Category: Hunting

Retrieving Birds Training For Hunting Dog

The object in delaying actual bird retrieving was to avoid creating in the dog a desire to pick up and carry birds before he learned to point staunchly and to be steady to wing and shot. To have done this in the opposite order would have resulted in such problems as the dog’s looking for the bird instead of using his nose, getting in too close, and worst of all, breaking point in an attempt to catch it.

It is logical, on the other hand, that if the dog is taught, temptations and therefore problems are less likely to arise. The fact that dummies were used earlier in retrieving is immaterial as the dog will not have connected these with birds. They have merely served to teach him to pick up, carry, and deliver correctly.

As with staunchness and steadiness-to-wing training, it is advisable to use the check line at first and let your helper do the shooting, this time using only the shotgun, as some birds are going to be shot. If you were doing the shooting, your attention would be distracted at the very moment your dog would be most likely to break and run in, which is the time you would have the gun to your shoulder. There is no way you can watch the dog for those few seconds, and he will sense it.

Furthermore, it is most important from this stage in training that both you and your helper be fully aware of two other fundamental principles which must be rigorously observed. These are as follows:

(1) Never shoot a bird over a dog which breaks and runs in as the bird flies. The gunner should always pause first to see that the dog has held before taking the shot. This is because, as I have said before, a retrieve is a reward for doing right. If he breaks, he has done wrong, so no reward should be forthcoming.

(2) Never shoot over a pointing dog a bird which he has not pointed. The bird may, for instance, fly off as the dog is approaching it. If this happens it must be left strictly alone with no shot fired. When hunting wild birds later, there are bound to be occasions when a bird will flush which the dog has not pointed. This will happen often with grouse and sometimes with pheasent. Woodcock tend to hold fairly well, but they too can be fickle. The rule of thumb, especially during a dog’s first season or two, should be to ignore all birds that flush of their own accord and those which you are unsure whether or not he has pointed. This demands self-discipline in great measure, especially if the bird happens to be the first shootable grouse of the day after three hours in the woods! It is a rule most hunters

would not be prepared to go along with, but if you are a dog man more than a hunter, as I hope you are, you’ll have to make up your mind to accept it.

If you do shoot birds over a pointing dog when you cannot tell for certain whether he pointed, you may in fact be shooting birds he has flushed. And birds shot over a pointing dog that he had knowingly flushed lead directly down the slippery slope to unstaunch points and general unsteadiness. Be staunch yourself, and you’ll reap the benefit in seasons to come.

Start by hunting the dog into the area where the birds have been planted, check as usual to see that the dog is staunchly holding his point, then stand on the line. Wait a few seconds and give your helper the nod to walk in and flush the bird. As the bird flies, concentrate on watching the dog, not the bird. Your helper will have noted its location when he shot it, and hopefully so will the dog. When the bird is down, wait a while as you would if it were a dummy and be ready to act, because if a break is going to occur, that’s when it will happen.

Don’t let the dog retrieve the first two or three birds that are shot over him, even though he remains good and steady. Have your helper walk out and pick them up in full view of the dog. As he walks out for a bird, say “Gone away” to the dog, and nothing more unless you have to. Let the dog take a sniff at each bird collected and, as you progress, walk out to pick one up yourself now and then, making quite sure he stands his ground. Now you will appreciate the value of having done this earlier with the dummies, when you allowed him to collect only the ones you wanted.

Repeat the process for another couple of sessions, leaving the check cord in place despite the fact that he’s holding, because next you are going to let him do some actual bird retrieving. They will not be, for the moment, the birds just shot, but cold dead birds from the previous training session. Make sure they are clean and free of blood and have your helper carry them in a pocket or bag.

I prefer pigeons for this but naturally if up until now you have always used quail, by all means use dead quail instead. The reason for using cold dead birds at first is that it tends to discourage a young dog from “mouthing,” which can sometimes  happen when first retrieving warm, freshly shot birds.

Start by having him stand alongside you and give him several retrieves of dead birds thrown by your partner as the gun is fired. Make him wait until commanded to retrieve; also tap him lightly on the head if you used this technique with the dummies. Have him bring them right to hand and, if he’s at all hesitant, adopt the same tactics as with dummy retrieving backing away, whistling, calling him, etc.

