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

1911D10 2T
1911D10 2T

First Look: Tisas 1911 D10 Pistol

Knoxville-based Tisas, a premium supplier of 1911-style pistols, has entered the realm of magnum performance with the launch of the new D10 10mm.

Carbon Express Introduces Maxima Sable

Designed to combine the ultimate in speed and stealth, the Carbon Express Maxima Sable RZ is constructed with Carbon Express’s exclusive TriSpine technology.

First Look: 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR in 22LR

On the heels of CZ’s introduction of the 457 Varmint Precision Trainer MTR comes the 457 Varmint Precision Chassis MTR in 22 Long Rifle. 

2022 Gear of the Year: FORLOH AllClima Softshell Clothing w/RECCO

FORLOH is an all-American gear company formed in 2020 with the express intent of delivering high-quality technology to the outdoor world. It stands at the cutting edge of clothing technology—and it does so with all-American-made products.

#SundayGunday: GForce Arms LVR410

Get a closer look at GForce Arms LVR410, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.

2022 Ammo of the Year: Winchester 6.8 Western

Any way you cut it, this cartridge is a long-range winner. It maintains its energy at distance, and it’s plenty accurate, too.

Interests



Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.