: I read many posts about wild birds and how the
: best dogs are those that find and handle
: game where it lives and reproduces. I agree
: with these posts by and large but I did want
: to point out a few fallacies in their
: My references to make these comments:
: 1. Grew up in Iowa during the last heyday
: of Midwest bird hunting. No problem killing
: a limit of quail or pheasant nearly any day
: you wanted to. Even after moving away, made
: frequent trips home every year to hunt and
: work dogs in summer training. Started
: ruffed grouse hunting during these years
: 2. Moved to Florida in 1976 and experienced
: mighty populations of quail in the
: transitioning orange groves in and around
: Tampa, FL. Continued to shoot many birds.
: 3. Went to Middle TN in 1980 and stayed ten
: years. Watched the population of birds
: decline and the encroaching population start
: to swallow up good cover. I was part of a
: very competitive group of quail hunters who
: tallied every covey, dead bird and points
: our dogs made during the season. We all
: tried to beat each other and held a couple
: "friendly" unsanctioned dog trials
: each season to see who had the best bird dog
: in the county. Possessing that traveling
: trophy was a big deal and started my field
: trial career. Was on the ground floor of
: the start of the NBHA Futurity in 1987.
: Continued to hunt grouse in TN, WI and
: Ontario once a year.
: 4. Went to Texas for eleven years beginning
: in 1990 and saw the ups and downs of the
: quail population. Maintained more than one
: lease and was on MANY more with friends over
: those years. Saw more birds fall in a
: season then most people kill in ten. Also
: saw years where the birds just disappeared
: and no one shot any. Kept a lease for seven
: more years after leaving so had around 18
: years of TX bird hunting to testify about.
: Continued to travel up north for some summer
: work and to open Pheasant season in Iowa or
: North Dakota or Nebraska or Kansas.
: 5. Moved to KS in 2001 and hunted all over
: the state for quail, chickens and pheasants.
: Continued to go north and south.
: 6. I have hunted and/or field trialed in
: 20+ states and Canada over five decades now.
: At one time, I was eat up with bird hunting
: and wore out clothes, boots, dogs, and
: friends (and almost a family) chasing them
: around. Birds and dogs amaze me and I
: always wanted to be in the field to be
: entertained and to do my part to keep the
: balance of nature. ;-) Today, I can truly
: say I have absolutely no need to kill a bird
: ever again even if they came back and 50
: coveys a day were available. I already quit
: shooting them when the numbers were like
: that in Texas.
: So if you will accept my experience with
: birds and hunting, let me comment on wild
: birds and bird dogs.....
: 1. When there were enormous populations of
: quail in TX, every swinging dip stick
: thought he had the best dog in the world.
: How the hell could you tell when there was a
: covey of birds every hundred yards? If I
: hadn't seen a covey in a quarter mile of
: good cover, I could whoa YOUR dog and likely
: flush out in front of him for a little
: distance and get up a covey! Every pointing
: dog will point and having too many birds is
: NEARLY as pointless as having too few.
: 2. I do not know how to start dogs without
: wild birds. I have trouble evaluating how
: good the dog may be unless I have territory
: that requires a diligent and pointed search
: for somewhat hard to find birds to prove the
: dog's talent. In TX when there were off
: years with few birds is when I found out who
: had the best dog! In TN, it was which dog
: could search and find birds in thick cover
: and then work running birds in lespedeza.
: 3. Guys go to the prairie in summer or
: early fall or used to go to West Texas in
: the winter to work on wild birds for the
: express purpose of seeing if you had a great
: dog or the makings of one.
: 4. Released game trials have changed the
: field trial game and hence the evaluation of
: bird dogs and breeding stock and NO WAY is
: this for the better. It is what it is but I
: pay less and less attention to wins in many
: venues because I question what that trial is
: measuring! This is coming from a guy who
: does participate in throw down trials,
: pre-released trials and wild bird events.
: Just as I once was "eat up" with
: bird hunting, now I feel the need to
: challenge myself and the dogs in every type
: of trial out there if it strikes my fancy.
: 5. So here is my true two cents: Wild bird
: hunting and trials are still the true test
: of a bird dog. EVERYTHING ELSE is a
: substitute and may be an OK substitute or a
: very poor one. You have to decide but I
: really feel sorry for folks who have never
: experienced true wild bird hunting from the
: best to the toughest to know what a great
: dog is capable of producing. I have been
: privileged to walk and ride behind some
: great dogs (a few were my own) and these
: kinds are what I want from every dog in my
: 6. Folks lament that the field trial game
: is reverting to a sport of the rich and
: landed and maybe it is. I'd like to see it
: revert to the folks who are really trying to
: show off the best danged dogs in the world
: in finding and handling game birds in
: natural conditions. If that cuts out the
: riff raff including me, I'll go back to
: hunting something (willow ptarmigan?) with
: what I consider to be good dogs and leave
: the field trial game to someone else.
: Meanwhile, let's endeavor to compete with
: good dogs in good stakes under judges who
: know which end of the dog is the most
: 7. Please show some patience for the guys
: who grew up with and know wild birds and
: wild bird dogs. I may be a
: "transition" guy but I feel their
When I set out to find Chicken in the 1980's I was in my 30's, Alberta had a population of about one million people for a land mass that would take in the Dakotas and Montana in size. Southern Alberta where we decided to settle was well thought out by myself and my wife because of large populations of prairie game birds and access to those properties were unencumbered by signage by farmers and ranchers restricting access to those lands for training and hunting. The access in 30 years has decreased for a host of reasons the population of Alberta is probably 3 times of what it was, combine that with the recreational demands on those wild bird numbers has produced a negative outcome on those birds. Once noted field trial grounds are skeletons of what they were. However there is still good areas to train and trial but it takes a little more digging. Things change and one just has to recognize those moments in life which should be cherished....Still would rather travel hundreds of miles for a wild bird trial as I refuse to go to throw down trials ....Dave