Slow hunting on marks
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Thread: Slow hunting on marks

  1. #1

    Default Slow hunting on marks

    I have an 11 month old blm who is doing seasoned level work. He has a great attitude on blinds (we are up to cold blinds at 150-200 yards) and his handling is very good. His marking on the other hand is not very good especially in cover. My biggest issue that has been a pretty consistent problem is that once he gets to the area of the fall if he doesn’t find the bird right away he will slowly trot around and not hunt hard at all.

    Some times he leaves the area of the fall and will go into completely different cover that there is no way the bird is in. He is not popping, he doesn’t look to me and if he does I ignore him. I’ve never handled on a mark. He doesn’t come back with out the bird but this is becoming a real issue having a ten minute lack luster hunt for a 20 yard mark in cover. For comparison he has done marks up to 250 yards on flat fields.

    Is there anything I can do to help this or is the way the dog hunts just a genetic desirability thing. I can’t really shorten up the marks much more.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member
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    Are you using real birds for marks? The scent of a real bird makes a huge difference and the fake scent you can buy in the store does not help much. Do a search here for the dirt clod drill, a way to teach a dog to stay in the area. Sounds like you may have done a bit too much on blinds and his marking has fallen off, that is common. Since he is only 11 months old and doing seasoned level blinds, tells me you have really focused on that and he is doing very well which is great, but, now its time to balance his training out with more marks. Try using visable gunners for a while, try having a real person throwing so they can help the dog if he gets lost, and use real ducks. Try finding a place with less cover and get his confidence and enthusiasm for marking back up, then gradually move to more cover, and distance. If anything will get a dog up for marks, its flyers. Try to find a group to train, with even if rarely, and get him excited about the other dogs, guns going off and he is in his crate, and hopefully some flyers. Give him plenty of easy fun stuff that he can be quickly successful at, to get his attitude up. As it sounds as if he is beginning to tire of marks that are hard to find. There is plenty of time to work on the technical part of marking, he is still a baby and needs lots of fun stuff. I call them therapy marks. May not teach much but they need a steady dose of success at this age.
    Good luck
    Nate Baxter, DVM
    Clarksville, OH

  4. #3

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    are you always training alone??? Get a bird boy to throw for you / help when needed. Dont let that dog leave the area without success !!!

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  6. #4

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    I use bumpers for drills but 90 percent ducks and pheasants for marks. Admittedly I have been doing a lot of blind work as its cold and snow where I’m at. I will look up the dirt cold drill thanks.

  7. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheGlades View Post
    are you always training alone??? Get a bird boy to throw for you / help when needed. Dont let that dog leave the area without success !!!
    yes unfortunately I train alone 95 percent of the time. I use wingers for marks and try to get him back to the fall area using the duck call on the winger. However he has never really seemed to catch onto that. I did join my local hrc so hopefully come spring that will help. It’s not prime training time up here I’m Wisconsin now

  8. #6
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    Originally from NW Illinois so I understand your situation. Have you taught him to go back to a "place" after retrieveing a mark? Its quick to teach, Hillmann has some online videos on it. Once they learn that skill, transfer it to a tall stake you can stick in the ground. Sit the dog at the stake and you walk out, throw a mark. Release him to retrieve it, deliver to you, then send him back to the stake. Have him sit there while you move and throw a different mark, then repeat, but do not throw the same mark twice(look up Hillmann's Y drill on his youtube channel). You can get many marks in the time it would take you to set up even one winger. You can make it fun, and do it when there is very little time to train on a certain day, plus it takes no equipment. If you are training on the same grounds all the time they will remember old marks and can get pulled off a mark by an old memory. Be sure you do lots of singles, especially on grounds you have used a lot. When you get to fresh ground then it a better time to run memory marks. He will be ok, just simplify and make it fun.
    Nate Baxter, DVM
    Clarksville, OH

  9. #7
    Senior Member DarrinGreene's Avatar
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    If you train alone or only with a person or two - try deliberately scenting the AOF and disturbing the cover, so the dog's nose tells him he's arrived. Salting the area with extra birds might also help. Sounds like he's not sure he's in the right place and there might not be a lot to encourage him to be persistent...

    Could also be he sees that freedom as a time to take a break from you and training. You may be out of balance in terms of obedience and blind if that's primarily what you're doing.

    Don't make things too easy for too long, but see if you can find a way to tell him he's there and that he'll find the bird if he keeps looking. If it takes him forever each time he's going to get bored. Sort of the concept with the dirt clod drill.
    Last edited by DarrinGreene; 01-14-2020 at 12:32 PM.
    Darrin Greene

  10. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by NateB View Post
    Originally from NW Illinois so I understand your situation. Have you taught him to go back to a "place" after retrieveing a mark? Its quick to teach, Hillmann has some online videos on it. Once they learn that skill, transfer it to a tall stake you can stick in the ground. Sit the dog at the stake and you walk out, throw a mark. Release him to retrieve it, deliver to you, then send him back to the stake. Have him sit there while you move and throw a different mark, then repeat, but do not throw the same mark twice(look up Hillmann's Y drill on his youtube channel). You can get many marks in the time it would take you to set up even one winger. You can make it fun, and do it when there is very little time to train on a certain day, plus it takes no equipment. If you are training on the same grounds all the time they will remember old marks and can get pulled off a mark by an old memory. Be sure you do lots of singles, especially on grounds you have used a lot. When you get to fresh ground then it a better time to run memory marks. He will be ok, just simplify and make it fun.
    Yep I can kennel him to his field blind so that should work. Is it ok to help on the stand alone marks since you are basically the gunner? I’m lucky enough to have a private company program near me that I have close to 1000 acres of different training sites within ten min of me so we are always in different fields, partially why we have a lot of cold blind work.

  11. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by DarrinGreene View Post
    If you train alone or only with a person or two - try deliberately scenting the AOF and disturbing the cover, so the dog's nose tells him he's arrived. Salting the area with extra birds might also help. Sounds like he's not sure he's in the right place and there might not be a lot to encourage him to be persistent...

    Could also be he sees that freedom as a time to take a break from you and training. You may be out of balance in terms of obedience and blind if that's primarily what you're doing.

    Don't make things too easy for too long, but see if you can find a way to tell him he's there and that he'll find the bird if he keeps looking. If it takes him forever each time he's going to get bored. Sort of the concept with the dirt clod drill.
    i did not think of that I will try scented the area up real good and see if this encourages him to hunt faster more efficiently in the area.

  12. #10
    Senior Member Tobias's Avatar
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    Yes on the stand alone marks. You will be amazed at how fun they are and how quickly they (can) benefit your dog.
    The way I look at it, every dog is an opportunity to be a better trainer, and every day is a new day to be a better trainer to the same dog we trained yesterday.

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