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shooting rows of cover...follow the path to work wind or let the dog lead?

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put the dog on preserve birds again yesterday and a few 'is that how it works?' things popped up.


Typical hunt seems to be about 2hrs.  For the first half of that Oliver is fast and hyper.  Covers a lot of ground but will skid to a stop when he gets scent.  ranges to maybe 50-60 yards.  this cover is nice for a game farm but has obvious unplanted rows to walk.  Ollie spends a bit more time on this than he does in the brush.  Last half of the hunt he's slower and more methodical.  More time in the brush.  


Yesterday towards the end i said to my son 'lets just follow him wherever he goes and see what happens'.  we still had birds in the field some of which we had opted not to shoot because we felt he bumped them.  Well this last 20 min or so he completely ignored the cut areas and just followed his nose.  three birds in no time and every one was an excellent point without crashing them.  


This was his third 'hunt' at this place.  So i'm wondering what the learning curve is like for pups (he's about 14mos old) and also for owners.  Should i be leading the way in what i deem the best way to cover the ground and keep track of what we worked or should i just follow his nose entirely? 


Next question is how much 'run around and be a nut/poop' time do you give your dogs fresh out of the truck?  my son quipped that we should run him a mile or two then hunt him.  i'm not sure if he's chilling out a bit and being more thorough after the first hour or if this is a function of him being new to this and learning where he might find the birds over the course of the hunt.  


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Some dogs don't learn to pace their rate of speed until they are 3 to 5 years old.  Youngsters tend to run like fools until they can work off enough energy to settle down and work sensibly.  It might help to do some roadwork with him 3 days a week.  Also might help to run him for an hour or so the day before you want to hunt, then he won't be so fresh coming out of the truck.  More exercise and more days in the field will help.  Your pup seemed to work his birds better when he had blown off some steam.

As far as the question of who leads the expedition, I decide the direction we will take to work a certain cover, and I expect my dogs to turn when I turn, and stay in front.  If the dog is hot on something, I will let the dog work it out though.  He knows a whole lot more about scent than I do.  Nice to hear you've been getting your pup and son out.  Family hunts are like treasure.

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Rockford Setters

Teaching the dog to quarter in front of you by using a check cord will have him thoroughly work the cover and stay in a range that is more suitable for hunting.  You are the boss and need to let know that.  You should not be at his mercy.  Devise a pattern that effectively uses the wind to allow the scent of the birds to be the dogs advantage.  Yard training proir to hitting the hunting field goes a long way to making the dog a part of the team.

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