Hunting & Heritage,Bird Dogs & Training  |  05/02/2013

Your Dog Can Help You Shoot Better

A solid point will ensure a better shot at the bird. Quail Forever File Photo

I was again reminded of how working with our dogs, thinking like they think, can produce better shooting from us. I was watching the raw footage from a recent TV hunt in Alabama, where a companion got so nervous (or was he dazzled at “Buddy’s” performance?), the bobwhite had ample opportunity to fly wild or scoot out from under Buddy’s point.
Luckily the bird held and the outcome was fatal for him. If you want a similar outcome on your next quail hunt, read on …
First, ensure a solid point and a bird that holds still rather than a scampering off unscathed. Start by being punctual. Once your dog stands the bird, walk in with alacrity. The longer you dawdle, or admire his stunning good looks, or take photos, the greater the chance a bird will flush wild, run off or the dog will do the flushing for you.
Then, assert yourself. Over many years in many fields one thing is clear: both birds and dogs hold better when the gunner moves with confidence. Once your dog shows you the bird, stride right in and everyone will likely do what’s expected of them. No sneaking, mincing or doubt … this is the time to show you are in charge.
Choose your route with care. Swing wide around the dog and you’ll cut off one of the bird’s escape routes. Two gunners performing a pincer movement means even fewer bolt-holes for a cunning rooster more inclined sprint than fly.
Flanking your dog also minimizes his chance of breaking point. “Allelomimetic behavior” is a highfalutin phrase for the actions of that flock of birds that jives in unison or pair of wolves on the hunt, trotting in parallel. Sauntering close alongside a pointing dog is an invitation to follow you into the flush –that’s how we teach “heel,” after all.
Quail Forever contributor Scott Linden lives in central Oregon, and his passion is pursuing quail pointed by his German wirehairs, “Buddy” and “Manny.” The host of Wingshooting USA is the author of the new book, What the Dogs Taught Me. He also designs dog training gear including leashes, collars and his patented Real Bird Bumper®.