fall:
As a member of Pheasants Forever, I believe in conserving wildlife and protecting the environment. I promise to leave the outdoors a little better than I found it. I will hunt safely and treat hunting on public and private land as a privilege. I will always ask permission before hunting private land.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Steadying to Wing and Shot

The  Pointing Dog Journal

Steadying to Wing and Shot
by Bob & Jody Iler

Instilling the whoa command.

Drop Cap  W

teadying your dog to wing and shot is truly an art in bird dog training. It takes a lot of time and patience, even though the training methods used today are generally much better and kinder than some of the techniques used in the past. There are many ways to steady your dog to wing and shot – some better than others. This column describes one method that we often use – it’s easy for an amateur trainer to follow and has few training pitfalls. You can follow it exactly or vary it as you like, but the key element to remember is this: Always read your dog’s reactions and adjust your training accordingly as you go along.

First off, make sure that your dog has a good understanding of the whoa exercise before beginning this training. He should respond well to your command to “Whoa.” He should be pointing staunchly in the field and have at least one season of hunting in, with lots of bird work. He should also be enthusiastic, have plenty of drive, and be developed to the gun.

Begin by reviewing your previous whoa work in the yard or driveway. Using a long checkcord, heel your dog along, then stop and give the whoa command with the hand signal as you turn and face him. Gradually back away to about 20 feet in front of the dog, facing him. Return back to him and quietly praise him. Repeat this process and as you face your dog the second time, kick the ground around your feet, as though you are trying to flush a bird, or drop a handkerchief, etc. from your pocket to the ground. Don’t take your eyes off the dog. If he moves at all, return to him immediately and put him back in the whoa position as you repeat the command “Whoa” with quiet authority and give the hand signal simultaneously.

Watch dog, give hand signal, and release bird.

For the next session, put a couple of pigeons in your vest and first repeat the heel and whoa exercise. This time, as you face your dog, reach slowly behind you, grab a pigeon from your vest and release it quietly, letting it go as your arm is hanging by your side. Don’t make a big show of throwing the bird skyward – do this as unobtrusively as possible, and don’t take your eyes off your dog as you watch him for any sign of movement. As the bird flies off, you will caution your dog with the hand signal, using the verbal whoacommand only as a backup if needed. Be quiet and firm at all times. If your dog moves at all, quickly return to him and put him back in position, repeating your command and hand signal. Heel him along, whoa him and step out in front of him again. Then quietly release the second bird, repeating the process. Two birds are enough for one exercise. If he’s done well on the first bird and did not move, don’t even release the second bird in this session. It’s more important to have the lesson end positively. Too many unsuccessful attempts can frustrate both the dog and the trainer.

Having a helper for these yard sessions will make the training much easier. Your helper should take the checkcord from you after you’ve heeled the dog along and put him on a whoa. As you release the bird, give the hand signal and your helper should gently and silently snub the dog with the checkcord if necessary. The checkcord can also be fashioned into a half-hitch for added emphasis when restraining the dog. The half-hitch keeps the dog standing and gives him mild discomfort that can be more effective than just the checkcord around his neck. Familiarize your dog with the half-hitch first, though, in your whoa training. Otherwise he may become distracted and fight it and you won’t accomplish your goals with the gentle finesse that you want. As your dog consistently gets more reliable, you can use a six-foot training lead, testing him. If he does well with this, you can try the exercise with no lead.

Helper restrains dog as bird is flushed and gun is shot.

Though all this may sound simple and easy, it’s not! These short sessions will need to be repeated over the course of many days, usually weeks – before the dog will stand the bird (stay steady to its flight). Once your dog is doing this, you’re well on your way!

Now it’s time to take the lessons to the field. Here again, a helper will simplify things. Plant a bird in the field and take your dog into it on a checkcord. When he points, hand the checkcord to your helper, who will keep gentle pressure on the dog as you circle around and face him. Use the whoa hand signal and watch your dog as you flush the bird, using the verbal “Whoa” only if necessary. If you’ve done your homework well back in the yard, the pup should stand the bird. Keep him steady on the checkcord as the bird flies and then return to him. Heel him away and out of the field. This gives him a chance to think about this whole new business. The next time out, you can try planting two birds and repeat the lesson with your helper. Always return to your dog and heel him away from that area after the flush. Then go on to the second bird and repeat the entire process. Make sure that you use good-flying birds – birds that fly a short distance and go down will prove too much of a temptation for a young dog.

Now that you’ve started this training, you’re not going to let your dog chase birds in the field anymore. You’ve begun a process of teaching gentle but firm control. He needs to be trained with consistency and not allowed to break and chase. This is why it’s so important that your pup has had plenty of time to enjoy, hunt and chase birds before you begin this training. If not, this type of training can take the sparkle out of some young dogs, inhibiting their drive and enthusiasm before it ever fully develops.

