Not all gun dogs are created equal

Written by Jason Carter| May 16, 2019| Bird Dog Training, Bird Hunting Articles, Latest in Upland Hunting

Not all gun dogs are created equal, or personalities, or characters and those details matter.
“I don’t know who or what possessed my dog, but he just systematically relocated every bird into the next county!”

If you have been in this game any time at all, you have been in a similar situation where things simply fall apart at the worst possible moments. Usually during a test or when you’re bragging to your buds on how amazing your bird dog works. It’s in these moments where we get to see the unadulterated character of our dog, highlighting weaknesses in our own foundational work, reminding us how bad things can truly get when the wheels come off.

“Bird dog training at its core is behavior modification reliant upon catching your dog in the thought process and being able to read their emotions.”

These are most certainly not the most enjoyable moments we have with our dog, though it does show us the holes in our training. It’s at this point we are forced to rummage through our bag of training tools (techniques) in hopes of finding the right tool for the job. And hopefully, one that matches the dog’s character at that moment, coining the phrase, “Train towards the character of your dog.”

Bird dog training at its core is behavior modification reliant upon catching your dog in the thought process and being able to read their emotions. Doing so allows us to predict behaviors before they occur, thereby maximizing the potential for learning. Also, the character of the dog at that moment and the behaviors they are exhibiting dictates the amount of pressure required to gain compliance.

Pressure comes in various forms. Understanding pressure and how to use it is entirely another article in itself. Basically, pressure can be generated in a variety of ways. Food pressure is when the dog feels internal pressure to perform for food. The leash and collar is an example of physical pressure. Standing in the proximity of your dog places spatial pressure on them and using corrective tones places verbal pressure on them. Social pressure can even come from the competition of using other dogs.

It’s our job to do our homework to learn how to best utilize pressure to become great teachers for our dogs. Training them to understand how to avoid or turn off the pressure, then driving them up to work while maintaining balanced attention, accuracy, and attitude. Always remember that a dog that has to work acts differently than a dog that desiresto work. Finishing each lesson with the dog wanting more.
Imagine now the possible emotions you would take on if I provided you with a large stack of cash, yet the moment you reached for it I applied heavy physical and verbal pressure on you. Some of you would run for the hills, some of you would stop, thoughtfully assess the situation and wait, where others would selflessly dive head first into the stack yelling, “Show me the money!”

These personality characteristics or reactions are largely genetically reinforced by your parents, with a fair amount of environmental influence thrown in, as well. Basically, you are just wired that way. To get each of you to wait patiently, you can imagine the amounts of pressure I would need to apply would vary wildly. The same is true when dealing with the character of your dogs.

What if I intermittently gave you some cash because I felt bad for you? The payoff would set you back towards where you started, muddying the waters towards confusion. Being a consistent leader is essential to learning. It takes many hours and layers of consistent and predictable training to create good behavior. Though it takes just one mistake at the wrong time to create bad behavior.

A dog’s character is perpetually in emotional flux, requiring you to be fluid in how you handle them. For example, watch a pointing dog and carefully study the dog’s emotions as its handler approaches them and the bird. Often you will see the dog flinch, eyes become fixed and ears perk forward as the body stiffens, loading into catch mode. Conversely, you may see the whites of the eyes begin to show, nervous flagging start and the dog loosens its pointing stance or may even lay down or retreat from the bird altogether.

These antecedent behaviors are a series of reactions to your steadiness (steadiness begins the moment the dog realizes the presence of its handler.) exercises. Behaviors, especially in young dogs, can be abrupt and overt, at other times subtle or even invisible to the untrained eye. It takes a laser-focused trainer to be able to deal with these emotions at the right time. One that requires them to shift quickly from the punishment mindset to reinforcement and back as the dog’s character shifts.

It is impossible to do this if you are distracted in conversation, watching the bird or even worse, taking on the exhibiting emotion yourself. However, if done correctly, from outward appearances one would think you are batshit crazy. Shifting back and forth instantly from the happy, “Atta boy!” tone to the “Bad dog! Don’t you do that again!” tone, all the while matching your tone to the character of the dog. As a rule, the volume of your commands should be limited to the level the dog can hear. It’s our tone that draws out emotional responses that help us shape behavior.

Though you may vary your volume, it’s the inflection in your command that lets the dog know when you’re unhappy, no matter how loud you get. Your tonal bipolar mannerisms help the dog realize in the moment what they are doing is good or bad. Those theatrical emotional reactions generate teachable moments in the training process. It will create clarity, motivation, and understanding while painting a clear picture for your dog. In the end, we are training towards learning while maintaining mental balance. Mental balance being a calm or alert dog that is ready to take in information, keeping in mind that if we go too high into praise or too deep into punishment we lose balance and understanding.

A mother weaning her pup is the perfect example of how to scaffold your training towards the character of your dog. As a pup approaches its mother, the mother will visually posture and may curl a lip. If the puppy persists, she’ll escalate to a verbal growl with an aggressive bark. If still the puppy persists, the mother will verbally and physically pin the pup and mouth it harmlessly until the pup submits. Once the pup gives up the pursuit, she will lick the pup, reassuring them that all is okay with the world. Her discipline of undesirable behavior is absolute.

“Too often folks muck the waters attempting to humanize their dogs and let their emotional attachments interfere with their training choices.”

This illustrates perfectly how we should communicate as handlers. There is no grey area here to confuse the pup. As the bitch never nags her pups, nor should we. Nagging is a habit trainers get into that is simply an inefficient and ineffective way to shape behavior. Too often folks muck the waters attempting to humanize their dogs and let their emotional attachments interfere with their training choices. This prevents them from having the right timing and being able to give the appropriate level of correction when necessary. Instead, they second guess themselves and begin to hack and nag their dog incessantly — thus stealing the joy of the hunt from you, the dog and everyone around you that has to listen. We all should strive to be the pack leader for our dogs. Being fair and absolute balances our dogs mentally, giving them one less thing to think about during the hunt or training.


