We are obsessed with our bird dogs. Think about it: How many articles, books and online forums did you pore over before deciding on what breed of dog to get next? How much research did, and do, you do to figure out everything from nutrition and exercise, to training and hunting? If you're anything like me, it's borderline unhealthy.
But between you, me and the fencepost, our dogs are worth it. They provide years of loyal companionship and are the cornerstone to making days afield memorable. It's why we do obsess over them, and why we deserve to have some of the best equipment available to train them.
Sure, equipment alone doesn't make the dog — genetics, you know — but having the right gear to get the job done sure can make the process a heck of a lot more successful. And fun!
DOKKEN'S DEADFOWL TRAINERS
The Dokken Deadfowl Trainer, with its hard floppy head and hard plastic feet, encourages dogs to pick it up by the soft middle. The design has been integral in helping me train proper hold during force fetch. The hard head keeps dogs from shaking, and the true-to-life weight of the dense foam body makes the process a lot more lifelike — made even more so by injecting liquid scent, if you're so inclined.
$25 (start); deadfowltrainer.com
Zinger Winger Remote Hunt Tester G5
Zinger Winger made the G5 lighter and shorter for easier transportation. It features heavy-duty hinges and rubber tubing, three sets of anchor hooks for multiple settings, plus a Multi-Shot Sound release mechanism that fires various-caliber blanks as soon as it's launched. Pair the G5 with a remote trainer for convenient one-person training sessions, then fling any fowl or bumper you want to prepare your dog for tests, trials or next hunting season.
$475 | zingerwinger.com
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CONQUEST SCENT STICKS
Sometimes finding training birds isn't so easy, which is where Conquest Scent Sticks makes a suitable substitute. Duplicate the scent of the real thing while utilizing a simple bumper to lay a tracking drill or real-world retrieving scenario. Water, saliva and weather resistant, these convenient sticks are an easy way to add scent without mess. Choose from popular gamebird species, as well as rabbit, raccoon, antler and blood trail.
$13-$20 | conquestscents.com
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GUN DOG SUPPLY COMPANY
Finding your hunting and dog training gear is easy at GDS. If you're a dog guy like myself, this is your version of Amazon.com. Owner Steve Snell provides articles, videos and feedback on gear choices, and you can do some quality assurance by seeing what other purchasers say. Whether you're looking for a leash or the newest high-tech GPS tracking collar, Gun Dog Supply should have a home on your web browser favorites bar.
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There are few things more painful than losing a remote or transmitter — but breaking one comes close. Fret not, because Collar Clinic is an answer to your prayers. In business since 1988, they can make your gear good as new again, no matter how "classic" that collar. Or if you're considering an improved model, trade your old gear for an upgrade or try one of their budget-friendly reconditioned units.
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LCS BIRD DOG TRAINER SYSTEM
When you're knee deep in training gear, there's something to be said about simplicity. Case-in-point: the Bird Dog Trainer. Not only is it a rugged, flexible collar for any hunting dog, it also operates the Remote Backing Dog and Bird Launchers. It's a great system for getting a pointer to honor. Pop the backing dog, handle your pointer to honor, then launch the pigeon to simulate a flush.
$180 (e-collar) | lcsupply.com
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REAL DUCK TRAINING DUMMIES
My dogs absolutely destroy dummies if left to their own devices. And lots of training means bumpers take a beating. That's why I've gradually begun adding Real Duck dummies to my bumper bag. They construct their training dummies out of a super durable poly firehose case. Practically indestructible, they also float thanks to a granulated cork core and hold scent.
$12-$21 | realduck.com
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