Training for NA test

Pointing, retrieving, flushing, tracking, behavioral issues, puppy training, etc.

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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:43 am

AverageGuy wrote:
Bruce Schwartz wrote:
GONEHUNTIN' wrote:Keep in mind that most dog's that fail or get low scores in NA do so because of the track.


And a pretty lame part of the test as well.

And the reason for that is because the pheasant is healthy and flightless. It leaves hot foot scent only. No wounds to release blood or body fluids like a real wounded bird does. So pup is being taught to track hot foot scent of a healthy bird and if it does it fast enough it will catch it. Never seen that enhance a young pointing dogs pointing ...


Dogs only track, wounded birds/pheasants? Huh. Who would've thought.

Sere, hope you had fun with your dog.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:06 am

Meridiandave wrote:
Dogs only track, wounded birds/pheasants? Huh. Who would've thought.


No most good dogs track healthy running wild pheasants. All of mine have an early age.

But they very seldom catch them at the end of the track, and instead the birds flush and the dog learns in turn it is fruitless to track too close and pressure healthy birds into flight. It is very beneficial to bringing out the pup's tracking AND Pointing skills.

My young dog does a very nice job of slowing down and pointing on run and stop uninjured wild roosters. He also tracks and recovers wounded pheasants which are putting out the distinctly different scent of blood and body fluids, never stopping as he works the track until he gets the bird in his mouth.

Letting a pup track healthy wild birds fully capable of flight is a great way to let them develop their tracking and pointing skills as I posted above.

If you instead let a pup track and catch too many flightless released birds they learn to try it again. Some will try it for the rest of their lives if it happens too many times, particularly those puppies with more prey drive and tracking skills than pointing.

Clear enough for you Dave?
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Sun Feb 18, 2018 12:00 pm

It was clear enough before you posted.

As I described, the pheasant is on a harness. It is connected to a fishing pole. The dog is not allowed to catch the pheasant. The process of not catching the pheasant is where you steady up the point.

Got it.

Yes, wild pheasants are great and they are a much better teacher. But not everyone has access to them. I am a lucky one who does. The easily available birds huns and chukars are covey birds and the dog hunts them.differently. I can tell you that from hunting the main 5 here in Idaho and eastern oregon that the dog primarily hunts chukars and huns with the nose in the air.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby AverageGuy » Sun Feb 18, 2018 1:35 pm

Yes I figured you were just being a smartaxx. Rather than let a first time handler take bad advice on the internet and suffer the long running consequences, I am one to speak up.

SERE Nate,

FYI, I followed up this week with the fellow with the young NA Prize 1 WPG as to how this past season went for them. He reported it was tough and disappointing. Dog did not point alot birds and instead tracked and flushed alot. I promise you there are alot of these Vdog puppies which have less point and more prey drive/tracking genetics in them than some other pointing breeds. If you get them out of balance with too much tracking, and worse catching birds their pointing will suffer. Word to the wise.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:34 pm

Average guy, once again, nobody is telling him to track and catch a bird. Don't know where you keep getting that stuck in your head from.

No, I am not being a smartass. Just offering up what my training partners mentor taught him. I have a different Mentor who teaches getting ready for the NA different. Both would teach the point with a lead.

For the record, I know sere nates pups, father, grandfather, grandmother, great grandfather on the fatherline. I will be with his pups great grandfather tomorrow.

On the father side of his mortherline his dog and my dog are cousins. They share the same grandmother. I was trying to create a very similar pedigree with my female that his pups mother had. I know several of the relatives of the other dogs in her pedigree.

So its not like I dont know his dogs and tje dogs they come from.

If Sere nate has problems and wants to come down for a training day, I am sure we can get his dog to point. Hell, we could also spend a day and fish the Owyhee.

Bottomline, I would be shocked if his dog didn't hunt and have a strong pointing desire. His dogs got good genes. Period.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:45 pm

I fished the Owyhee last summer - there were so many flies from cow manure all over the river banks and cows in the river that I left for the mountains. Wouldn't be quite so bad if the river was considered to be of decent quality by Oregon DEQ or if the ranchers removed all the no trespassing signs.... just another reason(s) for a national monument in those parts.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:19 am

Good Deal on your breeding program Meridian Dave.

There are numerous posts in this thread urging training for the track and it being the most common source of low scores... That could easily steer a new person to overtrain on tracking which is bad advice no matter where the pup came from. I posted the best way to develop the pup's tracking skills are through exposure to wild game and very sparing use of released game. And I posted about the downsides to using too much artificial released game.

