| POINTING MANNERS AFIELD
Throughout your pup's first season, continue to pay close attention
to staunchness on every bird. Continue the same handling techniques
as in the training field. When your pup points staunchly, get
the bird in the air quickly and kill it. If your pup bumps the
bird, put your gun down, call the pup back to the site of the
infraction, and tell it "stay" ("whoa") in
a reassuring fashion. Have the pup hold for a few seconds, then
take it away from the direction of the bird's flight. The combination
of having pointed birds shot for it and being corrected on bumped
birds will make the pup more staunch as time passes. This technique
will also start to plant the seed of steadiness to wing. Do not
expect your pup to steady during the first season. A pup handled
this way will be easier to hunt with and more ready to begin
steadiness training before its second season.
The amount of handling needed will depend on the individual pup's
progress. A sensitive pup requires less handling and will not
react well to it. A bolder pup may require more handling. In
either case, do not be negative around birds. Use the same staunching
technique as before when necessary. If necessary and the cover
allows it, you may even want to drag a short check cord to facilitate
the staunching procedure. You can use it to handle and reinforce
correct pointing manners while your partner shoots, or you can
use it to stop the pup and get it back if it bumps and chases.
If a pup is particularly bold, you can jolt it firmly at the
end of the check cord before calling it back and reestablishing
point. If pointing manners break down completely, stop hunting
the pup and get back to the training field, pen birds, and a
| There is a balance between
allowing your pup to have fun and maintaining control. You must
convince your pup that a proper point will be rewarded with a
kill and retrieve. This is the most important lesson your dog
will ever learn. A pointing dog that is not staunch is worthless.
Throughout your dog's career, always insist on a staunch point,
and if there is any doubt, take corrective measures. In review,
staunchness means that your pup holds point until the bird flushes.
This is the extent of pointing manners for the pup's first season.
Steadiness to wing, steadiness to wing and shot, and stopping
to flush will be second-season lessons.
RANGE AND HANDLING
Continue to insist on proper quartering and coming responses
throughout the pup's first season. I tend to overhandle pups
during their first season, wanting to promote success and avoid
a lost pup. This may cause a few wild flushes and missed opportunities
| but it is for the betterment
of the pup.
Use your come and two-blast quartering whistles as in training.
The whistle is preferable to your voice because it is less disturbing
to birds and carries farther in the woods. Also, your pup has
been taught to take it more seriously than your voice. I recommend
using the quartering whistle over the come signal nine out of
ten times. If the pup is to your right or left, regardless of
range, the quartering whistle will probably work well. You do
not want to be constantly calling your pup completely in to you.
If the pup does line straight out too far, use the come whistle
first. When the pup is coming toward you and gets back in acceptable
range, give the two-blast whistle and hand signal to put it back
into a quartering motion. Save the come signal for absolute situations,
when you want the pup to come in to your feet and take a break.
Range is the most often and heatedly debated aspect of a gun