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Grouse Dog


jbdragon

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Has anyone ever hunted grouse over a Brittny? I have been thinking of getting one maybe next spring.

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A college roommate of mine had a Britney we hunted with for grouse and pheasants. That's the only Britney I've hunted with, I've hunted with more Springers.

First, let me say that I am not a fan of spaniels, period. Some guys don't like Ford trucks or Miller beer or pepperoni pizza, and that's fine. I don't like spaniels (I'm more of a lab and setter guy).

My roommate's Britney was pretty hyper and got too far out at first for grouse. Once we got her calmed down and/or tired out, she hunted really well. Same for pheasants, although she was small for some of the heavy cattail cover.

If you really want a Britney and work with it, it will probably be a fine grouse dog. Good luck and I hope this helps.

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Thanks!! I was thinking of a Setter at first, but I kind of want a small hunting dog for grouse or pheasants. I have a smallish house dog (25lbs) and wouldnt want one much bigger. I was thinking of a female britney which I have read are are around 35lbs. Right now we have a shorthair to hunt over and he took a long time to calm and stay near. A lot of times we run him next to a wheeler before we actually get in the woods after birds.

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Hey guys I have a American Brittany and have several friends that hunt them as well. My dog is only 13 months old and I haven't hunted grouse with him yet but I am looking forward to giving it a try this fall. Here is what I know regarding the American Brittany breed of dog:

The French Brittany Spaniel found its way into the United States in the early 1940s right after WWII. In short...the French Brittany Spaniel was a French peasant's dog bred for close range hunting deemed necessary and essential for pooching small game and making quick get aways.

The United States is a big place and American FBS owners wanted to tweak the breed just a bit in hopes of producing a bigger ranging little pointer. Hence the American Brittany. They were known as American Brittany Spaniels back then but the Spaniel got dropped in the 1980's because the American version is more like a setter than a spaniel.

As I mentioned before, I have not hunted grouse with a Brittany before but I do know: most have great hunting instinct, most have an adequate nose, most will retreive, most are intelligent, most are healthy, mature dogs range from 30-36lbs, most are 21" tall by 21" long, most have great personalities, most are more than a one dog owner, it is a soft breed of dog that does not require heavy handed discipline, typically they are physically and emotionally mature by 18 months old, most are very healthy and most have a gentle personality which makes them great for both hunting and family companions.

They are very intelligent dogs so consistency in training and discipline is extremely important as they can quickly find out how far they can push the boundaries. Some tend to be hyper and the breed over all has been known by bird hunters everywhere to have what's called “kennel legs“...meaning they come out of the kennel very strong–ready to go and just a bit out of control. I can see were this could cause some problems in the beginning stages of a grouse hunt. I didn't mean to bore you about the American Brittany breed of dog but I hope this helps.

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Thanks for the info. I really like the dog and think it perfect for my family. We have a fenced corner lot and a large park near bye. I hunt as often as possible and need the right companion. I think trainig and working the dog next summer would be perfect. My son turns five in april and would enjoy the whole process. Where did you get yours from? Have you been training it to hunt? If so, what birds? Do you have a male or female? Any prefrence?

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Where did you get yours from?

I did some searching on the internet and ask a bunch questions and was steered in the direction of Ben Jacobsen in LeRoy Minnesota. Ben has been around Brittany's his entire life, his father bred Brittany's and father like son has a good start on producing top of the line Britts. You can take a look at his stock on the web at Bens Brittanys. I spoke with his wife Diane a couple of days ago and their stud dog Ike - who is a grandson to Nolan's Last Bullet (AKA Buddy the most winningest dog in the NSTRA) and one of their dams, Babe - who is from the Maverick line just had a litter on July 2. Eight pups total - 3 females and 5 males. Two of the females are already sold. They will be available to take home the end of August. My dog Buddy came from the same set of parents.

Have you been training it to hunt?

I acquired Buddy when he was five months old. Ben had already been introducing him and his litter mates to mock hunts with Chuckars. They had also been working with them on obedience and socialization. Ben explained that any one of the three pups would be ready to take to the field at around six months of age. We did several short sessions in fields near my home here in Woodbury with planted Chuckars. I kept each outing short and sweet. Being careful only to shoot pointed birds. All the while I continued working on obedience with him in the yard. Stuff like come, heal, sit, stay, no, fetch, etc., etc., etc. I kept him on a long checkcord when we would go out after the planted Chuckars. Did that for about six months until our last outing in March when I introduced him to the e-collar.