It’s also important to note the pitfalls of being a one-trick pony, as every dog learns differently. Adding tools and developing a variety of approaches is essential if we are going to meet the needs of the genetic packages we are provided. It’s essential that we are capable of tweaking our approaches to meet each dog’s individual characteristics as they appear. It certainly takes time to develop these skills, copious amounts of patience and realistically some guidance from folks who have been there before.

Your evolution as a dog trainer is dependent on the time you spend with boots on the ground. Don’t worry if you crash and burn, as burning is learning. Have fun, be a thoughtful and fair trainer, and success will eventually find both you and your dog.




By Bill Miller

Its versatility is legendary. Even those unfortunate enough to not spend much time in the outdoors know about the Swiss Army Knife. It’s a pocketknife, but it’s so much more. It’s also a can opener, a corkscrew, a scissors, a saw, a file, even a tweezers and a toothpick

Typical Teutonic design principles make it functional, rugged … some say, over-built. Its color, the simple Swiss Army logo, and even its silhouette, are all iconic. When you look at it, you know exactly what it is and its purpose for being. If you are happy owning a single knife for all your outdoor needs, the Swiss Army Knife is a superb choice.

Now take that description, but put it into the nomenclature of bird dogs. You have aptly and precisely described the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP). If you are the kind of hunter (and we’re intentionally omitting the modifiers “bird” and “upland” here) who wants one dog with the capability to handle any task – in the field and at home – the GSP is a superb selection.

As might be expected from German efficiency, the name of the German Shorthaired Pointer is very specific and to the point. Germany is where it was developed. It indeed has short hair, which is a main differentiator between it and the Verein Deutsch Draathar (which translates to True German Wirehair) and the German Longhaired Pointer. And it is primarily a pointer of upland birds, but it is so much more.

Informal nicknames are simply “short hair” and GSP.

The GSP was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930, but in its native Germany its origins date back to the 17th century or before. According to the AKC, it’s likely the GSP descended from an early breed called the German Bird Dog which itself was a combination of even earlier breeds. Along the way, there was influence of Spanish and English pointers as well as several hounds and tracking dogs. The first studbook for GSPs didn’t show up until 1870.

The silhouette of a German Shorthaired Pointer locked on point, one paw lifted in the air, frozen in space and time except for the slightest quiver of that stubby tail pointed straight back, will make a bird hunter’s heart skip a beat … or several. While the silhouette is universal, the color and pattern of a GSP’s coat is far, far from it. Most GSP coats incorporate dark brown, called “liver”, and some are black. The dog’s head is usually solid or nearly solid while the body can range from solid to patched to freckled to nearly all white.
The GSP is a continental pointing dog – meaning its origins are on the continent of Europe rather than the British Isles. As is the trademark of continental breeds, the GSP has a docked tail. You may think this an unnecessary and archaic ritual, but then you’ve probably never hunted quail in the prickly pear or ruffed grouse in blackberry brambles or pheasants in frozen cattails, thorny plum thickets or dense willow tangles. A long tail beating the cover in merciless thorns is quickly converted into a bloody, painful, infection-prone mess. And back in their history when shorthairs’ predecessors were used for cornering dangerous game like wild boar, a long tail was just another appendage onto which cornered quarry could grab a fatal hold.

The GSP is currently the 11th most popular breed in the American Kennel Club registries. It’s third in the AKC sporting breeds behind only the Labrador and Golden retriever, and the GSP is the most popular pointing breed. It’s also the most popular breed registered with the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA).

n its “Aims, Programs, Test Rules” NAVHDA defines versatility as “the dog that is bred and trained to dependably hunt and point game, to retrieve on both land and water, and to track wounded game on both land and water.” This standard could well be the definitive description of the characteristics of the GSP. Tack on a biddable nature that makes a properly socialized shorthair a great family pet and guardian, and you have even more evidence equating the GSP breed to the iconic SAK (Swiss Army Knife) … one dog to do it all.

While the shorthair has genetics for ultimate hunting versatility, it takes the right training and environment to bring it out. GSPs tend to mature faster than other pointing breeds, but owners must resist the temptation to push too fast or train on a timetable.

Focus on the basics of obedience first. Only then should you turn to simple fieldwork. Don’t graduate to more advanced skills until the foundation is securely established and proven.

If you’re new to the versatile breeds, attend NAVHDA events and get to know the owners in your local breed club and versatile breed training groups.

To learn more about the breed, its standards, and what a GSP is capable of, check out resources from:
•    American Kennel Club
•    German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America
•    North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association

It’s not hard to see that GSP is the Swiss Army Knife of hunting dogs. With the right training it will handle any upland bird situation with aplomb. It will retrieve the birds you shoot, as well as web-footed fowl, and furred game like rabbits and squirrels if you ask it to. Given a chance, it will even do a masterful job of tracking down that whitetail you hit “just a little too far back.” The cherry on top is that with the right socialization and the chance to get good exercise every day, a shorthair makes a terrific family dog and all-around good citizen, to boot.

Is the Swiss Army Knife the “BEST” knife for every task under the sun? Nope. None is. But with one on your side, there’s not much you can’t do and do very well!


Dr. Gracey Welsh gives the veterinarians view on what should be in your gun dog first aid kit.

Advice in this article is meant to help educate and prepare you, but should never substitute for a veterinary examination.  If you are concerned about something with your dog, please visit your veterinarian. This is article pertains to what should be in a gun dog first aid kit. 

