Back in the the late 1990s Bill McFadden introduced me to Earl Crangle and helped us publish Earl’s book Pointing Dogs: Their Training and Handling. One of the chapters in the book is titled “The Mexico Method” in which Earl describes his program of running young dogs on the abundant wild quail in Central Mexico where he lived for a number of years. In the chapter he talks about letting a dog bump birds and chase them until it finally realizes that they always get away and starts standing them. It’s a method that most trainers are unlikely to have the opportunity to use. But it’s something I always thought made sense and have used with the young dogs here at the kennel. We have genetically programed our modern bird dogs to point game birds and if given enough opportunities they will do it on their own.
Maggie had obviously had a lot of work on planted birds when she got here and was very dependable as long as I was on the other end of the checkcord. But it can be dangerous letting a dog drag a cord in the woods unless you use a harness. So, I decided that I would let the birds teach her. At first she put every woodcock and grouse she found into the air with hardly a pause to the point that I was beginning to loose faith in what I’d learned from Earl. But I hung in there with her and in the last few workouts it’s starting to pay off. Her first good day she pointed and let us get to her on 2 out of 6 woodcock and it has improved with every workout and has pointed some grouse as well. Today she pointed 7 woodcock the furthest one away was almost 90 yards and held it until I got to her. Had it been October we would have had good shots at most of them. Brandy is making the same sort of natural progress and even stood the other day while one of the older dogs came in behind her and backed. Both of them are starting to stop on their own when there is a backing opportunity. Jagger is another one who bumped a lot of birds earlier in the summer and will hopefully make the same kind of progress before he heads home in a month.