How to Shoot Safely With Your Gun Dog

How to Shoot Safely With Your Gun Dog

Anyone who hunts over dogs long enough has a story about a tragedy narrowly averted. It's true that accidents happen to everybody. But it's also true that accidents involving guns and dogs are much easier to avoid than to deal with after the fact.

Here are some tips that will improve your safety around any gun dog and make you a better dog trainer to boot.


The first is to be aware of where your dog is at all times. This is easier when hunting over the pointing breeds than when hunting over flushers like Labs and spaniels, but it's equally important. An easy way to keep track of any dog is to fit it with a bell or beeper. This is especially helpful in thick cover.



When hunting more open cover, bells aren't really necessary, but if you're hunting over pointers, knowing exactly where each dog is located before you shoot is critical.

It's even more important if one or more dogs go on point on a hill above you, where it's possible for an unseen dog to wander into the path of a shot string. First locate the dog on point, then any other dogs nearby. Only then should you move in for a shot.


If you're hunting with a friend, make sure both of you know where the dogs are before either of you shoot. When hunting over flushers, this means letting your partner know when the dog is making game, so he has time to pinpoint it before the bird goes up.


When hunting over a pointer, this means telling your partner where the dog is pointing and having him confirm that he sees it. Some think that the sound of the human voice spooks birds; others don't. But there's no argument that locating your dogs before the birds flush is far safer than blazing away and hoping for the best.

A final safety precaution is a well-trained dog. Dogs that are steady — either to wing or to wing, shot and fall — are far safer than those that bolt and chase. Steadiness training isn't difficult but it does take time and involves the use of penned birds.

It's an ideal project for the summer months before the season begins, and your dog will enjoy every minute of it.

Recommended for You

Profiles

Today's Large Munsterlander

Jerry Thoms

This handsome, versatile breed is gaining in popularity.

Accessories

A Mini-House for Quail

Bob West - September 23, 2010

Here's how to ensure you'll have a plentiful supply of birds for training. By Bob...

Shotguns & Ammo

Beretta's Forever Over/Under: The 686 Silver Pigeon I

Nick Sisley - May 01, 2019

Buy this 686, and it may be the last upland gun you ever need.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

French Brittany

Named after its homeland in northwest France, the French Brittany was bred from small, land spaniels and setters. Learn why this dog was referred to a compromise dog and how and when the spaniel moniker was dropped.

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 9

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 6

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Shotguns & Ammo

10 Great Shotguns for Sporting Clays

David Hart - June 13, 2016

Sure, you can bust clay pigeons all day long with the hand-me-down pump tucked away in the...

Shotguns & Ammo

9 Great Left-Handed Shotguns

David Hart - May 24, 2014

David Hart gives you the rundown on the best left-handed shotguns available right now.

Shotguns & Ammo

Best New Upland Shotguns

John Taylor - September 10, 2018

In the market for a new upland shotgun? Here you'll find shotguns to fit every pocketbook and...

See More Stories

More How-To

How-To

How to Shoot Safely With Your Gun Dog

Dave Carty - March 31, 2014

Anyone who hunts over dogs long enough has a story about a tragedy narrowly averted. It's true...

How-To

What You Need to Know About AKC Crossovers

James Spencer - April 14, 2014

On July 1, 2013, the American Kennel Club (AKC), in what they call a "crossover," allowed two

How-To

How To Pick The Perfect Golden Retriever

Tony J. Peterson

Here's what to look for when choosing this breed for your next hunting dog.

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×