I often get asked what the must-have items in a gun dog first aid kit are. I hope this article proves helpful to people who have been considering this question. Here is a list of my must-haves:

Saline Eye Flush: This can be purchased over the counter and is good for flushing out eyes that may have picked up seeds or other debris while out in the cover.

Saline Wound Wash: This can also be purchased over the counter. It’s a great item for initial wound clean ups in the field. Many brands come in an aerosolized canisters that allow you to flush the wound with some force. This helps remove dirt and debris from the wound and is an essential first step at decontaminating a wound. I do not recommend any additives in the wound flush—just plain saline. Saline is better than water, because it is more physiologically similar to the fluid within the body. As a result, it’s gentler on the cells and will not cause further damage.

Bandage Scissors: These are helpful in a variety of situations, whether it’s applying bandages or cutting away snags in a coat.

Hemostats: I usually carry a variety of sizes from small to large. These are my go-to tools for removing foreign objects (quills, thorns, and others), since they grasp the object firmly and pull.

Tick Key: There are many commercial tick pullers out there (I like the ones that look like spoons with a nick in them). They’re great at removing embedded ticks. Not just part of the tick, but the whole tick.

Non-Adherent Pad: These are coated gauze pads which provide some absorbing action and are a great first layer for bandaging bleeding wounds. Since they don’t stick to the open skin, they peel away without causing further pain or damage. You can purchase them in bulk from many medical supply stores or drug stores.

Cast Padding: This soft bulky material is the second layer in any bandage and is used to hold the non-adherent pad in place over a wound. Two to three layers of cast padding provide pressure and protection to an affected area.

Stretch Gauze or ‘Cling’ Wrap: This is the third layer in an appropriate bandage. It provides more pressure and security to the previously applied cast padding. One layer is usually sufficient over the cast padding.

Vet Wrap: This self adhering wrap is a literal lifesaver. It’s traditionally the fourth layer in a bandage application, but can also be used as a tourniquet or a sling for a limb. It’s uses are limitless…

Gauze Squares: Helpful to stop bleeding, apply pressure, clean up blood, and provide extra padding.

Digital Thermometer: In instances where heat stroke or hypothermia are possible, you’ll need to check your dog’s rectal temperature.

1-inch medical tape: Like vet wrap, this is a must have.

Individual sterile lubricant packets: I use these for protecting dog wounds until we can address them more appropriately. After flushing, putting lubricant in a wound will keep out further debris until the wound can be further assessed. It can also make temperature taking more comfortable!

Benadryl Tablets: Useful for allergic reactions in the field.

Hydrogen Peroxide: I don’t recommend using this to clean wounds, as I prefer saline wash. However, this is good at cleaning up blood from hair and skin around the wound. Getting rid of all that dried blood will help you better assess wound size and depth. Hydrogen peroxide is also a good emergency emetic, if your dog ingests something potentially harmful. Ideally, you would only use hydrogen peroxide in this way under the direction of a veterinarian. Some poisons are more harmful if they come back up.

Honey Packets: These are helpful for dogs who experience hypoglycemia or shock events in the field. They can be applied to the gums to provide a quick blood sugar boost.

Iodine scrub: Good for cleaning abrasions or wounds.

Latex Gloves: Wear them to keep wounds clean as you bandage or assess them.

Mylar Emergency Blanket: Very helpful for dogs experiencing shock or hypothermia.

Instant Cold Pack: Provides relief to swollen or painful areas and can be activated on demand, becoming cold within minutes.

Flea/Tick Comb: Removes any bugs that your dog may have picked up.

Dawn Dish Soap: If your dog has an encounter with skunks or gets into a potentially toxic material such as oil, gas, or crop fertilizer, it’s a good idea to rinse him down in this. Some dangerous chemicals can soak into the skin; it’s best to not risk that.

Skin Stapler: Not everyone feels comfortable using these on their dog, but they can be helpful to close large wounds. In most cases, however, a pressure bandage will do the trick. Note that if you close a wound in the field with a stapler, the staples should be removed as soon as you are out of the woods. After that, the wound should be properly cleaned and assessed. If it needs to be closed more permanently, do it under the sterile conditions of a veterinary hospital. A skin stapler is not a replacement for a vet visit!

Veterinary first aid book: A good go-to guide for help during common situations. There are many respectable books on the market to choose from.

Emergency Phone Number: Make sure that you have the phone number of your veterinarian and the closest emergency veterinarians on hand. If you’re hunting in new places, this should always be part of your research. Find out where veterinarians are located and if they will see new clients on an emergency basis. Not all will.

You may have noticed that I did not list aspirin. In my professional opinion, there are almost no circumstances where giving your dog aspirin is necessary. Especially in an emergency situation. Aspirin can be toxic to dogs and can interfere with other drugs that may need to be given in a veterinary setting.

I will admit that I don’t carry all of this with me when in the field. Rather, it lives in a gun dog first aid kit in the back of the truck. It’s best to carry some small supplies with you, like a roll of vet wrap or gauze. That way, you can tackle issues that arise more immediately until you get back to the truck.

Spending time to familiarize yourself with common veterinary emergencies and appropriate care—before you are faced with emergency—can save you time and your dog’s life. Ask your trusted veterinarian for their advice on common emergencies. Or, take the time to read a veterinary first aid book. Some locations regularly host dog first aid classes.

Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety

Poetry Shooting Club promotes the safe use of guns at all times.

