It may sound counter intuitive, but it depends on what you want to accomplish. First, I wanted to give the guys a little mental stimulation. During these months between the end of hunting season and when we begin training, they need something more than daily walks. Second, I wanted Doc to work on stretching his search distance beyond a couple hundred feet.
We didn’t do any training last year, partly because I had to get rid of my birds when we moved into town and I haven’t found a good place to train. Mia came down with a serious GI infection and then was hit with an aggressive cancer that took her life, so training was the last thing on my mind. I wasn’t even motivated to go hunting but owed it to Doc and Elvis, and in the end was thankful I did.
But back to training, I used a technique suggested by another trainer. While walking the guys, I would toss a bumper with a duck wing zip-tied to it. We’d continue on for several hundred feet then I’d stop and cast Doc back towards the bumper. He quickly found them, but this exercise was just to get him comfortable with going long distances for a bird.
I’ll increase the difficulty as we go on, eventually adding a blind to the routine so he should be ready for water work by the time the ice leaves the ponds.