Bird Dog

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by freestoneangler, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    I started writing this post a couples of times only to hit the back button and abandon doing so. We're still stinging from the loss of our male golden, who we had to put down this past August. We still have his sister who is doing pretty well for 13 years. We got Max & Hallee from a couple on Camino Island one crisp fall afternoon on our way back from looking at other dogs in Marysville. We were only looking for a female to replace our first golden, Chelsie, who we had to put down in her 12th year. We both said we'd never go through that heartache again...we didn't last 2 months. Tired from having looked at several other litters and underwhelmed with what we saw, we nearly blasted past the exit for Camino Island; the last on the list of stops -- that would, as it has turned out, have been a huge mistake.

    Max and Hallee have truly been awesome dogs, more like kids really. My wife works from home, so they have constant interaction and get tons of exercise and care. As I've only recently gotten interested in upland bird hunting, I never spent anytime field training, just obedience training. Given their genes and natural instinct to hunt, I often felt like I shorted them in some ways. I could swear Max would key in on "Hunting with Hank" episodes, then turn to look at me as if to say, "what gives?"

    Now, we're only a couple of years from retirement and plan to do some extended travels around the US. Certainly at 13, there is a point where it's too old to teach a dog new tricks, and even if the mind said yes, her body would say no. I think each of us thinks we'll be able to resist the pressing need to have another golden before I retire...we'll see. I'm pretty sure my wife wouldn't have another breed, she's simply loves GR's and I must say that's where my prefernce lies as well.

    OK, I've gotten much further into this thread than before, so here's the few questions I have:

    Can a dog be trained as a "casual" hunter? That is to say, a dog with fairly solid come and stay commands, introduced either as a youngster or middle-age, can be useful for upland bird hunting?

    Simply based on the types of dogs I see in the back of trucks (and forum photos), it would appear that GR's are not the preferred bird dogs -- certainly the short hair breeds have the advantage of quick clean and dry -- but does anyone currently hunt with them (or has)? What's been your experience?

    I wish the bird hunting bug had bitten me about 10 years ago...I think Max & Hallee would have made a solid team :(
  2. ribka

    ribka Active Member

    Will give you the standard answer that probably too late. GR can be more than adequate bird dogs if started at a young age.

    I know Gary T on here has GR's and hunts them

    I can send some bird wings to Gage your dogs' interest if you want.

    Biggest concern is can they be shot over? Do they naturally retrieve?

    Advice would be to enjoy your dogs companionship now, not fret and consider in the future a dog that can be a companion for both you and your wife and a companion in the field.

    have had good luck with GSP's , Britanies and Vizslas for house and hunting companions. Vizsla is now in my wife's lap as she studies for nursing school after a day xc skiing and hunting quail and chukar.
  3. Dave Alberts

    Dave Alberts Member

    Having said goodbye to my buddy Booker, of thirteen years this past September, I understand your situation. Booker was a German Wirehair and was a phenom in the field. In his prime, I'm sure he would run 25 miles on a 5 mile hunt. He lived to hunt...

    Prior to Booker, I had Dolly, a Labrador, for 16 years. Dolly was as addicted to hunting as Booker, but she did it differently. She would range about 25-30 yards ahead of me until she hit scent...then it was my job to keep up with her.

    The difference between Booker and Dolly was that Booker was a pointing dog who would locate the bird then point and hold them until I got there. Dolly was a retrieving dog who would flush the bird...whether I was ready or not. Both were excellent retrievers. I believe your Goldens will work more like the Lab than the pointer, even though they do point.

    As for casual hunting, I would say emphatically, yes, any obedient dog that will stay within shotgun range can be an asset in bird hunting. While birds may be able to "hunker down" until a human passes by, most of them understand that four legged critters can find them and ultimately eat them...thus the need to leave the area, which gives the hunter an opportunity to shoot. That said, there is nothing more annoying to other hunters than another hunter with a dog that they can't control...
  4. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    I'm sorry for your loss. You could introduce the dog to pigeons and see how much excitement is developed. Clip the wings to make a flapper and tease the dog and then toss the bird. If you decide to hunt your dog make sure that you introduce the gun. Failure to do so will invite disaster. Since living in Wyoming we have lost a Brittany and a Lab to old age. I now run a French Brittany and hope to finish her (steady to wing. steady to shot and steady to fall) before the next bird season.
  5. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    My experience with Goldens has been mixed. Of the three that my hunting buddies have taken to the field, only one would hunt like the average lab. That said, if you look for a Golden from hunting blood lines with parents that hunt, you will have a dog you both will like and one that will hunt. I'm just now starting the retirement thing and a dog should not interfere with travel and will add a new dimension to our extra time off! rick
  6. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Totally agree -- I gotta believe it's pretty difficult full time RV living (if even for part of a year) with a sporting dog -- especially in a 5ver. A part of me hopes we'll have the will power to hold off getting another dog (or dogs) as we're only a couple of years away. But, not having kids (2 legged version), the house will no doubt feel empty as we've had GR's for the past 26 years...we'll see.
  7. jeff bandy

