To point a bird, first a dog has to find it

Inherited talent and ample exposure to opportunity are crucial elements to a pointing dog’s bird-finding skills. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Inherited talent and ample exposure to opportunity are crucial elements to a pointing dog’s bird-finding skills. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

“That dog’ll hunt!” exclaimed Bobby, dog trainer on a large Georgia quail plantation, while we were out working puppies last week.

Bobby was referring to the bird-finding ability of his young pointer—a dog that was focused exclusively on finding quail. Bobby has been training bird dogs for more than 20 years and knows what’s essential.

“They’ll all point,” he said, “but give me the one that finds the most.”

Bobby is right. You can’t teach a dog to find birds. You can teach it to heel, come and whoa but if it doesn’t have the inherited talent to search for and to find birds, all you have is a well-trained dog. Those instincts, however, will never be maximized without opportunity—and plenty of it. Even then, some dogs given equal opportunity will be better at finding birds. No one really knows what produces that proficiency. Is it above-average scenting capability, intelligence, ability to focus? Or a combination? Or something else?

The degree of difficulty to finding birds depends on the birds. Non-wild birds such as put-out quail or game farm pheasants are generally easy to find. They usually have little idea of where they are or where to go and so, unknowingly, they become exposed.

Working puppies in groups is a fun, productive way to provide bird-finding opportunities because the puppies learn from each.  (Three females out of CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Working puppies in groups is a fun, productive way to provide bird-finding opportunities because the puppies learn from each other. (Three females out of CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Wild birds are the most difficult to find. They know every square foot of their own territory—from exactly where they are to exactly where they’re going. They move a lot during the day—to find food, loaf, dust and avoid predators—and most of that movement is done by walking. Their scent is left on the ground by their feet, droppings and feathers and on plants by brushing against them.

Finding wild birds is easiest when the bird is stationary and the dog hunts by that exact spot. Most of the time, though, the dog smells leftover scent. It learns to follow that little wisp of scent until it becomes progressively stronger, ultimately leading to the location of the bird.

Another experienced plantation dog trainer, Phillip, would agree. A man wanted to sell him a young dog, pointing out conformation, markings and other physical qualities and boasting about all the champions in its pedigree. Phillip wasn’t impressed. Instead, he looked the man straight in the eye and asked, “Yeah, but can it find a bird?”

Desire is another inherited trait that will lead to ample bird finding. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Desire is another inherited trait that will lead to ample bird finding. (Northwoods Nickel, CH Shadow Oak Bo x Northwoods Chardonnay, 2014)

Comments

    Bird dog in the spotlight: Gordy

    Northwoods Sir Gordon
    (RU-CH Erin’s Prometheus x Northwoods Carly Simon, 2016)
    owned by Ben and Maureen McKean

    photo by Jerry Kolter
    enhanced by Ben McKean

    Life is puppies!

    Puppies are available!

    Male and female English setter puppies are available out of setter litters now on the ground. Dams include Northwoods Bismuth (photo above), Northwoods Nickel and Northwoods Carbon (photo below).

    Sires are proven producers Northwoods Grits and Nirvana.

    All three pairings are from the heart of Northwoods’ breeding.

    For full details, please visit the Puppies page.

    Good stuff about puppies

    blog sidebar carbon litter 250

    A pointing dog’s first hunting season
    Bird and gun introduction
    Early development of puppies
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    How to pick a puppy
    Patience and puppies
    Picking puppies: the unimportance of picking order
    Puppies and fireworks
    Puppy buying mistakes
    Raising puppies at Northwoods Bird Dogs
    The pointing instinct
    Training puppies on a stakeout chain

    Good stuff from previous posts

    blog sidebar hunting steve oscar 250

    Finer points on...

    A brace of bird dogs
    Accuracy of location
    Bird finding
    How to flush grouse and woodcock
    Hunting pattern
    Range
    Running grouse
    Scenting ability
    Speed and scenting
    To point a bird, first a dog has to find it
    Using grouse dogs on pheasants

    Training

    A bump or a knock
    Backing point
    Bird dog basics:  hunt, handle, point birds
    Bumping grouse
    Electronic training collars...a little perspective
    How to correct a dog
    How to pet a dog
    Patience and puppies
    The pointing instinct
    Transition to wild birds
    Unproductive points
    WHOA and NO

    Breeding

    Dogs, not averages, matter in breeding
    Evaluating litters
    Pointers of Northwoods Bird Dogs
    Proper conformation
    The tail of a bird dog

    Health

    Bird dogs and hidden traps
    Feeding bird dogs
    Feeding for ideal body condition
    First aid kit for bird dogs
    Get your dog ready for the season
    Hazards in the grouse woods
    How to maintain a good weight for your dog
    Quick lesson on poisoning and how to induce vomiting
    Tick-borne diseases in dogs

     IN LOVING MEMORY

    northwoods dior 250

    NORTHWOODS DIOR

    Strideaway

    Sandy Oaks Art

    Dave Kolter Intarsia

     

     

     

    Northwoods Birds Dogs    53370 Duxbury Road, Sandstone, Minnesota 55072
    Jerry: 651-492-7312     |      Betsy: 651-769-3159     |           |      Directions
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