|The following diagram is of the classic downwind pattern, but to be honest, I very seldom see this in a trial. I find that most dogs run a modified figure eight pattern or the less popular “oval” pattern. Just remember that the dog ranges out further ahead, sometimes as far as 20 or 30 yards, and works back toward the handler with the wind now in the dog’s face, not leaving any holes. |
The crosswind patterns vary quite a bit, and personally were the hardest for me to understand when first learning. The concept is the same. The dog will put his body perpendicular to the wind, after taking the downwind side a little deeper than the upwind side. The pattern may look more like an hourglass rather than a figure eight. Again, the dog must put himself in the position to smell the bird. Try to visualize where the bird is in this diagram, and where the dog will be when he gets the slightest hint of scent cone. In a crosswind, the upwind side can be cut short, as the dog will be able to scent the bird, even if the bird is beyond the normal patterning distance on the upwind side.
The two variations, crossing headwind and crossing downwind, have the dogs running at a slight angle. Once again, in any downwind, the dog will work further away from you and will turn its body toward the wind. There is nothing more spectacular than watching your spaniel master this type of wind and finding all the birds on its course.
I have noticed over the years that different dogs have their own preferences for choosing an acceptable pattern. Maybe it’s genetic. You can guide them somewhat, but if they prefer an oval when hunting in a downwind that’s ok. Once your dog learns how to use the wind, it will become an important asset to you, not just for finding birds that are on the course, but also blind falls or long downwind and crosswind retrieves. Running a slightly flatter pattern may be the way to go when you are hunting, as it keeps the dogs close, and winding game from a long distance is not what you might want, especially if you are hunting alone. In hunting tests or field trials, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, and courses can be set up in any wind direction. The wind direction can also change naturally after the course has been set. In either case, you want to make sure your dog is working the proper wind pattern to create the best advantage to find game. And in a trial, you want the dog to scent game from a respectable distance, not when it is on top of it.
Good luck and good hunting!