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Big Dave2

Do I want a Pointer or Flusher?

33 posts in this topic

I have posted a version of this question before, but I am really close to getting my 1st ever hunting dog and I REALLY need some advise.

I have been researching different hunting breeds for a good 2 years now(we had an OLD cocker that just passed away that I knew was inevitable)) and I just can't seem to make a decision.

Before I can decide on a breed, or even narrow it down to 1 or 2, I need to decide the all important, flusher, pointer part of the equation.

I am not an every day avid hunter, but I like to go out and hunt pheasants and grouse. I hunt pheasants mostly in the thick cover of some small WMA's near where I live. That being said, I would think that a flusher would be the obvious choice for me because a pointer might be a little harder to see and hunt with in the thick cover. Also I would think that with this being my first try at training a hunting dog maybe a flusher would be slightly easier?

I also love to hunt grouse, probably more-so than pheasants. I go up north any chance I get and give it a try, which may not be as often as pheasant hunting but hopefully having a good dog would give me the extra incentive to do it more often. I think that the general rule of thumb is that pointers are most often going to out-produce flushers in the grouse woods, so here in lies my problem.

Which one?

Having said all of this, it is important to note that I am not die hard and just want a good dog to be a family companion first and foremost and a hunting companion for me and someday my 7 year old son.

I just need to make a decision soon, as it is getting lonely in our house which has never been dogless since we bought it 14 years ago!

It may be helpfull to note that I am leaning toward more of a small to medium sized dog so needless to say that springers and britts are high on the list of potential candidates along with cockers, WPGs, PPs and a few others due to the fact that I have allergies to dogs, but I will not let that stop me!

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Couple questions to get the lay of the land.

1) Would you prefer your dog to be in gun range and under your control at all times?

2) Would it bother you to have a dog that gets out of gun range and hunts a little more independently?

3) What type of personality do you have - controlling or more free wheeling?

If you are more controlling or it bothers you to have your dog to far away I'd probably look for a flusher or a really close ranging pointing breed that is known for being really tuned in to their master.

If you are more free wheeling and it doesn't bother you to let your dog do it's thing and also be out of gun range from time to time then a pointer might be a good option.

Also if all you hunt is really tight cover I'd lean to a flusher. If you hunt the woods for grouse it's tough to beat a pointer for that gig.

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I used to own a lab when I hunted waterfowl and pheasants. They are tough to beat for an all around dog. That being said I only hunt pheasant and grouse now with a dog. My dad is on the older side and it's hard for him to keep up with a flusher. Because when they get on a bird you better keep up. So now I have a pointer. It's so nice just to let the dog work and when it goes on point you can just walk over, kick up the bird, and shoot. AS far as loosing the dog I would make sure to get a beeper. Then no worries.

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To me this is an easy decision. I feel that I can flush a bird just as well as a dog if I know where it is. smile.gif

I am biased, but I dont think there are many things more rewarding than walking up on your dog after she/he has been pointing a bird for several minutes...flush the bird...shoot the bird...then have your dog retrieve it to hand.

There is such a wonderful feeling of anticipation walking up to that quivering dog just knowing a bird is there ready to jump.

If you are interested in smaller pointing dogs do not rule out the setters. Most hunting versions only weigh about 40 lbs. I have two female Red Setters who both weigh between 38 and 42 lbs. It is not hard to find one as small as 35lbs either. There are a few REALLY good setter breeders around too.

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If possible you should contact several breeders/kennels of both pointers and flushers and have them demonstrate what a trained dog is capable of doing. Another route would be to see if there are any clubs in your area and attend one of their training get togethers.

I have owned and hunted over both breeds and both have their strong points and weak points. I can tell you that a well trained flusher(spaniel) will always be in gun range and they will hunt at whatever pace you like to work. If the spaniel is trained properly you will be able to stop them with one pip on the whistle even on running pheasants. If you have to run to keep up with the dog then it's not properly trained. One of the guys that I hunt with is 72 yo and has had both hips replaced and he has no problem with the pace my dogs hunt.

The other thing I would suggest is that you make this a family decision as you said that the dog is first and foremost going to be a family companion. We all know that if the wife sn't happy noone is. If possible you should try and go to Game Fair as there will be alot of kennels and breed clubs there. If you have any questions about springers shoot me an email.

