What is a Recall Pen
A recall pen is a very effective tool in the training of a bird dog. The primary use of a recall pen is to set up a training environment that simulates the encounter of birds by a bird dog. By simulating this environment, a bird dog trainer and/or owner can work with the dog to determine his strengths, weaknesses and improve on anything they feel needs to be improved upon.
Most bird dogs naturally have the ability to locate and point birds, but a lot of dogs will creep in on the birds and flush them before a hunter can get close enough to make the shot. A recall pen can be used to correct this.
Design of a Recall Pen
A recall pen is usually a box frame covered with hardware cloth or some kind of wire mesh small enough to keep the birds in and the predators such as snakes, hawks, foxes and coyotes out. The recall pen usually has two compartments. One compartment holds all the quail while the pen is not in use. The second compartment has a funnel going into it from the outside approximately 1-2 inches off of the ground. Both compartments have a door for access by the owner of the quail and recall pen.
Recall Pen Interior
The holding compartment or living area where the quail live is where the owner will place food and water. This compartment also provides shelter for the birds from extreme weather conditions such as direct heat and winter freezing. The recall portion of the pen has a funnel in the side of it. The funnel’s largest hole, which is about 4-6 inches is attached flush to the outside wall of the pen and extends inward and slightly up to its narrowest end which is approximately 3-4 inches in diameter. The funnel is approximately 1-2 inches off of the ground.
How the Recall Pen Works
The reason a recall pen works is because quail like to covey up or huddle together. The owner of a recall pen purchases around 8-12 quail, leaves them in the pen for a couple of weeks so they will form a covey, then releases a couple at a time so the quail in the pen will call back and forth to the quail in the field. The released quail will make their way back to the pen, usually before sunset and climb back in through the funnel. It’s not uncommon for a few “wild” quail to show up in the pen every now and then.
Training the Dog on the Recall Pen
Just before working the bird dog on the recall pen, quail can be let out to fly wherever they may fly, or the owner can take a quail out of the pen, tuck its head under its wing, spin it around a few times, then strategically place the bird at a location in the field. If planting the quail in this manner, the owner should wait 5 minutes or so to give the quail time to recover before working his dog. While working the dog, it’s a good idea to have a long length of rope attached to his collar to retain control so the dog can’t catch and hurt the birds. A shock collar can be used as well. After working the dog on a few quail, it’s best to give the quail at least 2 hours to get back to the pen because quail generally will not move after dark.