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Thread: Springer Spaniel

  1. #1
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    Default Springer Spaniel

    Hey All,

    I have a friend that is buying a Springer Spaniel to mainly duck hunt?

    Is there any advice that people can give him?

    Thanks in advance!!!

    This is a no holds barred discussion...looking for honesty!

  2. #2
    Senior Member BonMallari's Avatar
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    Ok , I'll bite...I have owned a springer, they are nice dogs, lots of fun, but they are not built or designed for duck hunting,they were designed for flushing upland birds, and ducks are not upland flushing birds...their coats do not shed water like a retriever, all you have to do is bath one just once...also springers like to roam and hunt not sit still in a duck blind
    All my Exes live in Texas

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Colonel Blimp's Avatar
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    Springers, a very ancient breed, are first and foremost questing dogs that flush game; that's where the name comes from. They were originally bred, long before the advent of sporting guns to "spring" game for either the hawk or the net. Retrieving wasn't part of their job; ferocious hunting skills, great nose, stamina and bidability are what made them outstanding companions in the field. That's why even today some excellent hunting Springers are indifferent retrievers, especially when young.

    As relatively small dogs without thick double coats they aren't able to sit around in a freezing icy blind for hours at a stretch; the cold will get to them. Nor does their temperament lend them to long spells of inactivity, they want to be up and at 'em. This doesn't mean that a Springer can't do a decent job on ducks, but your friend has to realise that there are practical limits and that much will depend on when, where and how he intends to hunt.

    I've used a Springer to retrieve geese from the Irish Sea in running tideways, but he was kept as dry as possible in the blind and rarely went out onto a frozen marsh. If a Springer can keep moving nothing much will daunt him, but freezing water, cold winds and sitting around on his duff will quickly defeat him for all his lion heart.

    Note below the ice on Georgies' ears and whiskers; no trouble providing she can keep hunting and flushing.



    And another old boy, having fished a crippled pinkfoot out of the Irish Sea in the background; morning flight, cold and wet certainly but not freezing.



    Eug
    Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 12-09-2013 at 02:59 PM.
    Thank you, very kind, Mine's a pint.

  4. #4
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    ESS -

    Duck blinds, over BIG water/decoys/tidal shoreline hunting under harsh conditions, even green timber shoots in Arkansas, Retrievers better. In Saskatchewan, Barley/Pea field shoots over land decoys, teriffic! And, on the truck for Sharp
    Tail Grouse.

    Bill Connor
    Last edited by canuckkiller; 12-09-2013 at 06:09 PM.

  5. #5

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    I have Springers. I love Springers. If your friend strictly wants to duck hunt tell him to get a lab. They will both be happier.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dave Flint's Avatar
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    I don’t feel at all disadvantaged duck hunting my Springer over central Texas stock tanks. But I agree with the others about the coat. The Labrador coat is such a huge advantage in a waterfowl dog that I assume your friend has some reason for overlooking them. If he anticipates the smaller spaniel will make a better house dog, he might be disappointed.

    In my case, because pheasant & grouse hunting are my primary passion these days, and because my duck hunting requirements are fairly temperate, a Springer does better than fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colonel Blimp View Post
    That's why even today some excellent hunting Springers are indifferent retrievers, especially when young.


    Eug
    Eug,

    I’ve had never experienced this “indifference for retrieving” in a Springer. In fact I have found that to be one of their most impressive attributes. Conceding the main retriever breeds, In my experience the Springer is the next best & beats the other upland breeds by a long shot. This is one of the reasons I own them. I’ve hunted too long with reliable Labs & Goldens to accept a dog that can’t be expected to retrieve at a high level.
    How much importance does retrieving have in your Springer trials? It varies here depending on the judges, but typically our gun teams try to challenge the dogs as much as possible and a high quality retrieve can help an otherwise good dog in the placements. What approximate % of field bred Springers do you estimate to lack the instinct to carry & retrieve?
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    "The bird hunter watches only the dog, and always knows where the dog is, whether or not visible at the moment. The dog’ nose is the bird hunters eye. Many hunters who carry a shotgun in season have never learned to watch the dog, or interpret his reaction to scent."
    Aldo Leopold, Round River

  7. #7
    Senior Member Colonel Blimp's Avatar
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    Dave,

    The percentage is very hard for me to estimate, but it's small. When I ran the training group I'd see three or four a season, but that of course was an unreliable measure because presumably people with the problem brought it along and them as didn't stayed away. On local shoots I know of one ESS who is a sticky retriever but in his case I think the training and experience is to blame. Another dog was very reluctant as a puppy but he's fine now; he was one who came to the group. So it's not big numbers.

    I've also noticed that hard hunting young Springers can quickly get bored with retrieving, more so than a Lab might. If you overdo the repetitions in some drill or other, they will blink the retrieve and start to self hunt. I certainly was guilty of bringing that about in the early days.

    In Spaniel Trials a missed retrieve can knock you out of the game; the rule works just the same as in retriever Trials, so the short answer is that retrieving is crucial.

    Keith Erlandson a notable trainer of years gone by mentioned the problem in his book, and indeed recommended a simple type of FF to remedy it: so it's not just me!

    Eug
    Last edited by Colonel Blimp; 12-10-2013 at 07:54 AM.
    Thank you, very kind, Mine's a pint.

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    ALL TRUE -

    Bill Connor

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    Senior Member David McCracken's Avatar
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    Have your friend look into an American Water Spaniel. About the same size as a Springer, will upland hunt as well as a Springer and duck hunt better. AWS are truly versatile gun dogs.
    Carolina American Water Spaniels

    HRCH UH Carolina's Duck Gumbo MHA SHR RN WDS CGC TDI (Gumbo) 1000 Point Club
    UH HR GCH Carolina's Wild March Hare SH RAE OA OAJ WDX CGC TDI (Bunny)
    HR CH Carolina's Running with the Hare SH JHR RN WDX CGC (Blew)

  10. #10
    Senior Member truthseeker's Avatar
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    It really all depends on where you live, I have friends that use them all the time for water flow, but I do live in California. I personalty think that every dog has it's special job to do. There's no other breed IMO, that can hold a candle to a good working Springer in the field. I would say the same thing for the Labrador over all in the duck blind. Vary cold water is a problem with the Springer and you have to watch them closely for hypothermia and keep them as dry as you can. Keeping them calm in the blind is just a matter of training and experience, just like any other breed. I have never had to stake out a Springer.

    If I had to chose between a Lab and a Springer for a house dog ( I have both ) I would take the Springer every day of the week. There Smaller, eat less and shed about half as much as my Labs.

    Keith

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