The Making of a Pheasant Dog

Dakotazeb

Active member
As many of you know, I lost my "once in a lifetime" dog (Elle) 3 years ago to cancer at age 8. She was a NSTRA field trial champion and the best pheasant I've could ever hope for. All with virtually no training. She was a natural and did it all on her own. To replace Elle I purchased another female Brittany we named Bree. Bree was 6 months old when I got her and had not had much of any training. She didn't even have a name. But she did have one heck of a pedigree and that's why I bought her. However, Bree has been quite the challenge. I've had her to a couple of professional trainers and they both say this dog is the "real deal". But up to this point I just haven't seen it in my NSTRA trials or in the hunting field. She is a big running dog with breeding out of horseback trial champions and I wasn't sure she was ever going to be a decent pheasant hunting dog. With her speed in the field she was bumping a lot of birds out of range and would only hold point if a bird sat really tight. That pretty much summed up her first two seasons in the field. Her positive during the first two seasons was that she was a great retriever and excellent at finding winged runners. Fast forward to this season and it's like I have a whole different dog in the field. Oh, she still runs fast and big but when she hits scent she is stopping, making sure I'm coming before she starts slowly tracking that bird that has run ahead. Once the scent gets stronger she again locks up. If the bird has again run ahead she starts the tracking again. This is similar to how Elle hunted for me. Yesterday I was out with my grandson hunting some CRP. We tried to walk mainly into a fairly strong breeze out of the north. Bree was fantastic on her bird work and we ended up with a limit of roosters. We even had a few misses so there was a lot of bird contacts. While I thought it may never happen, I think I might actually have myself a darn good pheasant dog. And if she continues to progress like this in the next couple of years she will be dynamite! I've always said that a good hunting dog usually doesn't really figure things out until they are 4-5 years old so I think Bree is well on the way to being a pheasant dog. And to think I almost gave up on her a one point and considered replacing her. In the house she is just a joy to have around. Never barks, very laid back and the most loving and affectionate dog I've ever had.
 
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A5 Sweet 16

Member
That's awesome!! Go Bree! I swore I'd never have a dog as good as my first one, Walt. Took Buzz about 4-1/2 seasons to prove me wrong. So far little Ace has given me no reason to think he can't be at least equally good.

My guess is that Bree has turned the corner for good. So great that you're having such a fun time with her. And your grandson!

Just out of curiosity, what made the pro's say Bree is the "real deal"?
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
Just out of curiosity, what made the pro's say Bree is the "real deal"?
I think mainly her speed, ground coverage and drive. They said her "bird drive" is over the top. Which is great, but has also caused some of the problems I've experienced. One trainer said that of all the dogs he has trained over the years he's seen very few dogs (regardless of breed) that are like her and have the kind of potential she has.

Now that she appears to be figuring out the pheasant game I hope she also starts putting things together at our NSTRA trials. The only issue I have had at trials is her taking out birds before I get there and flush them. But that's due to the "over the top" bird drive. She wants those birds so bad. I get that under control and I know she can be a Champion.
 

hunter94

Active member
I think mainly her speed, ground coverage and drive. They said her "bird drive" is over the top. Which is great, but has also caused some of the problems I've experienced. One trainer said that of all the dogs he has trained over the years he's seen very few dogs (regardless of breed) that are like her and have the kind of potential she has.

Now that she appears to be figuring out the pheasant game I hope she also starts putting things together at our NSTRA trials. The only issue I have had at trials is her taking out birds before I get there and flush them. But that's due to the "over the top" bird drive. She wants those birds so bad. I get that under control and I know she can be a Champion.
Hi Zeb-

good write up and it gives me hope.....because i am going through the very same thing with my 18 month old GWP. he has yet to steady up on most of his birds, but is checking in more and seems to understand that hunting with me gives him a better chance at getting a bird in his mouth.....we just need more bird contact and reps.....i think he is similar in nature to your dog.
good lesson here for us all......TY
 

Schemy

New member
Great write up on Bree. Hope to be posting a similar pup story in a year or two. Gotta find the pup first.
 

