Gun dog training is impossible without the use of live birds. Many people use pigeons because they are cheap and readily available in the lower 48 states. The pheasant is probably the most popular game bird in the country. The striking colors, large size, noisy flush, and great tasting meat make it a favorite for many hunters. I have seen best results from using a combination of game birds and pigeons as the puppy grows and develops. We use clipped wing pigeons or quail early on for their small size to build the pups confidence. Chukar and pheasant later on as they get bolder and more mature.
Travis has been packing around a bb gun with me for nearly 2 years. He has been learning about gun safety and handling a gun responsibly. He is getting better each outing and finally today we broke out the 28 gauge shotgun and he got to shoot his first pheasant. I am excited for him to spend time with me outdoors and hope this is the first of many hunting trips together.
Buster has been carrying the load at the pheasant farm this past month as Annie has been out of service while caring for her litter of brittany puppies. The puppies started eating solid foods a week ago and I thought Annie could use a break for a few hours. This was Annie and Buster’s first time hunting together as a team and I was real pleased with the duo. Sometimes 2 dogs just don’t work well together and you can’t fix it. Other times two dogs can seem like they read each others minds and truly compliment the other. We had a great pheasant hunt even if it was a bit cold and snowy, the dogs did well and our clients got 10 out of 12 birds released. It was fun working the ditch banks on these large alfalfa fields and the birds were holding good with the snow cover. All in all it was a fun day but the pups were glad to see Annie when we got back.
Buster got his first chance to guide at the pheasant farm last week. A client from Las Vegas was on his way home from a Colorado elk hunt and stopped in for an afternoon of pheasant hunting. Buster did just fine. He located and pointed about 8-10 pheasants before getting popped out because of the hot/dry conditions. This was mostly my fault for not having him in top physical condition because I was waiting on my new dog training truck. Buster retrieved pretty well and seems like he will be a good hand at the pheasant preserve this fall where I work part-time to get my dogs on more birds.
This week I guided three days at the pheasant hunting preserve. The birds get a bit silly this time of year and the roosters are running like crazy. The skittish birds and the sparse cover can make for some very challenging pheasant hunting conditions. Annie did well but I decided to take the owners seasoned shorthair pepper to help us out. Pepper has a unique talent that he has developed over 6-7 years of being a guide dog at the pheasant farm. When another dog goes on point, pepper circles around the bird to block their escape. This comes in quite handy when the roosters are running on us.
This is a picture taken after the successful late season pheasant hunt. Pepper’s blocking skills were much appreciated by the clients who ended up taking home a good pile of pheasants (mostly roosters). Another fun thing was a successful water retrieve by Annie when a bird was shot and dropped into the river. She is great with water retrieves as long as she marks the bird down. She hesitates a little still with blind water retrieves. We will work on this during the spring and summer training sessions.
I tried to get some video of Pepper demonstrating his unique skill, but I was a little late getting the camera out. The one thing I don’t like is that Annie won’t fight for a retrieve with a competitive dog. She will just let the other dog have it if they get to the bird at the same time. Sometimes I like to work Annie alone so she can do it all. Pepper is not one to share any of the retrieving duties. With all of our birds sold at the pheasant farm we are winding down for a few months until we get 5,000 day-old pheasant chicks in May and start the whole process over again.
This is a client dog making a pretty nice water retrieve at the pheasant hunting preserve today. The property has a river running through it and many times the birds flush across the river and sometimes when shot, drop in or on the other side of the river. Shorthairs are usually quite good at water retrieves but as quick as Sadie was to get across to the downed rooster, it took a little coaxing to get her to come back. The water was running pretty swift and very cold with the winter run-off. My Brittany dog Annie was the first one across the river but she didn’t mark the bird and had trouble locating and returned empty handed.
This is a group of hunters I guided a few weeks ago at Rooster Valley Pheasant Preserve. The german shorthair “Bella” is owned by Will Fonte of Las Vegas and is a real nice dog. She has a sweet temperment and she would hunt all day if we let her. Ceasar is the hunter in the video clip (Will’s Brother). We had a fun day chasing roosters around at the pheasant farm. One of the most enjoyable things for me has been meeting new people and making new friends while working as a pheasant hunting guide. Sometimes the clients have their own dogs, in which case I will just pack birds and shoot pictures for them with my Nikon D50. Most of the time I get to work my own dogs which has been a great experience for Abby and Annie.
Had a great hunt yesterday with George and his son Chaz and his son-in-law. They were the first hunters of the season at Rooster Valley Pheasant Preserve where I am helping out as a guide. It was Chaz’s first time hunting pheasants and I think we got him hooked. They ended up with about 15 pheasants and they picked up a couple of dove along the way. George was hunting with his two labs “Blue” and “Sophie” and they did well together. I enjoyed putting the birds out and keeping an eye on their progress throughout the day.
Yesterday we snuck over to the Rooster Valley Pheasants hunting preserve to get our fix until next season. We took our new land-lord Jared J. Jensen with us since he loves hunting waterfowl. He couldn’t decide which shotgun to bring on a pheasant hunt and I told him a 10 gauge was a little much. After some searching he finally found a couple boxes of number six shot in his arsenal. The hunting was tough since we were hunting “wild” across the river from the preserve. Jared was able to knock down a couple of nice roosters and we had a great time working the dogs. Sterling Lee and John Jacks were also hunting with us. Their dogs Biff and Trigger did well.
It was fun to take some time to visit with Russ Peterson after the hunt, as the owner of Rooster Valley Pheasants he always has some good tips to help us find some birds. He said he had just jumped 3 more roosters while working a puppy of his along the river. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go and chase them down. We hope to get out again next week. The season at the hunting preserve closes on March 31st.