Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Hot weather hunting
|I know that I’ve already written an article warning of the dangers of overheating your dog but, I’ve heard more horror stories of hunting dogs overheating during the opening part of dove season last year than I can ever remember. I find it amazing how some hunters seem to think that it will never happen to their dogs.
No matter who you are guys, you must make a special effort to take care of your hunting dog when the elements are not favorable in the field.
I must say that I learned a lot about working dogs in hot weather since I started hunting Mexico some years ago. Before that, if a hunter confessed to me that he hunted his retriever in temperatures of over-100- degrees, I would have called the authorities and reported this person as an animal abuser. However, I was in Mexico for the dove opener in late August last year with my new 11 month old protégée, Zack, when the thermometer topped out at 116 degrees.
When the weather is that hot and you’re crazy enough to hunt, it’s best to find a shade tree next to the grain field that borders one of the many irrigation canals down there. Water is the ultimate cooler. On that day, Zack held up much better than I did in the blistering heat. I had to remove my sunglasses because the heat buildup between my eyes and the lenses of the glasses was so immense that it swelled my eyelids, which blurred my vision to the point where I had to stop hunting.
We had five Labrador Retrievers in the group and not one of them had a problem with overheating because of our vigilance. The rule that we all live by down there is, “never let them get hot to start with.” No matter how fast and furious the dove action, when any of our dogs showed the very first signs of heating up, off to the canal we went to cool them down and spell them until they had fully recovered before continuing the hunt.
On one day, we were fortunate to find an area where the doves were flying over a canal before getting to the grain field to feed. Needless to say, we shot to our hearts’ content without any worry of our dogs’ overheating as the majority of the birds fell in the water. As a sportsman who hunts with a dog, it’s up to you to make the proper decisions when you are faced with a hazardous hunting situation.
Dog’s can overheat quickly, one minute they’re fine and the next they’re wobbling. If you see your dog slowing, or beginning to stagger, you’ve already waited too long.
If you don’t feel that you are competent enough to determine when your dog is getting hot, (as one hunter confessed to me over the phone) or do not have a local water source to properly cool down your dog, don’t be foolish; leave your dog at home. All hunting dogs need competent human supervision to protect them from the heat. No bird or hunt is worth the risk of injuring or harming your hunting dog.
Have a great season.
Grady Istre’s column on dog training appears every other week. He can be reached at this training facility in Lompo at www.reibar.com