Dakotazeb

Active member
Hi Zeb-

good write up and it gives me hope.....because i am going through the very same thing with my 18 month old GWP. he has yet to steady up on most of his birds, but is checking in more and seems to understand that hunting with me gives him a better chance at getting a bird in his mouth.....we just need more bird contact and reps.....i think he is similar in nature to your dog.
good lesson here for us all......TY
Hey Ty, 18 months is still quite young so be patient. Work on obedience and get him as many bird contacts as you can. If the breeding is there he will figure it out. I think our lack of patience sometimes gets in the way of our thought process. We'd all like them to be "Super Gun Dog" right from the get go, but that's not realistic. I'm sure two years from now he will be a whole different dog. Good luck!
 
Great to here Zeb , dang that must have been a great hunt to get 6 birds out of one CRP patch. My female Brittany handles her bird as you mentioned , I like a dog that will relocate when a bird moves off . Enjoyed the read !!!
 

marn

New member
Great progression from last year to this with Bree. So much fun to see that strong drive begin to pay off by having shot opportunities. It also means that you were able to find some birds in your area which is always a positive. It can oftentimes be difficult to remain patient as a young dog figures out this game, especially when compared to our past dogs. Hope she gets many more opportunities through the remainder of the season and you have a great SD season.
 

Altillathedak

New member
Excellent! Lost a member of the pack last Fall. Newest pack member, Pads, is just 6 months and doing well for her age. I have shot 19 roosters over her this Fall. It is much more relaxing to hunt behind her 5 year old pack mate Jazz though. Jazz was once a “crazy dog” like Pads and earned the moniker “Miss Exuberance”. Pads is known as “Miss Exuberance II”. She’ll come around with age and bird exposure...the keys to a good dog imo.
 

mgorvi

New member
Glad that paw injury healed up on Bree. That was nasty looking. She has a great personality. I know she leaned on your 401k pretty hard a while back but it was worth every penny. Miya overruns her nose too. I’ve held her closer than I should have just to get the shot, but now I let her run a little. I figure it’s the only way she’ll learn. I get a lot of close shots tho, even when she’s too aggressive. I’ll be out on the 19th in the house if you feel like hunting. Glad you’re shooting your A5 well. They are a nice gun. It will be nice to hunt some firm ground with more corn out. I bet the drying costs are taking every bit of profit out of the crop. What a year for them. All the time, work, and wear and tear on the machinery, and nothing to show for it. Gonna be hard on everybody out there. Gotta hope for a decent spring and better weather.
 

waterdog09

Member
I am going through the same thing, My 11 year old lab "Lexie" has been nothing but a rockstar since she was 6 months old. Doing anything and everything better than I could have ever expected! Now my almost 4 year old lab "Gracie" is finally coming around and showing a lot of promise this year. I know a lot of it is my fault for not putting in the time with her while she was younger like I did with lexie but she is really coming around now that I have started to hunt her alone and leave lexie either in the truck or at home on some hunts. Fingers crossed this year she takes a huge step forward and next year is the start of her prime!
 

waterdog09

Member
You take a pure bred bird dog, and put them out there in bird country all the time.No training needed.
I don't think that is entirely true, there are things that training helps with a lot. Marking for one, quarting back and forth is another. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty a bird dog will learn on their own but there is also a lot that can be taught and enforced when not in the field that will help when you are hunting.
 

Goosemaster

New member
I don't think that is entirely true, there are things that training helps with a lot. Marking for one, quarting back and forth is another. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty a bird dog will learn on their own but there is also a lot that can be taught and enforced when not in the field that will help when you are hunting.
I agree, I throw a retriever with a wing attatched when they are puppies.I hunt a lot, so that makes a huge difference with a dog.
 
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