Below are the Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety which are taught in every state during their Hunter Education Classes. To learn more about hunter education classes in your state visit

  1. Watch that muzzle!
    ALWAYS keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Treat EVERY firearm as if it were loaded.
    The firearm might be loaded, even if you do not think so.
  3. Be sure of the target, what is in front, above, to the sides and beyond.
    Know the identifying features of the game you hunt. Make sure you have an adequate backstop – don’t shoot at a flat, hard surface or water.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
    This is the best way to prevent an unplanned discharge.
  5. Check your barrel and ammunition.
    Make sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions, and carry only the proper ammunition for your firearm.
  6. Unload firearms when not in use.
    Leave actions open, and carry firearms in cases and unloaded to and from the shooting area.
  7. Point a firearm only at something you intend to shoot.
    Avoid all horseplay with a gun.
  8. DON’T run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm.
    Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch. Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle
  9. Store firearms and ammunition separately and securely.
    Store each in secured locations beyond the reach of children and careless adults.
  10. Avoid alcoholic beverages before and during shooting.
    Also avoid mind – or behavior – altering prescription medicines or drugs.


Ask Rowdy – Issues with 16 mo old GSP with no training

Hi Rowdy Thanks one more time for sharing.What about this situation. I am in touch with a man who has two GSP males 16 months old that have not been worked. He owns the parents and tells a story of them being trailed and doing well. The pups are AKC registered and the old man is in bad health and wanting to get them in a place where they will get work. He is softly asking $500 each which in these times sounds like a deal. What would be the concerns with dogs this age and no bird work?


The concerns would be socializaiton and the type of birddogs they are. If they are dual quality, true Shorthairs (Kurzhaars) with extnesive socialization you are in great shape. If they have been tucked away in a kennel with no human contact and are all-age quality dogs, you are fucked. Find out what quality they are or get a copy of their pedigrees and let me look at it. Also find out what kind of socialization they have had.

Bird work is not even close to being a problem.

Tell me more what this means “dual quality, true Shorthairs (Kurzhaars)” and also “are all-age quality dogs,”‘

Your old dog Heisman was a Kurzhaar. Kurzhaar is the German word for Shorthair.

No pointer crossed into them. I guarantee Josie has more Pointer than Shorthair in her.

“All-age” is the craziest birddogs. They want to run from here to forever and not look back. They are thoroughbreds on steroids with a white coat.

Josie, for example, would be a mild example of an all-age dog.

Yes I remember you touching on this information before. Very interesting indeed. I will get some more background information the owner sounds like he has been a bird dog man a good long while. He says he has the sire and dam and one is one pass away from a champion something or other. AKC papered which I guess does not mean much. Can you look a pictures and know about the dogs breeding??

To a certain extent. I have been out of Shorthairs for about seven years, so it’s harder now. I can tell you if they are crossed with a Pointer or not.

Ask Rowdy E-Collar & Whoa Training

Ask Rowdy one asks One question for you, if you don’t mind giving advice. My brother always says that you should never stimulate the dog with the eCollar when she’s on a bird, for fear that you will accidentally punish her for finding birds. From viewing the video that came with my collar, and some of the resources that you’ve pointed me towards, however, I don’t think that is necessarily true. I have worked really hard to keep Gracey from thinking of the collar as punishment, and when she starts to creep when we’re just working on “woah” at the backyard or in the field, if I give her a really light stimulation and repeat the “woah” command, she locks back up again. So I guess my question is – if she has a bird pointed, and I see that she’s getting ready to creep, do you think it’s okay to lightly bump her with the collar, or is that a no-no?



I’ll give you a short synapsis of how I train my dogs and give you the “why” then I’ ll answer your question in a more general sense. I train my dogs by giving them plenty of pen bird exposure as young dogs. By “young”, I mean roughly four to six monhts of age, depending on the dog. Pen raised birds are great, but they should only be offered in certain settings. After my dog is of a certain age I take away the pen raised birds until we’re starting the breaking process and I go exclusively with wild birds. I go to GREAT lengths to get a dog on ample wild birds. If I can just get him on two or three bird contacts the entire time I have him still keep him off pen raised birds.

Then the breaking. I teach a dog to Stand. Standing is much like Whoaing, but there is no command. You start it by pulling up on a lead and walking away then transfer it over to the eCollar so you can be a hundred yards away, stimulate them around the neck with the collar and they stop dead in their tracks. Then we start birds work. There are several steps, but essentially you let the dog establish point and when he takes his first step – or if you can read him to tell before he takes his first step – you launch the bird and stimulate him to stand. No words are spoken. There are only a few things different about this method and most other methods, but the differences are suttle, though huge. First, you don’t talk AT ALL. The dog goes on point, you don’t say a word. The dog creeps, you don’t say a word. The dog stands up and does the Waltz, you don’t say a word to him. Nothing. This keeps it between the dog and the bird. This is huge. Think about if your dog knows the stimulation is coming form you because you yell Whoa to coincide with the stimulation.

Now, when you’re hunting the dog breaks a hill and slams on point two hundred yards out. He wants to creep and he will because you’re not there and he’s not moved in the past because he’s been on Whoa, not because he’s actually been pointing. Next, launching the bird the minute he moves any part of his body makes the training session not a standoff betwen the dog wanting to get closer to the bird, but having to face the shock from the collar. Think of it. Everything in this dog’s genetic makeup for hundreds of years has made him want to get the bird. Period, end of story. But, we’re laying this out to say, “Okay, if you go after the bird you’re going to be shocked. Go ahead and try it.” That doesn’t make sense. What happens when he takes the first step and is stimulated? He realizes the bird didn’t move so he can take another step. He just has to get the gumption up to get past the shock. He takes another step, gets shocked and the bird still hasn’t moved. Let’s take my method (LARGELY taken from the West method). He takes a steps and BOOM! The bird is up and gone and he gets a queue with the collar saying to stay put. The queue isn’t enough for a correction, just enough to convince him not to move.

