The canine obedience factor via shed hunting

If you’ve got a dual-purpose shed and bird dog, antler outings are the perfect opportunity to work on in-the-field obedience.

No matter what type of bird hunting I’m engaged in, I hate having to yell at my dog. In fact, my goal in life is to not ever have to voice a single command in the field. Instead, I like to give a whistle and then a hand signal, to keep things as quiet as possible. Now, this doesn’t always happen, of course.

Sometimes you’ve got to give your dog verbal commands.

I realized this while shed hunting with my black Lab recently. While I’m more lax on the rules when we’re out for an antler stroll, I don’t want to encourage her to get too far away or too carefree. I also don’t want her to chase turkeys, but if there is one hole in her game, it’s a burning desire to one day catch a wild turkey. She succumbed to this desire recently and I was forced to pipe up.

The good thing about a shed hunt is that those mistakes don’t matter to me much, at least not like they do when I’m grouse or pheasant hunting. That incident was also a good reminder of why I like shed hunting with my dog. I get to work with her, in the field, without the pressure of actually hunting anything. Sure, we’re looking for antlers but we’re also just looking for a little fresh air and a chance to be in the woods.

She gets to do her thing, and I get to watch her to make sure she does it right. If she doesn’t, I don’t mind taking a few minutes to work on whatever is necessary. There is nothing like spending a lot of time with a bird dog looking for something – anything – that allows you to develop a working relationship with them. Enough time like that, reinforcing obedience and good-dog behavior, and things get much easier come fall when the pheasants are flushing and ducks are working the decoys.

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