Decoy Strategy (6)
A:
Question: 
Hey guys I got a couple question for you. I am new to running a mother line for divers. I am wanting to know,(1) how far apart you set decoys on the line, (2) the depths on the lake I hunt run from 10ft to 100ft what would be the simplest way to anchor them down with the different depths. (3) what pattern should I use straight line, J hook or tight together and how long should the mother line be. Thanks for all the information you have to offer.

Not answered yet.

A:
Question: 
do you find that a jerk string makes your decoy spread more real and do you use it often

Duck Thangs and Wonder Ducks make it happen!

Buckshot,

Without a doubt jerk strings work, but there is a better way.

I am a firm believer that motion and ripples on the water in a decoy spread trump ultra realistic decous and huge spreads every time. Therefore, I NEVER go into the field without some way to put a ripple on the water on a calm day. For years I wore my arm out every day pulling on a jerk cord with up to a dozen blocks tied to it. More recently I have abandoned my jerk string in favor of the Duck Thang and a few Wonder Ducks.

Today we use a Duck Thang threaded throughout the hole with a couple dozen decoys to give the appearence of ducks swimming, and then we further enhance the spread with a combination of up to half a dozen Wonder Duck Cyclones and Tornados. By doing this we get tremendous movement, we get by with a much smaller spread, and my arm does not fell like it is about to fall off at the end of the day!

Thanks,

J. Paul

Q: Spread
A:
Question: 
Ive been hunting ducks for about 10 years and have hunted everything from rivers to small and large lakes and ponds. Primarily we hunt a small lakes and use 4-5 dozen decoys with 6-12 canadas as well. Primarily we hunt mallards. What is your expert suggestion on decoy placements... J, large groups, podding, etc??? We are average to above average callers and have very nice equipment...just want to make sure we are setting decoys to the best of our abilities. Thanks!!

I really like the "J" hook and the split set. It sounds like you have used the J before, and are familiar with it. I always set this up with my "hook" on the upwind side of the blind. I also like the split set where we will place a small number of dekes on the downwind side of the hole in tight to the cover, and a larger, looser spread on the upwind side.

Finally, I like to bunch my decoys based on where we are at in the season. In the early season we will often group our decoys by sex, with more drakes in the spread than hens to imitate the "bachelor" groups frequently seen in the early season. Late in the season we tend to pair drakes and hens together more.

Thanks for the question and good luck,
J. Paul Jackson
Host, Drake's Migration Nation

A:
Question: 
Hey so I'm 15 1/2. We own a 80 acre pond type area. I mainly hunt with my dad where we put 5 dozen mallards and about a dozen sprig and teal. And usually put 8-10 speck or snow floaters. What should I do if I want to kill more specks and snows. By the way I'm trying o find some goose and duck calls, and decoys. Any recommendations?

Big Goose45,

Thanks for the question. Let's start first by talking about decoys and Specks and Snows. I am believer in a combination of realism and movement. For both ducks and Specks the size of the spread is usually not as important as how visible it is and how much movement you have in the blocks. On a number of occasions we have successfully fooled Specks with a half dozen dekes and good calling. Snow geese, on the other hand are another matter altogether. To be successful with Snows the larger the spread, the better. If you are setting out a rig each day to take a combination of species, you are probably already doing all that you can for Snows.

About calls. Quality calling is very important when it comes to decoying Specklebellies. Haydel game calls makes some of the best Speck calls out there, and their Specklybelly Compensator is an excellent call for a beginner. As for duck calls, I blow a Calef Double Curl most of the time, however there are a number of excellent duck call makers. As a general rule, a double reed is easier for the novice caller to blow, so I would suggest that you start with an affordable double reed and move on to a more versatile single reed acrylic as your skill improves.

