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Dogs Range for Hunting Grouse?


JJK

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What is the ideal range for a grouse hunting pointer?

What do you guys prefer?

Last year was my first season hunting grouse, and my pup was 4 to 6 months old during hunting season. Most of the time he would be too far away for me to hear the bell, so I don't know where he was or what he was doing. I did get to see him work scent and point a few wild birds (grouse and pheasants). This year I will run him with a beeper and e-collar.

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This is a difficult question. Range is one of the most difficult things for people with pointing dogs to get used to. As you know the whole reason to hunt with pointers is so they cover a lot of land so you don't have to. In return you have to trust them to hold the birds until you get there. Every dog is a little different in how they range. I have two setters and one ranges farther than the other but one is a very young dog so he may change some as he gets older. Either way I trust my dogs to hold their point so I am comfortable with the range of both. I don't always trust the birds to stay but I do trust my dogs. I don't run to a point for lots of reasons so it can take some time to get to a dog at a great distance. If your dogs aren't real steady, and it can take some dogs longer to steady up, then you may not want to bring them in some. As they get more steady let them range a little farther. You can always bring them into you but you can't easily make them range farther out so there's a fine line to walk here.

If they know they aren't supposed to be bumping birds they should start to figure out bumping is bad and should start to get more steady. This in turn builds more trust. It may cost you some birds but they should figure it out. If not then you'll need to teach them. In addition not all birds stick around that long so birds may flush without the dog doing anything wrong. It's a difficult situation to be in but as far as I am concerned it's all about trust.

Just so you know it's not uncommon for my older setter to be 100 yards or so from me. Maybe not all the time and maybe at times slightly farther but as a general rule he's probably that distance from me.

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It really depends on the dog and your comfort level. For me, as long as I can hear the bell or beeper I'm okay. Some dogs will naturally check in which is useful in the woods. My current dog doesn't do this as reliably as I'd like so a bell or beeper is necessary.

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My simple answer to that question.

As long as I can hear the beeper when they go on point its close enough for me. That is only once a dog is steady that I let them go where they want AS LONG AS ITS IN FRONT OF ME. I never let my dogs hunt behind me.

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Hows the boat Chris? Was hoping to hook up...this fall I guess. + If you follow your dog, it can never be behind you eh?

I have another pup coming in November.

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Sorry for the loaded question. Guess I was looking for a general answer to a ? that ain't so general. Just checking out what experienced guys prefer. I want him to get out there and cover tons of ground. It wont bother me if he bumps some birds while he is figuring them out. Hopefully things will go all right. One problem I may see is him breaking when or if the the bird moves. This summer was crazy busy, and I didn't work him enough.

Thanks for the replies.

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Hows the boat Chris? Was hoping to hook up...this fall I guess. + If you follow your dog, it can never be behind you eh?

I have another pup coming in November.

Where is pup coming from?

The boat not so good... They have not had time to look at it yet. I am done fishing for the year.The good news is that the dogs have been worked hard and are ready to go. I am headed to Grassy Butte next weeek for sharpies and then Ashley for the N.Dak. pheasant opener.

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JJK - Any time you want to hit the woods I would be more than willing to meet and have a run, uplander usually isn't too hard to convince and I'm sure 2thepoint wouldn't let us go by ourselves...

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Pete x Tyra. Good luck!

Very nice looks like the pups should be tri-colored.(I have always wanted a tri-colored setter) Are you taking a male or female? The pup will be the perfect age for next season.

I have heard alot of good things about Pete from Ben and Scott.

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Setterguy I'd like to take you up on that offer.

I'm bummed no hunting this weekend, have to work instead. If I didn't need the money, I'd call in. It's OK though cause I'll just have more points to burn in October.

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I don't mean to hijack this thread and this may seem lilke a foolish question, but how well does a "flushing" dog work on grouse hunting?

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As well as a Toyota Camry works for pulling a boat. wink I'm being a little facetious, but that's how I see it. It will work, and you will get your boat to the lake but there are much more efficient ways to do it. Now I'm sure there will be lab and springer guys chiming in about how many birds they shoot...but I've been in enough woods to know that knowing where that bird is before it flies and having a chance to set up is going to bag more birds.

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Whoa, I would rather have some dog, any dog than no dog...bring em with and see what happens. AS long as you can keep your flusher within shooting range you will have more success than having no dog at all.

I'd rather pull my boat with a Camry rather than not going fishing at all!

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You could train him to point or at least stop when he locates a bird. Also heeling him as you walk down the trail and using him to just retrieve downed birds is an option.

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I've used my JRT for grouse hunting in the past, not even a flushing dog, but he's rooted up birds I would've never found otherwise. Most dogs can be trained to point, it's worth trying for sure!

That being said, now that my setter is coming around, he stays home. Doesn't listen well enough to keep him in the game we are trying to play out there. Leave him for rabbits and hawking.

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Setterguy...we have just as much of an idea where the bird is. When the flusher shows you those signals that a bird is around you follow and get ready. You don't know the exact position of the bird when walking in on a point either. I easily can tell the differnece between just hunting and when my chessie is on a bird. I will give you the range factor, but its not like my dog is just randomly quartering in front of me bumping birds. They still hunt objectives as they learn where grouse normally hang out and trail birds/bird scent.

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I'm heading out on Sunday so I'll test the waters then. Picked up a beeper today and was checking it out in the yard. Tomorrow we'll test it out in the field/woods. He didn't know what was going on, but got over it pretty quick.