I am a firm believer that you can't teach either a pointer or flusher how to hunt. They are either born with the ability or they aren't. You can train and teach them obedience, discipline, hand signals and socialization skills. It all boils down to genetics in regards their nose, intelligence, drive, personality and instinct. That is why it is so important to get a pup from the best line/breeder you can afford.

If so, what birds?

Initially we did a lot of work with Chuckars. Then at about eight months old we started to throw in some pheasants. By nine months old working with Chuckars with him was like feeding candy to a baby. This year I would like to learn how to Grouse hunt with him. I'm sure we will both learn a great deal.

Do you have a male or female? Any prefrence?

I have a male...I really did not have a preference since I was not going to breed my dog anyway. I just wanted a Brittany pup from a quality set of healthy parents that were proven hunters from good lines that were not throwing hyper or substandard dogs according to the American Brittany Club Breed Standards. Most of the stated differences between males and females are eliminated once the males are nuetered. Males tend to be a little bigger and a little more head strong than the females. But other than that I can't think of many other difference.

Ben and Diane are salt-of-the-earth kind of people. They really care about what they are doing with their dogs. Their pups are guranateed and they will go the extra mile to make sure you get just the right companion for your family and hunting situation.

Hope all this helps!

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It really does thanks. Is he known as "Ben's Brittany's"? I think I have emailed him some.. Maybe saw him listed in the Outdoor news. I would like to find a good blood line as well. I will likely look to Ben first. Hopefully he has a litter available late next winter to early spring. Would like to have the summer to train. Thanks again.

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French Brittnays will tend to run a little smaller, if that is important. Don't overlook setters just because of size, My female is 42lbs when in shape and her mother was only 35. Most of the field dogs are not going to get more than 50lbs with most females being right around 40.

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I agree with Setterguy...you have a lot of time to do research regarding which breed of dog would best suit your family/home environment as well as your hunting preferences. I have a deep appreciation for both flushers and pointers either large or small. Nothing quite like watching a well trained obedient dog (no matter what the breed) with lots of talent take to the field. The Brittany is probably not the most versatile breed out there but it was what I was most familiar with and it met all my requirements. If I had the time, money and hunting resources I would probably own a couple different pointer and flusher/retriever dogs. With a diversified line-up in my kennel allowing me the flexibility to pursue pheasant, grouse, quail, partridge, ducks and geese...anywhere anytime!

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setterguy- setters really get that small?? My aunt had a setter that was 85 pounds and it was skinny.

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I own a Brittany and a GSP--the Brit doesn't go Grouse hunting any longer because she ranges too far in tight cover and moves too quickly on the trail.

The most profound reason the GSP is a better Grouse dog is her ability to smell bird scent in the air rather than scent on the ground.

My Brit is great on Pheasants, Huns and Sharpies in more open cover, but her breeding isn't like English Setters, GSP's or other breeds that smell the air for scent rather than follow scent trails. Brits don't only follow scent trails, but I don't think their noses are as good for Grouse in tight cover as other breeds.

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Chells

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Rooster - the field bred setters are much smaller than the bench dogs out there. There are a few "variations" even whithin the breed.

The bench setters are the ones you see on the Wensminster dog show, large dogs with very square heads and large jowels. Then you have the Ryman or Hemlock style of setters which are basically a scaled back version of the bench dogs with hunting lines. Then you have the field dogs which are bred to run and find birds. If you wanted to find a field dog that was 60lbs I'm sure you could but typically the males will run no larger than 50 with most being around 45 with the females running about 5 lbs less.

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You can even get small gsp's if you find the right bloodlines. My current female pup will weigh about 42 pounds when full grown. My older girl is about 48 when in shape.

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Chells - I'm guessing you would agree that not all dogs of the same breed are going ot have the same degree of sense of smell, intelligence and drive. Some have little, some have more and some have too much. My guess is that it really boils down to genetics and how much each individual pup receives when it is born.

