Catch & Release Bird Hunting
Getting Your Hunting Dog Ready For The Season By: Ed Hall
Season is ready to start, and now is the time to get Fido ready. Some of us have young dogs that need work, and some of us have old ones that gained a pound or two like us in the off season.
How I get the dogs going is catch and release bird hunting. We can’t train here until August 1, so it’s pretty hot—make sure to bring lots of water. But early in the morning is a good time to take the dogs out and get them, and you, some good exercise.
How I do this is I go to an area that I know holds birds, but I don’t plan to hunt it for a little while after season is open. This gives the birds time to calm back down. I choose a spot that has a lot of water, too, so I can keep the dogs hydrated. Plus, this time of the year, everything needs water. After choosing the spot, I suit up just like I am going hunting and drop the dogs. The only gun I have is a starter pistol and we hunt just like during season. Let me note, this isn’t just for pointers; it works great for flushing dogs, too.
The reason I do this is there’s nothing like wild birds to get a pup going and holding his birds. Also, this allows you to correct the dog while training, not hunting. Plus, you can’t shoot the bird, so if Fido bumps and chases a few, your buddies aren’t going to be standing there laughing.
Other benefits to this are that a young dog can have the chance to learn to work birds (all birds are different), and by bumping and chasing the end result is a dog that will train himself to point. If he or she bumps a bird, call them back and set them up just like in training.
Plus, it’s free and there’s no chance of your buddy that you told not to shoot birds that aren’t pointed to do just the opposite because it was his hunting trip, too.
Another way to do this is to drive to an area that holds birds, wait until you find some, then drive on by (depending on the wind) and drop the dog and get him or her right into birds.
Even old dogs need a little polishing and exercise before season (and owners, too). When I go out, I take a bunch of dogs and work the same coveys, sometimes with three or four dogs. Just remember, the birds are young and hold tight, so you don’t want your dog accidentally catching any. Another cool part to this is that you can take your camera and get cool pictures of your dog on point (or flushing) on wild birds.
Another thing that works if you don’t have a place to do this is just an open field and pigeons. If you have a young dog that needs bird contact, take him or her where there are a lot of song birds. The little guy or gal will instinctively learn not to chase birds, but to hold them down. Yes, I said song birds. They work great and you can just sit back and laugh, but be happy to know it’s not South Dakota pheasants or opening morning quail. It won’t take long, and the pup will start pointing those birds.
I hope this will help you in your training and exercise program. Good luck, and remember to always end on a good note.
Article By GameBirdhunts.com Staff Writer Ed Hall