There are seven pointers here at Wild Apple Kennel — five live in Scott kennels and two, Wild Apple Jack and Trip, live in the house. Just up the road from the house is a gated area of state land that has a canal running through it leading to a small hydro plant it is a good safe place to just let the dogs run. Early in the spring, when there’s still snow in the woods Tony and I will cut a half dozen dogs loose at once and let them just run for 45 minutes or so. Today I ran Mariah with Deuce then June, Trey, and Veronica together. A while ago I made the mistake of running the two puppies together way out at the end of a gravel road. I turned them loose and they went about 650 yards (according to the readout on the Astro GPS) then they turn around and came back by me. Had to use the truck to catch up with them about 2 miles down the road where they discovered some big hay fields with flocks of robins to chase, today they pretty much stayed with the older dogs (although Trey and Veronica were out 940 yards at one point) and I was able to pick up the puppies fairly easily today when I called in the older dogs. I put bells on the older dogs but not yet on the puppies — I figure running listening to the bell on the older dog is a good way to get them use to the noise.
In the past, I’ve often had a hard time getting my quail to recall. I’d hear them for a while calling in the evening but they wouldn’t go back in the johnny house. It looks like I’m not going to have that problem this year as the birds I let out Thursday and Friday are back in the pen. There was one that was just hanging around outside caught him in a havahart trap and he’s back as well.
The pigeons I got a few weeks ago have started laying in the pigeon coop so I should be able to start flying them soon. I find pigeons are great for breaking dogs, teaching them to back, learning to stop-to-flush, etc. They almost always fly well. If I feel the need to shoot a bird to fire up a young dog, and its not hunting season, I’ll almost always use pigeons. If there’s a way to work pigeons I’ve tried it — everything from radio controlled launchers to doing a wing tie. Once the dogs are staunch, I really like using harnesses with a Velcro quick release. I have enough harnesses that we can plant pigeons around the bird field in “coveys” — lots of scent and multiple flushes which allow you to get a dog to remain intense after the first flush.