have we ruined Bernie for hunting?

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have we ruined Bernie for hunting?

Postby Bernie's mom » Thu Sep 01, 2005 9:41 am

Ok, here's the deal, he won't point and he ran right past two grouse the other day... he's hung up on squirrels.
We have squirrels in the yard so he sees them out the window and when he's outside he sniffs the holes and when he hears a chipmunk let loose he's after it. It's cute and he loves it, but now we're regretting it all because he's "useless" in the woods for birds.
He never has really pointed, and he won't point the squirrels either. If anything he's a flusher, he wants to go in after whatever has caught his attention.
Don't get me wrong, we love our boy and we're just weekend warriors ourselves so we don't expect him to be an award winning pointer with titles and the such... but it would be nice to take him out grouse hunting this fall and actually see him point a GROUSE and leave the squirrels alone.
We admit that it's our fault, but is there any way that we can get our pointer to come out of his shell? He has a great pedigree (so I've been told) champions here and there with titles for whatever they did, so Bernie does have it in him. Any advice?
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Postby Karen_P » Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:05 am

Berns just needs to be "waken up to birds". If you can find a trainer or preserve near you, or if you can get your hands on some quail or chukar, plant them and walk Berns right up to them on lead/check cord.

My guess is that after 2 or 3 birds flush in front of him, he'll be bird crazy. Just be careful to not let him catch any...chasing is great if they're strong fliers, but if not, keep him on a check cord (and 1 caught bird won't ruin his hunting career).
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Postby Bernie's mom » Thu Sep 01, 2005 10:28 am

thanks for the nice response! I'm afraid someone will yell at me for not doing things right with him! My hubby says that yes, it is our fault, but even if he never looked at a bird he's still our baby and we love him soooo much! Well we just got in from playing with the grouse scented retrieving dummy. I had him on a cord and only threw it about ten feet and told him "come" every time. Then I tossed it over the edge of the yard, it drops at the edge, so Berns had to use his nose to find it and he brought it back every time. Now we're watered and rested and it's time for our daily walk through the woods. Who knows, maybe we'll kick up a grouse! They're back there!
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Postby Allison » Thu Sep 01, 2005 11:11 am

Zeus would much rather point a squirrel, heck for that matter he will point a leaves, LOL
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Postby kat » Thu Sep 01, 2005 1:19 pm

Since our first Britt was in the shelter after being picked up as a stray, my husband never took her out hunting with him, he said he was afraid she'd run off again and we would never let him back in the house without her! Now George, who is 10 1/2, he loves to lay at the window by the birdfeeder and look out, but not at the birds. he could care less about them, he's just watching for any other dog who may dare to walk by his house!! It's ok, we just love our boys the way they are, and DH doesn't get out hunting much any more anyways.
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Postby Jacksbuddy » Sat Sep 03, 2005 5:57 am

You havn't ruined him, like Karen said he just needs to be "awakened" to birds. Is there a pheasant farm nearby? If so you could buy a few birds have them planted and work Bernie to them. A quick search came up with this http://www.gamebirdhunts.com/us-hunting/Wisconsin.asp . Places like that usually have chukars also and are generally cheaper.
My first Brittany never really pointed but I always had great fun with him anyway. He loved to go hunting. For me it has been a trade off, Rusty would quarter in front of me at a max. range of forty yards and would never get out of sight, he had great bird locating skills but just wouldn't hold a point. Now Jack on the other hand has a fantastic nose will hold a point for a seemingly indeffinate amount of time BUT he will range 200 yds out at times and drives me crazy. :lol:
If nothing else when grouse season arrives you can take your shotgun and Bernie for some long walks in the woods and who knows you may be pleasantly surprised.
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Postby Bernie's mom » Sat Sep 03, 2005 7:30 pm

Yesterday I was on the phone with three local game farms and one trainer. I know the trainer, he used to be a state trooper and gave me my first (and only!) speeding ticket! He's retired now... well he said that I should call after the 10th and bring Berns over. He'll look him over and put a few birds in front of him just to see how he reacts. The farms just sell birds and collect money more or less. I'm not knocking them, but we don't want to pay for a bird that we don't intend to shoot, we want to give Bernie some exposure.
Today we went for a walk like we have done every day now, and I'm pretty sure he busted a grouse. I heard something anyways, and I'm betting that's what happened. I didn't see it because he was a ways ahead of me cuz I stopped for a sec, but it was neat to listen to him bust through the brush!
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Postby Barb Wright » Sun Sep 04, 2005 12:13 am

Bernie's mom wrote:..... I'm not knocking them, but we don't want to pay for a bird that we don't intend to shoot....


But, why not!! Consider it a little pay back for all the birds that are shot and not eaten :!: Every sparrow that falls should be for a good reason, especially if it is the replenishing of a life higher in the food chain. The birds that you pay for that live to fly another day will count towards "gold stars" on your accountability ledger :wink:

Instead of that next "night on the town" put that dollar amount toward letting your dog have a little opportunity to find his true heritage....you don't have to kill a creature to achieve that end. The only thing missing will be the retrieve part, no big deal if you are not seriously hunting.