Hope this helps!
J. Paul

A:
Question: 
I was wondering what your guys' opinion would be as far as species serperation in your decoy spreads. Usually where we hunt here in wisconsin we will run about 5 dozen mallards, a dozen pintail, and a dozen gadwall and wigeon in our spread and usually we will put the pintail in clear sight for a confidence decoy, but then with our mallards i was wondering if you would recommend mixing some gadwall and wigeon in with them? Same goes with teal.

James,

I think that it is great that you are mixing species to add realism to your decoys, and I definitely think that having variety in your spread makes close working birds more confident. Gadwall and Widgeon mix with Mallards all the time, so mixing them in with your spread can only help if you hunt in an area that has all three species. The key is to keep it real. For instance, you will notice that "big ducks" like Mallards and Pintails often fly together, whereas "little ducks", like Teal and Blackjacks usually fly with their own kind. Therefore, when I am setting up a spread with a mix off species I try to segregate the little ducks by kind instead of just throwing them haphazardly in the "big duck" part of the spread.

With that said, I believe that there is no substitute for movement in the decoys. On a calm day I would rather have a dozen beat up decoys on a jerk string than 5 dozen brand new dekes gleaming in the sun! Mixing species in your decoys will certainly help to fool wary ducks, but remember that you also need movement in the decoys, too.

Respectfully,
J. Paul

Most guys put too much thought into other species. Think about this, the mallard is the most common and vocal species of duck and other ducks readily decoy to them. I've experimented with putting a few sprig off to the side and can't definitively say it has made a difference.

What I will recommend though is to add some honker decoys to your spread. Place them right where you want the ducks to finish and see if that doesn't increase your success!
Barnie Calef

A:
Question: 
I’ve read all the basic information about different decoy spreads and ways to arrange them in your hole. What are some other suggestions for making my decoy spread look realistic? Todd S. – Alabama

Ducks muddy the water where they feed. If you're riding to your blind in your boat, ride through your decoys to muddy the water. Too, when you're putting decoys out, stir-up the bottom. If you're hunting with three or four other hunters, all of you need to walk around the decoys to muddy the water before getting into the blind. Muddy water acts like a magnet to pull ducks out of the sky. If ducks spot muddy water from high in the sky and see the decoys sitting on that off-colored water, the birds have no reason not to believe that what they're seeing is a group of actively-feeding ducks. The more realistic you make the decoys appear, the more likely that you'll draw in high-flying ducks.   Generally clustering decoys in small groups tends to bring in ducks better than other systems. Many waterfowlers like to have some big groups of decoys and some small groups of two to eight decoys sitting away from the main body of decoys. Leave a flight path for the ducks to come in to as well as open water right over the blind in which the ducks can light. Ducks usually fly and feed in small groups. Sometimes several small groups may feed together to form a large group. But even in a big flock of ducks, you'll see small groups of ducks feeding away from the main body. In the big group of decoys, place one decoy or a pair of decoys for the focus duck that will, in some way, look different from the rest of the decoys in the main group. You may use two pintail decoys in a group of mallard decoys or two black duck decoys in a group of mallard decoys as focus ducks. Put your focus decoys on the downwind side of your main group of decoys in the exact spot where you want the ducks to land. Rod Haydel – Haydel’s Game Calls

Dog Training (5)
A:
Question: 
We're headed back to Iowa,from GA, to hunt the Mississippi River for a couple of weeks this year. Does my dog need to be feed more than usual due to working in a colder environment, buring more calories etc? He's usually worked twice a day now and eats Loyall 31/20. He's usually feed in the evening. Thanks for you input!

TCB,

So sorry for the delayed reply. We have been in the field most of the last month, so my reply may be a little late, however, I do have some info on the subject of supplemental feeding. Loyall Professional is an excellent food, and in general I do not use anything else regardless fo the season. However, when hunting in a particularly cold or demanding environment I recommend altering yor normal feeding practices in three ways:

1) Feed a small amount in the morning before going out on the hunt. While you do not want your dog working on a full stomach, he can benefit just as much from a small, hot breakfast as you can.