Of course no one typed the words to let the pup catch birds, but that is what happens a great deal of the time when pups with strong tracking skills are put on flightless released birds, hence my caution (and others). There is nothing lacking in the WPG pup I mentioned in my posts, rather it is victim of too much of the wrong kind of "training". It is so easily avoided if new handlers are not misdirected in their efforts.

Sounds like this pup is well positioned in a part of the country with alot of wild game and seasoned folks around to help out where needed. Enjoy.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby orhunter » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:44 am

My good dog never did get the connection with running Phez. Like was said, Chukar and Hun dogs are nose up wind scenters and making the switch takes tons of practice. My old crappy first Griff figured it out pretty quickly. One thing I noticed about running phez, many will make a 90 degree turn before they hold. If a dog can learn to point that curve or do as my crappy dog did, run past it then turn to face the bird and point, ya got a good dog.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:53 am

Thanks for all the great insight and conversation. This morning we're heading out to a 10k acre cattle ranch for a few days and it's supposed to be full of huns. Going to just let him off lead and see what happens. Hopefully he points, or at least get super birdy. If he just charges after them and tries to catch them should I put him back on the cc and try to hold him back?
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:31 pm

SERE Nate wrote:Thanks for all the great insight and conversation. This morning we're heading out to a 10k acre cattle ranch for a few days and it's supposed to be full of huns. Going to just let him off lead and see what happens. Hopefully he points, or at least get super birdy. If he just charges after them and tries to catch them should I put him back on the cc and try to hold him back?


No at 4 months let the pup interact with the birds and do whatever it will as long it is safe. Stay silent, observe, take some photos and enjoy.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby AverageGuy » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:44 pm

orhunter wrote:My good dog never did get the connection with running Phez. Like was said, Chukar and Hun dogs are nose up wind scenters and making the switch takes tons of practice. My old crappy first Griff figured it out pretty quickly. One thing I noticed about running phez, many will make a 90 degree turn before they hold. If a dog can learn to point that curve or do as my crappy dog did, run past it then turn to face the bird and point, ya got a good dog.


My young dog hunts pheasants head up, keeps track of them as they move and follows intense head up, stops and points them when they stop, proceeds when they run. He hunts bobwhites, huns, sharptails and prairie chickens head up as well. He has been a natural since day one at throwing his head up high and using the wind for scent and I did nothing harmful in his training to alter it. I have some short video of his UT Duck Search where he throws his head up and actually raises his front end up out of the water as he swims when he scents the duck at a considerable distance and then proceeds to crawl over floating debris following his nose to the duck. Reminds me for all the world of my old B&T Coonhound rising up on his hind legs when he would scent a layup coon. When he hunts dead or tracks cripples and fur he lowers his head.

SERE Nate, This is my pup at one year old pointing wild Bobwhites. Do everything in your power to preserve and nurture you pup's natural style. When they are young that mostly means take them on walks where they encounter wild game and stay quiet when they are working game. I look forward to following your progress.

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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:32 pm

AverageGuy wrote:
SERE Nate wrote:Thanks for all the great insight and conversation. This morning we're heading out to a 10k acre cattle ranch for a few days and it's supposed to be full of huns. Going to just let him off lead and see what happens. Hopefully he points, or at least get super birdy. If he just charges after them and tries to catch them should I put him back on the cc and try to hold him back?


No at 4 months let the pup interact with the birds and do whatever it will as long it is safe. Stay silent, observe, take some photos and enjoy.


Agreed let him chase wild birds. He will figure out that he cannot cath them someday. He needs to associate birds with fun. He will aslo learn that wild birds mean work and learn to search an enjoy it. Whatever disagreements averageguy and myself have on training. The one thing I am sure we agree on is take your dog out. Let it run, let it have fun. It will bust birds, it will blow up points. It will create all kinds of mischief. Let it learn. The rest will come with time.

Quite frankly that is the best thing to do to have a long term hunting companion. My dog ran every day its first six months of life. Your dog may do formal training a half a dozen times before the NA. The daily runs are far more important.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Meridiandave » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:01 am

Bruce Schwartz wrote:I fished the Owyhee last summer - there were so many flies from cow manure all over the river banks and cows in the river that I left for the mountains. Wouldn't be quite so bad if the river was considered to be of decent quality by Oregon DEQ or if the ranchers removed all the no trespassing signs.... just another reason(s) for a national monument in those parts.