I'm going out on a limb here by making a blanket statement suggesting that all top-of-the-line pointing dogs (Brittany, GSP, Setters, Pointers, GWP, Vizulas, Gordons, DD, etc., etc.) that have the very best in terms of genetics will use their intelligence, senses and field experience to know when conditions are right for nose down and nose up scenting.

With all due respect please remember that I am no expert and have never been Grouse hunting before...but I have witnessed the following:

1) Dog goes on point at edge of pond. Dog is holding point and aimed toward middle of pond. Hunter walks past dog trying to flush pointed bird. No bird. Dog remains on steady point. Hunter continues to try and find bird. No bird. Hunter release dog. Dog jumps in water and swims across pond to other side and goes on point again. Hunter walks around pond and flushes bird.

2) Bird flushes couple of hundred yards away and lands in a tree down a fence row. Dog in kennel in truck has not seen or marked the bird. Dog and hunter walk down the fence row. Dog starts acting birdy and at 30 yards from where bird is located in tree (approximateley 12' up) locks up on point with nose and head aimed in the air directly at bird in tree.

Does any of this make any sense or am I way off base here?

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Talked with a native Minnesotan this weekend (who has done a bunch of grouse hunting in his day) regarding Grouse and what kind of dog makes a good Grouse dog. His reply was this: 1) Good nose 2) holds point 3) Quick - some thing about how Grouse are fast moving on the ground but hold tight once pinned down.

SetterGuy - Is this true? What's your take regarding what makes a good Grouse dog.

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Willie,

I've subscribed to Gun Dog Magazine for many years.

I'd say this publication is the best you can buy for just about all breeds, even Labs.

I got my Brit 4 years before the GSP and it was my first pointer, I had Golden's prior.

I've done the NAVHDA training, etc. and spoken to many owner's and trainer's and they all have preferences.

In reading some articles in GD Mag. about specific traits of the Setters and Pointers, opinions and fact about which breed has an "edge" over other breeds in specific situations, e.g. Grouse hunting in tight cover is where I first learned that dogs like English Setters, GSP's and English Pointers have a way of scenting the air "better" than some others (Britt's) because of their genetics and size of their noses overall.

So, I get a GSP because I have past experience with them and my Wife likes the breed too (she hunts with me).

I can't express to you how much better the GSP hunts Grouse than my Britt, even when the GSP was still quite young she displayed her talents better than the Britt at 4 years old.

The GSP "stalks" along the trail and she smells the air. She has pointed more Grouse that were 10-20 yards off the trail than I can count. My Britt would have (and has) blown right past them.

Grouse don't spend alot of time walking around on the ground like Pheasants do.

Result--less scent trail. Grouse flop onto the ground from their roosts to eat in the mornings and they walk around a bit to gravel and drink, then they find a comfortable spot to sit on the ground the rest of the day.

I try to hunt Grouse between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. so I can catch them at their most active period of the day.

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Chells

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Chells - great information...I really appreciate the input. I have seen the publication in stands at some sporting goods stores and just might have to find room somewhere in my recreational budget and pick-up a copy every now and then.

Blew my left knee out last night shooting hoops with my son Luke. I'm trying hard to get this little medical issue behind me so it won't ruin this fall for me and my hunting companion named Buddy. We both have a lot of work to do and things to learn this fall. Hopefully I will be back on my feet soon and fully recovered by the middle of September.

Can't wait to get out in the woods after Grouse this year. In this life...there is no greater teacher...than experience!

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Willie,

Sorry about your knee.

If you want a great fall weekend double-whammy you can't beat LOW for fall Walleye and Grouse hunting on all the forest roads south about 15 miles from Baudette in Beltrami county...

Enjoy your new hunting companion!

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Chells

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  • 3 weeks later...

Brits make excellent bird dogs. I have hunted over five separate Brittanies. They all were very good dogs, but each were unique just like people.
range, boldness, etc... were all a function of breeding, training and the dog's experience in the field.

The GSP vs Brit comparison regarding scenting (ground vs air) is simply bunk. Every Brit I have owned ran, hunted, and pointed with their head up. The nose only hits the ground when the wounded bird is close at hand.

Brits make excellent family dogs. Their temperment is often difficult for some pointer and lab owners (the shock collar gang) to understand. Training by force will discourage the Brit not make them better.