Next time he goes on point he’ll think twice about moving because he doesn’t want the bird to be gone. Pretty soon he’ll get the idea and he’ll stay put. If you just want him to be steady to the flush you can let him break IF he can hold and let you flush the bird. If he flushes the bird, you make him stand after. See, we humans tend to make a mountain of a difference between pen raised birds and wild bird. The dog comes into wild birds and they often time flush before the dog gets to them. On the other hand we leave a pen raised bird on the ground until the paint dries. It takes the excitement out of it for the dogs. I often time don’t let the dogs point, often times I wait until the dog gets close enough to get a really great view of the bird then launch it. He thinks, “Goodness, these birds are spooky!”

Your brother is right… and he’s wrong. I had stimulated dogs on point once upon a time, but never could have made it work. I don’t know why, but it must have been the way I was doing it. I’ve seen some people be able to train dogs this way and do wonderfully at it. It is all very, very subjective. The only “law” I consider to be truth in birddogs is to not hurt a dog. I don’t force break my dogs because I don’t like to put undue pressure on them. There is a joke that Ronnie Smith told me once. It went, “The only thing two dog trainers can agree on is what the third is doing wrong, but still can’t agree on how he’s doing it wrong.” I don’t mean to be vague or elusive with my reply, but I have seen this very much in dogs.

There are SO many different methods and such and there are so many who think they have the absolute best way to train a dog that it is insane. I talk to people online who tell me about how they’re training their dog. In my head I think, “Oh, no. You don’t want to do that!” But, I just smile and tell them how great that is because it is great. Don’t hurt your dog and never, ever stop learning, reading, etc. Don’t listen to someone who says he’s got the best method and there are no others who equal it. Follow these few rules and you and your dog should have a very many great days afield. I’m sorry for any typos. I had surgery not too long ago and it affected my ability to read, so proo reading is rough.

You can alter the grammar, etc.

Chat Conversation End


Target Practicing in Awkward Positions

Target Practicing in Awkward Positions

When at the range it is easy to get comfortable shooting from the shooting table with and without gun holding assistance like the lead sled. Plenty of shooters practice regularly shooting free style, off sticks and prone on the ground. Now the next step is to set up the unexpected and awkward shooting scenarios. Competitive target shooters and real, life hunters will encounter situations where they need to shoot awkward and often uncomfortable shooting positions. This kind of shooting take practice and time to set up the challenges. Lots of everyday items can be used to simulate the awkward places a shooter might encounter. Trash cans laid down, rocks plied up, logs and tree limbs piled up, an old chain link gate to shoot through, an opened end drum to shoot through, holes cut in ply wood , old doors and with some imagination many more items from around your home, your work and trash on the curb.

Here at Poetry Shooting Club we are always looking for ways to support the young shooters coming along. My friend Ray Sasser with the Dallas Morning News shared his belief that youngsters needed to have some real life shooting experiences at the range. Many times youngsters find themselves at the deer lease; cold, sometimes wet, in smelly, creepy, buggy deer blind, usually with awkward seating arrangement and expected to rise to the occasion acquire the target and place the perfect shot.

We wanted to help these youngsters so we now have some pop up blinds for youngster to come sit in and practice shooting out of with the target appears. We can also set it up on the pond for clay pigeon shooting from the blind requiring standing up to “Get Em” overhead.

So in the future try to think of different and awkward shooting positions to practice from before the day of the hunt.

Hunters and competitive target shooters are sometimes required to shoot from many different and potentially uncomfortable positions. To be quick and effective requires practice. In this video Clint Smith, President and Director of Thunder Ranch Training Center, walks us through a shooting course designed to simulate several real world shooting environments and provides helpful pointers how to engage targets more effectively.


Should I shoot one-eyed or two?

Beretta Blog

Should I Shoot One-Eyed or Two? – Shooting Tips

Posted by Sara Ahrens

on Jul 31, 2013 9:00:00 AM

When responding to a stimulus, 80% of sensory input derives from the visual sense. This process requires the use of both sides of the brain in order function. Both the left and right hemispheres of the brain share the information acquired through visual input.

When shooting one-eyed, shooters don’t get the full picture. As a matter of fact, without the use of both eyes, many visual functions are limited.

Many shooters initially learn to shoot with one eye and it is a habit that is hard to break. The benefits of shooting two-eyed, however, make learning this skill worthwhile.

Drawbacks of Shooting One-Eyed

There are many disadvantages to shooting with one eye. For those who carry concealed, they do so for self-defense or defense of others. Closing one eye negatively impacts the visual system. Visual acuity decreases, as does depth perception, balance, and spatial orientation.

These are important tasks that must not be sacrificed during serious situations. Shooting under stress complicates things further. Shooting with one eye will decrease the speed and efficiency of information processing. This means that it takes longer for the brain to process the information needed to react. In critical situations, our brain cycles through a process known as the OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act). This is important for threat assessment and reaction time. In addition, after addressing a target, the shooter needs to determine the effectiveness of their actions, and identify the existence of other threats.

Benefits of Shooting Two-Eyed

Shooting with both eyes aids survival. Research has found that both eyes will remain open during a shooting. This is instinctive and cannot be controlled. Therefore, it would be advantageous to learn to shoot with both eyes before being faced with a deadly force situation.

Even though it’s instinctive, practicing the skill increases success rates. The eyes are complicated organs. They are offset, each interpreting visual stimuli from a slightly different perspective. Each eye takes in visual stimulus, and the information from each eye is transmitted from separate sides of the brain to the other. Field of vision occurs when both eyes converge. This convergence allows us to see in three dimensions, determine distances and speed, allow for spatial orientation, and assists with balance.

Our visual sensitivity and hand-eye coordination increases when binocular vision is employed. Visual sensitivity is the ability to respond to physiological changes. This sensitivity provides the shooter with the ability to respond to changes in the environment. It is more than twice as great using both eyes (duh, right?). The shooter will experience an increase in efficiency in hand-eye coordination, also known as visual-motor task.

