Thursday, January 22, 2015

Situation

I had a chance to get out yesterday. With this inversion type fog every morning, I've got turned back twice. One because of an accident along the freeway and the second because I couldn't see thirty yards away and the fog seemed to follow me as I walked up the hill. So Jake and I were thrilled to have a day out without fog.

The day started out pretty slow and Jake busting a few birds. As we got further up the hill I could see why Jake was not able to hold down the birds. A dozen or so chukars were sprinting up the open slope towards the ridge top. They were very visible do to the matted down grass. As the first couple of birds crested the ridge they flew, witch was too much for Jake to handle and he sprinted up the hill and flushed the remaining birds. I suppose with a trial dog you have to stop that kind of behavior but for me and my hunting companion I have to excuse it, We weren't going to get close to those birds anyway so I figure no harm, no foul.

We had this kind of activity happen off and on throughout the day. Yes, Jake got a few birds to hold in the heavier brush, but most of those birds were runners also. Just like pheasants, they learn to run for survival. I remember thinking to myself, "we hunters are pretty arrogant to think we are going to make much of a dent in next years population by hunting these late season birds".

Anyhow, here is the situation that comes out quite often for chukar hunters. Jake had just locked on point about 100 yards down the hill. There was a pile of rocks in the area where he was on point, and although I couldn't see him I assumed that was where he was. I slowly walked towards where he was and found him rock solid on point.
There was no question that the birds were there. After snapping the picture, I surveyed the situation and couldn't find a way of approaching the birds for a shot. I finally decided to drop down below the rocks and come in on Jake from below. It took about 3 minutes to get around the rocks. I wondered what Jake would do once I walked up on his point and than walked away, out of sight. As I got into position to where I could get a decent shot a bird flushed further down the hill and out of range. Within seconds, Jake was behind me and immediately came to point. Yes, he honors me when I assume the intense hunter position. My next step flushed a nice covey of birds and I shot a rare double. The next time I saw Jake he was retrieving one of the birds.
My question is, "what would most dog trainers do in this situation?" Are you reinforcing your dog to break point by letting him relocate after he heard the first bird flush? The reason I ask, is because this morning while visiting with a dog trainer and hunter, this chukar hunter (who breeds some pretty great dogs) said I'm teaching my dogs bad habits and that is why Jake chased the birds he saw running up the hill and taking off.

I guess I'm the type of guy who will accept mediocre performance from my canine partner in order for us to BOTH enjoy the experience to it's fullest.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry,
I think you were right on. Big difference between trial dogs and hunting dogs. I used to run in trials and my best trial dogs never compared to my best hunting dogs in the field when hunting wild birds. I'm not saying this is always true just my experience.
Wild birds test your dogs to the max, more difficult as they run, flush wild and are a real challenge. Keep having fun.
Alan and Mays

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Alan,

Have you put Kate and the new camera to the test yet?

Anonymous said...

We did something wrong when we tried to film so didn't get any film. I only saw two ptarmigan and they got up wild. I will go back again this weekend. We have snow finally so hopefully we can find more tracks. Mays worked hard but they were not to be found that day. Its real hit and miss and its a vast amount of territory to cover. We will keep trying.
Alan and Mays

David Sorrell said...

Your last line holds the truth. Man and dog are a team both should have fun and work together. There are no blue ribbons..