2) Once in a while offer your dog a handful of his normal food during the hunt, especially if he appears cold or lacking enrgy.

3) Increase the total amount that you feed each day as the temperature starts to fall, and continue as necessary to maintain weight and energy.

Good luck,

J. Paul

A:
Question: 
J. Paul, my dog was force fetched by Justin Etter over with Chris Akin so I know it was done correctly. It's been about 2 years ago since that was done. My dog has gotten to the point he chomps the bumper and rolls it in his mouth when he returns to heel. I pop him under the chin and tell him to hold but it hasn't seemed to help the problem. I also apply collar pressure and tell him to hold when he returns, I've tried nicking him and telling him to heel or here just before he gets to me, hoping that will take his mind off chomping as he returns. He doesn't chomp when I walk him at heel with the bumper in his mouth. He is a high drive dog and I don't want to negatively effect that. I don't want this to carry over to the duck blind this year, what can I do to fix the problem?

Big Daddy,

If this is a problem that has escalated over the last two years I would suggest that you revisit force fetch. As you pointed out, Justin is a fine trainer, and it may be that your dog just needs to revisit what Justin previously taught him.

You could also try wrapping the dummy in wiremesh or some other material that will be uncomfortable to chomp down on. Some old-timers would go as far as sticking nails through a pigeon do discourage a dog from mouthing or bite down on a bird. The goal is to teach the dog that chomping is undesirable, and will have a negative effect.

Respectfully,

J. Paul

Q: Labs
A:
Question: 
What is biggest different between British field trail labs and American field trail.

Swithbackkd,

There are those who believe that the British Labs are calmer and easier to manage in the blind, but I have found that to be more of a stereotype or marketing tactic than a reality. I have only noticed two big differences. First, the British Labs tend to be slightly smaller and stockier in appearance. Second, in our experience as trainers it seems that the British dogs are more prone to exhibit avoidance tendencies in training.

Over the years I have trained a number of British Labs (our dog Ella's Grandsire was an import), and as hunting dogs I just do not see a great deal of other differences. However, I firmly believe that in overall performance the American field trial lines perform better than British Labs, and for that reason we recommend that our clients purchase pups out of proven American bloodlines.

Respectfully,
J. Paul

A:
Question: 
How can I get my Lab to deliver to my hand and hold? He just turned 2 and loves to retrieve. He just has a bad habit of dropping his bumper and even birds just short of my hand. He has retrieved many ducks in his short 2 years. Also he marks and knows hand signals well. I"m not looking to make him a field trial dog but bring back a cripple that is very much alive then dropping it just short of my hand can cause some unwanted fustration. Espicially when thats time I could be shooting other birds. Please Help me & Zeus!!!

Force-Breaking Your Retriever

Without a doubt, force-breaking (also known as “force fetch”) is one of the most difficult and time consuming steps in training a retriever. Even experienced trainers often find the process frustrating at times, and due to the fact that it cannot be accomplished without causing the dog some level of discomfort, it can be downright unpleasant.

On the other hand, it is NOT some mysterious procedure that only a pro can do, and positive benefits of it far outweigh negative aspects. As with all training, the key is to have a plan and follow it. In this issue and the next we will take an in-depth look at the force fetch procedure and try to break it down into a series of steps that any amateur can use.

Why Do It?

I am frequently asked why you should force-break your retriever at all. After all, these dogs are supposed to have fetching in their blood, aren’t they? While it is true that all retrieving breeds should have a genetic predisposition to run out and grab a bird, it is not in a dog’s genetic makeup to always bring it back to you, turn at heel and hold the bird until you take it from them. Instead reliable delivery to hand is a trained response.