Where are you fishing? There is like 2 larcels of private property on the tailwater section of the river.
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby Bruce Schwartz » Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:08 am

tailwater section
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Re: Training for NA test

Postby SERE Nate » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:30 pm

Wow what an experience!

Got to the cabin and it was in the middle of a beautiful mountain draw. The parcel of land we were on was bordered by a creek on both sides. There were thick hawthorn trees along the creek and lots of game tracks in the snow. The temp was maybe 10 degrees, sunny, and a foot of fresh snow.

Once we got there, the GF was getting the cabin situated and I took the pup out by myself. It didn't take him too long and he was going in and out of the thick stuff, managing to not get ripped up by the 3 inch long thorns, and had a lot of fun investigating the new smells. Nothing magical, no birds, no points, but he definitely was "hunting" for the 1st time.

Later in the a afternoon we decided to to for a longer hike and go explore the ranch. My GF and our 2 year old Bulldog Jax joined us for the hike. 1st mistake on my part. Griff lost all focus. He spends significantly more time with my GF than me, as she works from home. He really just wanted to bounce around between the 2 of us, and once in a while go over and terrorize my bully and bite on him for a while. 2nd mistake was not paying attention to the wind. It was blowing down the canyon and we had the wind at our back. It was all that I could do to keep him in front of us and to go check out the cover once in a while. More than anything he just wanted to be close and have a fun walk with the family. Then it happened! We got to a nice thicket with plenty of room for him to walk around. There was sign everywhere, wing marks in the snow, tracks, droppings, etc. I had Whitney and Jax stay back and I walked Griff up and crawled into the thicket with him. He instantly was all business. Nose to the ground, searching, trailing, losing scent, nose back in the air, it was beautiful. As were both crawling around trying to avoid the thorns, the branches above us explode with the wingbeats of a grouse! He found his 1st bird! Never pointed it, never saw it, but he found where it was. I'm not sure who it scared more, him or me, but we were both excited and I gave him some good praise and let him know how good of a boy he was.

Later on in the hike, wind still at our back. He was walking along the top of the creek bank and on his own decided to go down the bank to check it out. I figured he was wanting some water, but much to my surprise, as soon and he headed down the bank, 6 huns busted out about 10 yards in front of him. No pointing, but he went down there for a reason. He went down to the spot where they were sitting in the creek and he rooted around a little and got some more praise.

At this point, he was starting to get snow matted up badly on his paws and it was really bothering him. He was stopping every 10 feet or so and biting at them. I had bought some mushers secret but didn't bring it. Mistake #3. He was pretty much done at this point so we headed back up and built a big fire in the cabin and got some much needed sleep.

Day 2 While this was the pups 1st "hunting trip", it was also my Valentines gift to the GF, so we headed out on the cross country skies and took the dogs with us. The wind was more in our face this time and he did a little better working in front of us. He flushed up another group of huns, no point, but it was clear that he smelled them and went to investigate. One more grouse, and a bunch more snowballs on his feet and legs, and it was time to head home.

This is where things go bad......

On the drive home, I see a rooster in the side of the road. then 3 or 4 more. All in a perfect grove of trees along the river. I pull over, get out the pup by himself, leave the GF and bulldog on the truck. We circle downwind, head over to the cover. Hes staying right by my side. I walk him over to where I last saw the pheasant, point out the tracks and tell him to "hunt em up". He shows 0 interest. THere were tracks everywhere. He didn't care. I tried to get him to walk along the trail with me and he runs off and starts running on the ice on the frozen river. Ice was thin enough that I wasn't going out there after him unless he broke through. I called his name and "HERE" and he basically gave me the middle finger and ran further up the river. He does very well at the house with HERE and WHOA and Kennel. Those are the only commands he knows. I normally use treats at home when we are training and I didn't have any with me today. I'm trying to stay calm and encourage him to come back to me and get off the ice. Nope. I run into the trees calling him and he just looks at me like I'm an idiot. Pheasants fly out the other side of the trees, dog never sees them. He will not come to me no matter what I do. Now I'm getting mad. Nothing I do works. I normally would have just walked away and the pup would eventually follow me right? But with him being on the ice, didn't see that as a good idea. I ran up the bank and got as far from him as I could and still see him and he finally starts to follow me. I head to the truck and he follows behind at about 20 yards. I get the leash out of the truck and he will not come to me. After trying to catch him for about 5 min I got in my truck and drove down the road about a 1/10th a mile without him and he finally came running after. I finally got ahold of him, put him back in the kennel and headed home.

Needless to say, if that was at his NA test, we would have failed miserably.
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