It’s less than a month away, fellow hunters, what we have been waiting for, September 1 is just around the corner. It’s not only the day dove season opens, but it’s the pathway to everything that flies: waterfowl, quail, pheasant, chukar and grouse, to name a few of my favorites. Luckily, you still have time to get your hunting companion ready for the big day, but it will take a bit of work on your part.
Hopefully, all of you know that getting your dog in shape for dove is only the beginning of all the work that needs to be done to make sure he’s ready for all the bird hunting that lies ahead. I hope you are as amped up as I am because it takes motivation to begin working ahead of time to get your dog in both mental and physical shape. If you have not worked with your dog since last February, he is going to be rusty to say the least; no matter how well-trained your hunting dog is, he needs a tune-up before the season begins, or your first day out may not be much fun.
There is still plenty of daylight left when you get off work, or early in the morning if you prefer, so begin making the transition from couch potato to training your dog a part of your daily routine. Start with only a ten-minute-per-day workout for the first week; if anyone will need motivation it will likely be you and not your dog; hunting dogs are always ready to work. Your goal during this time is to not only get him in proper physical shape but in an obedient frame of mind, as well. You could, of course, work on some low-level form of obedience such as “heel” and “sit” in order to accomplish your goal, but let me suggest that you work on his steadiness instead. I always like to get more than what you might call, “the obvious goal” out of a training session. That’s why I recommended presenting a challenge instead of something easy like an obedience drill. Steadying your dog does this. You will not only reinforce a necessary skill in dove hunting, (not going before sent) but will also certainly add to your dog’s overall respect level.
If your dog is trained to a higher level and is capable of running blind retrieves, you might work on that. Handling your dog on blind retrieves requires a great deal of self-discipline on the dog’s part, and should automatically put him in a submissive frame of mind, which is exactly where you want him to be when the first of September rolls around.
Having an obedient dog on the opener will add a great deal of pleasure to your hunt, and may be the difference between getting a full limit of birds or leaving a few in the field, so it’s well worth any effort you put out. Have a great opener