The dark & dirty side of retriever training
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Thread: The dark & dirty side of retriever training

  1. #1
    Senior Member fishduck's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    nowhere Alabama

    Default The dark & dirty side of retriever training

    To combat the boredom of no significant training & watching skies devoid of ducks, I decided to write a tell all post about the dark side of retriever training. Moderators please delete if this is too graphic or too much information for the average dog trainer.

    What topic did I choose? The use of ratshot, cattle prods, sling shots or BB guns. No those don't even compare to the true dark side. What about the early collars that could have powered the electric chair or at least a travel trailer for the weekend. Nah that is merely childs play compared to the topic I chose.

    The topic I chose has the fairly innocent name of duck freezer. It is a necessary evil for those of us that want to use ducks when training. A hunting retriever picking up ducks & pheasants is certainly more natural than retrieving oblong cylinders made out of cheap plastic. So when my lovely wife decided she needed a new side by side fridge & freezer I happily bought her a new one. As I moved the old, worn out freezer to the basement, I was one happy dog trainer. Now I could store ducks in the freezer & keep them cool between training sessions in the refrigerator section.

    This system worked like a charm. I would pull frozen ducks out & use them. At the end of training they went in the fridge. Little did I realize the evil I had allowed to enter my life.

    All went well for years lulling me into a false sense of security. Then it happened. I got the call at duck camp from my wife. "Something is dead under the house" followed by "when are you coming home?". I had planned on staying 2 more days but decided "tomorrow" was the right answer after some persuasion. She was planning a stay at the most expensive resort in driving distance until I remedied the problem.

    As I hunted the next morning I got the dreaded call. "Your duck freezer has died"! As most trainers I know use second hand freezers for this task I knew several that had experienced this. Their previous descriptions of the odor caused cold chills to shoot down my spine. I quickly made my excuses & went home to deal with the carnage.

    Upon my arrival home the house looked like some Satanic ritual was taking place. Candles were lit everywhere. I had never seen so many Glade plug ins & those twist open air fresheners in one place. There were also cans of Fabreze on every flat surface. All I could smell was candles & air fresheners. Maybe I had showed up before disaster.

    As I walked over to the basement side of the house, I first smelled the evil. I gagged. Now for most that may not mean anything. Those that have trained with me will begin to understand the true complexity of the odor. I train with ducks for 2 weeks after most would have discarded them. My reputation for skanky training ducks is legendary in the Southeast.

    As I descended into the basement the smell got worse. The agony of hell was becoming clear. I threw open the door to the basement and immediately lost my lunch. As I opened the freezer door, I had to revisit the outdoors. Anything I had eaten the last two days was displayed in a large puddle immediately outside. Thankfully cleaning up the vomit kept me from the task at hand.

    Now a tutorial for those who think a broken freezer simply stops cooling. No it heats the contents in a closed space & allows it to fester in its own juices. Ducks being smelly creatures to begin with, receive no benefit from an unspecified time period in such an environment. The juices that escaped when I fully opened the door caused yet another round of dry heaves.

    There are simply no words to describe the aroma. I already had cotton soaked in mouthwash in my
    nostrils but it overpowered that with no effort. Breathing that scent for a prolonged period could easily induce suicide. Burning down the house seemed a perfectly legitimate solution at the time.

    With no sunshine it seemed a perfect time to provide a warning for the uninitiated. Unfortunately the temptation proved too strong & I had my new duck freezer delivered last week. Evil is hard to resist!
    Mark Land

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Don Lietzau's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Chugiak, Alaska


    Too funny............That though has crossed my mind. Don

  4. #3
    Senior Member Ten's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Long Island


    I hear ya... it happened to me as well... my poor husband, he will never be the same!

    I purchased this commercial type refrigerator for his man cave in the garage:

    He had a nice set up, cold drinks, snacks, tv. He was loving life. Until... one day he opens the fridge and finds DUCKS!! Are you f...n kidding me. He would not touch that refrig/freezer again & that unit was not cheap.

    When Hurricane Sandy hit, well that unit was half way under water. Weeks later I myself had that daunting task of dead duck removal and having to smell that wicked odor.

    Like you.. he he I now have my own dedicated duck freezer in his man cave. Sad for him, nothing. Evil I tell ya!!

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  6. #4
    Senior Member DoubleHaul's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    N. Cackalacky


    LOL. I threw up a little bit just thinking about it. One of my many weaknesses for being a retriever person is having a weak gag reflex for bad smells. There are folks I can't train with and sorting birds at the end of a trial or HT day will make me boot.

    The freezer in our garage doesn't hold a lot and it is older than me--it was made by General Motors--but seems to be indestructible. Regardless if the same thing happens, I am calling 800-GOT-JUNK to haul it all away.

  7. #5
    Senior Member Golddogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004


    The lesson here is NEVER put your duck freezer in the house. Gag is too soft a word to discribe that smell.

    Our training property had a freezer melt down and an almost. Both, thankfully were in out buildings. The almost was caught days before it would have been UGLY.
    Never trust a dog to watch your food!

  8. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Faunsdale, Ala


    Love the story fishduck and many of us have stories similar.

    Our version / neighbor that watches the farm calls one summer day when we were far far away. " someone may have died inside" were the first words i heard. After assuring them that was unlikely more investigation occurred. It was the bird freezer that had a smell. Good neighbors they were. Duct tape and a strap to keep all closed. Tractor with forks came and the smelly rascal went to the burn pile with matches.

    Now that type of storage unit sets outside under cover where a tractor had easy access

    Fishduck if you ever give ip the day job maybe you make it ad a writer

  9. #7
    Senior Member rboudet's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    Mandeville, LA


    Why on earth did you open the freezer? Was the smell not enough to convince you, you had to see for yourself?

  10. #8
    Senior Member P J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Lower AL



    You just made me laugh 'til it hurt, thanks for that!

    I haven't been able to keep ducks, because we didn't have space. The old chest freezer has so much fishing bait in it and I can't find the ducks when I put them in there. I think I've found a spot now, since we moved out of our camper in the shop, there is a beer fridge in the shop with a freezer on the top that isn't being used for anything else. Now I just need to find someone with some surplus frozen ducks.

    HRCH Dixie's Southern Comfort IV, MH

    “The beauty of the Second Amendment is it will not be needed until they try to take it.” - Thomas Jefferson

  11. #9
    Senior Member Marty Lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Mark, I am your friend and I have acess to 30minute air packs(like firemen use)for next time.......and yes there will be a next timeLOL
    Marty Lee
    HRCH Daisey's Rambunctious Rascal MH "Rambo" gone too soon RIP
    HRCH UH Summers Gusty Breeze MH "Gussie"
    coming soon "Annie"

  12. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2004


    The story of the failing freezer definitely touches my memory. We were using an old freezer in the garage for our duck stash and a couple of years ago we had a power outage in the middle of the summer for 3 days! Not good. Even though we went to the freezer and cleaned it out after a day and a half, the freezer was toast! It was way too stinky regardless of the many disinfectants used to ever rise again. The failing freezer is always my biggest fear! I can take floods, earthquakes, fires, etc., but please not the duck freezer!

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