Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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|FLAGGING:Flagging is just as effective over water as it is over land. For those of you who do not feel it is that effective the only thing I can tell you is you should work on your technique. The best technique for flagging is short fast bursts or strokes with the flag. Remember, you are creating the illusion of wing beats. You do not want the birds to have time to focus on the flag but rather see a glimpse of its motion. Then stop and do it again. Depending on the reaction of the birds I will often flag them until they are within 75 yards. When hunting over water a square flag works well. These can be homemade from black fabric that is 18"X18" stapled to a 2 foot broom handle. |
CALLING: Calling geese over water is no different than calling them over land. I have found that a low pitch call on most days works best. I have high pitched calls that I use on a regular basis while field hunting but I rarely use them while over water. A quality short reed goose call is your best bet. My personal preference is the Greg Keats goose calls. I tune one high and one low, this covers all situations. Remember, wood will give you lower tones and acrylic will give you a higher tone. The calling sequences are the same whether over land or water. Loud greeting calls when the birds are far off in the distance, changing to fast calling, like the greeting calls, as the birds approach and speeding that up more and more until the birds are within 75 yards. At this point, I will switch to a slower, lower tone with murmurs in it. Remember, like field hunting, if the birds pass over the blind stop calling. Calling is resumed as they pass back over the other side. When the birds are overhead they will pinpoint the calling from the blind, so give them ample space on each side of the pass. If you are not an accomplished caller stick with the basics. Just do what you are comfortable with, and don't push beyond that while hunting. If clucks are what you are comfortable with then just do slow clear clucks. On most days this will get the job done. When you are not hunting it is then time to practice your calling. Practice as much as possible. I keep a goose call in my truck and I practice daily while driving.
RETRIEVERS: Good retrievers are a critical part of waterfowling. They are especially critical when hunting over water and marshes. Birds that would be lost are found. I feel so strongly about the asset of retrievers in these situations that I feel it is unethical to hunt without one. When a cripple falls into a flooded area with knee high grass, it is nearly impossible to find that bird without a good dog. A good retriever is a pleasure for you and others that hunt over them. They are a pleasure to watch as they do their job with passion. When choosing one of the retrieving breeds it will require extensive research on your part. Once you have made your choice the most important part begins, "TRAINING". Don't neglect putting time into your dog. If you don't have the time or knowledge, hire a pro to do the job. In the end the money and time invested will be well worth it. A field dog can give you 12 years of great pleasure or sheer misery, so put the time into your dog that it deserves.
FINAL THOUGHTS: When hunting over water, especially in the winter time, it can be extremely dangerous. What can start out as a great time can turn into a disaster in minutes. Often large rivers and bays have to be crossed in order to get to hunting spots. It is imperative that the boat handler have experience on the water. Don't ever underestimate the force of wind and currents on water. Winter storms move in and out quickly, and when trouble starts, it does so in a hurry. So always be aware of your surroundings and stay safe!
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