When addressing a target less than three feet it is virtually impossible to determine distance. So determining distances up to 25 during a shooting situation can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Distances beyond three feet can be judged only by visual cues, which require moving the head back and forth. Individuals with monocular vision are often unable to drive because of being unable to determine distances, they are seven times as likely to be involved in accidents than other motorists.

The use of two eyes in low light situations can increase one’s success when addressing a target. Many shooting situations occur in low light situations. The eye contains cones and rods. The rods are dominant in bright lighting conditions, whereas rods are dominant in low light conditions. The rods are what allow the eye to see detail. The more lighting decreases, the more prominent the cones are in the eyes. This diminishes details that may be necessary for determining whether or not an object presents a threat. Using two eyes while shooting or even assessing a threat, allows for more light to enter the eye. This additional lighting increases our ability to see more details, thus decreasing the OODA loop.

One Eye Or Two? Survey Says…TWO!

Shooting with both eyes open is a skill worthy of learning

Clearly the research indicates that the benefits of learning to shoot with two eyes have a significant positive impact during shooting situations. Shooting with two eyes will improve hand-eye coordination; allow shooters to determine speed and distance of a threat. It allows for spatial orientation and allows us to maintain balance. In addition, it increases our field of vision and shortens our OODA loop in low light situations. Since it has been proven that shooters will leave their eyes open in a shooting situation it is best to practice the skill before it is needed. And although this was probably not the intent of an old adage – it certainly applies; two eyes are better than one.


Crate Training your Quail Bird Dog

Many old time bird dog trainers advocated teaching the first command to be ” Kennel” for young bird dogs. The crate is first used to teach the command kennel and later the command kennel can be used with a point to the pick up, outdoor kennel, a crate,  porch or most anywhere and your quail hunting machine will go where you want them to go without question.

by Geoffrey English

Often clients ask, “What do you think about crate training?” My standard answer, “Crate training is the most misunderstood training techniquecrate-training a new dog owner faces today. Like most things in life, people often criticize what they don’t understand. Personally, I crate train all my dogs that live in the house. Many people have a misconception about what crate training is or what it is not.” In this month’s article I will attempt to dispel some of the myths about crate training and give you some simple techniques that you can begin using today to make the process of crate training easy and create a “domestic den” for your dog.

When done properly, crate training offers dog owners two valuable benefits. First, the crate becomes the place your dog can call home. Second, crate training can considerably speed up the housebreak process.

A Place Your Dog Can Call Home

If you step back in time and look at the canine before man’s domestication – the wolf, you would find a “denning animal” that naturally made himself or herself a home in small burrows on the side of hills and underneath blow downs. These burrows or “dens” were constructed to escape from predators. The early canine quickly realized that a small den just large enough to turn around in would offer shelter from the elements and allow them to efficiently conserve on body heat during the winter months.

Have you ever noticed where your dog goes to escape the hustle and bustle of family life? Inevitably, you will find him or her out of the traffic area and lying under a table or a chair. These areas offer you’re dog the solitude he so desperately seeks. Dogs feel more secure in “denning” environments. If he wishes to get away from the kids or the active of your family you will find that he will retreat to his crate / domestic den. Employing the use of a crate in your home will provide your dog with a place he can call home.

A Home Away From Home

Whether you’re on the road in competition or on vacation, the crate provides a convenient portable den that offers dogs and owners a safe and stress-free way to travel. I have found dogs that are crate trained will experience much less stress on overnight trips than dogs that are not crate trained. This can often be the factor that makes for a successful day in the field.

Crate Training and Housebreaking

Dealing with a crying puppy is often the first problem a new puppy owner must face when crate training. Start by placing your puppy in his new crate for very short intervals. Sometimes beginning with sessions measured in seconds rather than minutes or hours is the best approach. Even better yet, try feeding your puppy in a crate. This will help your young dog establish a positive association towards the crate.

Try placing an garment or blanket with the mother’s scent on it in the crate with the puppy. Additionally, placing a ticking alarm clock outside the kennel can be comforting to your new puppy for the first few nights away from his littermates.

During the first night a puppy is separated from the rest of the litter he will often whine and fuss. This behavior is a very natural survival skill learned early in life. Whether in the whelping box or in the wild, a puppy learns very quickly that when separated from the pack, calls for help will allow other members of the pack to quickly located him, thus reuniting him with his peers. To that extent, many animal behaviorists recommend allowing a new puppy to sleep in the same room with you to reduce this separation anxiety.

Moving a crate into your bedroom accomplishes two things. First, as stated above, it reduces separation anxiety for the puppy. Second, it allows you to monitor your puppy’s housebreaking routine. Before putting your puppy up for the night, make sure he has had a chance to go outside and eliminate.

Inevitably, you will find that as you close the door to the crate he will begin to whine and fuss. Never let your dog out of the crate if he is crying. At first this may not sound logical. But remember, dogs learn quickly through associations. If you open the door when he cries he will quickly think crying opens the door. At this point you will want to introduce a “NO NOISE” command and bang your hand on the top of the crate. If the puppy continues to whine, just ignore him. The last thing you want to do is reward this behavior by opening the crate door and comforting him. The only exception to this rule is when crying is a result of having to go to the bathroom. Therefore you will need to go on those “midnight-walks”. Then if at all possible, wait for a break in the crying before opening the door, even if it is a break for only10 seconds.

The crate can be an effective tool when housebreak your new companion. The underlying reason for this is fairly simple. Dogs normally will not eliminate in the same areas they live. It’s only when a dog has been left in a crate too long that they are forced to eliminate in the crate. Remember, young dogs are not physically able to “hold-it” for hours and hours on end. So when deciding to put your youngster up for the evening, be mindful of how long he or she will be able to comfortably “hold-it”. During the night, if your puppy seems to be stirring, get up and take him outside immediately. With puppies you may have to carry them outside to avoid accidents. Once he has had a chance to relieve himself, bring him straight back inside to his crate. If he begins to fuss again, issue the “NO NOISE” command and be consistent.

