On Game
By Tom Hayes

There certainly is a lot to be said for continuing to work with and train dogs all through the “hunting season” by working on fundamentals and refining handling. One of the outstanding benefits of membership to a hunting preserve like Good Go Ing is the opportunity to keep dogs on game. While it is true that preserve pheasants do not act like wild birds in all accounts, such as running wide open through cover and needing to be “blocked,” the opportunity for the dogs to work free birds in cover cannot be matched for enhancing those hunting instincts.

Tom Hayes with Sugar (L) 
and Anna (R)

I run two Labrador retrievers. The old one, a nine year old, and a young one, a three year old from Good Go Ing, are really doing well this fall. The young one, “Anna”, has decided to point and that is fine with me. The old girl, “Sugar”, is not a dog inclined to point anything. She is face first and headlong into anything and everything from her food bowl to her water bucket (she immerses her whole face to the eyeballs to get a drink) to catching birds if they will sit.

Sugar was showing some signs of age so I added some joint supplement to her daily ration in addition to feeding her a good brand of Senior dog food and she is holding her own. 

I had the good fortune to be able to host a good friend and his 14-year-old son, first time bird hunter, at Good Go Ing this past weekend. In our two sessions, out of 23 birds, we flushed 18, shot 17 and lost one rooster pheasant that, although hit, managed to give my dogs and the three of us humans the slip in some very heavy cover. The dogs did great, and even better, my friends’ son, Max, demonstrated both his outstanding consciousness of gun safety and his excellent hand-eye coordination. 

Max’s first shot, a clean miss, was at a chukkar that the dog put up right at his feet. Very unnerving and typical of even veteran hunters, myself included. The next chukkar was not so lucky as Max got over his first bird jitters and smoked the thing quartering away at about 20 yards. His next opportunity came on a pheasant which went up faster than it went left or right, giving Max a nice rising going-away shot which he NAILED. 

The scene was often repeated over the hours of our outings. My Anna pointed about ˝ the total birds and was responsible for 2/3rds of the retrieves since she is quicker to the downed birds. 

It was a great outing and all of us, dogs and men, are ready to go out on some wild birds as well as meet again at Good Go Ing for a few hours of excellent sport. It pays to keep the dogs ON GAME!!