Sorry to read that about your setter. Have you given up on him?

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grousehunter - I'm not trying to ruffle any feathers. I can in fact really pinpoint the location of a bird by the way my dogs are pointing. head low bird is close, head high means bird is out a ways. Lock on point then a head turn to me means running bird. I've hunted behind plenty of flushing dogs, and I agree that you can tell when a dog is getting birdie no doubt. But you have no control as to when that bird flushes. You could be behind a pine tree, stepping over a log. When my dogs go on point, I can shoulder my gun, walk in slowly, most times arrange for the most open shot possible with the given terrain, then go in to flush the bird when I'm ready, not the dog.

What would you say if someone asked you about waterfowl hunting with a pointer? Can it be done, sure. Is it what they have been bred for for hundreds of years to do? No. They simply aren't going to be as efficient at it as your Chessie would be. Plain and simple. Now if Augusta's question would have had the word pheasant in it instead of grouse my answer would have been different. I would say a good springer will hunt pheasants more effectively than my setters any day. The cover they live in, their tolerance for being pointed and their overall behavior is more conducive to a flushing dog. Do I hunt and shoot pheasants with my setters, yes. Would I shoot more with a good flusher, yes. The ability to cover ground like they do and the opportunity for me to ready my shot are the advantages to my dogs in the grouse woods.

I'm sure you have a great dog and shoot lots of birds, and if the way your dog hunts is the way you enjoy it, then that's the perfect dog for you. Its my opinion that a good pointer is going to produce more grouse than any flusher ever could.

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With a flusher you really have to be a lot more aware of your surroundings and the cover while following your dog. I tend to try and keep as good of sight angles when my dog is birdie and often stop in the little more open areas to prepare for the possible flush. Its a lot more of a working relationship with a retriever/flusher when hunting upland birds. Flushers will also work the bird back to you. I'll believe you know the general area of the bird, but most places are pretty thick and grouse tend not to give many easy shots whether ready or not. Its not like you say ok..i'm ready now. I'll agree theres an advantage, but don't think its that huge. How many birds are lost because you hunt over a setter instead of a retriever after the shot? I've thought I totally missed birds before only to have them eventually brought back from hundreds of yards away. Overall I personally think it comes down a lot more to the actual dog and how much experience they have over the actual breed of dog.

Your setters may perform better is a large piece of clone cover, but my chessie will work just as good on transition cover/edges. From my experience grouse concentrate on those areas and I can keep my dog around more productive areas. A lot of grouse hunting really is in the person driving the vehicle though. I would put grouse hunting as 50% the spot..30% the dog and 20% how good of a shot the person is when looking at total success and not just moved birds. I normally don't look at how many birds I kill as the success of my hunt though. Like to watch the good dog work and don't want my horrible shooting to ruin my day grin

I will say that an experienced setter that knows good cover and isn't wasting time in less productive areas that is well trained will in all likelyhood put more grouse in the bag them a majority of retrievers/flushers with the same experience training. I don't think its nearly as far apart as you think though. In an area with very spread out consentrations..yes. In northern MN in good habitat...no

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Wow guys! Thanks for the great discussion and for keeping it civil. I have learned alot from both of you in regards to grouse hunting with any dog for that matter. I admit, I am not a grouse hunter, only upland. My daughter wants to try grouse hunting in the worst way, so I want to take her so she can experience it. I just didn't want it ruin her experience by bringing a dog that might ruin the day for us because he has never been trained for grouse hunting. We are going to try this weekend with the dog, I will keep a close eye on him and if he gets birdie, we will be ready. So thanks again to both of you guys, you honestly have helped me more than you could imagine.

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On opener the dogs probably cost me 3 or so birds because they were too far ahead. The woods are still so thick right now, even 30 yards out a grouse that flushes is gone without even being seen. The area I hunted had some REALLY jumpy grouse this last weekend, and even with 2 good pointing dogs, they birds flushed before we even had a chance. Heard a bunch of birds, saw a couple. 2 shots fired, zero birds in the bag. Still felt great to be out at least. My brittany has somewhat limited grouse experience, so he likes to range more along the lines of my pheasant hunting standards-which is too far IMO for grouse hunting in thick cover. Brought the whistle with and slowed him down later in the day seemed to improve our odds.

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A good gun dog, pointer/flusher is a huge assest to any grouse hunter. A great flusher or pointer will usually beat a normal dog of the other breed. In my expierance a great flusher will give plenty of warning of when and where to shoot and be 100% reliable in bringing home the meat. Coneversly a great pointer makes shooting easier and bring home nearly 100% of the birds. Only difference is the training. Depending on how closely you follow how a dog "should hunt" pointers take a little more input to meet those standards, while flushers usually need obiedence and natural talents do the rest. That being said once my springers hunt their last hunt I want a English or Irish Setter to hunt grouse, however I know almost no dog could hunt behind them and put up anything they missed.

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To answer the the orignal question anyway is CLOSE! Grouse are lot smarter and quickier to flush than most people give them credit for being. So if your dog is within gun range you will get more chances to kill birds. Grouse seem to be less sensitive to noise than say pheasants (have taken many more rests grouse hunting and kill many more birds within 100 yards of rest area versus pheasants). I have always killed more birds when the dogs (pointers or flushers) are in shotgun range. Many grouse just will not hold for point (pheasants too) so it often pays to be close if you like eating what you hunt. (nothing better than butter fried grouse just done) smile

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