After a few nights of dealing with the whining and carrying on, your puppy should begin to make it through the night with minimal fussing. Crate training takes time and sometimes requires a “deaf ear” on your part. Use common sense and consistency in your approach and soon the answer, as whether to crate or not to crate will become obvious. Good luck and enjoy your new puppy.

Rules to live by when crate training

1. The crate should never be used to punish your dog.
2. Keep the introduction to the crate short and sweet. Let the dog get comfortable with the crate before attempting to close the door on him. Once you close the door, reward him with praise and/or a treat. Keep the first few sessions with the door shut short. Ten seconds without crying is what you’re striving for. Open the door and give him lots of love and praise. Slowly, and I mean slowly, increase the time with the door shut.
3. Select the proper size crate for your dog. If you buy a crate that is large enough to accommodate him when he is full-sized, block off an area inside the crate to make it just large enough for him to stand up and turn around. Making it too large will allow him to soil one area and live in the other.
4. Pick up your dog’s water 3-4 hours before putting him up for the night.
5. Allow your dog to eliminate completely prior to being put up for the night.
6. Take him outside immediately upon letting him out of the crate. With puppies, you may have to carry them outside to avoid accidents.
7. Let him naturally find the crate in your kitchen, living room or wherever you decide the crate will reside. Make sure you place the crate in an area well circulated, free of drafts, and out of direct sunlight. Placing food in the back of the crate will encourage your pet to explore and enter this new area.
8. Never let your dog out of the crate if he is crying.
9. Have a vigorous play session before to going to bed.
10. An undergarment or a ticking alarm clock can comfort a new puppy during his first few nights away from his littermates.
11. Never disturb your dog when he seeks solitude in his crate. Remember this is his domestic den and like you, he needs valuable time alone.
12. Finally, be patient and committed to the process.



Quail hunting dogs must be well trained as they will spend a lot of time with and around their owner. The better the quail hunting dog is trained with basic obedience the better the quail hunting dog will hunt quail in the field and be enjoyable as a pet.


by George Hickox


man-hunting-with-dogTraining a young dog is an art, a science and a religion, as helping a genetically sound pup to become a world-class bird dog is a passion that requires a substantial commitment of time. Self-trained dogs are normally delinquents. When you purchase a pup, you make a pledge to bring that dog along right, and just as with other arts, sciences and religions, there are guidelines. If you adhere to the following 10 Commandments of Bird Dog Training, your chances of producing a first-rate gundog will be much improved.
1) Socialize Your Pup
I can’t stress enough that puppies not properly socialized will never reach their full potential. In my experience, pups isolated from positive people contact prior to 12 weeks of age are a trainer’s albatross.

I recently received a letter from an individual who had purchased a six-month-old dog. Since birth, the dog had been kenneled with its littermates, and when anyone approached the enclosure all puppies had sought refuge in the doghouse. At eight months the pup was reticent and timid. I was sorry to have to tell the owner that because of this lack of socialization it would be almost impossible to make his dog into a first-rate hunting companion.

During your dog’s first six months it is critical that the pup comes to know and love you and that you learn to understand the pup’s developing personality. You will see the pup mature and its ability to concentrate increase. A key ingredient in training is to know when the dog is ready to learn as well as when it’s ready to move on.

To properly expose the pup, take it for walks where it will be introduced to new scents, people and other animals. Let strangers spoil it. Pup needs to see the world, not just your backyard.
2) Keep Your Pup Healthy
Establish a relationship with a local veterinarian, and keep pup’s preventatives for parvo, distemper, adenovirus, coronavirus, leptovirus, rabies and heartworm current. Regular checkups will ensure that pup stays healthy and free of parasites. Vaccinating against Lyme disease may be recommended if this tick-transmitted disease exists in your area.

Check pup’s ears and skin for mites and fleas as well as its teeth for tartar buildup. A table where the pup will get used to being off the ground and handled at eye level is a great training aid and makes it easier for you to give a thorough canine health care exam.

Use a quality chicken- or meat-base food. Do not feed too much protein to your growing pup. Slow, even growth is preferable to fast growth. A premium chicken-base food in the 24- to 28-percent protein and IS-to 20-percent fat category is about right.

The amount you feed will change rapidly as pup grows. The benchmark is being able to feel the dog’s ribs. Do not overfeed, as a fat puppy is more prone to hip and bone disorders. And always be sure pup has an ample supply of fresh water.
3) Do Not Rush Training
I tell clients in my dog training schools, “If I wanted my son to be a plumber, I wouldn’t give him a wrench on his first birthday.” In other words, do not expect unrealistic feats from your pup. Too much early formal training may take style and pizzazz out of a youngster. It is wiser to err on the side of caution.

Pup will need to learn certain commands from a safety standpoint and for acceptable behavior in the house. For example, early on you will want to teach the pup “No” and that biting is intolerable. You can also start teaching “Here” by running away from the puppy saying “Here, here, here.” When the youngster gets to you, reward it with a treat, an “Attaboy” or a pat.

When the dog is 10 to 12 weeks old, you can begin teaching “Sit, Hup” or “Whoa.” Don’t make the dog comply for long periods. Your job at this stage is to show the pup what the command means, not demand that it responds like a pro. I don’t like to teach “Sit” to the pointing breeds before I teach “Whoa.” Pups that are taught “Sit” first have a tendency to sit when being taught “Whoa.”

