Question after first hunt

Dami0101

New member
I have a 1 year old SM that I took out for her first pheasant hunt on Tuesday, previously she's only been on game farm and trainer birds. This was very different cover then anything she was trained in and I'm hoping that's what the issue was or maybe it was something else. We came across 11 birds, 10 of which were hens, including a pack of 3 and a pack of 4, and at no point did she ever point the birds, in fact most of the time she didn't even seem to know the birds where there and just ran buy them and they happened to flush in the process. In her training with trapped pigeons and planted chuckars she was pointing about 90% of the time and holding for a minute or two. Thoughts?
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
I have a 1 year old SM that I took out for her first pheasant hunt on Tuesday, previously she's only been on game farm and trainer birds. This was very different cover then anything she was trained in and I'm hoping that's what the issue was or maybe it was something else. We came across 11 birds, 10 of which were hens, including a pack of 3 and a pack of 4, and at no point did she ever point the birds, in fact most of the time she didn't even seem to know the birds where there and just ran buy them and they happened to flush in the process. In her training with trapped pigeons and planted chuckars she was pointing about 90% of the time and holding for a minute or two. Thoughts?
Interesting! Not a pointer expert, so my only guess is that yes, she's going to figure out that free-range pheasants, whose instinct is to run/hide/flush or a combination thereof, act different than the little planted birds. Maybe once she realizes that, the pointing will come. Others will hopefully help out more in that department, although I'm guessing some will say "continue to hunt her" & others will advocate "stop hunting immediately & get back to training". But I'm also guessing she knew those birds were around. Maybe not EXACTLY where, but I'll bet in most instances she had a clue. I've noticed with my springers that sometimes it just takes longer to really get hot & home in on them. And sometimes, while they're just starting to maybe get a little birdy, jumpy birds will flush "over there". It may seem like the dog didn't even know they existed, but they know.
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
Dami, I've had the same issue with my 16 month old Brittany. She was at the trainers for 2 months this summer and did very well pointing and holding point, but she was mainly on pigeons in launchers and a few pen raised quail. Took her Montana in September and she never pointed one bird. She had plenty of opportunities on Sharpies and Huns. So far this fall pheasant hunting has been a challenge with her. She will do a nice job of pointing if the bird holds tight, but if the bird is moving she tracks it until she flushes it. She is a very big running dog and quite difficult to control in the field. But I do see signs she is starting to figure these birds out. As many have told me get her on a many birds as possible. But with pheasant numbers really down this year that has also been a challenge. I've had Brittanys for 20+ years and never had an issue like I've had with this one. No doubt at times she is out running her nose. I will get her back to a trainer after the season and see if he can help her along. Get Greta on as many wild birds as you can. If she has the breeding she will get it sooner later. Our problem is it's not soon enough! :)
 
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Dami, I've had the same issue with my 16 month old Brittany. She was a the trainers for 2 months this summer and did very well pointing and holding point, but she was mainly on pigeons in launchers and a few pen raised quail. Took her Montana in September and she never pointed one bird. She had plenty of opportunities on Sharpies and Huns. So far this fall pheasant hunting has been a challenge with her. She will do a nice job of pointing if the bird hold tight, but it the bird is moving she tracks it until she flushes it. She is a very big running dog and quite difficult to control in the field. But I do see signs she is starting to figure these birds out. As many have told me get her on a many birds as possible. But with pheasant numbers really down this year that has also been a challenge. I've had Brittanys for 20+ years and never had an issue like I've had with this one. No doubt at times she is out running her nose. I will get her back to a trainer after the season and see if he can help her along. Get Greta on as many wild birds as you can. If she has the breeding she will get it sooner later. Our problem is it's not soon enough! :)
Well put Zeb , I have a dog that shows all kind of potential but hasn't quite put it all together . I've had superstars as pups and just keep right on going , one of my best dog's didn't put it all together till her 3rd season . When it all came together it was a thing of Beauty !!!
 

TBONESD

New member
What were the conditions of your hunt? Were you hunting into the wind? Could just be there were poor scenting conditions that day
 

Gatzby

Member
I have a 1 year old SM that I took out for her first pheasant hunt on Tuesday, previously she's only been on game farm and trainer birds. This was very different cover then anything she was trained in and I'm hoping that's what the issue was or maybe it was something else. We came across 11 birds, 10 of which were hens, including a pack of 3 and a pack of 4, and at no point did she ever point the birds, in fact most of the time she didn't even seem to know the birds where there and just ran buy them and they happened to flush in the process. In her training with trapped pigeons and planted chuckars she was pointing about 90% of the time and holding for a minute or two. Thoughts?
Don't forget that hen pheasants have very little sent compared to roosters, ducks, checkers, pigeons etc. In addition pen raised birds have considerably more odor than wild birds. I have no idea why hen Pheasant's give off so little sent but anyone the plays retriever game knows that a hen pheasant thrown in the cover will give a lot more trouble than a rooster or a duck
 

Rude One

Member
I agree with the guys above. Pen raised birds are a whole different animal than wild birds. It took my dog 2 years to really figure things out. It probably took another year or two before she really understood how to handle a running bird. Keep getting her out and she will eventually figure out how to handle them. I think having patience is key. It can be frustrating to see them kick up birds and not seem to have a clue but instincts will eventually take over. If you can get out with a solid pointer and get them on birds that will be very helpful.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
Don't forget that hen pheasants have very little sent compared to roosters
This is the first time I've heard this. Is this theory based solely on experience, or is there some scientific study (using pheasants; not dogs) to back it up? If experienced-based, I'm guessing the phenomenon is easier seen with dead birds thrown into cover, as opposed to healthy, live birds in cover who are allowed to do their thing???? My experience tells me that live, wild hens certainly have ENOUGH scent to arouse a dog who knows why he's out there. And I've never known my dogs to act more birdy with a rooster. Very curious.
 

