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Mismatch in the grouse woods (advice requested)


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14 hours ago, 406dn said:

I do not know about the situation in Wisconsin specifically. I do have a pretty good understanding of how the birds react if they are heavily pressured.

 

They, like many other animals, move to an area where they aren't pressured. That might be a half mile or farther. You can see this often at field trial venues when the dogs are run over the same ground many days consecutively. The birds move off the courses. 

 

So if the pressure is as described, the birds will move. They do not stay and get messed with for days on end. So if the Wisconsin area is a public preserve open to training, the birds will move to the surrounding area. Once the pressure subsides, they will filter back into the area.

 

 

 

 

 

Doesn't work that way on the piece of ground I'm referring to. Here's why: the only available sharptail habitat is about 6400 acres of prairie grass and scrub oak barrens set in the midst of mature pine plantations and hardwood groves. (The barrens are the original habitat, btw, but barrens don't produce saw logs and pulp.) The place is quite literally an island of sharpy habitat in a sea of mature forest. And it's crisscrossed with access roads. The birds have no where to go except from one section to another where there is another group with dogs waiting for them.

 

I live nearby and watch the place closely in August. You will frequently see groups of 3, 4, 5 trucks with dog trailers attached parked at many of the crossroads in the habitat. They are there before sunrise and train every morning until it gets too warm for the dogs. There is a constant din of barking dogs, whistles, and shouted commands echoing around the place. It happens every single morning from Aug 1, until early Sept when MT and the Dakotas open their prairie grouse seasons. Then the pressures drops off almost totally. So, for about six weeks the birds are pressured every single day, then they're forgotten about because WI doesn't currently have a sharptail season. Some broods are good fliers by Aug 1, some aren't. Regardless, they're all expending a lot of energy dodging people and dogs.

 

Full disclosure: I have run my dog there in the past, but I am rethinking my position, especially after talking with the folks at the WI Sharptail Grouse Society (I'm a member, but I hadn't ever thought to talk with them about this stuff until I spent a day in a duck blind with the President - who is a retired DNR biologist - and the Secretary of the org. this fall.)

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Boon,   So, I was in the exact same situation.  I've been hunting grouse since 1986.  Up until now all of my dogs were easy handling and had what I felt was an ideal range for grouse (for me

He won’t slow down and you should hunt him on the prairie where his talent and breeding were designed for    or find a guy that wants that type of dog   Not what you wanted to hear

My first experience with a pointing dog was much like yours.   I grew up around hunting dogs (beagles and the occasional lab), but I was never around a dog with as much drive or range as my first sett

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boon hogganbeck
13 hours ago, Don Steese said:

I'd agree except for the part about giving or selling the dog to someone who wants a big runner. From reading Boon's posts it seems like this dog not only runs big but he's not pointing and holding birds either. Maybe give him to someone who just wants a house dog??

 

I have trouble evaluating him. For wild birds, it's not great. He's pointed a handful of grouse (maybe 4 or 5 out of 70 contacts).  But most flush wild, as he's just running buck-wild and spooks them.  I don't think he smells those spooked birds--once he picks up scent and "bangs on point," he's solid, and there have been several instances where he points the spot where the bird had been bedded, after the fact.  But that "banging on point" thing is not working for grouse.  I know that people like that for aesthetic reasons, but for the spooky birds I encounter, nope.

 

He points and holds training birds, and has a lot of intensity on point, but he tends to crowd them or want to.  (Yes, I've done the "pop the pigeon early" thing when he gets too close.)  Like, pointing a bird at 15' is a great performance for him.  His ground race is extremely fast. And we typically road him with a UTV before training, taking a big loop around the farm with the dog in the harness (this dog loves to be roaded, it's kind of amusing), to burn off that energy...but it doesn't take too much off!     I have trouble telling if it's his speed, a weak nose, or a combination of both.  The other setters I've seen in the same conditions tended to point their birds at a much greater (and preferable) distance compared to my boy, even his littermate; however, while those others are big-running field trial dogs with a lot of zip, mine seems to rip across the field with a faster pace, pretty buck-wild, and he's also smaller (43 pounds w/o an ounce of fat on him), so he has a lot of go.  My mentor has observed that the dog seems short on nose; regardless of his scenting ability (I mean, as handlers we can only guess, we'll never really know), his pace does not do him any favors.

 

But ultimately, I want him to be a wild bird dog. Hoping quail and woodcock teach him caution. My gut tells me it's gonna take a whole lotta birds to get this dog where he needs to be... maybe more birds than I can provide.

 

Regardless, I'll keep hunting & training him, because he's my only option at the moment, and he's part of the house now, as he has bonded with my 6-year-old son (and with me) & it would break the kid's heart to send the dog down the road.  If he was more of a kennel dog & less bonded with us, though, I'd be more inclined to send him down the road. 

