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onthefly

First Hunt Advice

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onthefly

Gentlemen... Hoping to learn from you.

My lab is 18 months old. He went to a pro trainer for an intermediate course. He's coming along very nicely. We're into doubles/triples on land and water, just started blinds and some handling. He's my first dog. Extremely steady and doesn't often require correction. Has had many pigeons, pheasant and ducks shot over him.

In a couple weeks, we're officially hitting a duck marsh for the first time!

What advice do you guys have? We've been through practice and training camp, now getting prepped for the big game!

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leech~~

I would say keep up the shooting work over him and the rest of the skill practice, it's getting down to a wait and see time. You may do some sittings by a Marsh in the mornings and evening so he can eye-ball a few birds in the air and on the pond as well. Good luck! wink

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Todd Caswell

For the first couple hunts keep the group small and if at all possible have a couple of your buddies do the shooting and you handle the dog..

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TylerS

For the first couple hunts keep the group small and if at all possible have a couple of your buddies do the shooting and you handle the dog..

What he said! First hunt, don't even shoot the gun. Bring a couple guys to drop birds so you can concentrate on your pup. It's better for you and the dog and, most importantly, safer if your dog breaks.

Otherwise, go solo! Small spread, you, and the dog. It's not as simple without help, but it can be good bonding time that will pay dividends down the road.

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onthefly

Well, a quick report back. Unfortunately our opener morning was effected by a group that set up maybe 100 yds away and started blasting 20 min before legal shooting. Didn't help with a new pup trying to put all the lessons he's learned together.

Anyway - managed to scratch a few birds.

1) I hit a teal right after legal - dog didn't mark it, but it dropped 15 yds away. I sent him and he ended up bringing back a decoy. Then, sent him using "dead bird, back" and he caught on.

2) hit a mallard that dropped 30-40 yds out that he marked. Sent him and he was on a good line, but broke past out spread and took a hard left, grabbed a decoy instead (never had this issue in training)

3) hit another mallard that he marked - about 50 yds out - this time he knew it was a bird and saw it doin the flop on the water. Haven't seen the dog swim with that intensity ever.

Part of this is me - 1st dog and he wasn't set up in a great position for marking. Plus, I haven't done squat with a remote thrower, live shotgun blasts and feathers in the water - a pro did a bit, but he hasn't seen it in months. He spent the rest of the hunt calmly watching over the decoy spread.

I think our next hunt in ND will help him put it all together! Any advice is welcome.

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Jmnhunter

hey onfly; my lab is just under 3 years old; 1st year i didnt shoot but we didnt have many duck opportunities so that didnt help, i just worked with him keeping him steady while my buddies would shoot and miss, and the ones we did knock down my pup didnt get a good mark on so, using rocks helped alot.

2nd year, i only shot a couple of times but again, focused on the dog and he did make some good retrieves while being steady, but he was still not 100% on where the birds were coming from; just like what others suggested i would keep focusing on your dog and leave the gun in the truck, it'll pay off!

this year, i shot a few more times but again kept my attention with the pup and hes doing alot better; the 1st two years he got cold right away and i had to bring him to the truck, now he stuck it out with us; on the blinds hes starting to figure out that decoys are not to be retrieved, he will occasionaly do what yoru dog is doing and grab a decoy, not sure if hes frustrated since he didnt mark the bird or what

i have worked on dry land with decoys and he doesnt even know they are there; so i have to find a nice shallow area to train with dekes in the water so i can correct him easier

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Ray Esboldt

Todd and Tyler have both mentioned the merits of a dog training club before, so I am not going to labor on that, at least not too much. I know everyone's schedule and proximity is different, and it doesn't work for everyone. But, you will not believe what a summer of hunting scenarios does for a dog's ability and the owner's ability. Plus, the advice you get from the people that have done it for a while is beyond invaluable.

Well bred dog's come with all instinctual tools. Proper training just shows the dog how to use the tools.

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redhooks

Pocket full of rocks always helps for marking birds in the water,a lot cheaper than throwing shells. Some treats for rewards and a camo float vest are good to have as well. Otherwise experience is the best teacher, especially without other dogs and hunters as distractions

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onthefly

Well, just got back from NoDak and, happy to say, the decoy issue is gone. Retrieved many birds with no issue. Definitely putting it all together. I guess the first hunt was just a reaction to the new experience.

Never had to throw rocks and I shot over him with no issues on breaking. I think it's all in the training and simulating real hunting situations (shotguns , decoys, real birds, etc.) as much as possible.

Thanks for the advice guys!

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    • IceHawk
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