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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm pretty new to the well-trained retriever world but have been duck hunting for a while. Below is a pretty common scenario for a duck hunt in my area and I'm trying to figure out how best to train for it.

You shoot a single duck that sails down and lands 80 yards from the blind in heavy head-high cover. Dog never saw the bird so it's a blind retrieve. You saw the duck go down but don't know exact pinpoint location. The first 60 yards to the bird are light-moderate cover but the last 20 is heavy cover. Once the dog enters the heavy cover she will be out of sight (think thick cattails).

My instinct is to handle to the edge of the heavy cover, stop her and give a hunt'em up command. However being 20 yards upwind of the bird, she's likely to have a long hunt before she gets a nose full and may never get into the heavy stuff on her own. Alternately you could send her back into the cover, but she would quickly be out of site and you would not be able to handle her onto the bird.

So I guess my questions are: 1. How do most people handle this scenario? 2. In general how do you teach the hunt'em up command such the dog can be released at a distance?

I understand there are differing opinions on the value of hunt'em up blinds in hunt tests and I'd prefer if this thread did not delve into that subject.

For reference, I have an 20 month old lab who just completed her JH title. She's through Double T and is a couple days into swim-by. She's doing senior level marks on land but not quite in the water yet.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.

Chris Reamer
 

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I give my pups a trill on the whistle which is the "hunt 'em up command." (The whistle gets me through a HT when I might not want that verbal.) I do train the pups to go into hunt mode on command. Problem is getting them out of hunt mode when you need to. :)
(Pretty easy to train the hunt 'em up command. Start w/ pup downwind of cover. Toss bird in the cover and give your command. If pup does not move just give the release command and follow w/ the hunt command you decide to use. Next do the same ting while pup does not see you place the bird. Then work downwind. )
Alternative, give pup a strong back to drive into the cover where she can get a snootfull.
Caution: Don't try this south of NC. I never hunt in cover where I can't see the dog in the alligator belt.
 

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I handle my dog to the downwind side of the bird that will best give her the chance to pickup the scent. Once she reaches the cover, and will be going out of sight, I give her a hard verbal cast into the cover to maintain that line. With experience, in a hunting situation, she has learned that once she is out of sight she's on her own. It is not unusual for me not to see her for 5-10 minutes while she is hunting up a bird. We hunt the coastal marshes of southwest Louisiana, so we deal with roseaux cane anywhere from 8-12 feet high.
 

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I'm pretty new to the well-trained retriever world but have been duck hunting for a while. Below is a pretty common scenario for a duck hunt in my area and I'm trying to figure out how best to train for it.

You shoot a single duck that sails down and lands 80 yards from the blind in heavy head-high cover......

........Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.

Chris Reamer

well, I would say stop pass shooting and let um land in the decoys:rolleyes:

but way back when, NAHRA trailing tests let the judges have handlers send dog to the start of the trail like they would send for a blind retrieve. Once you got the dog to the point of origin of the trail dog was free to hunt it up on its own. The training for this test is a value to every duck hunter and a part of the test we should have kept.


.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the responses.

It sound like the consensus is that dogs will learn eventually that during a hunting situation it's OK to go into "hunt mode" once they're out of site. I've probably just been over-thinking this a bit trying to reconcile the pinpoint control we strive for on blinds in training with the need for self-employed hunting in real hunting situations.

So, how do you guys go about teaching the hunt'em up command? My pup is very birdy so I don't anticipate an issues, just curious how its typically taught.

By the way, Ken, I agree I'd love for all of my birds to fall in the decoys. But then I wouldn't really need a retriever...
 

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Thanks for the responses.

...how do you guys go about teaching the hunt'em up command? My pup is very birdy so I don't anticipate an issues, just curious how its typically taught.

