Northwoods Roquefort, left, and Northwoods Parmigiano. (Photo by Chris Mathan.)
Chris Mathan recently asked if I wanted to contribute a piece to Strideaway, an online publication dedicated to promoting pointing dog field trials; particularly, trials for English setters and pointers that are sanctioned by The American Field.
Since the subject was raising puppies, I jumped at the chance. Her assignment was to discuss how we raise, socialize and develop puppies—all with a slant toward how that helps their future training.
The piece is titled Early Development of Bird Dogs and was published on Strideaway last week. Even if the subject isn’t interesting, the exquisite photos of setter and pointer puppies by Chris are worth a look-see.
Chris owns two businesses on her own—The Sportsman’s Cabinet and Chris Mathan Photography—and Strideaway, co-conceived and co-managed with Mazie Davis.
Many thanks to Chris for offering me the opportunity.
Between about 4 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, April 21, Northwoods Vixen whelped nine puppies by CH Elhew G Force. There are two males (one liver and one orange) and seven females (four black and three orange). The birth process was about as smooth as we could hope for.
Within an hour after all were born, Jerry shot some audio and video. We’ve always liked the tiny peeping, squealing noises newborns make. The whelping process is a messing thing—with plenty of fluids and liquids—and the dam spends a lot of time licking and cleaning her puppies.
By late morning, every puppy was shiny white. And Vixen and her litter were sleeping.
During Gun Dog training, Anhiwake Grace demonstrates her mastery of “steady to wing” exercises.
The training programs we’ve developed at Northwoods Bird Dogs are geared towards our ultimate goal of a polished performer on wild birds. Specifically, we train for a dog that hunts with intensity, handles kindly and points birds with impeccable manners.
There are three levels. The Puppy Foundation Program develops a young dog’s natural instincts and exposes it to gunfire in preparation for its first hunting season. The Gun Dog Program teaches the dog how we expect it to act around game and puts in place the necessary means for the handler to enforce that behavior. The last piece is Wild Bird training which offers opportunities on ruffed grouse and woodcock, sharp-tailed grouse or bobwhite quail. This program takes all the dog has learned in controlled lessons and applies them to actual hunting situations.
The training programs are offered at specific times depending, mainly, on the birds. Gun Dog sessions are available only in May, June and July. The training focuses on staunchness and steadiness using pigeons in controlled situations. Not only is this essential training for a bird dog, it is also a prerequisite to further training.
One goal of the Puppy Program is to get the puppy excited about birds. Northwoods So Crisp takes off after the carded pigeon is released from the bird launcher. (Photo by Brad Gudenkauf)
In July, we offer Puppy Foundation when good quail have settled into our Johnny houses. This is also ideal timing for puppies whelped late fall or spring. The program is available through November.
During August and September, we finish out any Gun Dog trainees on both those strong-flying bobwhites and wild birds whether locally or our training camp in North Dakota.
Merimac’s Adda Girl is backed by Northwoods Parmigiano during a training session on sharp-tailed grouse in a North Dakota pasture. (Photo by Ben McKean)
The final option of the season is wild bird work for a limited number of young dogs in October and early November. Then begins Winter Training when we travel to southwest Georgia.
We’re taking reservations now for this year’s programs. Our training slots usually fill up fast so please contact us soon. We’d love to help you and your dog.
No one would rather hunt woodcock in October than I, but since learning of the sky dance I find myself calling one or two birds enough. I must be sure that, come April, there be no dearth of dancers in the sunset sky. ~ Aldo Leopold
Too often woodcock are overlooked for its larger and louder woodland neighbor, the ruffed grouse, but they are amazing little birds. The spring sky dance is famous, of course, but I also like its twittering flush and those big, brown eyes.
The March/April issue of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine has a nice piece on woodcock with information on the sky dance, banding chicks and habitat needs.
Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, a bimonthly magazine published by the Minnesota DNR, has long been overseen and edited by Kathleen Weflen, who deserves, I think, most of the credit. This outstanding publication is always filled with beautiful photographs and all sorts of interesting, outdoors-y stories.
Information on working terriers, dogs, natural history, hunting, and the environment, with occasional political commentary as I see fit. ~ Patrick Burns
Terrierman’s Daily Dose is one of a handful of blogs that Jerry follows with regularity. Patrick Burns, the writer, is erudite, literate and seems to have unlimited time to research and to write his blog. He can’t help himself either, apparently. A couple years ago, he suspended writing but took it up again as, I think, he just has too much to say.