After a couple of sessions of this, provided he has performed well, you can proceed to use the dead birds in conjunction with shooting over him after a point and when a bird has been flushed.

This time, when your partner walks in and flushes the bird, he should shoot but not to hit it. Instead he will have with him a cold dead bird which he will throw, after the shot, in full view of the dog, twenty yards or so in front. The dog’s attention will then be wrested from the departing flyer onto the thrown dead one. The dog won’t know the difference. Pause for the compulsory few seconds, then give the command to retrieve. After doing this another two or three times, leave it for the day. Next time out, you can fire the gun yourself but still have your helper throw the dead bird.

Only now and I make no apologies for being so strict because that is what training is all about may you allow him to retrieve some birds that have actually been shot over him. Remember the rules: your helper to do the shooting; you to watch the dog; check line still on; a quiet pause once the bird has fallen before you send the dog to retrieve, and praise when he delivers to you.

Two or three birds shot and retrieved in one session are enough, and remember to let one or two fly off unscathed with a shot fired in the air. You did this with dummies and he came to understand it; now you’re doing the same with birds, so there’s every reason to believe he’ll understand this too. Like us he must (albeit reluctantly) come to terms with the fact that not all birds that are shot at are brought down.

Once more self-confidence will dictate to you when the check line and choke chain can be removed, and lastly, having had your partner shoot for you for a while, all that remains now is for you to do the shooting yourself.

Bearing in mind that you’re assuming two roles i.e., dog handler and gunner your actions on walking up to your dog when he’s on point are going to be somewhat different now so we’ll go through them from A to Z. First make sure that your gun is loaded (it’s easily forgotten!). Approach your dog from the side or front. Give him a reminder to ”whoa” as you start to kick around in the cover in front of him prior to kicking up the bird. Watch the dog carefully all the time for signs of movement. If he holds well, flush the bird but don’t shoot too soon. Pause for a second or two to look at your dog and to “whoa” him again. Then swing on the bird and shoot. As the bird drops, don’t dwell on where it has fallen; instead, look around immediately at the dog again to be sure he has held. Pause, unload, then send him for the retrieve.

A lot to do, you may think, but in practice it’s done almost without thinking and accomplished in seconds. Take my advice and learn to do this as a routine.

What you have achieved by now, therefore, should convince you that at last you have a dog which is steady to wing and shot. There’s still wild bird hunting to be done of course, which we’ll get around to later. But you have now progressed through the most important and difficult stages of this fascinating (and at times frustrating!) aspect of training.

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Alaska Moose Hunt

Alaskan Yukon Moose, the largest of the moose family, with some of the record class trophies coming from this area. Over the past 13 years, we have placed in the top three 14 times in Alaska’s APHA/SCI awards program. Here at the TSIU Lodge we strive in taking 60 inches or better with our largest reaching 80 inches. If someone was to ask me what the chances are of achieving a trophy class moose, I would say, yes the genetics are there.

Moose season is from September 1 through September 20 in the area we hunt. This area has a moderate population of Moose with very good genetics. R&R Hunting takes no more than 6 hunters a year, with an 85% success rate over the last three years. Since 2007 the average greatest spread has been in excess of 60 inches with several in the high sixty and low seventy-inch range.

Single species Moose hunts are 10 hunting days with a travel day on each end. As with all of our hunts, relocating from one spike camp to another during your Moose hunt is just part of the service we provide. Once a Moose is taken, packers are brought in to get him out.

Moose hunts will cost $18,000 (USD) in 2011. Round trip flights from Anchorage to our base camp, or license and tags, are not included in this price.

Alaska Moose hunting is a lot more than most individuals bargain for. Apart from being one of the most impressive big game species on the earth, they are intelligent animals, weighing up to 1800 pounds, and standing around seven feet at the shoulder. Racks can go 77 inches, although 60 inches is considered very respectable. Simply seeing one of these magnificent animals up close is worth all the effort it can take to hunt them.

Most of this effort comes from the wet, nasty, marsh type country they inhabit. Regardless of whether the bulls are in the foothills, or the swamps, the country is likely to be choked with alder, willow, and every other imaginable obstacle, not to mention the water, and the ever present mud that lives to suck the hip boots right off your feet.

