"Hunting a brace of pointing dogs," Bryce said, "can be a most enjoyable and productive experience, as long as a couple of necessary 'ifs' are included. First, if the dogs get along with each other; second, if both dogs are well trained. By that I mean they must both be steady to wing, shot, and kill; they must both back-point reliably; and they must both respect another dog's right to retrieve his own birds. That may be a tall order, but, oh my, what a joy hunting such a brace is!"
As an example of exceptionally effective bracework, Bryce described how two pointing dogs can work together to make the fleet-footed mountain quail sit tight. When one dog points a covey in a small patch of cover, the other dog goes around to the far side of the patch before honoring. That way, he keeps the birds from running. "My shorthairs, Trigger and Reno," he said, "worked together this way the first time I braced them on mountain quail, and they continued doing it for all the many years I had them."
Bryce recommended that large hunting parties with several dogs should split up into several smaller parties, each with one dog and handler. It's all but impossible for, say, 15 hunters and three dogs to have an enjoyable hunt as a single party. However, three separate parties of five hunters and one dog apiece can do spectacularly well.
"In general," he said, "I don't recommend bracing a pointing dog with a flusher, that is, a spaniel or retriever. The flusher will bust in on the pointing dog's points and start him flushing his own birds. Who could blame him?"
Then he went on to relate how he and a friend have often worked such a brace quite effectively in NAGDA doubles events, however, with Bryce using one of his shorthairs and his friend, Brad, using a Lab. Bryce has let his shorthair range out while Brad has kept his Lab well within gun range. Whenever the shorthair pointed a bird, Brad told his Lab to sit and stay until the pointed bird had been downed and retrieved. Whenever the Lab flushed a bird, Bryce told his shorthair "Leave it; no bird" to allow the Lab to retrieve the bird.
"Of course," Bryce added, "these were two very well-trained dogs and we had worked them together this way in training sessions. I wouldn't recommend trying it with partially trained dogs or dogs that had never worked together in training."
How long should a person hunt his dog without a rest? Bryce has a simple way to determine when one of his dogs needs a break. He teaches his dogs to lie down, but not to sit. While hunting, he loops back to his truck about every 30 or 40 minutes, gives the dogs a drink, and then tells them to lie down. If a dog either sits or crawls under the truck for shade before lying down, Bryce knows that that dog is tired and needs a rest.
As a final thought, Bryce added this: When hunting a youngster with an older dog, the youngster will learn from his older bracemate. Whether he learns good things or bad depends on whether the older dog is a good or bad "role model." Enough said.
| POINTING BREEDS |
This tip is from Bryce Mann of Bryce Mann's Gun Dogs and Guide Service, P.O. Box 283, Tollhouse, CA 93667; (559) 779-2439; Website: www.brycemann.com; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bryce has been training all sporting breeds professionally for 30 years, specializing in training pointing and flushing breeds for hunting, hunt tests, and tournament hunting. He also trains these dogs for hunters with mobility disabilities. He participates in and judges events of the North American Gun Dog Association (NAGDA) and the National Bird Dog Challenge Association (NBDCA). He breeds German shorthaired pointers.