Bird on a wire

Doc and Mia on point as soon as I let them out to train

Doc and Mia on point as soon as I let them out to train

I continued with my short training sessions with a return to honoring.

Doc seems to be asking, "now what?"

Doc seems to be asking, “now what?”

I had already released my pigeons for the day so there were only a couple left in the bird loft with which to train.

Doc on point while training

Doc on point while training

The majority of birds were sitting on the power line above the back gate and both Doc and Mia went on point the minute I let them out.

Mia honoring while training

Mia honoring while training

Doc went on point with the first bird and Mia did a nice job of honoring. After that I planted another bird and this time it was Mia who went on point with Doc honoring.

Mia honoring Doc on point

Mia honoring Doc on point

Doc honors Mia

Doc honors Mia

Doc cools off in the ditch after training

Doc cools off in the ditch after training

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Putting it together

Diagram of Mia and Doc's training, 6-21-15

Diagram of Mia and Doc’s training, 6-21-15

Bill Tarrant wrote about the value of short, 5-10 minute training sessions, and it seems to be paying off for Doc and Mia. I take them out in the pasture several times a week for a short training session on blind retrieves, and can see a marked improvement in their casting, searching, and taking a line.

Mia is steady in the blind

Mia is steady in the blind

This weekend they put it all together when I added my duck blind to the equation. More than just wanting to see them make blind retrieves, I wanted to see how long and hard they’d search for the bumper yet still be rewarded with finding it.

Mia searching for bumper during blind retrieve drills

Mia searching for bumper during blind retrieve drills

Mia retrieves the first of three bumpers during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the first of three bumpers during blind retriever drills

I worked with Mia and Doc individually, heeling each of them to the blind where I gave the “stay” command while, out of sight, I set three bumpers. After setting the bumpers, I waited an additional five minutes to test their steadiness in the blind. Since I didn’t know how they’d react to this new setup, I only set the bumpers out about 20 yards.

Mia retrieves the second bumper during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the second bumper during blind retriever drills

Mia retrieves the third bumper after a long search

Mia retrieves the third bumper after a long search

I limited my casting to keeping them in the general area of the bumper rather than trying to cast them directly to the bumper. Mia took a straight line to the first two bumpers but the third was a real challenge. However after about 10 minutes of searching, she came into the scent cone and made a nice retrieve.

Doc remains steady in the blind

Doc remains steady in the blind

Doc searching for a bumper during blind retrieve drills

Doc searching for a bumper during blind retrieve drills

Doc’s setup was essentially the same as Mia’s and he had no trouble with taking a straight line to the bumpers. I would have preferred him to search harder for the bumpers but was impressed with his ability to find them in such short order.

Doc makes a blind retrieve with bumper 1

Doc makes a blind retrieve with bumper 1

Doc with blind retrieve 2

Doc with blind retrieve 2

Since Doc and Mia had the privilege of training, I let Elvis, Sophie and Dakota run in the pasture for a bit.

Doc makes his third blind retrieve

Doc makes his third blind retrieve

Abbreviated water training

Our training pond.

Our training pond.

Last Sunday I took Doc and Mia to McTucker ponds in order to get an idea of where they were with water retrieves. I started them out on a couple of plain bumpers which they became bored with after a couple of retrieves, so I switched to bumpers with bird wings attached.

Doc returns with a bumper

Doc returns with a bumper

Mia returns with a bumper

Mia returns with a bumper

We only worked for about 15 minutes when some people set up a couple of chairs on the opposite side of the pond and began shooting their shotguns occasionally. Since I didn’t know where they were shooting or what they were shooting at, I called the dogs back in and gave up for the day.

Doc wades out for a bumper

Doc wades out for a bumper

Mia retrieves a bumper with bird wings attached.

Mia retrieves a bumper with bird wings attached.

Since it’s a nice area to train, we’ll definitely return – when there isn’t so many people around, that is.

Mia wades out to retrieve

Mia wades out to retrieve

Doc goes into deep water for the bumper

Doc goes into deep water for the bumper

Mia and Doc return with bumpers although Doc dropped his on the way back.

Mia and Doc return with bumpers although Doc dropped his on the way back.

Trap shooting

The trap range is open to the public on Thursday nights throughout the summer

The trap range is open to the public on Thursday nights throughout the summer

Thursday evening I went out to the trap range and shot two rounds, one with my 16-gauge and one with my 12-gauge. Talk about a reality check, my shooting was dismal! I only hit 8 of 25 with my 16-gauge and not much better, 10 of 25 with the 12-gauge.

The good news was that after talking with some of the other shooters and looking the guns over, we determined that the stocks are too short for me. With that in mind, I’m going to lengthen the stocks to see if that helps.

Blind introductions

I did a little goose hunting last year which meant sitting in blinds or behind trees waiting for them to fly over. Mia, Elvis and Doc were not impressed with this type of hunting.

Sophie peers out of the duck blind

Sophie peers out of the duck blind

So when a good friend gave me a new portable duck blind, I decided it would be good to introduce the guys to hunting from blinds. It took a while to figure out how to set it up, but once I decided to stop following directions, it went up much faster.

 

Elvis, Mia and Doc inspect the blind

Elvis, Mia and Doc inspect the blind

After letting the guys investigate and inspect the blind, I did about 5 minutes of training for their first session. I didn’t focus on how long they stayed in the blind, but rather, looking for triggers that would cause them to break.

Doc and Elvis check out the blind from inside

Doc and Elvis check out the blind from inside

With each dog, I called them into the blind and gave them the “stay” command, then walked out of sight for a couple of minutes. They all did well with that so the next step was to go into the house and wait a few seconds before going back outside and releasing whoever was in the blind. Again, they all did well with that little exercise.