Therefore, the purpose of force fetch is to teach the dog to bring the bird back to the handler and hold it until the handler takes it from him. While you will occasionally find a dog that delivers to hand naturally, most non-force-broken dogs will drop the bird after completing a retrieve. This can be particularly aggravating if the bird happens to be a strong cripple that subsequently escapes, or if the dog chooses to drop the bird in the water just out of your reach.
Additionally, some dogs will play with birds, hard mouth birds, or stick on birds (refusing to give them up). Force-breaking helps us deal with all of these problems.

Finally, most advanced training concepts such as handling and teaching a dog to break cover build on the force fetch process. As a matter of fact, teaching a retriever to take a line for a blind is an extreme extension of basic force-breaking. Therefore, force breaking provides the foundation for almost all future training.

The Sanborn Method

Strange as it may sound, the origins of force-breaking a dog to retrieve actually began with a pointing dog trainer over 100 years ago. According to noted retriever training author James B. Spencer, a pointing dog trainer named David Sanborn developed force-breaking in the 1880s to get his pointers to deliver to hand.

Back in the late 19th century, when Mr. Sanborn invented force-breaking, most dog trainers also worked with horses, and the terminology applied to horses often carried over to the dogs, too. Since training a horse was referred to as “breaking” the horse, it only seemed natural that training a dog would be referred to as “breaking” the dog. Thus, when Mr. Sanborn started forcing his pointers to retrieve, he called it “force-breaking” the dog.

Because pointing dog owners have always been concerned about style in their dogs, Sanborn’s approach to force-breaking was slow, methodical and gentle. It involves only applying the amount of pressure necessary to get a response, and it utilizes a great deal of praise. Sanborn began by teaching his dogs to hold a wooden dowel or “buck”. He would then teach the dog to “fetch” the buck by pinching its toes with a string. Later, he would replace the toe pinch with a pinch of the dog’s ear on the ground. By the time the process was finished he could send his dog after a dead bird on the ground, which the dog would retrieve and deliver to hand.

While all modern force fetch techniques derive from Mr. Sanborn’s method in one way or another, many no longer resemble it at all. In an effort to show fast results (or just get it over quickly) many pros have adopted what I call the “Hell Week” approach to force fetching a dog. This technique involves a great deal of pressure in a short amount of time. While it can be fast and effective, it is anything but gentle and can rob a dog of style. Perhaps more importantly, a Hell Week approach just will not work for some dogs.

I personally believe that Sanborn’s way is still best after almost 125 years. It is not as fast as the Hell Week approach, but when used correctly it will work with almost any dog that has a desire to retrieve. The only two requirements are that the dog has its permanent teeth, and that it be fully obedience trained prior to beginning force-breaking.

Breaking it Down

I have often written in this column that any good training program can be broken down into major divisions and/or smaller steps. This certainly applies to force training as well. Force-breaking can be broken down into two basic divisions: training on the table, and training in the yard. Additionally, each of these components involves a series of steps. Presented as an outline force-breaking looks like this:

(A) Work on the Training Table
1. Acclimating the dog to the table
2. Teaching “hold”
3. Teaching “fetch” from the hand with the toe hitch
4. Teaching “fetch” from the table with the toe hitch

(B) Work on the Ground
1. Review “hold”
2. “Fetch” from hand with an ear pinch
3. “Fetch” from ground with an ear pinch
4. Walking fetch with ear pinch
5. Reinforced fetch

The two general headings refer to where each step in the division occurs, namely, on the training table or in the yard.

(A)Work on the Training Table

We begin force-breaking all of our dogs on a training table that is 42 inches high, three feet deep and twelve feet long. Our table has a sturdy hitching post in the center of each end with a ¼ inch cable stung taut approximately 30 inches high down the center. Attached to the cable is roller and snap that can be fastened to the dog’s collar. There are also snaps secured to the post on each end of the table so that we may fasten the dog in place if necessary.
(Note: Having a table built specifically for the purpose of training a dog is nice, but it is not required. I have seen dogs successfully forced on counter tops, a door across two saw horses, and on the tail gate of trucks. The important thing is that the dog is in an elevated position about waist high where he can easily be secured to maintain stability and control.)