Once your dog is reliably steady to the flight of the bird in the field, you can start to add the gun. The scenario remains the same: Plant your birds, enlist your helper and bring your dog in to point. As your helper takes the checkcord and you circle around to flush, this time you will also shoot your starter pistol while simultaneously giving your hand signal to whoajust after you release the bird and it flies up and away. Again, watch your dog intently as you flush and shoot. Make sure your helper is ready to restrain your dog if necessary. Only use your voice command if needed. Once you’ve shot, return to the dog and heel him away as before. You’ll sometimes find that the gunshot will provoke your (now) well-mannered dog into action. Don’t get discouraged – this entire process of steadying your dog to wing and shot generally takes several months of patient repetition.

You might wonder why we heel a dog away after each exercise, instead of finally letting him retrieve or just run around as a “reward” for his hard work. If you allow your dog to do this while steadying him to wing and shot, he will find it too difficult to restrain himself and will soon begin to break. Once he has truly learned to be steady to wing and shot, he must always be kept this way. He must be hunted with other dogs of this same caliber and training level in order to keep his manners and not regress. We’ve seen field champions break on crippled birds, unable to withstand the temptation. As we’ve said, this is “college-level” work and not meant for young dogs. It puts a lot of pressure on them, and they need to be mentally ready for this sort of training. So do you!

A “well-broke” dog that is steady to wing and shot is a joy to compete and hunt with, but never at the expense of damaging his spirit or drive in the field. That’s why this training takes so much time and patience, but the rewards are worth it. Feel free to check with us if you have any questions. We’ll see you next month when we begin the trained retrieve! Ender

Pointing Dog Pointers features monthly training tips by Bob and Jody Iler, who own Green Valley Kennels in Dubuque, Iowa. Bob and Jody have trained pointing dogs for over 35 years and have written many articles for Pointing Dog Journal. You can look up their website at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pointing Dog Puppy Primer -- Which One is For You?

By Bob & Jody Iler

Choosing a puppy is one of life's very special pleasures. But deciding what pointing dog breed is right for you can be a challenge -- and may make the difference between an experience in frustration and a partnership of contentment. Some questions to ask yourself before you research pointing breeds are:

* What type of birds will you be hunting?
* Where will you hunt and what type of habitat /climate will you be hunting in?
* Do you want your dog to range out or work close?
* How old are you?
* What kind of physical condition are you in?
* How would you describe your personality? Are you easygoing and tolerant? Are you a perfectionist with a short supply of patience?
* Where will your dog live -- in the house with you or outside in a kennel?
* Do you have the patience to clean burrs from a long coat after each hunt?

After years of experience working with different pointing breeds and their owners, we've found that the ideal matches are ones where the owners chose breeds that best fit them. Answer the questions above and you’ll have a checklist to match with the characteristics of your ideal pointing dog....Ender

Thursday, April 8, 2010

First Wood Tick Of The Season

Found my first wood tick of the season. Odd thing is that I was in the backyard. No long grass or anything. Have to get the magic juice on the dogs.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Dog Dilemma

In early February my dog, Tina, started to act very whiney and was limping. A few days later her back left hip was swollen. A visit to the local vet and he thought it was a grass awn that had migrated down to her hip area. Instead of surgery we went for a round of antibiotics. They seemed to work and in a week she was back to normal.

Then about two weeks ago she started to limp but without any swelling. Her respiration was faster and she just never seemed comfortable. A trip to the Univ of MN Vet Hospital and a visit with Doc Anderson and it was pretty clear that something was definitely out of whack. He was pretty confident that it was inflammation caused by a foreign body. It would be a spendy and involved operation. Tina is going to turn eight this summer so I figured that if she did have a full recovery that she would have a few more really good seasons hunting or if she recovered just enough to be house dog that she deserved that also as she is a total sweetheart of a dog and has always put it on the line when we went hunting. It was a lot of money but in the end we decided that she deserved a shot at feeling good.

I dropped her off on Wednesday morning and they operated in the afternoon. They called in the evening to say that it went well and that they removed a fair amount of damaged tissue and were draining an area of infection. On Thursday they kept in the ICU as the anesthesia seemed to have affected her more than they thought. They also had an IV giving her more fluids as she was dehydrated. Another night in ICU and on Friday they moved her to the general care ward. We went to the U to pick her up on Friday evening and she had developed a cough so we had an X-ray done to see if it was pneumonia or not. The results looked like a slight case of pneumonia so we decided to let her stay one more night.

Saturday the U gave us a call and said she was all clear to come home. Yeah! She will be ticked off at us for two weeks while she wears her protective Ecollar and gets to stay in her travel kennel, it is a very large one though. She has had her first meal and meds and seems to be almost back to her cheery self.