I prefer to hunt moose after the first of September (when the rut gets underway), and calling with a lot of scraping is one of our prime strategies, since this can often bring an individual into close range, and sometimes this is the only option if the country is very thick, and visibility limited. Calling is one of the best techniques for archery hunts also. If you are a rifle hunter we suggest 300 Win MAG or larger, such as .338 Win. Magnum and up, using high quality bullets, such as Winchester Fail Safe, or Swift A-Frames, or the Barnes X bullets. Although moose are not notoriously difficult to put down, it is expedient to put then down swiftly, and on the spot, if possible and not shoot them in the hump on the back.

Game Management Unit 6 and19 provides an opportunity to hunt moose in the remote Alaska wilderness, over 200 miles east and west of Anchorage. The country is timbered up to the 2,500 ft. level and the hunting is spot and stalk in most areas, with calling being used as the season progresses. Moose density is fair to good, with predation being heavier in the unit over the past decade, but trophy quality can be exceptional. The season runs Sept. 1th through the 30th.

Moose /Caribou drop camp list 5 – 7 days

  • Framed backpack
  • Folding saw with bone blade
  • Rifle with 20 – 30 rounds of ammo
  • Binoculars
  • First aid kit  aspirin, antacid  Band-Aids, moleskin, Etc
  • Knives/sharpener
  • Good sleeping bag and pad (recommend down to Zero or -10 degree bag)
  • Hip boots – i.e. Cabela’s “Dry-Plus Breathable Waders” in waist-high stocking foot
  • Clip-on suspenders for waist-high waders
  • Flashlight & batteries
  • Camera w/ extra batteries
  • Water bottle (with filter if you desire)
  • Insect Repellent (100% Deet)
  • Stocking hat/gloves
  • Top Quality Rain Gear – i.e. Helly Hansen Impertech
  • Camp Shoes (insulated leather boots)
  • 1 pair insulated hunting pants
  • 1 pair non-insulated hunting pants – i.e. Cabela’s un-insulated Dry-Plus Pants
  • 2 pair top and bottom insulated underwear, med-heavy weight (DO NOT BRING COTTON)
  • Head net
  • Hunting License and Tags
  • 2 – 3 hunting shirts Heavy weight socks, 1 pair for each day (wool)
  • Heavy coat (with Gore-Tex)
  • Cotton Game Bags
  • Personal Toiletry Items
  • Handheld GPS unit – helpful for finding your way in the wilderness
  •  IRIDIUM Satellite Phone is recommended for Unguided Hunters (1 phone per group). Iridium is about the only satellite phone that works good above all over the state.
  • Batteries: Anything that you bring that requires batteries will require spares! Keep your batteries in something warm (like a wool sock) while you’re in the field – cold will drain the battery.
  • SOFT gun case. When you arrive in Anchorage you’ll be asked to take your rifles out of their hard cases for transportation into the field. If you’d like to keep them in a case, you’ll need to bring a soft case with you!

***** REMINDER: EACH HUNTER IS LIMITED TO 125 POUNDS OF GEAR EACH *****
(Doesn’t include the weight of your rifle)

FOOD AND GEAR RENTAL $750 .00 ON TOP OF PRICE

  • 1 6 Man Guide Model Tent
  • 5 #’s of Potatoes
  • Candy/Granola Bars
  • 1 Stove/4 One Pound Propane Bottles
  • 2 Loaves Bread
  • Instant Oatmeal
  • 2 Cots
  • 5 Onions
  • Hot Cocoa
  • 2 Chairs
  • Jar of Jelly & Coffee
  • 2 Rolls of Toilet Paper
  • Jar of Peanut Butter
  • Tea Bags
  • 1 Tarp Container
  • Cooking Oi
  • l Ramen soup
  • 1 Box Matches/Lighter
  • Gatorade/Kool-Aid
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 Cook Set
  • Coffee Mate/Sugar
  • Seasonings
  • 4 Garbage Bags
  • Butter
  • 1 Lantern w/ Mantels
  • 2 Sets of Silverware, Plates, Bowls & Cups

Mountain House Provided for:
Breakfasts, Lunches, Dinners & Desserts

  • 1 or 2 Collapsible Water Containers
  • 1 Roll Paper Towels
  • 1 Dish Soap
  • 10 Quart Size Ziploc Bags
  • 20’ Twine
  • 1 Coffee Pot
  • 4 Game Bags for Meat
  • 1 Basic First Aid Kit
  • Breakfasts include a variety of Oatmeal &
  • Scrambled Eggs (with & without Peppers).
  • Lunch/Dinners include a mixed variety of Chicken, Beef & Pork Entrees – and are DOUBLE servings
  • Desserts include a variety of Blueberry, Chocolate, Strawberry crumbles.

