Common Courtesy In The Field

Common Hunting Courtesy

Tips on how dogs (and you) should behave in the field

Probably one of the most important things a gun dog owner can do before a hunting trip is to discuss his or her dog approach and field manners with their potential partners.

Nothing can ruin a hunting trip faster than a companion who doesn’t have a clue about hunting courtesy or a dog that doesn’t respond to commands.

Upland game hunting can be a pretty aggressive sport, so we all need to critique ourselves about how our manners are in the field; it reflects directly on whether we have a good time or a bad time.

Here’s a run down of some common courtesies that a gun dog owner and hunting companions should observe when in the field:

  • Only the owner handles his or her dog. If you’re in a large party and have only a few dogs, the other guys should realize dogs will only be handled by owners. Owners should share shooting with others in the party.
  • Pointing dogs have special rules. Always ask the owner about what he wants. A lot of times, its just common sense. Move in from the side, as the dog can see you coming. Rushing from behind tends to pull the dog off point.
  • Help young dogs under fences
  • Watch your buddies’ dogs out of vehicle or car kennel, because it may bolt out onto an adjacent road.
  • Let birds get high in the air for a safe shot. Always have a presence of mind where partners and dogs are.
  • Learn to handles your dog with no hollering and whistles. Your buddies should not holler at your dog.
  • Teach your dog to honor a retrieve that your hunting buddies dog is completing. There’s nothing more frustrating than to have an older dog cheap shot a younger one that is making a retrieve.
  • Expect dogs to retrieve to owners.
  • Fights may happen, watch out for the males. Reasons for fighting: piles of birds, tired dogs, and general competition—all can create a tense environment.
  • Barking. If your dog is a barker, invest in a bark collar. There is nothing more aggravating than a dog yipping in a car kennel.
  • No treats for the dogs. Stick to dog food, water, and a high protein energy supplement.
  • When asking permission to hunt, share the burden.
  • When hunting pheasants, help determine shots by calling “Hen!” or “Rooster!”.
  • Honor a shot, and take turns shooting.
  • Help spot dead game.
  • Share the game.

If you can talk with your partners before the hunt, you might be able to screen a problem before you get into the field. I think weekends are too sacred to be screwed up by having hunters or dogs misbehave in the field.

Keep your dog cool!

One of the most important things for a gun dog owner to remember when hunting the upland opener is that dogs can be extremely vulnerable to heat exhaustion or heat stroke on days when the temperature is in excess of 60 degrees.

The No. 1 priority is for dogs to have shade and water., and hunters should plan their hunts around the dogs getting water.

If an owner knows that water will not be available on a walk, he should carry a small water bottle to keep his dog refreshed.

Before the season, it’s not a bad idea to shave longhaired dogs to keep them cool.