We have been using carded pigeons for years, especially when introducing young dogs to birds. While visiting a pro trainer this past week I learned why homing pigeons are crucial for bird dog training. They fly away and can’t be caught. If you are lucky enough to have wild birds nearby, then you can get the chase out of your young puppy the natural way. The late Bob Wehle would take his young english pointers for hundreds of walks in the quail woods. The puppies would quickly learn that they cannot catch those birds. Then they start to stand and hold point more staunchly.
For us folks that don’t have wild quail in the backyard, we make do with good ol’ homers. With a small pigeon loft and a good flock of homing pigeons you can teach the same thing effectively. The best part is they fly home and get back in the loft to do it all again the next day. With strong flying birds your dogs can chase till their blue in the face. Eventually, the dogs learn two things. First, they are never going to catch the bird so why try. Second, and most importantly if they check back in with you there always seems to be more birds. These two lessons are the foundation for building a reliable hunting buddy.
Your pigeon loft doesn’t need to be fancy. An old shed or barn can be converted easily to hold 20-30 birds. Pigeons can last for years if you keep them healthy and meet their basic needs. Many racing pigeon lofts will gladly sell you birds that have not been flown yet. Then you can imprint them to your loft and get them homing in no time. For pigeon loft plans check in with the pigeon loft experts. Below is a simple shed conversion my pro trainer Ben Garcia uses at Hideaway Kennels in Colorado.