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Dog Training Question


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Hey everyone, this may be a stupid question, but I'm new to it so here goes.

When you purchase/raise pigeons or pheasants for dog training, is it leagal to shoot them for your dog to retrieve as well or do you just have to let them fly away after their flushed? What are the laws on training with live birds and where can I find them?

Any help would be apprieciated.


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Not a stupid question at all. Pigeons are shootable year round. Pheasants, I believe, can only be shot on game farm land while the season is closed. I have heard that you need a receipt for them to transport pheasants during closed season. I would recommend not shooting them until you know for sure. I have shot Chukar over my pup and they seem like a great option. They also have a year-round open season. They are cheaper than pheasants, hold tight for training, widely available, and quite tasty too. I just like shooting something I can eat a little more. It is cool to have your dogs bring you some thing you can actually use.

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You can train with and shoot pheasants on private land as long as you have a permit from the dnr. They are easy to obtain, and run around 25$ (I think). Pigeons and chukar are both non-protected species and can be shot year round.

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From the DNR 2004 State Hunting Rules and Regulations Guide.

Protected Animals
The following birds and mammals are protected in Minnesota by state or federal laws:

Protected Birds
All birds for which seasons are established in these regulations are protected birds but may be taken as authorized.

There is no open season on bobwhite quail, cranes, swans, hawks, owls, eagles, herons, bitterns, cormorants, loons, grebes, or any other species of birds except unprotected birds.

Unprotected Birds
House sparrows, starlings, common pigeons, chukar partridge, quail other than northern bobwhite, and monk parakeets are unprotected and may be taken at any time. (this doesn't make much sense and is confusing when you read the dog training rules and regulations just below)

Dog Training
A person may not train hunting dogs afield from April 16 to July 14, except by special permit. A person may obtain a free special permit to train hunting dogs afield on land owned by the trainer or on
other land with written permission of the owner. The written permission must be carried while training the dogs. Applications are available through the DNR Information Center and regional DNR Enforcement offices. A person training a dog afield and carrying a firearm may only have blank cartridges and shells in possession when the season is not open for any game bird, except by permit. An organization or individual may obtain a free permit to use firearms and live ammunition on domesticated birds or banded game birds from game farms for holding field trials and training hunting dogs.

Here is what I have been told...pheasants are protected game birds and can not be used for training or be taken outside of the official legal open season accept on licensed game farms or during the official legal open pheasent season. And then the official two rooster only (no hens) in possession law applies unless you are on a game farm. The DNR told me the minute pen raised pheasants are released they immediately become the property of the state of Minnesota. You can use unprotected game birds with gun and live ammunition during any offical open and legal upland game season. I would assume that could be as early as Sept 1st if that is when dove seasons opens. Training with unprotected game birds with live ammunition any other time requires a permit from the DNR and permission from the land owner.

I have a dog breeder friend that raises pheasants and he has tried for years to get around the regulation by negotiating with the CO's in his territory. The officer will not budge because he says it is just too hard to distinguish pen raised and released birds from wild birds. Some have tried to convince the CO's that by tieing a long blaze orange ribbon onto the legs would do it...but the CO's are not convinced that the temptation would be to great and dog trainers would accidently take wild birds out of season . Main problem...there is no way to prove that the birds you have taken while training your dog were indeed pen raised or wild.

That's what I know...maybe I'm all wet. Chuckars and pigeons are great for training and eliminate any chance of getting into trouble with the long arm of the law.

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Thanks for the wealth of information!

I think to keep things less confusing and legal, I'll stick to pigeons and chukar.

So if I understand your post correctly Wild Willie, if I were to train with live, unprotected birds this weekend (outside of any open season) I would have to obtain a free permit from the DNR in order to also use live ammunition?

You were sure right about the regs being confusing. On one hand, you can leagally take unprotected birds at any time; on the other hand when you're doing so to train a dog it seems you need to obtain a permit.

