My black Lab is defective. That was made abundantly clear when the kids and I took her out on a pheasant hunt a year or two ago.
We had seen a pheasant run into a line of Russian olive trees, so we knew it was in there. I turned Riley loose to go flush the bird out, but she just wandered around. I thought she might get the idea when she hit on the pheasant scent, but she didn’t ever get birdy at all.
Then the pheasant ran out where we all – including the dog – could see it. Riley just stared at it. I ended up sending Logan in to flush the bird, hoping Riley would catch on. Logan got the bird to fly, and Colby and I knocked it out of the sky. I looked at Riley to see how she handled the gunfire, and at least on that score she lived up to her hunting heritage. She watched the bird fall, not bothered a bit by the shotgun blasts.
But then nothing happened. I told her to go get it, and she just looked at me. So I led her over to the bird and pointed at it. I encouraged her to get it, but she just sniffed it. I picked it up and showed it to her, and she continued to just sniff.
I think she does have some hunting instinct, but it proves that a hunting dog doesn’t just happen. Every hunting dog needs training. I had done some training with Riley before that trip, but obviously not enough. I need to get her back out in the pasture with a pheasant wing to track, bumpers to retrieve and drills to complete. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of time. Five to 15 minutes at a stretch are all you need to do. You just have to do it a lot.
Don’t set your hunting dog up for failure. Make sure it’s well-trained before you take it out to the field.