Bird Dogs in Competition

Bob St. PierreWhen Izzy joined our family last May, it marked the first time I’d ever owned two dogs at once. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been amazed at the amount Izzy has learned from my 5-year old shorthair, Trammell. Good manners, bad habits and excellent hunting skills have all been passed along from one dog to another.

However, as bird hunting season has progressed, I’ve observed a new dynamic developing between my two shorthairs – competition for birds. This competition has been manifesting itself primarily in running pheasants, rather than tighter holding ruffed grouse, woodcock or bobwhite quail.   Allow me to explain my observation of this competition through a sequence I witnessed last week in Nebraska.

Trammell locked up on point and Izzy dutifully honored Tram’s staunch point; however, no bird flushed after I proceed to walk in front of the point. Quickly, the dogs and I deduced that we had “a runner.” When hunting solo, Trammell and Izzy would relocate on the bird and lock up on point again without bumping the bird. Together, in contrast, the race began between the two dogs to be the first to find the running pheasant. With this particular hen pheasant, the faster Izzy accelerated by Trammell and flushed the hen at full sprint without considering a second point. I’ve had a similar sequence in which Trammell’s more-seasoned nose led her to the bird first only to bump it without a secondary point.

In general, I like a competitive streak in my bird dogs. I believe it makes them better retrievers in particular. However, with Izzy’s exceptional progress for a 7-month old pup, I’m planning to err on the side of caution and begin rotating Izzy and Trammell between fields in the hopes of steadying her pointing and tracking abilities.

All that being said; I’ll return to the statement I made in the first sentence starting this blog – I’ve never owned two bird dogs at the same time before. And, I’m certainly not a professional dog trainer. So, that’s where I’m looking for the owners of multiple pointing dogs to offer me some advice based on their experiences. How should I best handle the evolving competition between my two bird dogs?

The Pointer is written by Bob St.Pierre, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever's Vice President of Marketing. Follow Bob on Twitter.

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