A friend and I took Nali and his 6-month old Drahthaar out last Saturday morning for the Montana opener. We were lucky enough to shoot a limit, and I shot two more roosters Sunday. The dogs worked well together and each had a couple good retrieves. Watching Jake’s young dog work reminded me of Nali during her first season. This post provides a few tips for pheasant hunting with an inexperienced dog and what to focus on during training.
Sit has to top the list of commands needed while pheasant hunting. Young dogs tend to rush ahead and flush birds out of range. I don’t like to call my dog off of a scent, which is why I don’t use the come command as often. Sit allows me to catch up without causing the dog to lose track of the bird. To teach sit on the whistle, I used the traffic cop drill from Bill Hillmann, but I’m sure there are a variety of methods that will work.
A shock collar can prevent a dog from developing bad habits that may put them in danger. When Nali was young she liked to chase rabbits and deer. Furthermore, pheasants fly low and young dogs will chase hens across an entire field, flushing roosters as they go. A dog chasing birds or deer when hunting near a busy road can make for a stressful hunt. I almost never have to use the shock button, but it’s nice to have the option in a risky situation.
As you hunt, you’ll want to work your dog into the wind. If the wind starts to blow harder than about 15 mph, the dog will have trouble hearing commands. I use the tone on my shock collar for sit. The tone also works great when hunting multiple dogs, and you want to give a command to one specifically. Lastly, I find that when I give voice commands, birds flush more often than when I use a quick whistle or tone on the collar.
Take it slow and let the dog work. Pheasant hunting isn’t that complicated, and for the most part it comes down to letting the dog teach itself how to hunt. I’ll write another post on locating pheasants in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I hope you kill some birds. Thank you for reading, Stu