Acclimating the Dog to the Table

Since a great deal of time will be spent on the training table during the initial stages of force-breaking it is best to begin by making the dog feel comfortable there. Begin by teaching the dog to jump up onto the table. Depending on the height of your table this may require some encouragement. If the dog is particularly stubborn about loading up you may have to apply upward pressure with the leash just as you did when teaching sit.

After loading the dog onto the table, securely fasten his collar to the roller snap on the cable and have the dog walk back and forth over the length of it. Often the dog will appear scared or uncomfortable on the table. Reassure him that the table is a good place to be and positively reinforce his movements on it with a great deal of praise. If necessary, feed the dog on the table each day to build his confidence there.

Building a confident attitude on the table before beginning the force fetch process will go a long way toward making this entire phase of training easier.

Teaching “hold”

Once the dog begins to feel comfortable on the table it is time to teach the dog the “hold” command. We like to begin this process by teaching the dog to hold a short wooden dowel or “training buck”. Over the years I have seen trainers use a number of articles to teach hold, ranging from a knobby dummy to a ball peen hammer. However, I like the training buck best because it is easy for the dog to hold, and it is not an item that I will use elsewhere in training.

Training bucks can be purchased from various dog supply companies, or you can simply make your own. (I believe that my current dowels were made by sawing a broken shovel handle into eight inch pieces!) I always keep three or four on hand, so that if one falls to the floor I can quickly grab a spare.

I begin teaching hold by attaching the dog to the table, standing in front of the dog and giving the dog the verbal command “fetch” while prying apart his teeth and inserting the dowel into his mouth. At first, most dogs fight holding the buck and try to spit it out. To avoid this I hold the dog’s mouth shut with one hand while holding my thumb in the “V” of the lower jaw under the chin with the other. At the same time I repeatedly tell the dog to “hold”.

Since holding the training buck is an unnatural act, a number of behaviors may be exhibited by the dog to avoid it. Probably the most common avoidance behavior during this phase of training is “clamming up” or holding the mouth firmly shut to resist having the dowel placed in it. If this occurs simply pry the dog’s mouth open with one hand while rolling the dowel into his mouth over his lower lip with the other.

On the first day of “hold” training I will generally repeat this process over and over until I succeed in getting the dog to take the dowel with a minimal amount of pressure, and until the dog ceases to fight having the buck in his mouth. Sometimes this will occur with a couple of minutes; other times it will take up to half an hour to achieve this goal. As with all training, quality is greatly preferred to quantity, and you should always try to end on a positive note if possible.

Over the course of several days I will gradually increase the amount of time that the dog is required to “hold” the dowel without spitting it out or moving. Once the dog displays an understanding of the hold command while sitting still I will begin to try to get the dog to move up and down the table with the dowel in his mouth. Should the dog drop the dowel I simply say “no, fetch” and remind the dog to “hold” after placing the buck back in his mouth.

Some dogs grasp the “hold” command very quickly, and within three or four days will walk up and down the table with the dowel in their mouths without dropping it. Others will never learn to move with anything in their mouths without being taught with pressure. Therefore, while it is ideal that a dog moves with the dowel in his mouth before teaching the “fetch” command with pressure, it is not required. The important thing is that the dog understands the meaning of “hold” prior to moving on.

