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Grady Istre – FIELD DOGS

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Friday, September 28, 2018
Assessing Performance
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Training attitude


Dog blinds
These days, most waterfowl hunters are concealing their dogs from view of savvy ducks and geese that they hunt by using a blind. I myself had never used a dog blind while duck or goose hunting until this year. In the past, I’ve seen dogs returning with a duck in their mouth, splashing through the pond, and still ducks are landing right next to them. Not only did the ducks seem to have no fear of the dogs, but they did not associate a dog with hunters. As I see it, that has changed. Over the years, ducks have educated themselves by paying attention to hunters’ tactics and I really believe it's due to the larger number of waterfowl hunters.

doginblind

My granddad was a market hunter back in the heyday of American waterfowling. He used hand-carved decoys made of cypress wood to lure in his prey. The decoys were unpainted, improperly-sanded replicas of ducks, many of which had their heads missing because he shot most of his ducks on the water. Yet, he lured in and shot enough ducks to sell and feed his family. I don't think those old decoys would attract as many ducks in today's hunting world.


Manufacturers of dog blinds get more creative every season. They started out by simply making a metal shell and covering it with camo cloth, and that worked well for starters. Into today's market, the blinds fold flat for storage and have a handle or shoulder strap for ease of carrying out to the field. Some of them have telescoping legs that fold down to elevate the floor some 34 inches in order to keep your dog higher up out of the water. To make your hunting dog more comfortable, many of these enclosures have a porous bottom, which eliminates excess water from a wet dog. Depending on your needs, you can purchase one of these blinds for around $55 all the way up to just under $200, and there’s a great variety to choose from.


One other advantage to using a blind has to do with steadiness. Most dogs feel more comfortable lying down in these blinds, and that makes them more steady to shoot when the action begins. Just having your dog in the “down” position will add to his discipline level as well. It does takes a bit of training to get your dog comfortable with using one of these blinds, but that not unusual. I've witnessed guys trying to force their dogs into a blind without much success. I simply take a dog treat, break off a piece, and give it to the dog. Then, while you have your dog’s attention, quickly toss the remaining piece into the dog blind. I’ve yet to have a dog not go in after that treat.


You can even think ahead, and feed your dog his dinner meal inside the blind. The idea is to demonstrate to the dog that it not dangerous, and no harm will come to him or her if she enters the blind. I had one client who put his dog in a dog blind while he cut his lawn. Getting creative by putting your dog in different situations can only help.


The ducks are getting smarter, fellow hunters, and we need to either adjust or just admit that we have been outsmarted by a DUCK.


Have fun training!


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Grady’s column generally appear in WON every other week and he can be reached at reibar.com


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