Cover and Wild Birds

Many years ago, we used to keep our quail pen up on a big hill farm nearby. There were some grown up old pastures, and a few open fields. The owner of the farm had a firewood business and had pretty much cut over the place making for a lot of successional forest. It was great we could work the young dogs or do finish work on the quail and then work on wild birds. It was not unusual to have 20+ finds in the course of running a few braces of good dogs. When the owner died he left the 800 acres in trust to his many children. A couple of the older ones cleared some of the best cover and put cattle up on the hill, the woods grew up, and the wild birds all but disappeared. Now the cattle are gone, the pastures are growing back up, and they’ve done some new cutting, and the birds are coming back. Over the last week, we have been up there four times and found both grouse and woodcock each time. So, the point here is that in about 25 years, this one cover has gone from terrific to poor to good due to land usage changes.

There is one problem with running in the same cover and that is the comfort level of the dogs. They come to know where you’re going and range bigger and bigger on each trip. Yesterday afternoon we ran Wild Apple Jack and Stokely’s Ginger B, their bells had faded out to the front when the point signal on my Garmin beeped. Jack was on point 453 yards away. We were on foot and it was mostly up hill to the dog so it took a while (we’re not as fleet of foot as we once were). About halfway there, Ginger went on point close to Jack. When we got to them Ginger was backing and a male woodcock flushed. Tracking devices have really affected the way we train. Before Trackers and now Garmins, we had to keep the dogs within bell range and expended a lot more electricity then we do now. In fact Tony doesn’t even bother putting his e-collar on the older dogs a lot of the time. I always put the collar on but rarely use it.

Posted in Current News.

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