Birds per year per dog

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Birds per year per dog

Postby oldtimer » Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:59 am

I got to wondering how many wild bird contacts/kills/retrieves people get throughout the country? I know living in KS, NE, WI, MO,and now ND, I have been blessed with outstanding advantages when it comes to developing dogs.I know this. ecause I have also lived where I had to make extensive trips in order to keep my dogs up. The reason I am curious is that I never owned a great bird dog until I moved to the plains/ upper mid-west. My point to all of this is two fold. One, move if you can. Honestly, relocate in good bird country. If you love bird hunting, you will never regret it. Secondly, if you have a young dog that is impressive with little experience d/t few bird contacts, you owe it to that dog to travel.

I am just old, and reflecting, but I say these things so younger people might think it through.

My dogs typically are involved in 300 pheasant kills, 50 sharpies, 300 waterfowl, geese, ducks, etc., and 30 -60 Ruffs.I cannot imagine how many points my dogs have in the summer on birds, but I know it is 4 digits per dog. I have seen many 200 point 3 hour runs when the pheasants and sharpies are still young. I am not trying to brag, I am just telling you what a difference it has made in my life with dogs.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby randomnut » Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:49 am

Not so much luck here this year. No quail, few ducks. Probably got out hunting/training 70-80 times since December 1. Might have had 30 points on wild quail, and 1 retrieve on a duck (only went duck hunting maybe 5 times).

Hopefully bird numbers will rebound this off season. I do know next year I'll take all opportunities for hunting. Snipe, rail, etc. Anything to get them more action.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby GONEHUNTIN' » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:15 am

Only on the prairies can you do that! :D Even there, you have to be retired to get that many contacts. I hunt three days a week and have an average of 6-8 contacts a day (grouse). That's about 240 for grouse. For the short amount of time the woodcock are in the numbers can be staggering. When I'm in SD, we may get 20 points a day (many hen). Hard to say but no where even near the numbers you are quoting.
I just hate seeing birds die of natural causes unless I'm that natural cause.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby Misskiwi67 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:44 am

We took 45 wild pheasant and 4 quail. We had flooding during early duck season so missed out on big numbers there. We never left Iowa.

My husband regrets not keeping track of birds taken when he was hunting in the pheasant hay day.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby AverageGuy » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:46 am

Our body count was way lower than your Post OT, but my Pup and I hunted 3-4 days a week from Sept to Feb and had wild bird contacts on 80% or better of our outings. We are afield in natural cover with at least a few wild birds around on a daily basis. We had some days that were over the top for bird numbers in SD, KS and TX this past season.

I do not think HUGE numbers of bird contacts are needed to make a great prospect/puppy great, but no doubt birds make a bird dog and it is a tough row to hoe to live where there are none. Frequent opportunities (vs constant), to find and work birds on most outings will get a good prospect going in short order.

3D often posts urging those with a new puppy to travel to areas with good numbers of wild birds in the puppy's first season and I wholeheartedly agree with that advice. If a puppy can be started in all the right ways in its first and second seasons it will retain those learnings for the rest of its life, and can get by with less frequent bird contacts later in life once the fire has been lite in its most critical early development stages.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby orhunter » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:18 am

My Pups first few years were pretty idealistic for bringing a completely green pup along into a bird crazed, born to hunt, older dog. She probably had 200 birds shot over her that first season, Chukars, Huns, quail, Phez, snipe. Actual birds encountered went over 300 many of those days. That good hunting didn't last forever as bird numbers plummeted. Some of those later years I was glad I didn't have a pup. I don't know how many contacts per day afield it takes to make a hunting dog but I'd take a guess, three or four is plenty. I think the number of days afield is maybe more important? And all those free roaming, off leash days before the season and the first shot is fired.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby JONOV » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:31 am

I'm already scheming how I can get to my Dad's cabin in the UP this winter for Grouse, and spend an extra few days in NoDak for upland hunting.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby 3drahthaars » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:45 am

orhunter wrote:My Pups first few years were pretty idealistic for bringing a completely green pup along into a bird crazed, born to hunt, older dog. She probably had 200 birds shot over her that first season, Chukars, Huns, quail, Phez, snipe. Actual birds encountered went over 300 many of those days. That good hunting didn't last forever as bird numbers plummeted. Some of those later years I was glad I didn't have a pup. I don't know how many contacts per day afield it takes to make a hunting dog but I'd take a guess, three or four is plenty. I think the number of days afield is maybe more important? And all those free roaming, off leash days before the season and the first shot is fired.