If you have a pointing breed, you can play “wing on a string,” but don’t overdo it. This is a sight game and, if overdone, may encourage creeping. I play this game only to bring out the pointing instinct in dogs up to 12 to 14 weeks old. Developing retrieving instincts early is beneficial. Use a rolled up sock, dog training dummy or tennis ball. Start the pup off retrieving in a corridor so it cannot run away with its prize. The object you use for these sessions should not be left around for the dog to chew on; it is a treat.
4) Be the Pack Leader
It is imperative you understand that pup is a pack animal. If you are not perceived as the pack leader, pup will do whatever it wants whenever it wants. That dream of a well-behaved gunning companion will become a nightmare featuring a bird busting rebel hunting out of range.

I’m not saying you need constantly to project a tough-guy image, but I do believe it is necessary to be a fair boss. It is much easier to establish yourself as pack leader early on than to try to realign an 18-month-old delinquent.

An effective way to establish yourself as boss is to place two fingers into pup’s mouth behind the canine teeth while grasping the dog’s lower jaw with your thumb. Pup will try to pull away and get your fingers out of its mouth. Don’t talk; just keep your fingers where they are. The dog will eventually accept that you are in control.

Also, don’t strike a dog with your hands. You don’t want it to become hand-shy. Picking the pup up and handling it, using the training table and touching the pads of the dog’s feet will help the young dog understand that you’re in charge.

5) Train by Repetition
Consistent performance in response to your commands should be one of your training goals. This is accomplished through repetition, as a dog learns by rote, much as you did when learning multiplication tables. Keep in mind that a dog’s attention span is limited; therefore short, frequent training sessions are far more effective than longer but fewer lessons.

Get into the habit of saying a command only once. Say the command, then make the pup comply. A well-trained dog performs the first time and will only do this if you demand excellence. If your dog learns it does not have to obey “Here” the first time, you may just lose it to a speeding truck on a back road.

6) Don’t Overhandle
I have a friend to whom I’m going to give a roll of duct tape and a pair of handcuffs for Christmas. The duct tape is to place over his mouth and the handcuffs are to prevent him from flailing his arms needlessly while training his dog.

A command from my friend goes something like this: “C’mon, Baby, pick it up; hey, Sweetheart, bring it on over here; good girl, fetch it to Daddy; c’mon, you know what to do.” And all this is accompanied with waving arms and pats on the chest and thighs. My dogs are not that smart; they respond better to one-syllable commands such as “Fetch.” All that sweet talk simply confuses the dog. Again, say the command once.
7) Use Building Blocks
All training experiences interlock. Each level of training must be solid if you’re to eventually hunt over a showcase gundog.

It is improbable that your dog will be steady to wing if it is not staunch on point. Think of your training as building on the dog’s experiences and the commands pup has learned, and understand that your dog, no matter how intelligent, is no Einstein. The teaching of commands must be broken down into sub-parts. “Throw me the football. . . . No, pick it up first.” Thus, the command “Fetch” involves running or swimming to the object, picking it up, returning to you and making a proper delivery.

Your training, particularly at the more advanced levels, such as teaching blind retrieves, will proceed more effectively if you build one command on top of another, making sure that every command is solid before moving on.
8) Don’t Lose Your Temper
As a trainer, you are a teacher first and foremost. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to wear the hat of disciplinarian at times; you will. However, there are a few principles involving correction that will serve you well.

Don’t discipline a dog for not complying with a command it does not understand. I once saw a handler command “Whoa” to his setter as the dog was chasing a bird. The handler then captured and disciplined the dog. In this case the owner had not taught the pup “Whoa.” Thus, the dog had no idea why it was being corrected.

A dog must be corrected at the place of the infraction at the time of the infraction. If you command “Sit” at point A and the dog moves to point B, don’t discipline it at point B. Bring the pup back to point A and demand that it sits. If you command “Here” and the dog runs off before eventually returning, do not discipline the dog. It will think it is being disciplined for coming back to you.

Don’t discipline because you are angry or frustrated. Correct in order to teach the dog you are the pack leader and demand your commands be carried out once they have been taught. If you lose your cool, end the training session. Dogs are very aware of body language and if you are agitated, your dog will short-circuit and become confused.

Don’t resort to a “quick fix” by using an electronic dog training collar to punish your dog. A dog must be conditioned to electronic training, which I will cover in another article.
9) Expose Your Dog to the Gun Properly
“I brought my dog to the gun club to get him accustomed to the sound of gunshots.” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

There are dogs that, having never heard a gun, would be just fine if a rooster flushed in their face and a barrage of shots followed. However, assume this wouldn’t be the case with your dog.

Getting a pup used to loud noises such as banging pans and shutting doors is beneficial. But when I introduce a dog to the gun I want the dog confident around birds first. The local preserve is the ticket, if you do not have birds available for “home use.” When I introduce the dog to the gun, it has chased a lot of quail and pigeons and is bold and confident around birds. Throwing a taped-wing pigeon or releasing it via a bird launcher so that the bird flies 30 or 40 yards with the dog in full pursuit, I fire a cap pistol just before the pigeon comes to the ground. Everything in the dog’s mind at this moment says, I’ve got you, bird! I’ve got you! The dog’s focus is on the bird and, because the pup is bold and confident, the gun is not an issue. I then proceed cautiously and, over time, work my way up to a .410, then to a 20-gauge, then to a 12.

10) Expose Your Dog to Birds
This is what it’s all about- the button popping pride of watching your pup develop into a world-class shooting dog. The more birds your dog is exposed to, the more experience the youngster gets, the better bird dog it will become. But your dog will first need to learn to hunt. It won’t learn this in the backyard sitting perfectly, holding a dog training dummy in its mouth. Birds, birds, birds. This is the key to your dog learning to hunt. If you don’t live in an area where Pup can find lots of wild birds, join a hunting preserve or lease a farmer’s field and use pen-raised birds. The bottom line is that if your dog does not see birds, it will never become an accomplished bird dog.


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