Jill is my first genuine bird hunting dog.
But that’s not how it started out.
Jill was born on November 2, 2008 and came home on December 23, 2008.
Little did I know that this would be the start of a very magnificent adventure that, even to this day, continues.
She Can Hunt!
I didn’t expect Jill to be anything other than a companion for Ariel, our Great Pyrenees.
Apparently I wasn’t thinking at all. She came from great hunting parents that I’d enjoyed hunting behind for many years.
I guess I just didn’t put together the formula that goes Brittany + Quail = Bobwhite Quail Hunting Dog.
Little did I know that some hunting dogs don’t or can’t hunt.
They need to be tested to see if they have an interest in quail.
Lo & behold, Jill definitely had an interest in quail – many other types of birds as well.
When I started sporting clays, I had many years of casual hunting behind me to help me get started.
Jill, on the other hand, had thousands of years of genetics to help her get started.
She pointed instinctively but needed further training to be a safe and effective hunting partner.
I did a bunch of research on bird dog training and almost all of my research pointed to Harlen Winters at Winter Kennels as the best bird dog trainer – if he’d take me and Jill.
He said he would but only under the following conditions
- I leave Jill with him and do not visit for 1 month
- I come every Friday thereafter until she was trained – approximately 4 months
Little did I know that I would get trained much more than Jill did…….
Phase 1 of Training was getting her pointing consistently without spooking or chasing birds. This took about a month.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there during this part of the training. Harlen wanted to have plenty of undistracted time so that Jill would bond with him and take his instruction and coaching.
An important part of a great hunting dog is good hunting manners. I’m not a purist – what South Texas Boy could be, right?But, I also really really dislike hunting dogs with poor manners. In the worst case, an unruly dog on a hunt or in a duck blind can cause a devastating and even deadly accident. At a minimum, a poorly behaved hunting dog is a terrible distraction from one of my absolute favorite pastimes.
So, Jill learned to back. Backing is where any and all dogs that are NOT first dog to discover and point, stop behind the first dog and point as well. A poorly behaved dog will run past the first, pointing dog and probably/usually spook the birds. You can just imagine how the owner of that first, pointing hunting dog now feels. Backing is also known as “honoring the point” wherein we imagine that the secondary dogs are paying their respects to the first dog who found the birds.
She learned to cool off in the hot Texas summer!