The U is more expensive than the local vet but they have actual Radiologists and Anesthetists right there in case they are needed.

This round of care is more then I spent on a few cars back in the day but I plan on her being around longer than any of those cars made it.

The ruffed grouse grapevine has already put out the word on our return to the woods this fall after mostly chasing pheasants the last few years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

English Setter For Sale 15 Mos Old Started

Zippy - whelped 2/20/2009

Houston x Northwoods Blue Babe

Zippy is a gorgeous, tri-color English setter male that weighs 50 pounds. He has an even-marked, almost black head with honey brown cheeks. He is easy going with a calm disposition and is quiet and clean in the kennel. Zippy has a ton of natural staunchness, is an instinctive backer and hunts at close-to-moderate range. Zippy moves easily with lofty head and tail carriage. He has been hunted on wild pheasants and ruffed grouse, has traveled and had birds shot over him. He has spent several months training with us. He knows whoa, here, kennel and is ecollar conditioned. He is as nice a hunting dog prospect as can be found and will make an excellent family companion as well.

More Info And Original Posting

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Puppy

My friend Tony O was picking up his new GSP puppy from Sharp Shooter's Kennel so I went along for the ride. The puppy was nice and friendly. He whined for the first 20-30 minutes of the ride home but that is to be expected.

I keep telling him he needs to switch to dogs with full tails but he never will listen...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Backing - The Finishing Touch on your Finished Dog

Backing - The Finishing Touch on your Finished Dog
by Bob & Jody Iler

Begin your training with the silhouette.

Drop Cap W

acking, or honoring, is the icing on the cake for the finished dog. The sight of one dog backing another in the field is right up there on the list of images that will take your breath away.

Backing happens when hunting two or more well-trained dogs together. When one of the dogs gets a bird scent and points, the backing dog—as he comes toward the dog that is pointing—stops immediately and points the other dog. When the second dog sees the first dog on point, he should stop and “honor” the other dog’s point, whether or not he himself has made scent.

Teaching your (almost) finished dog to back can be a fun exercise. Many dogs are natural backers, while some will have to be taught. But even a natural backer will need extra training to remain steady throughout the scenario of watching the flush, shot, and retrieve handled by another dog. This is a lot to ask of him. We are aiming to make the dog a “gentleman” hunter—instilling manners and reliability in all situations.

To begin, you’ll need birds, a field to work in, your blank gun, and a helper. Initially, we use a plywood pointing dog silhouette for this training. You can get the less-expensive “manual” kind (with a metal stake attached to it that you push into the ground), or you can purchase one that operates remotely. Remote bird launchers can also be used (eliminating the need for a helper in the early stages of training). Using either the manual or remote silhouette, stake or set it out in an area that is concealed – behind a pile of brush or stand of trees – from the main part of your training field. Plant a bird about 15 feet from the silhouette, which should be facing in the direction of the bird, just as a dog would normally be if pointing it.

Your helper should already be out in the field, also out of immediate sight. Work your dog into the field on a checkcord. As you come into view of the silhouette, watch your dog closely for the first moment that he sees the “other dog” on point. When he does, he’ll probably hesitate. Even if it’s only a split second,that’s the moment when you gently stop and whoa him. The helper should flush the planted bird as you keep your dog on a whoa, and as the bird flies, fire your blank gun. (Make sure your dog is well-developed to the gun before doing this training!)

Heel your dog away from this area and have the helper lay the silhouette on the ground out of sight. Never let your dog run over to or sniff the silhouette. Always keep him at a distance during these exercises. Take him out of the field for the day and let him think about this new phase of training. Repeat this exercise several times a week, varying the locations a bit, until he stops on his own when he sees the silhouette and remains calm and reliably steady while the bird is flushed and you shoot. You can also intersperse this training with regular training sessions where you don’t have the silhouette in the field. We don’t want to pattern-train him; we want to keep him on his toes.

Only work with another well-trained finished dog.

Next, you can move on to using a live dog for this exercise. Plant a bird in the field and have your helper work the first dog into the bird before you come into the field. Give the first dog time to go on point and then bring your dog into the area. If all goes well, your dog should back the other dog and remain steady through the flush and shot. The helper should keep the other dog steady during this time as well. Remember that your goal is a mannerly finished dog.

Don’t be surprised if your dog fails to back the live dog at first. Just because he’s honored the silhouette is no guarantee he’ll honor the live dog. Keep at the exercises until he backs at first sight of the other dog. Some dogs seem to have innate backing instinct and some will take longer to catch on, so be patient, persistent and firm. You’re also working to instill control quietly—as time goes on, you want your dog to back on sight without you using your voice or giving a signal.

