Bird Dog & Retriever News

August / September 2003 issue Page 37

 Why That Dog Don't Hunt
By Dave Duffey
Every decent gun dog has
his "off" days. "Even su
perlative performer and champion mess up from time to time. The fact that the top dogs do it less frequently is what sets them apart from the mill-run sporting dogs who satisfy less fortunate or less demanding owners.
In some instances there may be justification in a hunter claiming that his dog will "settle down and start doing the job as soon as he gets the edge wore off" and such dogs can be well worth feeding. But there are other dogs, slow as the check-out line at a Wal-mart store and amiably indifferent to bird scent or flight who don't belong in the game anymore than an athlete who doesn't dig it during practice.
But regardless of innate quality, sound training and tolerance for those "bad days" when nothing goes right, there is no question that a "fresh" dog will out-hunt a "bushed" dog, all other things being equal. Obvious as that made be, too few birds shooters factor in fatigue when they praise a dog or cuss him out.
A worn out dog won't seek game diligently but that which he does encounter won't be as keenly scented and (in the case of flushers, spaniels and retrievers) will elude the pursuer. Pointing breeds will sloppily stand game rather than point it with intensity and style or mess up good finds by some careless breach of manners.
Too few sportsmen even think in terms of getting the best work out of their gun dogs by considering an optimum hunting time. The time frame a which a good gun dog will be "putting out" to the greatest and most effective degree before wearing down so much he starts making mistakes and losing desire is much shorter than most people realize. In my experience, top performance time is under two hours at a pop and depending upon individual inheritance and conditioning it may not exceed an hour. So an hour and a half is pretty good average to expect a dog to work well at the upper limit of its ability without a break.
When most sportsmen brag on their dogs, however, their praise is for dogs that "can go all day, all week" or "hit a good hunting lick all morning" or "are still going strong at quittin' time". No consideration is given to a peak performance period or to spells when the wheels are spinning slowly while slipping, sliding: not digging in to provide traction.

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Copyrights Bird Dog & Retriever News May 2003
Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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