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First Duck Hunt

 
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Keith
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PostPosted: 10/27/03, 2:48 pm    Post subject: First Duck Hunt Reply with quote

Just finished my first duck hunt of the season this year. We did pretty good and stopped just short of our limits with 6 different kinds of ducks. But I was most proud of my little female. She could not have done better. She retrieved every duck shot and marked all of them down except one and found that one with just one simple back command. Between retrieves she sat still and watched the sky anticipating the next duck. Twice I was worried as she will follow any duck as far as it takes to get the retrieve and we were on a big lake with big waves. On the two farthest retrieves my hunting buddy was going to get the boat but both times she got to the duck before he could get out there. Several times she had ducks dive on her and she would dive in after them. She just started that this year. Just wanted to brag up a very good day and a dog that did as well as any of the labs on the lake that same day. She didn't miss a duck. This weekend it is off to Nebraska for a combo pheasant quail hunt followed by my first quail hunt of the year in western Oklahoma the following weekend. I don't know which she is better at ducks or quail. It would be a toss up. These dogs really are the best all around breed out there.
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axjms
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PostPosted: 10/28/03, 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like youve got a great dog there, Keith. Do you mind if I ask how old she is?
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Keith
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PostPosted: 10/28/03, 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She is 3 years old and only weighs a little over 40 pounds. But I have owned several wirehairs and she is the best at ducks and the best at quail. I must have done something right raising her because she is a bird fanatic. She will not quit on a duck retrieve and last season it almost killed her. She was almost out of sight on a retrieve of a duck that just kept swimming and diving. It was a very cold day with ice on the side of the lake and the wind really whipping up the waves. I finally, way to late, had to shock her off the duck or she would have died right there. The first season I tied her up near the duck blind. But at the end of the season it all clicked in her head and she started sitting by the edge of the water watching the sky for new ducks while I was putting the decoys out. Now I never even give the sit and stay command. She will always just sit just in front of me (she has to be in front just like quail hunting) and watch the skies waiting for the nest duck to fall. She won't move until I shoot and I let her break at the shot. The quicker they get to the duck the better to me. She is a one track dog and is always hunting no matter where we go or what we are doing. She is the closest thing to a hunting machine that I have ever hunted with on both quail and ducks. This summer I also taught her hand signals and she has mastered that. But she marked all but one duck and retrieved it with a back command on the first hunt this year. I can't wait until I direct her to her first blind.
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axjms
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PostPosted: 10/30/03, 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, she really sounds great. My 6 month old girl is thirty pounds soaking wet. I t is always encouraging to hear about a great adult dog when you are going through the trials of puppy hood. Thanks, again.
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Keith
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PostPosted: 10/31/03, 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it sounds like bragging but that is not my intent. I just like to point out the full potential of this breed. They can do it all if you train them correctly. They are the breed with the greatest potential as an all around dog in any weather and they deserve way more popularity than they currently have in this country. The only other dogs I saw last Saturday duck hunting were labs but no lab on that lake had a better day than my little female. I really enjoyed the hunt even more because the guy I went with had a lab at home but I told him I wanted to use my dog. I think it was a real eye opener for him. Tonight I head out to Nebraska for some pheasant and quail shooting.
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axjms
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PostPosted: 11/01/03, 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Keith, I know you were not bragging, it did not even enter my mind that you might be until you mentioned it. Wink Good luck on your hunt.
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Indiana Mitch
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PostPosted: 11/03/03, 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She sounds great, Keith!

I'm curious; was she always a good marker? My 55 pound 17 month girl seems to have some trouble realizing exactly where something drops, if it's very far at all. Perhaps the splash of water makes a big difference.

