As soon as the season ends, preparing for next year’s duck season begins. From going through your decoys and putting new weights on, to shooting trap to keep your skills sharp, there are many different preparations of duck hunting that hunters accomplish during the off season. One of my biggest joys growing up as a kid and hunting with my dad was watching our family dog find downed wood ducks in the thick overgrown canary grass on the far side of the river. Seeing their tail turn like a wind turbine when they pick up the scent and the final grasp of the duck in their mouth, you see the sense of accomplishment in the dog’s eyes when they’re swimming back to you. Like everything else we do to prepare for the upcoming season, our hunting companions also need practice to excel in the sport of duck hunting as well.
Every dog owner out there whether they’re a hunter or not has an image in their mind of the “ideal” dog. Whether it’s to heel nicely on a morning walk or to be able to mark multiple downed birds two hundred yards away, both types of dogs are perfect to each of their owners. Whatever “type” of dog you wish to have comes your duty as a dog owner to give your companion every opportunity to achieve its potential.
At the time of getting my dog, I thought that training was just going to happen in my spare time. Boy, was I sure wrong as it grew into something much greater as I saw the progress and potential of achieving my “ideal hunting dog” image. I found myself joining a local hunting retriever club, training nearly every day and having a blast doing it. My dog was running HRC tests and I could see what type of effect it would have on her during the hunting season. One may say that, that much work is overkill and it’s just for your own ego, but again like I said everyone’s image of their ideal hunting companion is unique and no one training technique is right 100% of the time. Only you can decide what you want out of your dog and putting in the proper training to achieve the desired results. I am a firm believer in that dogs are job orientated. Every dog wants a task to do, whether it’s to be a guide dog or search out drugs, every dog wants to succeed in that job and ultimately please their master. My dog’s job is to find waterfowl and it’s reward is retrieving them.
No matter the course of action you take to train your dog, it’s important you get them out in the off-season and touch up on some of the things you will encounter on your hunt. Mimic different hunting scenarios in your training and come this season you will be happy to have your “perfect” companion by your side.