I'd definitely say quality before quantity...

i.e.

1) wild birds over anything else

2) released birds over "planted" (some places just release 1000s of birds before the season and supplement as they're shot out)

3) the old release launcher

4) last resort (or for many the only way to go) planted quail

I had a couple of points this year where my pup was 100+ yards away, took several minutes and GPS to find her in the cane and she was awaitin'. One bird flushed right into her face for a 'catch'. Later that day, similar long point and she held just like she always does (so she recouped from the first released bird). And, several times this season she's pointed, tracked/relocated, pointed, etc. on the smart ones that have learned to run like our wild quail.

I owe it all to genetics and the first two season trips to NODAK.

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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby greg moyer » Fri Mar 17, 2017 11:04 am

A lot! I too hunted Sept-Feb in five states. Being retired and willing to travel helps. If anyone thinks that having thousands of opportunities a year isn't beneficial for a hunting dog you should give it a try.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby stubblejumper » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:13 pm

My dog has as many contacts with huns during the off season, as he does with all birds combined during the season. I run my dog every day that we don't hunt in a field ,where we come across huns three or four days out of a week. That adds up to over 150 contacts per year. We shot 72 released pheasants over him last fall, which was the result of around 150 contacts. We also had contact with five coveys of sharptailed grouse during the one day that we hunted them, although we only killed grouse as a result of two of the contacts. We did have a lot of contacts with birds that did not result in birds being killed, but most of that was the result of inexperienced shooters, mostly youngsters being introduced to the sport . The dog did however still gain experience from every contact
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby oldtimer » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:27 pm

Wonerful discussion to you all, thank you.

I think that dogs develop more quickly with lots of birds. You end up with more good years per dog.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby IsThisHeaven? » Fri Mar 17, 2017 6:53 pm

I hunt with a Springer so a little different that what most of you guys run but I try to get as many wild bird contacts as possible. We hunt doves in September - she probably had 50 or so retrieves. I went to Wisconsin twice totalling 7 days hunting. She probably had 50 total grouse contacts with maybe 15 retrieves. The second trip to Wisconsin we hit the woodcock migration and we flushed maybe 60 or so with 20ish retrieves. Most of the dove and grouse/woodcock hunts were with other people so she was flushing birds for others and retrieving birds shot by others as well as me.

Pheasant season we hunted mostly alone. We killed and retrieved around 40 birds with hundreds of contacts. The last three weeks of January we even stumbled into a few coveys of quail.

During the offseason- February 1 to September 1 we run on wild pheasants. My dog is fully steady so I use the wild bird contacts along with a blank pistol to keep her steady. We probably get 15 to 20 wild bird contacts per week during the offseason. There is a 4 month period we have to stay off public land so I buy a few pigeons every couple of weeks for something to do. This spring/summer we are working on nonslip retrieving. We are going to give duck hunting a shot this fall.

This is my first hunting dog. I run her on wild birds as much as possible. My thinking is wild birds will teach her more than I can taking her to a preserve or planting pigeons.
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby Constructeur » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:17 pm

Wife went to Uni in the Midwest, you can have your 3 seasons and lack of high paying employment as far as I am concerned.

Ultimately, I think any retired guy anywhere could talk up the number of birds he gets on, the only limiting factor being his willingness to get in the rig and go explore...
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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby jlw034 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:36 pm

Constructeur wrote:Wife went to Uni in the Midwest, you can have your 3 seasons and lack of high paying employment as far as I am concerned.

Ultimately, I think any retired guy anywhere could talk up the number of birds he gets on, the only limiting factor being his willingness to get in the rig and go explore...


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Re: Birds per year per dog

Postby Kiger2 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:08 pm

I think we can easily break it down into a curve.

As the dog initially gets contacts with birds, the curve is quite steep. As the dog gets more contacts the curve flattens out. So it becomes not an issue of numbers but "difference".

A dog that makes 10000 retrieves of ducks that land in the decoys is really not that exceptional. Its the dog thats retrieved 10000 birds with 10% of those unusual such as blind retrieves or whatever you want to put in here.

A dog can point 10000 pheasants that never move and not learn a thing after the first 25.

Make sense?
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