Sophie swims great and loves hitting the water for bumpers and such... but I've not yet tried her on the real thing. I may get a chance this week.
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Keith
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PostPosted: 11/03/03, 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We shot 9 ducks total. She marked all of them down and swam to 8 of them without any further direction. One of them she lost track of on the swim out and got sidetracked by a decoy on the fringe of the spread (we had out 5 dozen). I gave a back command and she kept swimming and saw the duck shortly afterward. I have used rocks on pups to get them started in the first season. They will swim to the splash and then usually see the duck or smell it after they get to the area of the splash. I trained this female to take hand signals left, right and back over the summer. I have never done this before and it takes a lot of work and dedication. I have trained several dogs to take a line and keep swimming until they are called back, smell the duck or see it. That will get you by on most of the blind retrieves. If they miss the duck on the line you can bring them back and resend them. As a side note I went to southwest Nebraska this weekend on a pheasant-quail hunt. It was a very dissappointing hunt and even though the two wirehairs I brought hunted hard the whole time and covered a lot of ground I saw very few birds. The best part of the hunt was the first pheasant I dropped. The pheasant jumped on his own away from the dogs. I brought my female over to the area of the fall and gave the "dead bird, find him" command. She very quickly picked up the trail, tracked it out of sight until I heard her the collar over a rise in the point mode. I found her pointing a brush pile and saw the wounded pheasant under the brush pile. It jumped out when I approached and she recovered it for me. It was a hundred yard track over powdered dirt in very dry conditions. This weekend it is off to western Oklahoma for a quail hunt. If the reports are correct I hope this weekend is a lot more productive than last weekends pheasant hunt. I know the area a lot better and have had several real good hunts there.
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Indiana Mitch
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PostPosted: 11/03/03, 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like she did great.

I'm familiar with training a dog to handle. I once had a nice Black Lab out of champion stock and she handled to voice and whistle quite nicely. One day on the way home from a hunt, I noticed to boys staring across a big pond and could tell they were having a verbal battle. Turns out they were brothers and one had wounded a duck and it was on the other side of the pond hiding in the reeds. Their fishing pole retriever wasn't able to reach that far, and one brother was yelling at the other for shooting at a bird that was too high.

I pulled over... asked if I could help... released "Taylor" from the back of my vehicle and lined her up to where they pointed. After a minute or two of handling the dog to where it was able to make scent of the duck... she hit the reeds hard and heavy and we soon heard a very angry mallard get caught.

As the lab brought the bird to hand, I showed off a little and gave her my secret little signal to fancy things up by walking behind me... heeling and sitting down while reaching up with her head to place the duck in my left hand.

These poor boys had never seen a dog handle and they thought they had just witnessed a miracle. Fact was, it was a pretty simple blind and Taylor had done hundreds of blinds by that time in her career.

Speaking of pheasants... Sophie, my GWP, had a great day at a preserve in Michigan yesterday. A friend had 10 very healthy and fast birds released in some pretty good cover. Sophie pointed just about every bird and pointed them solid. She also retrieved all ten birds to hand, with each bird coming back unscathed, and most of them still alive and angry!

So... my real question is this:

Do you feel that your GWP has good marking abilities when AWAY from the water... such as in a field with weeds or other cover?

I think most decent dogs will see something drop into a pond or lake, because the splash helps a great deal.

I'm wondering how well GWPs, in general, mark game falling from the sky.

Since this is my first GWP... I really don't know what to expect. I'm guessing they probably don't match up with a good Labrador... but they do well enough to get by.

In addition, I'd like to know if my GWP will pick up on taking hand signals, with voice and whistle, as well as my lab did? Do they have the same "background" in their genetics to pick up handling like labs and goldens?

ANYONE WANT TO ANSWER THIS ONE ?? <grin>
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Keith
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PostPosted: 11/03/03, 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that my female is real good about remembering single falls both on land and water. She did real good during dove season and had some real long lines to doves she saw fall. And she was also real good at searching the area of the fall until she found the bird, even in real thick brush and grass at long distances. Where they would come up short is on remembering more than one fall. I also think it is harder to teach them hand signals than it would be to teach a lab. A good pointing dog has to have more of an independent nature than a lab to be a real good searcher in the field. These dogs will frequently be out of sight while upland bird hunting. There were many times when I wanted to throw in the towel and give up. But through persistence you can teach them hand signals to a fall. You just have to be very patient. It is quite fun to watch once you get there and a good way to show off to other hunters.
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