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A Hunter and His Dog When it’s Time to say Goodbye By Gary Howey

  Each time, when I pull into my driveway, I would glance over towards the dog kennel in my backyard, as there has always been one of my hunting dogs waiting for me.

  I cannot describe how I felt last week, coming home, looking  towards the kennel and the kennel was empty after I lost my dog, it was a tough deal and I felt lost.

  Ever since I came to Nebraska from Watertown, S.D., I have always had a hunting dog and loved hunting behind them.

  My first dog an A.K.C. registered Brittney spaniel, a pup I received in payment for working at a part-time job.  When it came to pay day, the owner informed me he did not have the money to pay me and told me to take one of his dog’s pup and an old 53 GMC pickup setting out in his trees as payment.

   It seemed to me that a dog and an old ugly pickup were better than nothing was, so I returned the following afternoon after work to see if I could pick up a pup and get the pickup to start.

  My wife was not too keen on the idea when I came home with a puppy, an old pickup and no cash, as the extra money was something we had counted on.

  We named the pup “Calico” who was a little high-spirited, and there were days when I wondered if he knew what a bird was, while at other times, he amazed me with his ability to locate and retrieve whatever I knocked down.

  Back then, habitat was sparse and about the only habitat in the county where I lived were the unpicked corn and the terrace rows.  Back then, the cornrows were wide with grass and weeds growing between the rows and because of the hilly ground many of the fields were terraced. We hunted together for over ten years and my first experience hunting with a dog and the only way I wanted to hunt after that.

  I had a couple of dogs in between, when we had our kids and these dogs were more of a pet for the kids than full-fledged hunting dogs.

  A friend of mine gave me my last dog and just a year old when he came to live with. This friend of mine had several dogs, including this partially trained A.K.C. registered black Lab named “Bay’s Doolin Moe Joe” that he was looking to give to someone who would give it a good home. [Read more…]

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Dog Gone It! You & you’re Dog By Gary Howey

  This is the time of the year, just prior to the opening of the first hunting season when hunters in  our area should take steps to make sure that their hunting dog’s are in good shape and ready when they hit the field on opening day.

  Prior to the season, both you and your dog will need to do some walking and spend some time running and working with your dog, insuring your best friend is in shape and ready for that first long day in the field.

  As anyone knows whose hunted behind a dog in good shape and well trained will realize, it’s not only an exciting experience, it’s more effective than simply wondering across a field hoping to stumble onto a bird.

  Throughout the years, I’ve hunted over all types of dogs and really had some great hunts as well as some very frustrating ones, when a dog we hunted behind was not under control.

  I’ve also hunted with all types of hunters, from the very new to the seasoned pro and found out some of these hunters could learn a lot about the sport by simply paying attention to their dog.

  Take for instance one hunt in a huge CRP field where we were hunting with several hunters and their yellow Lab.

  It’s a known fact that all dogs don’t work the same, they all work differently, some are in high gear, bounding through the tall grass while others will methodically work their way through the grass, their nose just inches off the ground trying to pick up the birds scent.

  My dog had his nose to the ground, his tail whirling in a tight circle as he worked through the field, back and forth out in front of all the hunters.

  Unfortunately, the owner of the other dog was always yelling at the top of his lungs, trying to get the dog to work in front of him and nowhere else. Which not only confused the dog, but it also let every bird within the quarter section know we were there.

  The dog knew where the birds were and it wasn’t always in front of the owner. The owner thought he was a lot smarter than his dog and wanted it to hunt where he was hunting.

  When the owner headed for the dog, he had one thing on his mind and that wasn’t to flush a bunch of birds but to reprimand the dog.

  When he ran over to drag the dog back he stumbled into the birds the dog was working, totally screwing up our entire hunt and flushing the birds all around him, now well out of range of the rest of our group.

  There are times when all dogs get out a bit too far and yelling at them isn’t what you want to do. I’ve trained my dog to respond to a whistle, not your regular whistle, I use a hawk call, the sound a hawk makes as he’s flying over. Not only does my dog respond to it, it also forces the birds to hunker down, as they don’t want to go airborne when predators like a hawk is flying over.

Dan Schiebout-Antler Ridge Pheasants

Dan Schiebout, Orange City, IA. and his Lab Magnum after one of our successful pheasant hunts in South Dakota.

  There are times; we humans forget that even though we have a larger brain and can work out some of complex problems, other critters in the animal kingdom are better suited for some jobs than we are.

  Over the years, after making many blunders myself, one of which was very similar to the hunter I mentioned above, I’ve learned to follow the dog, no matter what direction he’s heading.

  A dog’s nose is a hunter’s best friend and by following the dog instead of forcing him to follow you, your hunt will be more successful.

  There’s nothing that says we have to hunt our dogs straight across a field. In fact, it’s better, especially in the late season to zig zag across the field.  This makes the birds nervous and forces them to go airborne instead of running ahead of us.

  As long as you have your dog under control, meaning he isn’t getting out too far ahead or flushing birds out of range, you can hunt a field anyway the dog wants.

I once hunted with a friend of mine whose black Lab would hit the field on a dead run with his owner right behind him.  This meant that both the dog and the hunter were way out ahead of the other hunters, which is not only a pain for the other hunters; it’s also down right dangerous!

  On that hunt, the last I did with him, I had several suggestions as to what my friend could do to control the dog.  One was to use a training collar on the dog, which he thought was a pretty dumb idea. 

  My other suggestion was to sell me the dog and I’d shoot it putting it out of its misery. He wasn’t keen on that idea either!

  As any good hunter should know, we need to start the dog with the wind in his face, and once you head him into the wind, it’s the dogs show. 

  Then, all the hunter needs to do is to get in behind the dog, keep him under control, shoot well and praise the dog even when he goof up..

  Make sure your dog is in shape prior to the season, listen to what your dog is telling you when you’re out hunting and not only will you come out of the experience a more intelligent  hunter you’ll have a much more successful hunt!