Teaching “Fetch” from the Hand with the Toe Hitch

Now that the dog thoroughly understands the “hold” command it is time to introduce “fetch” with pressure. To do this you will need the same training buck that you used to teach hold along with about three feet of small diameter (about ¼ inch) rope which we will refer to as a “toe string”. Be sure that your rope is small enough to easily slide between the dogs toes, but not so small that it will cut into them.
After securing the dog to the cable above the table attach the toe string to one of the dog’s front legs with a slip knot just above the wrist. Next throw a half hitch around the dog’s leg just above the dew claw. Finally attach the toe string to the dog’s middle two toes with another half hitch. When you are finished the “toe hitch” should resemble the one in the accompanying photograph, and it should allow you to pinch the dog’s middle toes by pulling on the string.
The purpose of the toe hitch is to allow the trainer to apply a small amount of pressure to the dog’s toes by pulling the string and pinching the nerves between them. While this pressure is certainly uncomfortable to the dog, it is neither unbearable nor permanent. Almost as soon as the string is released, the pain goes away. This makes the toe hitch a very effective tool at teaching the dog to “turn off” the pressure or avoid it altogether.

Once the toe hitch is properly in place it is time to begin teaching the “fetch” command. To do this you will want to hold the buck in one hand while applying pressure on the toe hitch with the other. At the same time you should command the dog to “fetch” as you are pulling the string. However, instead of forcing the buck into the dog’s mouth you should wait for a response from the dog in the form of either an attempt to take the buck from you, or as a vocalization. In either case it is very important that you place the dowel in the dog’s mouth at the first opportunity and release the pressure on the toe hitch while instructing the dog to “hold”. Should the dog drop the dowel before you can take it immediately apply pressure to the string while repeating the “fetch” command.

Note: It has been our experience that a small number of dogs will clam up rather than reaching for the dowel or vocalizing. Should your dog do this it is important that you continue applying pressure until you can force the dowel in the dog’s mouth just as you did when teaching “hold”.

The goal here is to have the dog learn that he can turn off the toe pinch by grabbing the dowel and holding it. With a little luck by the end of the third or fourth day he will be reaching for the dowel every time you say “fetch” and holding it until you tell him to drop it.
After the dog has begun to reach for the dowel on the fetch command without a pinch on the toe it is time to have the dog move in other directions for it. Start by holding the dowel off to one side and command the dog to “fetch”. If he does not respond reinforce the “fetch” command with a toe pinch. Once you have the dog moving to get the dowel start to vary the location.

Eventually, you should be able to have the dog go all the way down the table to take the dowel from you. Make sure that you respond to all refusals with a toe pinch, praise all successes and be sure to have the dog deliver to hand each time.

Teaching “Fetch” from the Table with the Toe Hitch

Once the dog has begun to respond to the fetch command in different directions it is time to transition the dog to picking the buck up directly from the table. For some reason this is a very tough transition for most dogs, so be sure to ease into it only after the dog will reliably respond to the “fetch” command.

Begin by having the dog take the dowel from your hand right on the surface of the table. I like to have the toe hitch on my right and the dowel on the left. This way the dog does not have to reach across the string, and I can use it to pull the dog in the right direction if necessary.

After the dog begins to take the dowel from your hand on the table start placing the dowel beside your hand and commanding fetch. Within a few days you should be able to work your hand out of the picture entirely.

Eventually you will be able to have the dog travel the entire length of the table on the “fetch” command. At this point you should begin to use other articles on the table, such as a bumper or a Dokken DFT. Before leaving the table for the ground I always incorporate a few undesirable items, such as a hammer and an irregularly shaped rock. Some dogs who have a truly ingrained desire to fetch will not give much opportunity to correct with a bumper. Therefore we incorporate the undesirables to pro more chances for correction.

Should you have a dog that eagerly accepts anything you put in front of it you can always hold the buck just out to the dog’s reach on the table while pinching the toe. In other words, apply pressure while denying the retrieve.

Finally, you should always use both a fresh and a frozen duck prior to leaving the table, otherwise the process is incomplete.

(B) Work on the Ground

Review “hold”

To this point all of our work has taken place on the table. We have taught the dog to hold and conditioned it to retrieve from the table on command. The dog has learned that compliance averts pressure, and that “fetch” means fetch no matter what item we want it to retrieve. Our work on the table is complete, and it is time to move to the ground.