Rambling ...

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I've owned English setters for years the smaller field versions (great family dogs also) and also hunt with guys that own Gordon setters and Brittany's . It all come down to personal preference I personally like to see the high tail of the setter on point - good breeding is important whichever breed you pick. Ask to see both parents hunt if you can. I have seen great and mediocre dogs in all of the above breeds-once you decide the more time you spend training the better your dog will be.

Have fun!

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Best grouse dog I ever saw was a German shorthaired pointer. Enough said. Get one.

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Not sure if this really means much to you, but in Wisconsin they hold grouse trials every year called coverdale. I believe English pointers win pretty much everytime with some good setters in there too. Not sure if they even allow gsp, brittney in. There are some breeders that breed English Pointers specifically for grouse hunting, might want to look into that.

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Wild Willie,

Thanks for the info on Ben's Brittanys. I am going down to his place this evening to pick up a pup.

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Beef46 - Say hello to Ben and Diane for me when you get down there today. They should have their new baby in the crib by now. I think Diane was due the end of August. I'm not sure if Diane will be up and around yet. Ben is going to be a very busy man the next couple of months. Glad to hear your getting one of their pups. I know you won't be disappointed. Lets get together soon and compare notes. Are you planning on attending the 2nd Annual FM Pheasant Hunt scheduled for October 2nd in Princeton. If not...sign up and bring that pup with you...I would enjoy watching him get into some planted Chukars. That will be about all I will be able to do since my knee surgery is schedule for Sept. 14th. Good look and I wish you and you new family/hunting companion all the best!

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Wild Willie,

Blitz is now home. 8 weeks old. Spent some time in the field last nite with the parents before committing and was pleased.

Blitz is extremely birdy.

On our walk @ 5:30am this morning he went on point just as we approached the corn field by my house. Good sign.

Unfortunately I can not make the FM Pheasant hunt as I coach my son's football team and playoffs are going on at that time.

Have to try another time.

Thanks again for the info.

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Beef46 - did Ben take Ike and Babe out with you for a little mock hunt. Did he plant any chukars? How many of Blitz's littermates are left. Shoot a digital of Blitz and try and post-it...would love to see what he looks like. Good luck with Blitz and lets keep in touch!

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Blitz has one litter mate left but someone was coming tonight to nab him.

We did a mock hunt with Ike and Babe. No Chuckers planted but from what I saw I was impressed.

I have never been able to post pictures here otherwise I would post a pic of Blitz.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Willie - sorry for the delay, I didn't see the question you posted for me until today so here goes. To the question what makes a good grouse dog?

I would say the #1 thing that makes a good grouse dog is the ability for that dog to stop at the faintest hint of scent. I have shot many birds over dogs that really had no idea where a bird was located, just that there was one in the area. The second most important trait in a grouse dog is what I call grouse smarts, and it is impossible to train. A guy told me once "Any old dog can point birds, it takes a grouse dog to FIND birds" A true grouse dog in my opinion will bring you to birds instead of just pointing the ones that you bring it to. Make sense? Some dogs never figure it out, some do it from the time they hit the ground. My little female was pointing and holding wild grouse when she was 6 months old, its nothing I taught her (I wish I could take credit for it) its just something that is imbedded in her brain. Of course the ability to hold birds is important, but if a dog doesn't hold its point I want nothing to do with it anyway. One more thing that I have noticed in the truely gifted dogs that I have seen is thier ability to cover ground in the woods without effort and with that noise. Some dogs are just light on thier feet, others seem to hit every twig, and crash through every brush pile in the woods. I don't know if its something they do consciencly or not but it would only make sense that the less noise they make the better chance they have of nailing that ruffie down. Sorry for the long winded version, but once you get me talkin grouse dogs, the fingers just fly...good luck to everyone this weekend.

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Keep the tip up, ask permission and shoot straight. Setterguy

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I just got a Black lab/golden retriever. would that be an ok dog to use for grouse hunting? i love to do it but a dog would be nice.

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If you have your dog trained I don't see any reason why that dog wouldn't do well on grouse. Since your dog is a flushing dog you have to decide on a distance that you are comfortable with and train it to stay within that range while in the woods.

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