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walleyemkr

hen explosion = broken dog???

10 posts in this topic

Here's the scenario:

Tucker is a 13 month old yellow lab just starting to figure out pheasant hunting since the season opened Saturday. He found birds on Saturday, unfortunately all 3 were hens, but he was congratulated on finding each of them to encourage him to continue to search. The short hour long hunt on Sunday only produced one hen as well.

Last night Tucker and I headed out and he found birds right away, 7 total - 4 of which were roosters. I had shots on 3 of them, but MISSED ALL THREE (maybe should have spent less time training him this summer and more on my own skills!). Anyway, to say the least, Tucker's finding birds, but doesn't get the "why we're out there" yet since I have yet to down a bird.

As we're crossing the short grass last night back towards the truck, pup is right next to me in some sort of 'exhausted / heeling' combination position. About 5 feet behind us and over Tucker's shoulder a hen bursts up and out of the grass with the usual commotion. Tuck spun around startled and instantly went between my legs. The next 50 yards of the walk he attempted to walk between my knees, obviously frigtened by the surprise of the hen. Finally convincing him to walk "normal", he seemed OK for the last 50 yards to the truck.

Question: Do you think the "hen episode" will affect Tucker's willingness to seek out birds / get into thicker cover on the next hunt?

I'd like to think that at only 13 months old he's already forgotten about it by this morning, but am not sure. Would it be best to rest him today to ensure that it's out of his mind by tomorrow? Hunt w/ another dog to increase his confidence? Hunt, see what he does, and go from there?

Any advice / opinions / thoughts would be greatly appreciated. For all I know it is no big deal whatsoever and he was just as initially startled by it as I was!

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You'll have to just get him out and see, I wouldn't get too worked up about it, things startle dogs, just like they do us. He'd have to have been really scared if it would put him off birds. One other thing to watch though if this does really scares him, I'd be a little afraid how he'll react to a wounded bird putting up a tussle...

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He should be fine. He shouldn't have associated the intial fright with a bird as he didn't wind it or flush it... It was probably just a loud noise that caught him off gaurd. Think of when you are walking to your deer stand pre-occupied thinking of something else when BAM... a grouse explodes at your feet! He probably had the same reflexive response...

I wouldn't worry too much about it and get him back in the saddle. I would think he's no worse for the wear...

Good Luck!

Ken

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Labs said it. With all the other birds, he scented them, tracked them, and put them up, so it was expected on his part. This one was a surprise, but it's a different situation than your typical hunting scenario.

Get him back out there and get him into birds - he'll be just fine...especially if you'd start HITTING some of them! smile.gif

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Thank you to all, I was hoping this was the thought amongst the group. I didn't hunt him last night, figured a night off couldn't hurt. I plan on taking him out this afternoon after work and am bringing a much-steadier shot co-worker along to increase the odds of actually downing one for the pup. Thanks again to all, I'm quite curious to see how he acts tonight in his initial searches and after the first bird gets up near him.

Thanks.

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how did the hunt go?

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Went out last night and he was 'normal' right off the bat. We did have another hen jump up similarly and Tucker did knock me in the back of the knees as a result. He went right back to out front searching though. We found (AND KILLED) 2 roosters, and he did a great job of finding them after they went down in the cattails. After the first bird went down about an hour into the hunt, there was a noticeable difference in his attitude - it was as though the light is starting to go on in that head - there was a lot more 'purpose' in his searching. A lot more. Getting our first 2 roosters of the year was a great confidence booster for both of us. I'm pretty optimistic after seeing his improvement within a 2+ hour hunt.

Thanks again to all.

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Good to hear - that's what I was expecting. wink.gif

Have a great season!

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Good to hear!!

It's fun watching that transition from a young pup not know whats going and just running about to seeing the switch flip and there is suddenly a method to their madness!! grin.gif

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You hit the nail on the head. The milestones a dog makes with experience are readily apparent. Especially from year to year. Every year I start hunting I am suprised at the improvements from the last year. This is my 4th year with my dog and she suprised me again at the game farm. I am really looking forward to the Iowa opener which is my start for pheasant hunting this year.

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