Force breaking on the ground is very similar to force breaking on the table. The main differences are that the dog is held by the collar rather than attaching it to a cable and the toe pinch is replaced by an ear pinch. I believe that it is best to begin ground work by reviewing the hold command without pressure. I also believe that it is best to begin all work on the ground with the wooden dowel.

Start by commanding the dog to “fetch” the dowel from your hand. If the dog does not comply simply insert the dowel into his mouth and command hold. Repeat this process until you can place the training buck in the dog’s mouth and walk around the yard without having the dog drop it.

“Fetch” from Hand with an Ear Pinch

Now it is time to introduce the dog to a new form of pressure: the ear pinch. Begin by having the dog sit beside you on the ground. Take the dog’s collar with your hand wrapped around the buckle. Use your thumb to flip the dog’s ear over and pin it against the buckle of the collar. With your free hand hold the dowel in front the dog’s mouth and give the “fetch” command while pinching his ear up against the buckle.

Don’t be surprised if the dog does not respond right away. While it would seem that any dog that will lunge for it on the table would go doubly hard on the ground that is not always the case. Some dogs become very confused during this transition and want to wrestle away. Others clam up, and some even try to bite. Regardless of what your dog does, it is important that you maintain control and see the task through. Additionally, you should reinforce all refusals with an ear pinch.

Before attempting to have the dog pick it up off the ground challenge the dog some. Don’t just hold the dowel in front of his face each time. Instead, make him work for it. I often hold the dog back while pinching his ear, thereby making him really work to turn off the pressure.

“Fetch” from the Ground with an Ear Pinch

This part of the force breaking process can really be a back breaking chore. Just as it can be difficult to get the dog to pick up the dowel off the table, it can also be a tough transition to getting the dog to pick it up off the ground. For some reason a few dogs that will lunge after the buck in your hand will refuse at almost all cost to pick it up off the ground.

At first it may be necessary to push the dog down to the buck and to help a little by picking it up with him. Stay the course, and help as little as possible. With consistency even the toughest dogs usually start to reach for it after a few days.

Also, it often helps to give the dog praise each time he does it right. The important thing here is that the dog learns that fetch from the ground means the same as it does on the table. With that in mind you should use a number of articles while you are on the ground, including real birds.

Walking Fetch

The final stage of the force fetch process involves having the dog pick up something while on the move. This process is often referred to as “walking fetch” or the “ladder drill”

You begin this process by placing several dummies out on the ground in a row resembling the rungs on a ladder. Then you have the dog walk passed them on lead at your side. Command the dog to fetch at random, and reinforce any refusals with an ear pinch.

Many times the dog will try to fetch each dummy as he goes by, however, you should not allow him to do so. The goal here is to get the dog to learn that he has to retrieve on your terms, and that he has to do it reliably.

During this stage of training I introduce the dog to a number of different types of pressure. I often give the fetch command in association with a tap of the heeling stick or a medium “nick” on the e-collar. However, I reinforce all refusals with an ear pinch.

Using varying types of pressure here prepares the dog for future corrections in the field. Additionally, it helps build a stable reaction to pressure by allowing the dog to easily avoid it by completing the retrieve.

Reinforced Fetch

Of course, the entire purpose of force breaking your retriever is to teach the dog to deliver to hand. Therefore, the final step in the force fetch process involves using the tools that you have developed through the preceding steps to get your dog to reliably deliver a bird to hand. That means that you have to apply some form of pressure any time that the dog drops a bird or bumper prior to delivering it to you.
I usually start by reinforcing fetch on happy retrieves. Most dogs fresh out of force fetch will try you by dropping the bird at your feet. When this happens you should always respond with a “No, fetch!” accompanied by an ear pinch. In a short amount of time you should be able to get reliable deliveries on all land retrieves.

Next, move on to water retrieves. Start by meeting the dog right at the water’s edge. Most dogs will emerge from the water and immediately drop the bird to shake the excess water off. Be prepared for this and respond quickly with an ear pinch. Gradually you should be able to move away from the water and still get a reliable delivery.