And no, I am not opposed to hunting.....as long as the creatures' demise is for a good reason, that being food. And don't everybody jump on me for this seemingly sentimental concept....I lived many years with wild game a major percentage of my meat diet. And the only reason it isn't still is that my husband decided that since we could afford the "white packages" he would rather see the animals in all their majesty than shoot them. And I breathed easier, yes.

So heck, go out and buy some birds, and then feel good about not only did Bernie get to answer his instincts (or discover them as the case may be :) but the birds lived to fly another day 8) very 8)
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Postby Bernie's mom » Sun Sep 04, 2005 10:15 am

night on the town? what's that! haha! I don't go out, ever, I never have!
Someone told me that the survival rate of those farm birds in the wild is pretty low, that's what I heard anyway. I see what you're saying tho Barb! :)
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Postby Jacksbuddy » Sun Sep 04, 2005 12:14 pm

Bernie's mom wrote:
Someone told me that the survival rate of those farm birds in the wild is pretty low :)


Whats left over pretty much becomes hawk food. I would like to think the ones that are taken are eaten, but I am sure that some groups that frequent these facilities aren't really interested in eating a good roasted pheasant.
I have been to one twice, Last September I took my daughter who is too busy to go hunting with Dad anymore since she is pursuing her degree in chemistry and last March I took my friend who had just returned home from Iraq. It was sort of a welcome home/unwind present.
Realizing the training benefits that these places provide I bought a 24 bird membership this year at a local game farm. The fellow that owns it is pursuing the possibility of maintaining a pigeon coup that will allow the birds to be reused and provide training opportunities to customers at a much lower cost.
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Postby Barb Wright » Sun Sep 04, 2005 12:28 pm

Jacksbuddy wrote:.... The fellow that owns it is pursuing the possibility of maintaining a pigeon coup that will allow the birds to be reused and provide training opportunities to customers at a much lower cost.


What a refreshing concept :) I was wondering, and maybe you bird hunters can answer this....will farmed (home raised) birds return to their coup/pen/roost if not too far removed? In other words, if they are raised and hunted on the same farm, if they survive the hunt do they have the instinct to return to the roost? I realize not every bird is a "homing pigeon", but just wondered and maybe you know :?:
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Postby Karen_P » Sun Sep 04, 2005 2:23 pm

The club I belong to has quail in recall pens. I was amazed to see them forced out of the pens for training, and across the next hour work their way back to the pens. For field trial training we don't kill birds. We'll run non-retrieving stakes so there's no need. There is a hawk problem and we do loose a few from time to time to them, but we're able to use the birds over and over for training, which means we can fly 30-50 birds at a time and work several dogs, then fly them again and work some more. Very cool!
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Postby Barb Wright » Sun Sep 04, 2005 3:07 pm

Yes :!: VERY cool....I really like the sound of that operation. If I could find that kind of training I would do it in a heartbeat :)
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Postby Jacksbuddy » Mon Sep 05, 2005 4:41 am

Karen, that does sound cool. Is this the club up at Zionville?
Another question, are they strictly set up for ft training or do they make arrangements for hobbyists?
I guess you could call me that for lack of a better term.
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Postby Karen_P » Mon Sep 05, 2005 6:52 am

They only take 20 members (I believe they're around 16 or 17 now), so what you do is completely up to you. They're open 364 days a year (closed the opening day of deer season), and basically 24 hours a day. They ask that you don't fly birds within an hour of sunset so the birds have time to make it back to the recall pens, but said if I wanted to run the dogs after dark, the ATV's have headlights and I was more than welcome to do so. They also said I could stay overnight at the club house if I wanted to, although there is a caretaker who lives there so I'm sure I would feel weird doing that, or I could bring my camper and plug it in and stay in that.

The club is very informal and everyone seems to go first thing in the morning year round (mostly to work under the watchful eye of Pete, Blaze's trainer), and the place is empty by noon and probably much earlier during the week, which means that even in the dead of winter, there are 4-5 hours or more of every day that no one but the caretaker is there, that a hobbyest can poke around and do whatever they want with their dog, and can come in the morning for training advice from a pro also. I've been waiting until last to run Courage and Zach because they require more time than the already-trained dogs and I don't want to feel like I'm holding up the works.

I'm told that no one will be there today, so I'm taking the dogs up there in about a half hour. My son is coming along and he's going to get an ATV driving lesson. No one at the club will have a problem with him driving an ATV IF he knows how to, so today will be my opportunity to teach him how. He's 13 and old enough to release dogs and fly birds, so I'm hoping he gets the "bug" and will be my training buddy in the future.

I'm also hoping that a day without Pete around helps to relax Courage a bit. Courage has been improving dramatically with each trip to the club so I'm hoping a trip there with absolutely no pressure....a day he can poke around the fields on his own without being "handled" will be good for him.

I have to find out what else I'm entitled to. There's a range a couple miles down the road that I think I can use, and I believe they have an area set aside for hunting also, but I'm not positive.

Here's the catch. At $2,000 a year, the club is very expensive for hobbyests (heck, it's expensive for just about anyone), so if you don't need to run a dog off an ATV, buying pen raised birds and using state land is a whole lot cheaper.
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