When working on backing exercises, you’ll always want to work with another well-trained finished dog. All of us have hunted in situations where dogs have failed to back and have charged in to either steal another dog’s point or even flush the bird out from under the other dog. We don’t want these types of scenarios in college-level work. We use skilled dogs with superb manners as we develop our student. There should be no aggression or free-for-alls with the honoring exercises.

A great job of honoring by the dog on the far left.

Once your dog is backing consistently and remaining steady to shot, it’s time to introduce the final element: keeping him steady and honoring while the other dog makes the retrieve. Next time you take your dog to the field for the backing exercise, have your helper/handler shoot the flushed bird and then send his dog for the retrieve on command. Up until now, you’ve been working with flyaway birds. Your dog will be sorely tested to remain steady while the other dog heads out for a retrieve. But if you’ve laid your groundwork well on the “Steady to Wing and Shot” phase of training, this shouldn’t be too difficult. After the other dog has retrieved, you can release both dogs and let them have a little fun run to ease any tensions.

When your dog understands and performs the backing exercise well, you can change up the scenario and occasionally let your dog be the “first dog.” This way he’ll have the reward of a retrieve for all his hard work.

Developing a dog that can truly be called a finished dog takes a lot of time, patience, and effort but the rewards are unmatched. Whether you go on to compete in field events to show off his skills, or simply enjoy the pleasure of hunting with a well-trained, mannerly dog, you can be proud of your accomplishment!

Next month, we leave the canine college campus and return to preschool, where we’ll feature “A Pointing Dog Primer—which one is for you?”

Happy Spring! Ender

Pointing Dog Pointers features monthly training tips by Bob and Jody Iler, who own Green Valley Kennels in Dubuque, Iowa. Bob and Jody have trained pointing dogs for over 35 years and have written many articles for Pointing Dog Journal. You can look up their website at

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Monday, March 8, 2010


NorthWoods Bird Dogs has a number of good looking litters coming this spring. I am biased towards the Blue Ghost x Blue Riptide litter as Blue Riptide is a son of my dog Blue Blossom ( Tina ). Jerry also offers a full range of dog training programs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dog Trainer Apprenticeships

Ronnie Smith of the Famed Trialing and Training Smith Family is offering Dog Trainer Apprenticeships through his Ronnie Smith Kennels.

Our goal is to effectively convey our expertise and enthusiasm in training exceptional bird dogs to anyone wanting to improve their training skills. Unique in its structure, this program immerses its participants in the day to day activities of a professional training facility. It is an intense work program with the apprentices getting as much benefit out of the experience as the amount of effort they put in to it.

Each level of certification consists of a four week apprenticeship at Ronnie Smith Kennels in Big Cabin, Oklahoma. The apprentices will have the opportunity to utilize the Ronnie Smith Kennels facilities and equipment to gain a working knowledge of a professional training facility. Each apprentice will have the opportunity to work with a large number of dogs with different personalities and breeds. Apprentices have the opportunity to learn to deal with a wide variety of training issues and learn the proper use of an e-collar. The Apprentices deal frequently with clientele and become accustomed to teaching the training process to others. Achievement of a Huntsmith Certification allows the apprentice to participate in Huntsmith activities as a certified member.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hunting Dog Saves 94 Year Old's Life

Brett Grinde and his German shorthair, Effie, hadn't made it far on their typical late-afternoon walk on Monday when the old hunting dog suddenly began pulling to the right.

Grinde, a Pine County sheriff's investigator, let Effie lead the way as she strained with her nose to the ground along the road along Pokegama Lake. He let her off the leash and she tore away and turned into a driveway 40 yards away, stopping at the body of Grinde's 94-year-old neighbor, William Lepsch. He was unconscious and frozen to the ground.

"I ran after her and when I turned into the driveway I couldn't believe it," Grinde later wrote in an e-mail to Lepsch's family.

"He had some serious exposure and blood underneath him. I have seen plenty of deceased people and thought he was dead."

So did Lepsch's wife, Marjorie, who said she peeked outside several minutes after her husband of 67 years disappeared at about 2 p.m. to retrieve the mail without telling her. She saw him lying in the driveway bleeding "from head to toe." She couldn't go outside and struggled to dial 911, but repeatedly misdialed out of panic. Marjorie, 88, who uses a wheelchair and walker, was unable to help him. Several more minutes passed until she was able to dial a niece who promised to get help and head over. In the meantime, Effie approached.

"Nobody's around and I'm out there hollering 'Somebody please help me!' but there was no one," she said. "In the meantime this dog ran up and began licking his face."

Grinde kept Lepsch's airway open and called 911 while the dog nuzzled his arms and shoulders as he worked on Lepsch. The dog then ran to the house where medics and deputies heard Marjorie Lepsch yelling from inside.

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