    jeff bandy Make my day

    What about the burrs? I have Aussies and they pick them up like magnets. Can't even imagine how long it would take to brush out a GR. full of them.
  8. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    For years my wife and I have traveled across the country pulling a 30' 5th wheel with Labs and Britts Recently we and our French Brittany Annie flew to Boston, rented a car and drove to New Hampshire where we purchased a completely restored 1986 Bertone. We then drove to Maine and slowly worked our way back to Wyoming. Annie was welcome everywhere that we went and enjoyed the open air ride and looking out the window. Bottom line: My bird dogs have always travelled and there has never been a problem with lodging or people. Look closely an you will see Annie's head on the drivers side

  9. Kaari White

    Kaari White Active Member

    Golden Retrievers are fantastic bird dogs- the answers to both your questions are yes and yes! Every dog is different, but as long as they have a desire to retrieve and are interested in birds, you're on your way to having a bird dog.

    I would start your dog as if they're a puppy. Get a couple books on training flushing dogs and then go from there. Intro to birds and guns are most important.

    My dad recently started his 4 year old King Charles Caviler spaniel as a bird dog and he'll probably work out. I doubt he'll ever retrieve a pheasant, but he's quartering pretty well. I'm positive he has a whole lot less aptitude than your golden retriever!
  10. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    My English Setter comes back from Montana where we hunt pheasants on opening week and I almost have to shave her to the skin to get all the burrs out! When it comes to low maintenance, Labs are it! Rick
  11. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    Having had Labs and Britts, I certainly agree that maintenance between the two is night and day. Labs have "tough" everything barbed wire rarely affects them and burrs sticking to them are close to nonexistent. Whereas long haired dogs such as my Britts, have needed stitches for barbed wire cuts and they are a magnet for all burrs ranging in size from tiny to wild liquorish big. If burrs are a problem for you, get a Lab. I have an after the hunt routine and please bare in mind that I have only one dog now and she is a French Brittany.

    After cleaning the birds, I ask Annie to sit on my lap. I check her for ticks, cuts, scrapes and burrs, removing any that I find. Then I brush her, telling her all the time what a good girl she is and how much I appreciate her hard work. Annie and I have a personal relationship and she goes where I go.
  12. Roper

    Roper Idiot Savant

    I know you all think I'm a half a bubble off plumb, but I'm convinced a Standard Poodle is the ideal dog. Sasha has had no training and we have enjoyed hunting together for a few years now. Sure, she's a burr magnet, but is tolerant of de-burring after the hunt. She has a purple heart and six stitches for running into a barbed wire fence too, but she hunted the whole morning with no whining. In the house she never sheds and is a sweetheart with all who visit.

    When she's passed I will have another one and train her to flush and retrieve. She will have big shoes to fill for I do love Sasha like no other dog I've had. But I know if you give all to them they give it back with interest.

  13. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

    When I hunt with Roper, I stay on the other side of the field-just sayin!;)
  14. wyofly

    wyofly Active Member

    Many years ago I hunted waterfowl at a federal refuge. There was a guy that used a standard Poodle as his retriever. Why not, the breed was originally a water dog before the show folks went to work on them.
  15. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

    I can say this about the GR. Not all GR's are made equal.
    I have had 8 and have 3 right now.
    All have been good to excellent hunters.
    I got a new female puppy this summer to replace the old female before she couldn't hunt anymore.
    The new puppy right out of the box was retrieving the pheasant wing every toss and that has not changed.
    The problem is, she is gun shy and because I didn't find this out before I took her hunting with the gun now she doesn't want to find or flush birds, still retrieves like mad.
    I have my work cut out getting her over the gun noise.
    I know a good breeder over here on the dry side if ya want his name send me a message.

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