We ask that you please treat the gear as if it was your own, as others will need to rely on it as well. You will be required to pay for damaged/lost equipment.
Do not cook inside your tent. This can deplete oxygen and can damage the tent leaving you without shelter. Use of your camp stove to heat your tent can cause you to run out of propane. Bringing the proper gear will have you outfitted to be comfortable without wasting fuel in this manner.

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Alaska Brown Bear and Grizzly Hunts

 

The great Alaska Brown Bear is certainly one of the most sought after experiences in the hunting world, and the noble creatures are one of my favorite animals as an outfitter. Nothing quite stirs my heart and soul like the sight of a brown bear in the Alaska wilderness, and after our initial early season caribou hunts, brown bear becomes our primary focus for numerous reasons.

The Brown Bears naturally grow big. We have taken many 10 foot plus bears over the year with many skulls over 28 plus. We hunt Brown Bears April through May and September through October. Area permits each hunter to harvest one Brown each regulatory year, which does not count against the harvest of one (l) Brown every (4) years, like in other parts of Alaska.

Interior Grizzly Bears

We conduct hunts for interior Grizzly Bears two different times of the year. Spring hunts start in mid April and go through mid May. Bears are just emerging out of their dens, and are in relatively open country for snow tracking and spot and stalk hunting. This time of year still can be a little chilly, so an extra layer of clothes will be required at times. Our fall hunts are spot and stalk in areas with good berry crops, salmon streams, and Moose hunting areas. Our success rate in recent years has been about 75 to 80 percent, with most of the bears measuring between 7 1/2′ to 8 ‘.

Single species Grizzly hunts are 14 hunting days with a travel day on each end. The cost of this hunt is 2012 is $16,000 (USD). Round trip transportation from

Anchorage to base camp and return, or license and tag fees are not included.

BEAR CAMP – Kodiak, Alaska

Located just on the south end of Kodiak Island in game management area 8 near Olga Bay, lies some of the most prime brown bear habitat on Kodiak Island. It is also rich in salmon streams, and offers a high density of brown bear, as well as the highest concentration of Sitka black bear tail deer on all of Kodiak Island.

How to get there: From the East Coast to Anchorage via Northwest Airlines, for the Midwest and West Coast to Anchorage via American Airlines or Alaskan Airlines from Anchorage to Kodiak Island via ERS or Alaskan Airlines. I will book you air taxi for Kodiak City.
Services Furnished

Upon arrival at Base Camp: sleeping accommodations, all camp equipment,

snowshoes, and food and airplane transportation. Licensed guide for each hunter, field care and arrangements for shipment of all trophies from Base an

d hotel arrangements.

GEAR LIST For Spring Bear

Clothing:

  • 1 pair rain gear; I prefer stretchable PVC  type rain gear. Helly Hansen Impertech is what most of us personally wear. The key here is, easy to dry, and don’t worry about the noise. If you have Gore-Tex you are absolutely confident in then go for it, but nothing stops rain like pvc.
  • 2 pair of fleece, or synthetic pants-avoid heavyweight style (I use Cabalas’ Legacy Fleece and the Wind shear option is preferred in the Spring)
  • 1 down jacket or similar synthetic (essentially a good mid-weight warm layer) Avoid heavy winter style coats.
  • 1 fleece jacket, or pullover-mid weight (Cabalas’ Legacy Fleece or Microtex)
  • 2 thermal shirts, Duofold, Thermax are very good-midweight, or lighter; in my opinion they a simply the best.
  • 1-2 thermal bottoms, (Duofold midweight has two layers of material, 1 layer wool, and 1 of 100% thermax) you should be prepared for temps in the mid 50’s to mid teens with plenty of wind.
  • 3-5 top quality hiking socks, Thorlo’s Mountaineering sock are the best I have found to date. Cost around $17 per pair, but worth it. These are getting more difficult to find and they are fairly bulky for warmer weather or close fitting boots, so I am usually using Thorlo’s Coolmax Light Hiker. Do not, I repeat, do not skimp on socks, or try unfamiliar types for your hunt, buy the best and wear them before the hunt.
  • 1 pair of camp shoes-preferably something lightweight and hunting boots should be of the hiking, mountaineering type. I generally do not recommend anything from hunting outlet stores that pass average work boots off for “hunting boots.” Camouflage doesn’t make a boot tough! My personal recommendation is something by La Sportiva, Scarpa, Lowa, Asolo, or Koflach. I am currently using the La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX for sheep hunting and for spring bear. Bulky boots do not handle or perform well with snowshoes and there is always a good chance of being on snowshoes.
  • Snowshoes: We have Cabela’s Guide Model Snowshoes available to our clients, but if anyone wants something a step above I use and recommend the MSR Denali EVO with the optional tailpieces. They can be found at www.Campmor.com.
  • Backpacks: I am currently using the Mystery Ranch G 7000 that is made in Montana. Capacities for all packs should be 6,000 cu. in. or more. External frames with similar capacities can be used If necessary. Apart from the Mystery Ranch I would look to Dana Designs and Gregory.
  • 1 large pack cover-waterproof Sleeping bag – Currently I am using the Mont-Bell Super Stretch #2, which is a 25º bag and probably not warm enough for some folks. I use the extra long model and it weighs in at 1 lb. 15oz. and of course it is down. Most people will probably prefer a 0º to 15º bag. The Mont-Bell UltraLong Super Stretch #0 is rated at 0º and weighs in a wonderful 3 lb. 1 oz., while the #1 in the same product line is rated at 15º and weighs in at 2 lb. 7 oz. Long bags are recommended if you are 6’ or taller. Synthetic bags rated between 0º to 20º degrees are fine as well, but a bag weighing 5 lb. is simply not the way to go. Please spend the money and keep your bag under 3.5 lb.
  • Therma-rest self inflating pads are great, and I use the Pro-Lite 4. If full length pads are used they should be the models no wider than 20”s
  • 1 hat, and fleece facemask or similar.
  • Gloves-wool, or any waterproof glove is good, although neoprene tends to sweat, and gets clammy. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters for spring hunts come in handy when snowshoeing, few other brands compare.

Miscellaneous Gear:

  • Knives-avoid overweight Rambo knives. Small capping type knives are preferred.
  • Gun oil and maintenance tools. Critical tools to dismantle rifle in the field may save the day. Minimal weight is the key.
  • GSI Outdoors Lexan® 32 oz. Fairshare Mug and additional small cup for coffee, etc.
  • Nalgene water bottles, at least 1, 32 ounce bottle
  • Spoon
  • Washcloth, towel-lightweight, soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, razor if you are so inclined.
  • Packaged moist towelettes (baby wipes) are great for freshening up. Small bottle of shampoo, etc.
  • Flashlight-small LED headlamp, or similar. Headlamps are certainly preferred. I use a Petzl Myo XP LED.
  • First aid-prescriptions, ibuprofen, gel blister pads.
  • MSR Mini-Works – Water purifiers are recommended if you have concerns about giardia and the State of Alaska recommends their use in all waterways. Binoculars-8×40 minimum, but 10×42, or 10×50 are best, higher grade glasses permit longer viewing with less eye strain, which brings better results in the long run-don’t skimp if you are purchasing for the first time.
  • Spotting scope is optional, but recommended if you are going to constantly want to look through your guide’s scope.
  • Laser rangefinder is optional, as guides pack one.
  • Rifles and cartridges should be discussed prior to the hunter’s arrival. 20 rounds of Ammo should be sufficient, but 30 is not too much.
  • Length of nylon rope has many uses.
  • Emergency space blanket, -Thermo-Lite® Emergency Bivy Sack by Adventure Medical Please do not bring the small aluminum foil type that fit in a shirt pocket  Camp Time Roll-up Pack Stool® or REI Trail Chair or similar. Invaluable when glassing for hours.
  • Sunglasses, Sun block

Weight:

  • Individuals need to keep their gear at 50 pounds max, excluding rifle, due to load constrictions on chartered flights.
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