Mike

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Good point about the game fair. Not only are there a lot of clubs and breeders there, but there are a LOT of dogs there, and most of the owners are very willing to let you meet their dogs.

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Actually I am going to game fair. I took my son to it last year and we wouldn't miss it for anything now. It has to be the funnest event of the year. We love to watch all the dogs.

I am leaning heavilly towards a springer and I will want to look at a bunch of them at game-fair.

Is game fair a good place to make a purchase though? I would think it would be hard to fully investigate the breed lines and see how the breeder interacts with the dogs at the kennel.

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Quote:

Is game fair a good place to make a purchase though? I would think it would be hard to fully investigate the breed lines and see how the breeder interacts with the dogs at the kennel.


You are correct in your thinking. Depending on what info you have access to it could be good or bad. If you know a breeder there already and you have talked with them in the past (and know what you need to) obviously I wouldn't think anything of it.

If you are just meeting them for the first time and have not researched the breeder/dogs/clearances/references, it is probably not the best idea IMO.

The dogs might be cheaper than normal there but doing the research is much more important than saving $300.

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Good to see you abck Dave.

As you know, I have one of each. I love to hunt over the pointer because it's tough to beat that possessed look in their eyes when they're on point. But I also like the labs because of their versatility and durability.

As far as getting a dog from a breeder, that's up in the air for me. I picked my lab up from this site for $150, but no papers. I wasn't concerned about that anyhow. I was more interested in getting a dog that will hunt the way I want it to and have no intentions of entering her into any competitions. In many cases, most any dog can be trained. Heck, we even had a spitz/samoyed (SP?) cross that worked great for pheasants when I was a kid. Be careful buying from anyone. Some breeders have a lot of issues. We have one locally that has been selling bloodlines for as long as I can remember that have had issues with hips.

Keep in touch. I will be hitting the Game this weekend.

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When I was first interested in finding a dog I talked to a lot of people about different breeds, and hunted over sevreral breeds. After a lot of research, I chose a highly recomended breeder. I asked to see his pups and started dogs on live birds (one could also ask to see the parents on live birds). After seeing several pups on birds I made a selection. I paid a good amount of $$, but every penny was worth it as I feel I could not have found a better dog for what I wanted.

I do not think the Game Fair would be the best place to get a pup unless you have already seen the parents and/or pups on birds, and are very familiar with the breeder.

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I would agree wiht the others that game fair is probably not the place to actually buy a pup. I would use it as a place to get a feel for the breeders and to set up some visits. As the other poster said I visited alot of breeders/kennels and watched many dogs before I purchased my 1st springer some 20 years ago, and its stll the way I go about getting a dog. Doing your homework & leg work now will increase your chances of having goos results later.

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I have mostly hunted with labs over the years but also have a british bred english cocker and have been very impressed with the dog. Quarters and works the cover better then most labs I have had or hunted with and works in close (<20 yards). Most of my friends have pointers or labs. They're all good dogs too although I have a hard time getting used to the ranginess of the pointers but they can be fun to shoot over as well. I do a ton of grouse hunting and 3-4 pheasant trips a year. The small size of the english cocker (mine is 38 lbs) and close working range has made it a alot of fun for grouse hunting in that they can get into stuff that bigger dogs have trouble with. I think they're a bit of an underrated dog for grouse. He does fine pheasant hunting too but there are some limitations if you're going to hunt cattails all day long or really high thick cover. My friends pointers have some limitations with the high stuff too in that you can't see them point or have difficulty finding them. In some ways I prefer to just have the bird go up and as long as your dog is in close range, you have a good shot. They're very good in the general cover though. All dogs have their strengths and weaknesses.

