So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

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So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

Postby mastercaster » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:33 am

With this cold snap upon us now up here in BC I was wondering how cold is too cold for a furry friends doing water retrieves? I figure labs, goldens and chessies can handle colder water than versatiles like griffs and other wirehairs,,,, even though they do have a double coat. Sako doesn't have much belly hair, though. lol

She does wear a 5mm neoprene vest but I've got to figure that -14 Celcius which is what we're experiencing this week here in BC (about 7 degrees F), compounded by wind chill, has got to freeze the fur on the dog when it's out of the water. Would hate to see a dog get hypothermia. So when is it too cold for versatiles if you know water retrieves will be involved?

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Re: So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

Postby Densa44 » Mon Jan 13, 2020 12:24 pm

Well if there is swimming water it is O.K. but since the water is a lot warmer than the air, keep her out of the wind when she is in the blind. BTW I always found that a female dog had an advantage over a male in the conditions that you describe.

If there is ice, I won't put her in unless I'm sure I can rescue her if something goes wrong.
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Re: So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

Postby jarbo03 » Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:31 am

We have hunted the river down to around 0° in Montana and here in Kansas. Biggest key is letting them shake and dry off and get out of the wind. I have found a good piece of foam under Taz blind makes a big difference. Best to use caution, rather be safe than sorry.
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Re: So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

Postby Deacon » Fri Jan 17, 2020 11:45 am

It all depends on the dog, and the circumstances. A dog hunting from a shoreline, where they can get out of the wind, will be able to hunt in far colder conditions than a dog who has to sit in an aluminum boat all morning.

Here in Central NY we have lakes which do not freeze due to their depth, no matter how cold it gets. 2 of my Pudelpointers have hunted in -20 wind chills, retrieving multiple limits of ducks. On January 6, 2018 wind chills reached -30 and my other dog picked up 10 birds that morning out of some serious water. I don't know if the dog could have tolerated the sustained wind but I guarantee you no man was going to tolerate that. We tucked in out of the wind as best we could and were only (totally) exposed while the dog made retrieves.

If I had your weather I would be hunting, but I would also be keeping an eye on the dog. Days like those are the ones you will remember far after the memories of sunny, opening day limits fade away.

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Re: So how cold is too cold to hunt waterfowl?

Postby mastercaster » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:03 pm

Was out a couple of days ago and luckily the air temp went up a fair bit and the wind wasn't too bad at all. Our decoys were set no deeper than a foot or slightly more at the water's edge. Most of the birds hit the water at about that depth, as well. Both dogs had a fair bit of gusto going out to the birds but the near zero water temps sure slowed them down on the way back in. Kind of surprising really. You'd think they'd charge out of the water as quickly as they went in. LOL

We let the dogs do about a third of the retrieves each and one of us would do the other third. My buddy's DD did one mega swim out into the middle of the river to retrieve a glider. I was glad it was his dog, who has much more belly hair and a little more body fat than Sako because it looked like a good 200 yards of swimming in total once you took the current into consideration.

I don't know about my buddy's dog but I didn't notice Sako shivering at all through the morning which was a good sign. I had her sitting on a mat separating her from the snow so that helped a lot.

As far as the hunt went we may have been able to limit out had we stayed a little longer. Headed out just after twelve bells. I've never seen such an array of different duck species,,,,we ended up with 4 teal, 5 pintails, 7 mallards, 4 widgeon, and 1 gadwall. They didn't decoy very well because these birds don't seem to circle. They pretty much just fly up or down the river taking a look as they go. Most of our shots were in the 40+ yard range. Very few came in much closer. Needless to say, we went through quite a few shells. haha

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