By the way, Ken, I agree I'd love for all of my birds to fall in the decoys. But then I wouldn't really need a retriever...
I train for it in the same way, and at the same time I train for the trail portion of the NAHRA field test. In the beginning, I start with a dead duck. I put it on the ground and pluck a wee few feathers off of it. I clip a dog rope to one of its legs and drag it in a straight line and leave it on the ground. I get a dog out and bring it to the feather pile on the ground and encourage the dog to find the bird. At the same time I introduce the verbal queue I will use. The queue I use is "Find the bird", no need to over think this.:rolleyes: As the dog gets better and better at this I both extend the distance of the drug bird, adding turns and cover to go into. And extend the distance away from the feather piles at the start of the trail. Sending the dog to the pile of feathers as if a blind retrieve and when the dog is on the feathers "Makes Game" as they say release him with the find the bird command to go and find the bird.
Note, do not use the same point of origin and drag for the same dog. If you have 3 dogs on your truck you can leave 3 ducks at the end of your trail. But if you have 1 dog on your truck drag 3 completely different trails. Be mindful of your wind and do not double walk on your trail. Take a circular rout out from the end back to your truck.
In the end, you can send the dog and handle it from a very long way to your feather pile and release it to run another very long twisting turning into and out of cover long way to a bird.
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I train for it in the same way, and at the same time I train for the trail portion of the NAHRA field test. In the beginning, I start with a dead duck. I put it on the ground and pluck a wee few feathers off of it. I clip a dog rope to one of its legs and drag it in a straight line and leave it on the ground. I get a dog out and bring it to the feather pile on the ground and encourage the dog to find the bird. At the same time I introduce the verbal queue I will use. The queue I use is "Find the bird", no need to over think this.:rolleyes: As the dog gets better and better at this I both extend the distance of the drug bird, adding turns and cover to go into. And extend the distance away from the feather piles at the start of the trail. Sending the dog to the pile of feathers as if a blind retrieve and when the dog is on the feathers "Makes Game" as they say release him with the find the bird command to go and find the bird.
Note, do not use the same point of origin and drag for the same dog. If you have 3 dogs on your truck you can leave 3 ducks at the end of your trail. But if you have 1 dog on your truck drag 3 completely different trails. Be mindful of your wind and do not double walk on your trail. Take a circular rout out from the end back to your truck.
In the end, you can send the dog and handle it from a very long way to your feather pile and release it to run another very long twisting turning into and out of cover long way to a bird.
 
.
Thank you for the detailed description; it is very helpful.
 

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I handle my dog to the downwind side of the bird that will best give her the chance to pickup the scent. Once she reaches the cover, and will be going out of sight, I give her a hard verbal cast into the cover to maintain that line. With experience, in a hunting situation, she has learned that once she is out of sight she's on her own. It is not unusual for me not to see her for 5-10 minutes while she is hunting up a bird. We hunt the coastal marshes of southwest Louisiana, so we deal with roseaux cane anywhere from 8-12 feet high.
Ditto this.
 

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Thanks for the responses.

It sound like the consensus is that dogs will learn eventually that during a hunting situation it's OK to go into "hunt mode" once they're out of site. I've probably just been over-thinking this a bit trying to reconcile the pinpoint control we strive for on blinds in training with the need for self-employed hunting in real hunting situations.

So, how do you guys go about teaching the hunt'em up command? My pup is very birdy so I don't anticipate an issues, just curious how its typically taught.

By the way, Ken, I agree I'd love for all of my birds to fall in the decoys. But then I wouldn't really need a retriever...


I still want my retirever!!!! Why jump up and run across a pond, swamp, or field when your buddy would love to do it?!
 

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Why wasn't it kept?
"They" said it was too hard to judge or somptin' of the sort. I think Poly Tics:rolleyes:
I pulled it off once. Big dug ditch through the field. Like the farmer was adding a drain, nice and fresh and kinda deep. I started the trail on the other side of the ditch. Told them all I could not make them handle to the point of origin like the old days and everyone was welcome to cross the ditch. Nobody did, they all sent the dog the 5-6 yards down and up to the other side of the ditch to the start of the trail.


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"They" said it was too hard to judge or somptin' of the sort. I think Poly Tics:rolleyes:
I pulled it off once. Big dug ditch through the field. Like the farmer was adding a drain, nice and fresh and kinda deep. I started the trail on the other side of the ditch. Told them all I could not make them handle to the point of origin like the old days and everyone was welcome to cross the ditch. Nobody did, they all sent the dog the 5-6 yards down and up to the other side of the ditch to the start of the trail.


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That's a shame. I kinda enjoy watching a dog work a trail. Knowing a dog is good at working a trail kinda sorta seems like a good thing to consider when looking for a hunt'n dog. I'm no expert but I would think that if a dog brings back the duck sit'n at the end of the trail, someone could judge whether the dog found the duck. Those poly tic things are head scratchers at times.
 

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we still do a trail, and judges do get creative from time to time on how we can start the dogs on them. We have quartered to a trail before etc.but usually the bird magically fell by a ribbon and left a pile of feathers and you can walk up and start the dog right on it... Trails when they work are fun to watch. When they don't they are a bear to judge....