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If you can't locate your pointer they make collars with locater functions on them. They are very helpful in thick cover. I think every pointer guy should have this feature, unless your dog works super close at all times.......It just gives you peace of mind, and that's important when you are trying to enjoy a hunt.....On the subject of pointer or flusher here's my take...If you are going to hunt grouse(ruffed or sharp's) Get a pointer........not just any pointer!! Like the red setter guy said, you need to do your homework.. Make sure you pick a breed that is known for pointing off the birds....That means pointing and holding at quite a disstance from birds...Not all pointing breeds are created equall when it comes to this. we won't gat into a breed debate here, but talk to alot of people and do some research...Grouse simply won't take the pressure of a close pointing dog..............On the the flipside, if you are going to hunt ditch parrots I mean pheasants most often, get two dogs!! If it all possible get a pointer and a flusher... Situations will arise when your pointer just isn't getting the job done. Thats when you go to your springer or lab......Plus dogs just get tired somtimes and it pays to have two. In the off season they can keep each other company and that's important too.......So i guess I've concluded you need two dogs......I hope that has not made things worse for you..If you are going to raise one puppy why not two

Good Luck , Uplander

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If you are going to raise one puppy why not two

Good Luck , Uplander


Delmar Smith says it's easier to train 50 dogs than it is 1. That way when one isn't doing so well, you can end the session, put him away, and start with another one. Plus dogs will learn from watching each other from a chain gang. But for most this is out of the question.

I do agree that an impulse buy at the game fair or even at a breeders is not a good idea. Researching a breeder and breeds is always a good investment of time. Especially when your purchase is for the next 10 plus years.

I wish you the best of luck searching for your new hunting pal, and it seems you are starting it out the right way by asking questions.

CW

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Thanks guys for all the help.

I have been researching and pondering different breeds for at least 2 years now, while waiting for the inevitable demise of my 15 yr old cocker. I have finally made a decision. I am going to get a springer. There are a lot of factors that have led up to this decision and I am finally comfortable with making the choice.

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Now we can get back to the game fair.

Check to see if there is a springer club there. There may be breeders there to talk to. There may be all kinds of information there...Especially other people who have the breed you are looking for. Most people who bring dogs to the game fair will be very willing to talk to you about their dog, and give you an opinion on breeders. I will be there friday if you have an interest in meeting some Red Setters wink.gif.

grin.gif

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Big Dave - Congrats on make the decision. Now comes the daunting task of picking a puppy. The Game Fair I believe has the Minnesota Springer Spaniel Club there. I also know that Pine Shadows Kennel has a booth there as well. They are a big springer kennel out of Brainerd.

The short hair will be a trait of the field bred springer. They generally have shorter hair. As for them being calm, most of them will know to calm down when you want them to.

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Does anyone know anything about Tom Miller and Carlene's Critters? They have advertised past litters here on FM and it looks like they may have a couple of pups ready right now.

I know powerstroke asked this question about a year ago and no one had an answer, but I thought maybe by now someone out there may have one of thier pups.

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Dave I would definetly check out Pine Shadows. I will be picking up mine from there in six weeks. I can't wait!!! In my opinion they are the best around.

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All of our pups have new homes. We will have another litter this fall.

Now, have you decided between a male or female?

PoleBender

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Congrats on your decision Dave. Pine Shadows is well known and an excellent source but there are also other good sources for good springers. Just be sure you get one that is field bred. Personally, I wouldn't buy one that didn't have some degree of trial blood in the past or at a minimum master hunter certificates. Even better, go and watch the dog work. You want one that has great ability and yet not too tightly wound.

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you definatly want a pointer because then when the dog gets on a bird you have time to get ready. but with a flushing dog you dont know when a bird is going to get up.

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but with a flushing dog you dont know when a bird is going to get up.


UMMM.... Have you ever hunted behind a flusher before? I know every time my dog is making game and rarely am I not prepared for the flush or to take the shot. They aren't just ambling around aimlessly bumping birds.

Keying in on your dog and learning their body movements are necassary. Rarely should a flushing dog be out of gun range (and/or visual range) and therefore you should always be ready for the flush and shot, and yes you will know when a bird is about ready to flush by the signs your dog is giving you.

Good Luck!

Ken

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but with a flushing dog you dont know when a bird is going to get up.


If you know how to read your dog you will be able to tell when they are on a bird and you will be able to get ready for the flush. The closer they get to the bird the more animated their actions become. I had one springer that when he was close to the bird his ears would perk up and everyone that hunted with me knew that if his ears were up a pheasant was soon to be in the air.

As Labs said a well trained flusher should always be in gun range and unless they are working heavy cover, they should be in sight.

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I agree with Labs & Springers. One should easily be able to tell if a flusher is about to flush. It's all about reading the dog. A good flusher is a hoot.

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