Can a Gundog Be Too Controlled?

by
posted on February 14, 2014
dogs_ah2015_fs.jpg (10)

My friend's Lab quested the switchgrass in a perfect windshield-wiper pattern. He always turned on the whistle, almost constantly checked in by making eye contact with his master, and never strayed more than 5 yards ahead of us. Upon most of his passes in my direction, I could've reached out and touched him with my boot. He was, in other words, not my kind of dog.

Was he obedient? Sure, in fact I suspect that's exactly the type of command many would like to have over their dogs. However, my personal preference is for a dog that goes about his work closer to the edge—he's under control, but some might say just barely.

It's a fine line, and a difficult one to describe for those who haven't owned such a dog or don't prefer the style. I believe it gives the dog more freedom to hunt with confidence, make decisions and use his instincts, including adjusting to the wind accordingly. He's still hunting for you, but without any robot-like dependence on your instruction.

Alas, I believe the lack of wild pheasants in some areas of the country has popularized dogs with a "shoe-shiner" mentality. They can get away with finding game-farm raised birds at the hunters' feet, but how would they fare on savvy, wild, running roosters? And have those who train them (frequently fellow easterners, it seems) lost sight of what that actually requires? Often when a bird does move on excessively close-ranging dogs, the scent is too long gone or the wind is improper to allow tracking. And if a dog can't track a running pheasant, what advantage does it really offer over simply walking the field?

So, give me a dog with heart and I'll allow him to use it. Depending on wind direction, he may quarter as far as 25-30 yards in front of me. On occasion allowing him this freedom will bite me, but I want a dog that isn't afraid to get out there and find birds. We'll bag more roosters than a dog trained to prance upon his owner's boots and have a whole heck of a lot more fun doing it.

Latest

MAIN Hallway (1)
MAIN Hallway (1)

The Great American Outdoor Show: A First-Timer's View

Follow along for an average day at the Great American Outdoor Show, filled to the brim with exhibitors, excitement and educational opportunities. The show will continue until Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.

Apex Ammunition Introduces Mossy Oak Greenleaf Turkey TSS Blend

Apex Ammunition has introduced its newest ammunition for turkey hunters, the Apex Mossy Oak Greenleaf Turkey TSS Blend.

NRA Great American Outdoor Show is Live!

Join fellow hunters at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show, the world’s largest outdoor show, from Feb. 4-12. This nine-day event in Harrisburg, Pa., celebrates the hunting, fishing and outdoor traditions observed by millions of Americans.

#SundayGunday: Colt Anaconda 4"

American Hunter Editor in Chief Scott Olmsted was on hand in December at Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Ariz., when Colt introduced its four-inch-barreled Anaconda.

New for 2023: Remington Premier Long Range in PRC Chamberings

Featuring Speer’s revolutionary Impact bullet, Remington has now announced three new PRC loads that will be available in late 2023.

Beretta Launches A300 Ultima Turkey Shotgun

Beretta has announced the launch of a new turkey-hunting shotgun—the A300 Ultima Turkey.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.