 

This has been a long thread, but like I said at the beginning, my issue is more with his speed (out-running his nose) than his range.  I have reeled him into where he typically hunts 150 yards or less in grouse cover, though that takes a few taps of the e-collar to remind him, especially when he's right off the tailgate. Going forward, though, I'm going to dial it back to 100 yards.  

 

Last year, he wanted to do the 300-400 yard thing, so he is showing progress.  

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boon hogganbeck
2 hours ago, max2 said:

Have you considered sending your pup off to a pro trainer ? I mean a live with trainer ? The best thing I ever did was to send my pup off after I determined I needed help. My old leg's and a hard charging pup were starting off great but could see the future would be up in the air as far as I could tell.

 

Your pup sounds much like Axe . You call him hard headed SOB. Lol ! I did the same with Axe ! After Axe was with the trainer for a month I asked if  he was a hard headed SOB or was he just play'n me. My trainer chuckled and said he was just play'n me.

 

Amazing how smart these creatures are and how fast a pro can get results. Money well spent -IMO . Before I thought of adding another dog I would spend on the one I have. Again just my opinion. Sounds like your pup has what it takes and might just need some guidance to bring it home.   A lot of great ideas in this thread but end of the day where do you begin . Can be kind of confusing. 

 

To side track this thread 😁 For you folks that pin grouse at great distance I would love to see your pup's pin a ~ NY flushed a half dozen or twice times for that matter. I think Pa. is probably a lot like NY when it comes to chas'n grouse.  Lot's of pressure on these birds.

As always JMHO ~ 

  

 

You know, the areas I hunt in PA do not seem pressured much (but I hunt some pretty nasty stuff that takes a good hike to get to).  In my covers, I have encountered a grand total of 2 hunters with dogs in the last 2 seasons, both on opening day.  Nothing after that.  The grouse numbers are spotty, flushing 1 or 2 an hour is a good day, and the state shoots out pheasants with a fire-hose, so 95% of guys with dogs do that when the season comes around.  (Heck, when I went out looking for woodcock on a state gamelands, we put up a dozen pheasants in an hour without even trying for them.)   HOWEVER, the grouse are extremely spooky and don't tolerate much pressure from the dog, even birds I'm confident that haven't been flushed before by hunters, and I think that has a lot to do with how many predators we have.  I often find piles of feathers.  The less-cautious birds get weeded out pretty quick.   

 

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8 hours ago, KCrowley said:

 

Doesn't work that way on the piece of ground I'm referring to. Here's why: the only available sharptail habitat is about 6400 acres of prairie grass and scrub oak barrens set in the midst of mature pine plantations and hardwood groves. (The barrens are the original habitat, btw, but barrens don't produce saw logs and pulp.) The place is quite literally an island of sharpy habitat in a sea of mature forest. And it's crisscrossed with access roads. The birds have no where to go except from one section to another where there is another group with dogs waiting for them.

 

I live nearby and watch the place closely in August. You will frequently see groups of 3, 4, 5 trucks with dog trailers attached parked at many of the crossroads in the habitat. They are there before sunrise and train every morning until it gets too warm for the dogs. There is a constant din of barking dogs, whistles, and shouted commands echoing around the place. It happens every single morning from Aug 1, until early Sept when MT and the Dakotas open their prairie grouse seasons. Then the pressures drops off almost totally. So, for about six weeks the birds are pressured every single day, then they're forgotten about because WI doesn't currently have a sharptail season. Some broods are good fliers by Aug 1, some aren't. Regardless, they're all expending a lot of energy dodging people and dogs.

 

Full disclosure: I have run my dog there in the past, but I am rethinking my position, especially after talking with the folks at the WI Sharptail Grouse Society (I'm a member, but I hadn't ever thought to talk with them about this stuff until I spent a day in a duck blind with the President - who is a retired DNR biologist - and the Secretary of the org. this fall.)

 

After reading your first post I looked into Wisconsin's sharptail situation and saw that they don't have a hunting season on them this year and it looks like it would be very limited if and when they do.

 

So, I could concur that a remnant population that is isolated, the state should think about if and how much dogs should run on them.

 

I have friends that have gone to the field trials that are run there. I was running dogs with one of them today. He thinks there are good numbers of birds there when the trials are run, which are somewhere in the middle Of September.

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Scott Berg

A few years after the canine genome was mapped, Mark Neff did a study at UC Davis.  They took DNA from dogs across the country that were exceptional at handling birds as well as dogs that were poor at handling birds.  His hypothesis as I recall was that their relative ability was a product of how dogs processed information.  This was not a low rent project done on a whim.  Someone traveled from California to our kennel collect the DNA.  It was funded by the NIH with the intent of this study basically being a precursor to human mental illness studies.  That’s a longer story.

 

In short, they concluded pointing is a behavior impacted by how they process information.  Of course, relative scenting ability could contribute but their findings indicate how the dog processes information is the most influential determinant of how well a dog handles birds.  IMO, some dogs run to run while others are extremely focused on finding birds.  Point being it’s probably not that they outrun their ability to scent.  For one reason or another, they do not adequately process the information going to the brain.
 

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