Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
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9:40 I aired Target and ran B3 blind with the diversion stickman. After that I fired a dry shot with the ‘Max’ and ran B2. Then I fired a dog training bumper from the ‘Max’ as a poison bird and ran B1 under the arc. I then got Target to get the poison bird bumper. I ran the same set up with Chip.
Details of the "retiring gunner" -- A white jacket on a coat hanger with the straightened end of hte hook just barely under the stretch cord. When the remote is released the hanger and coat fall to the ground.
9:55 I picked up all the gear in the field, put the dogs in the truck and headed to a nearby field for a land triple.
10:00 I already knew what I wanted so it didn’t take long to set up 3 remote throwers with the 4-wheeler. (See Setup 2 diagram). Once again I had the radio in the breezeway and I talked to it. I also test-fired every remote in the field so that the dogs heard the shooting. The two Top Gun remotes have provision for using shotgun poppers so loud bangs were possible. Back at the line I set up the holding blind, line mat and bird dryer. The dryer I use, made by Tangelo, allows me put the Tri-tronics transmitters for the 150 remote control and for the Pro-500 electronic dog training collar in the holding arm so that they are handy.
Details of the "retiring gunner" -- A white jacket on a coat hanger with the straightened end of the hook just barely under the stretch cord. When the remote is released the hanger and coat fall to the ground.
10:25 Ready to start the triple. For Tule, I shot M2 and then M3 as a double. When he had retrieved them I did M1 as a single. It had a live shackled pigeon so it was like a flyer. After staking out Tule I jumped on the 4-wheeler and reloaded all stations. At each station I reset the device, placed a bird and reloaded the primer/popper. The time at each station was but a minute. I ran Target and Chip on the same setup but as a triple, M1, M2, M3. The live pigeon at M1 helped them watch the bird and not head swing. I rigged the M2 station so that the white coat fell down when fired, effectively creating a retired station (see photos above). I wanted to work on secondary selection (to retired M2) after going long (M3) but with the long flyer (M1) visible. Note I also used a mixed bag with a pheasant after a duck.
11:00 All 3 dogs run and all the gear gathered up.
A station with a chair, stickman and a Max 5000
11:35 Back at the house I loaded the canoe on the truck and disconnected the 4-wheeler trailer. I had a leisurely lunch, made a few phone calls and was ready to head for water around 1pm. The water spot was about 20 minutes away.
1:00pm Headed for water.
2:00 The third setup was ready to go. I had to use the canoe to plant 3 blinds (B1 at 275 yards). I could easily walk to M1 and M2 to set them up (see Setup 3 diagram). Decoys and some plucked duck feathers helped set up the blind. Again, I had a holding blind, radios and had fired the remotes a few times to get the noise effect to the dogs in the truck. They came out of the truck pretty pumped up.
3:10 Finished running the setup with 3 dogs including the reloading, and staking out and airing in between. The setup had worked well as a strong cross-wind had developed just as forecast the night before when I planned it.
3:45 Back home I unloaded the gear and put the almost dry ducks back into the freezer. While getting ready to cook dinner, I sat on the porch and did my training notes for the day and planned tomorrow. It had been a valuable and enjoyable day. I felt that I had done a lot of good training despite being alone.
The above was a full day of training but at a very reasonable and enjoyable pace. Granted it was luxury to have the whole day but you can easily visualize what could be accomplished with less time or with even one person to help you. Having a few more dogs to run the setups would not have taken much longer as most of the time was spent on logistics. While I am not able to do all that work every day, it should be obvious that my dogs did get some excellent exposure to some big setups that would teach or at least maintain skills.
I hope that this article has painted a picture of possibilities for the lone trainers. On many occasions I do not have the time to do 3 big setups as I described here. I also do a lot of training on marks using stand alones. That method has been described several times in earlier issues of Retrievers Online. Basically, it involves leaving your dog on line, walking out into the field and throwing a bird and releasing your dog to come and retrieve while you are out in the field. I then leave the dog there and walk to a new location. You can work on distance, cover, angles, hunt patterns, terrain, cross-winds and so-on. Just avoid cheaty situations where your dog can run around as such situations are hard to handle from the gunner/thrower position. Other methods of throwing marks while alone have been described earlier and all these methods are a part of my lone training. Of course, the running of blinds is somewhat more easy to do alone. As always you should strive to balance your training and that includes a healthy mixture of setups with real people out there. However, perhaps this article has given you some ideas so that lack of help does not stop the training of your dogs . . . no more excuses?
A station with a Top Gun and a Stickman
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