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PUPdate - 5 May 2012 - Bolt sees his first live birds
Today was Bolt's first day working real, live birds. The pics will do the talking for how excited I am to get this dog out this coming fall.
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
My daughter won't appreciate this element of her dog's training until she gets to hunt over him, but he is showing all the signs of being a true natural at this game of upland hunting. He sniffed the bird out of cover into the open and stalked him across a desert sandlot. Now I just have to start fine-tuning his fetching instinct and he'll be good to go for the quail opener.
I had a dog that would not retrieve pigeons, if he got tricked into picking one up he'd drop it and stand there spitting.
They must taste real bad with the feathers on..
I actually chucked that name out to her as an option, completely oblivious to the fact that there wa a movie of the same namesake that just so happened to be about a dog. I just looked it up on IMDB and realize that I will have to rent this for her now. My daughter actually says that "Bolt Lightning" is his FULL name. I tried to give her some name options that were kiddie and reflected stuff that she's about. For instance, he almost became Plankton (one of my other suggestions) on account of her affinity for all things Sponge Bob.
It's crazy how our bodies start to dictate the way we live as we get older. I'm still fairly young but can already tell where life is going to cut me short (the back). I have to enjoy this dog with my daughter while I still have the time.
Hey, that's the one the breeder gave him cuz it's the only one that fits him right now! It was that or a rhinestone chihuahua collar.:vomit:
Oh, he was tame alright...shortly after we dizzied the hell out of him and clipped his flight feathers so he couldn't get airborne much longer than a barnyard hen. He was REALLY cooperative after that. We walked 100 yards away after planting him in the bushes and he hadn't moved an inch when we got back. The dogs found him, he got his bearings and then took off running.
We bought the birds from a feed & saddlery shop in town that keeps them for just such training. Not a bad deal at $2 a piece. At this age, the dogs get plenty of practice out of a bird and won't kill them outright unless you totally let them get nuts without intervention. We let these birds go after we were done with them, though a coyote probably put a damper on their freedom in short order.
Great idea. He needs to be able to drink out of just about anything because when he's working, it may be the main compartment of my Camelback that is his primary water source.
Squab are a delicacy.
Exactly. I had squab (baby pigeon raised specifically for food, slaughtered before they lose their white, fluffy feathers) for the first time last year at a fancy pants French restaraunt. Those birds are on a special diet their whole, short lives. Absolutely delicious but pricey. It was a cool eating experience regardless. Try it if you get the chance. It really is good. In the same breath, don't go eating a club-footed street pigeon thinking it'll be a sufficient substitute. I know you're cheap and all, so I figured I'd give you the warning before you chew me out for failing to prevent that.
― Douglas Adams
I agree - know it will. That's the terrible inevitability of owning a good dog.
From what I've researched on the German Shorthair, they're the best "mixed-bag" doggie out there. They'll sniff out whatever's there. That's the biggest allure of this breed for me. I mean, nothing breaks up the monotony of flushing pheasant all day like the occasional skunk-jumping.
You can pretty much train the dog on ANY bird or bird parts. The book, Gun Dog, that I am using as my training guide literally says that you can use a feathered chicken wing from the local butcher to start training your dog with the rod n' wing method. Accordingly, I use store-bought, live pigeons as a cheap ($2 a piece), readily accessible training bird for my pointer. Snip the flight feathers and you have yourself a ready-made upland bird that will run for cover instead of taking flight. In tandem, I use the fairly cheap pheasant wings (~$1 a piece) as my rod n' wing trainer of choice. You can drill easily a 1/8" hole in the wing bone to run some leftover 14lb test fishing line and they stand up to a surprising amount of abuse when the dog finally proves to be faster than you and gets to them. It took no training at all to get my dog to go from working a live pigeon to a pheasant wing and back. If it smells "birdy" he'll sniff it out and point it. Similarly, my buddy uses duck wings saved and frozen from last season along with live pigeons to train his GSP. The only catch there is that a slightly moistened bird wing works best for scent training in Nevada's extremely dry conditions and duck wings repel water. I find that pheasant wings hold a few fingertips of water much better. This simulates the dew-moistened grasses of the Midwest more realistically as far as actual pheasant and quail hunting conditions.
In my previous experience with English pointers, and now German Shorthaired pointers, they do exactly as Linefinder said: they will point virtually anything. I have been working with one of my other buddy's EP in Nebraska when she's pointed cottontails. I have also watched her point and catch field mice when she gets bored during waterfowl hunts. You can train them to, or break them from, pointing pretty much any game species.
The hip thing to do nowadays is to get your pointer to work not just on feather and fur, but on deer and elk antler sheds. Basically, you do the same course that I have done with bird wings, except that you sub in a piece of ungulate antler. Presto: you've now got a shed dog. Apparently, matched sets of exceptional elk antlers can draw big bucks in the free market. Even single pieces of shed have a market (particularly elk shed) in the jewelry and gun grip manufacturing circles.
While getting through the first month of puppyhood is not for the faint of heart (think of a lonely pup howling and barking for 45 minutes straight when put to bed in his kennel, and again at 3AM when the need to pee strikes for the first 3-4 weeks of ownership), it has been one of the coolest and most rewarding things I have ever undertaken. He no longer howls and barks at night, and now goes to bed willingly. He's pointing the things I ask him to find and taking verbal, hand and whistle commands at just 11 weeks old. I have only been at it for just shy of a month with this pup, but I am blown away at how fast he is figuring things out. That's what keeps me going.
It seems so! Because this is my first go-around raising a pointer from scatch, I have no reference as to whether he is par for course among pointers or if I just got lucky as hell and landed an exceptionally talented dog. I gotta think he's got something special going on here. I took him out to Lake Mead that last two weekends in a row to see if I could get him to swim. Watching videos and reading various books/articles, I figured that based on the average dog, it would take a few trips to the lake to get him to lose his fear of the water. Yeah, right: the first instant he saw the lake, he rolled around on in shallows like a pig in poop. Moments later, he swam out 20 yards or so to greet my buddy, who had waded out there to retrieve bumpers for our dogs. I chucked a puppy bumper to him while he was out there; he grabbed and returned to shore with it. The next time out there was more of the same. This little guy is completely fearless. I need to get some footage of him swimming posted up here.
Gone, but not forgotten!
That's precisely what allured me to this breed. The dogs are incredible to watch work on birds in cover and their increasing focus as they close in only fuels the excitement of the hunt. The first time a pheasant flushed under foot after my buddy's EP pointed it, it was over for me. I knew I had to own a pointer someday.
These dogs are just too much fun. Even a known target on provides endless entertainment for them. I could play with the wing n' rod until the sun goes down and this pup will never grow bored of it. It's great to know your old girl was the same way with those pigeons.