Weather they followed the trail or S O B'd is what was hard to judge. Weather a dog was quartering back and forth across the trail, or quartering back and forth, can be tough. Did the dog blow by a corner by 20 yards, or has the wind carried the scent up the hill that far.

Like I said a well drug trail in good conditions is a balst for all involved including the dogs, and it picks out some dogs that have not been allowed to ever use its nose, but bad trails are a beast......
 

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I'm pretty new to the well-trained retriever world but have been duck hunting for a while. Below is a pretty common scenario for a duck hunt in my area and I'm trying to figure out how best to train for it.

You shoot a single duck that sails down and lands 80 yards from the blind in heavy head-high cover. Dog never saw the bird so it's a blind retrieve. You saw the duck go down but don't know exact pinpoint location. The first 60 yards to the bird are light-moderate cover but the last 20 is heavy cover. Once the dog enters the heavy cover she will be out of sight (think thick cattails).

My instinct is to handle to the edge of the heavy cover, stop her and give a hunt'em up command. However being 20 yards upwind of the bird, she's likely to have a long hunt before she gets a nose full and may never get into the heavy stuff on her own. Alternately you could send her back into the cover, but she would quickly be out of site and you would not be able to handle her onto the bird.

So I guess my questions are: 1. How do most people handle this scenario? 2. In general how do you teach the hunt'em up command such the dog can be released at a distance?

I understand there are differing opinions on the value of hunt'em up blinds in hunt tests and I'd prefer if this thread did not delve into that subject.

For reference, I have an 20 month old lab who just completed her JH title. She's through Double T and is a couple days into swim-by. She's doing senior level marks on land but not quite in the water yet.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you might have.

Chris Reamer
Chris, from my own personal huntin' experiences/situatons,..Simply put,..sometimes traditional handling gets tossed right out of the window in some situations. This is one of 'em...

Sometimes the wind , (although blowing), can be variable. You might have a Northwest wind howling 20-30knots on the open water 20-30miles from you, and it can draft into the small area where you may be huntin'...You really can't handle downwind, so to speak.

For me it's Cypress swamps.
And the best thing I ever did was to teach pup different verbal commands for Left OVER, and Right OVER. Sometimes you may have a general idea where a bird fell and at least without a visual on the dog he can still be somewhat "handled" in high cover..

I'm also in the "hunt 'em up release" command camp.
Edit*
Thot I'd also mention that getting your dog to drive through difficult cover with success is also a good thing.
The only way I've found to do that is to get pup in that situation with some planted blinds and train it. Plant 'em, come back the next day and run 'em as pup progresses.
 

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I'm going to try that blind into a trail thing. I've been looking for novel ways to test control. Most dogs go into trail mode automatically, they know the game when you walk-up. I really doubt mine will like having to an handle before it. It gets harder and harder to get surprised looks out of seasoned dogs, but very worth the effort. This is going to be fun :D
 

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I'm going to try that blind into a trail thing. I've been looking for novel ways to test control.
Seems like it's already hard enough to keep them from going into hunt mode on a blind. I wouldn't train on this. I believe that's why NAHRA made it illegal early on.
 

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I had a mallard sail 150-200yds away in thick, high cover. I thought it was best to mark the AOF and walk my dog around on a road downwind (simplify). He is taugh to hunt and to trail. I told him to "find it" and he was able to work into the cover and get the bird using his nose. That sure beats trying to handle a dog when you can't see him and distrubing the hunt with a bunch of whistles.
 

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Seems like it's already hard enough to keep them from going into hunt mode on a blind. I wouldn't train on this. I believe that's why NAHRA made it illegal early on.
Definitely wouldn't recommend anyone else training on it, my dogs are to the point where it's hard to catch them up, and they need changeling re-enforcement, on giving up control to me, then being able to hunt, then giving up control to me. Also came across this situation at the duck club, where it was very nice to have a dog be able to trail a duck over a dike and into another pond, after sending him on a 100yrd blind retrieve for a cripple, already across a single pond and down into cover. Even If they don't test on it's still a skill I can use.
 

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Seems like it's already hard enough to keep them from going into hunt mode on a blind. I wouldn't train on this. I believe that's why NAHRA made it illegal early on.
The first line on the NAHRA website: "NAHRA’s purpose is to discover and reward dogs that can fulfill the hunter’s needs in the field by performing in a manner consistent with the demands of actual hunting conditions."

The situation described seems like a demand of actual hunting conditions. I'm really confused. Maybe it is just me. I get that way sometimes.
 
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