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I will post what I know from experience and talking with my co's in the county. I have a training permit from the dnr, they are good for a specific piece of private land and can be a for a time period up to a year and on the application you can check a box for live amunition training. The land I use is out by Alex, your regional office reviews the application, signs off, then sends it to the local CO in the county, he reviews it and signs off, after he calls you and has a conversation about the rules and guidlines. According. This is right off my permit.

dog training(using live ammunition and/or taking domestic ir banded game farm birds)
1. only on land owned by permittee or where permittee has written permission. Written permision and permit must be on permittee's person when training dogs.
2. Domesticated birds other than pigeon, and game birds must be marked in a manner that makes them visually identifiable prior to being taken(ie with a streamer attached to leg) A band alone does not constitute sufficient visual identification of game farm birds.
3. Permittee must comply with all applicable ordinances and zoning laws. Local ordinances may restrict the discharge of firearms and allowing dogs to run off a lead.
4. This permit does not allow the taking of wild birds.

The time period 4/16-7/14 listed by another poster represents the box on the application marked "dog training(not including the use of live amunition of taking of birds). So if you want to train during that time it has to be on private land with landowner permission, other than that window you can do the training on public land.

So yes you can and I do use Pen raised hens and roosters with no limits, but I am carful to follow the rules, Ie private land with permit and streamer on leg.

Here is a little extra info I was told directly from CO Jeff Johanson of Douglas county. Without a dog training permit you can't hunt chuckers, quail even if they are not protected, whether it is private land or not makes no difference. Also if you hunt your dog on a game farm you still need to have a training permit unless the season is open and you are within the legal limits. I thought these things were strange, and I have never looked for a legal copy of the material as I have a permit, but that is what I was told.

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Bigeyes - again...this is just another example of how the MN DNR needs to upgrade/improve on their internal communications/public relations resources regarding clear, concise and consistant explanations of statewide hunting and fishing rules and regulations. There are too many gray areas that are left opend to the interpretation of the general public and CO's. I have been told that what we have outlined above may change from CO to CO from County to County. Seems to be no one easy and definative answer concerning the regs.

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Hi Everyone,

Thank you again for all your responses to date and for helping me understand a little more about something I am just starting to learn. So far, what I have gathered is that no two interpretations are alike (even from CO to CO). So in the interest of confusing things a little further I've pasted an e-mail (below) to this string that I have sent off to the DNR. I will make sure I post the reply I recieve here (granted I get one) so we can have yet another take on how the system works.

In the mean time, Bigeyes, you indirectly mentioned that there is a time (07-15 to 04-15) in which you can train a dog using live birds on public land. Is this true? and if so, would it have to be with pigeons, or could it be with chuckar as well? Also would I need to obtain a permit to do so?

Thanks Again,

<Submitted to the DNR on 08-19-04>


I was curious on what the rules and regulations are on training dogs for upland and waterfowl bird hunting. I am specifically interested in training with the use of live birds and live ammunition. Things like what species I can use, is their a defined training season, do I need a special permit, ect.....for both public and private lands. I am eager to start training my springer spaniel and want to make sure I am 100% within the law.

I look forward to your response.

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They wrote back!

As promised, here's the response strait from the horses mouth (the Minesota DNR). It looks like no matter what you want to do, you must obtain the free permit. Beyond that and making sure you have a receipt for the birds you are using, it would seem the rules are pretty laid back. So go tell those CO's and their interpretations to shove it.....j/k.....but you might want to tell them to get their story strait between eachother.

Response from the Minnesota DNR to my previous e-mail (pasted into the post above).

Yes, there is a Dog Training Permit required to conduct dog training on
any public or private land. It is a free permit and it would allow you
to train year round. You can use Chukar, Quail, Pheasants, Ducks, etc.,
purchased from a game farm. You would need to carry your receipt showing
where you purchased the game birds.

I can send you the form. What is your postal mailing address?

Thank you, o o o o
o o o o
o o o o
Joni Liljedahl <'(((>< <'((>< <'(>< <'><
Information Consultant, DNR Information Center
Information & Education Bureau
500 Lafayette Rd
Saint Paul MN 55155-4040
(651) 296-6157
(888) 646-6367
FAX (651) 297-3618

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