Rude One

Member
A5- I agree with you that I have never seen my dog act a whole lot differently with hens vs roosters. Hens will usually hold tighter but other than that she points both.
 

TBONESD

New member
It would make sense in my mind that they give off less scent in order to protect a potential nest that a hen is sitting on from predators
 

Gatzby

Member
This is the first time I've heard this. Is this theory based solely on experience, or is there some scientific study (using pheasants; not dogs) to back it up? If experienced-based, I'm guessing the phenomenon is easier seen with dead birds thrown into cover, as opposed to healthy, live birds in cover who are allowed to do their thing???? My experience tells me that live, wild hens certainly have ENOUGH scent to arouse a dog who knows why he's out there. And I've never known my dogs to act more birdy with a rooster. Very curious.
I certainly have no scientific proof it might be out there but I'm unaware of it. It's something we have noticed in training and testing. I sure can't explain it but I do believe it. And I agree with you, as my dogs have no problem finding hens in the wild as well.
 

Dami0101

New member
What were the conditions of your hunt? Were you hunting into the wind? Could just be there were poor scenting conditions that day
It was cloudy with a wind of about 5-10 mph, we came across the birds from all directions as we hit different fields from different directions, some of them were directly into the wind, others were crosswinds.
 

wingshotwoody

New member
I have been to SD hunting wild pheasant for the past 20 years. What I have noticed is that my English Setters point very few birds compared to when we are at home on pen raised where they point almost 100% of the birds and I have to kick them in the ARS to get them to fly:) I think wild pheasant don't hold as well (or at all) so the dogs are working with scent trails most of the time and unless that scent trail gets strong enough for them to want to go on point from 30 feet or more, you end up with a flushed bird. I've kind of accepted the fact that on wild pheasants I'm going to get many more flushes than points and I try to keep the dogs close.
 

Tori

New member
This is very interesting ... some days for us, the birds, particularly hens can be really 'sticky' ... other days, both cock birds and hens are very mobile ... I do believe that they are much more susceptible to the weather conditions than some people might think ... mind you, in my area, we are not subjected to the cold as much as you are over there!! I prefer to run my mature dogs on days like that ... they have much more experience and tend to have more 'control' of the birds ... or they have worked the birds out ... !! I do believe that experienced dogs certainly can ascertain the difference of scents between the hens and roosters ...
 
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SetterNut

New member
Don't worry, You have a young dog that hasn't been exposed to hunting wild birds.
She likely had no idea that she was looking for birds. When training it is pretty clear to them that there are birds to be found.

Keep taking her, the light will come on at some point.
Have fun.
 

Ranger Rick

Member
Don't worry, You have a young dog that hasn't been exposed to hunting wild birds.
She likely had no idea that she was looking for birds. When training it is pretty clear to them that there are birds to be found.

Keep taking her, the light will come on at some point.
Have fun.
With increased exposure to live birds, the pup will eventually figure it out that the birds are what you're after. We train in a controlled environment, they start holding point as they should. Then we take them hunting and don't understand why they aren't pointing.

I was taught to be patient and be very diligent about not shooting bumped, or birds the pup flushes. All of my setters have pointed and held birds while hunting at 6-7 months. But they flushed and bumped a lot of them, too.

A couple dogs ago my pup had been worked in the training field with pigeons in a launcher, then live planted quail. She was pointing and holding consistently in the training field by the time our grouse and woodcock season opened. I started hunting her and the first hunts were frustrating. Then she started holding some of them and I was able to shoot a bird over a solid point once in a while.

My youngest brother came with me then. I told him about not shooting anything she flushed and he agreed to follow the program. We hunted for 4 hours. The dog flushed bird after bird. Coming to the end of the last patch we were going to hunt she finally pointed and held tight on a woodcock, which I flushed and killed. Pretty frustrating morning, 4 hours, 20 bird contacts and only 1 solid point.

Driving out and going by a young Aspen stand, which looked promising, I asked my brother if he minded trying one more spot. Both of our wives were expecting us, it would make us late, but with the frustrations of the morning I was willing to risk it. I send the dog out and within 20 yards she locks up tight. 20 minutes, or so later, we're counting our birds to see if we were at our limit. One short yet and "She's on point!". We filled out on 10 woodcock limit, only a couple shells left between the two of us. The light had gone on for that pup and she mopped them up with a fabulous performance. After that she still bumped the occasional bird, but she had it! I figure I shot 600-700 birds over her.

In the cover we hunt it's impossible to hunt without a beeper collar. The collar is also a signal to the dog that it's time to go to work. Take him out for a hike, no collar, and he's a much different dog. Open the tailgate and pull out the collar and he goes nuts. He knows t's go time.

So my advice is to get the young dog on as many wild birds as you can. But be diligent in only shooting those he points and holds. The light will go on at some point.
 

A5 Sweet 16

Member
This is an interesting thread. I'm thankful that I WANT my dog to flush birds, commence chase immediately, & only stop pursuit if he doesn't see it fall after a couple seconds or if he has his quarry firmly between his teeth. Pointy dogs are awesome, but I can't get enough springer action.
 
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