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How to pick the perfect hunting bird dog

Updated on July 5, 2011

How to pick a perfect bird dog is every hunters dream.

A dog that impresses him beyond all other dogs.On large tracts of land in the south,an English Pointer or English Setter are the favorites.They act fast are wide range dogs,with stamina and eagerness.They hunt a with true style.

Although the Brittany Spaniel and Gordon Setters do a great job also.

German short-hair breeds are also used on the big preserves because of their being slow and staying in close proximity to their handlers.

Finding and pointing birds are only part of the job,as they have to be successful at retrieving also.

Some plantations keep retrievers for the sole purpose of fetching your birds,while the actual hunting is done by setters.

It becomes apparent that there is much more to shooting upland birds than first thought.

This makes the shooter an ecologist just as well as a bagger of birds.

Let's take the Southern Bobwhite quail for instance.It is a plump little bird and very pretty,smaller and darker then the western relative.

Their are many subspecies of Bobwhite quail ranging throughout most of eastern north America.

An average Bobwhite weighs around 5 ounces,is eight to ten inches long with a wing span of about 14 inches.

In coloration the bird is mottled,with grey,brown,Rufus and whitish.Has darker stripes across and on the side of it's head.On male birds the stripes are black with white lines running through.

On females the colors are darker with a lighter cream or tan rather than off white..

The Bobwhite is just a pretty bird.The Bobwhite is a very delicious bird to eat,but also very fast on the wing and elusive.They can fly for short distances of 40 miles per hour.

Quail feed and rest in groups of ten to 20.Believe it or not they roost on the ground in a circular formation with their heads out and their tails together.

In colder weather they roost so close together that their tails are pushed upward.

By keeping their wings compressed tightly together the bird gives off little scent.

The scent pattern of odors a dog picks up changes as the heat,wind and other weather conditions bring about.

As the bird moves around,it's trail of odor is dispersed,and when in flight it leaves a trail of odor like a jet plane.So the only time a quail doesn't give off odor is when it is in the compressed mode.

The style of performance of each dog is different.

The pointer must have enough intellect to know where the likely hiding places of quail are.

They must cover these spots without any waste of time,with speed to cover a big amount of ground without exhausting.The dog must stay on the course his handler puts him on ,and must not range out of earshot,whistle calls or hand signals.

When locating birds the dog must stay back far enough as not to flush the covey,before the handler gives the command.

When the birds are downed the hunters call in the retrievers to collect the downed birds and the hunt resumes once again with the setters.

It is tempting to shoot birds,rather than follow the aesthetics of dog handling,and this has an effect on a dog.

A dog is a highly charged animal with one thing in mind and that is to get his mouth on a downed bird,but he must not.

A well trained shooter will not shoot without the dog behaving correctly at the rise of the covey.

As you see the dead bird is the dog's reward and this discipline is refinement which is difficult to achieve.


Brittany Spaniels

We were on our way to hunt Gambel;s quail in New Mexico and stopped at a rest stop to stretch our legs and also the dog's legs.

All of a sudden I heard the peeping sound of a Gambel's quail and so did my Brittany.She ran along the fence trying to get in with the quail,so I lifted her over and she headed out through the barrel cactus,prickly pear and cholla clumps.I heard the quail chirping as they moved away and then became silent.I assumed my dog had set the birds,and moved forward after her.

I picked my way through the thorny patches and found my Brittany in a heap,clustered with cholla cactus all over her legs.I carried her to the car and proceeded to pull cactus thorns with my pliers.After two days of healing my pooch moved smoothly through the cactus as she learned how to cope with the terrain.

Mant dog owners would never hunt cactus country,but most dogs will learn the painful lessons quick.

Gambel's quail like the scaled quail will run considerably distances if the cover is nill.Even in heavy country the initial flush will be out of range,and the birds will have to be pushed hard to make them take to the air.

We found a draw of mountain mahogany and scrub oak to hunt and turned the dog loose up it.

   In 15 minutes our brittany was on a covey,but the quail broke cover too far up the hill for a shot.We proceedded on up the hill and into another draw where my dog had another covey set.

This time we got within shooting range and the birds came out of the heavy brush in a blur.We both took a bird apiece and then proceeded on to another spotin the canyon.We saw lots of quail but didn't take our limits that day.Our Brittany Spaniel learned the traits of hunting in cactus country which makes them a smart to observe bird dog. 

Begging Rat dog
Begging Rat dog


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    • Miss Lil' Atlanta profile image

      Miss Lil' Atlanta 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Hey flread45, I love the Hub.

      I like practically all Hunting Dog breeds, since most of them fall under the Gundog Family category, and Gundogs are some of my favorite Dogs.

      Personally, my favorite Gundog and Hunting Dog breeds are Irish Setters, Pointers, English Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Brittanys, and Weimaraners.

    • flread45 profile image

      Frank 8 years ago from Montana

      My Irish setter chased wasps around the pool.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      The rat dog is so cute! We had an Irish Setter my husband tried to train as a bird dog. He gave up when she kept getting distracted with the butterflies.

    • flread45 profile image

      Frank 8 years ago from Montana

      These dogs make great pets for the non-hunter also..

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      Thnk you for your information which I never knew, not being into hunting. However, it was interesting.