As with all training, each dog is different. I find that every dog that I work with has its own individual characteristics. Therefore, there really is no set time table for force training. Instead you should work to be consistent and fair with your dog. That means following the process step by step, and allow the dog to learn at his own pace.

A:
Question: 
Enjoy watching Ella work every show ! What is the most important attribute for a hunting dog?

Thank you for your kind comments regarding Ella. She is certainly a joy to hunt with, and I am fortunate to have such a fine hunting buddy. There are several are attributes that a dog must possess to be a really great hunter like Ella, and in my opinion it is almost impossible to narrow it down to just one. However, I truly believe that there is one combination of characteristics that all truly great hunting dogs have: an extreme desire to retrieve coupled with a high level of tractability. Obviously, all hunting dogs must possess some desire to retrieve, but that alone is not enough. To be great a dog must also be smart enough to adapt to any hunting situation, and willing to work with it's handler to get the job done. Inevitably, a dog that lacks drive will let you down when the going gets tough. However, a dog with loads of desire that is not trainable or runs out of control is more of a liability than an asset. For that reason I believe that having the two attributes in combination is really what it takes to have a great hunting dog. Thanks again for the great question and comment.

Sincerely, J. Paul

Duck Calling (4)
A:

Both are good calls, but designed for different purposes. The MVP is usually considered a contest call or competition-style call and is very loud. It has a wider bore than most other RNT calls and is designed to hit high, loud, top end volume yet still drop down to low end quacks and feed chuckles. On the other hand, the Mondo is modeled after a cut-down style call with a "key hole" bore, a design popularized by P.S. Olt Calls. This call is a favorite of woods/timber hunters and has a deep, almost barking, sound to it. It takes some skill and a fair amount of air pressure to blow a cut-down key hole style call. You'll have moderate volume and pitch control with the Mondo, but it is not considered an "all-around, all-purpose" call.

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Question: 
Is there anything specific you say into a duck call to make it sound any better? Ive heard of people saying ten or hut. Just want some ideas

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Question: 
Looking for a good instructional dvd for goose and duck. Appreciate the help.

Here are our top picks on instructional videos and CD’s for goose and duck calling tips:
 
Goose Calling CD’s / DVD’s:
• Tim Grounds – Grounds Goose Control CD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=GOOSECD
• Tim Grounds – Top Ten Questions About Goose Hunting DVD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=TOPTEN
• Bad Grammar DVD – Live Goose Sounds and Goose Calling Tips - http://www.moltgear.com/badgrammardvd.html
 
Duck Calling CD’s / DVD’s:
• Tim Grounds – Grounds Duck Control CD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=DUCKCD
• Barnie Calef – Calling Ducks My Way DVD - http://www.calefcalls.net/index.php?mod=MyDB&p=detail&product=34
• Kent Cullum – The Duck Dictionary DVD - http://store.hoboduckcalls.com/products/102-duck-dictionary.aspx
 

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Question: 
I hunt with some pretty good duck callers and many times we work more ducks into our spread when several of us call together instead of just one or two of us, but sometimes it seems to work against us. Looking for some tips on calling as a group?

Answer

The goal of any set-up is to fool ducks into thinking your spread is a group of resting or feeding ducks, and having more than one caller can certainly be an advantage. If you have hunted with someone for a while, you learn each other’s habits and calling tendencies. When everybody is spread out in the woods or in the field and one person spots some ducks, you can learn to tell what is going on just by listening to that person blow his duck call. You should blend in your calling with what he is doing. It’s not a back-and-forth thing. When my hunting partners and I are calling together, I listen to what he is doing and I try to do something opposite to sound like more ducks. If he is doing a loud coarse hen, then I might be doing a lazy hen or young hen. Mix up your pitch, tone, and volume to compliment what the other callers in your group do – not compete with them.

General Hunting (7)
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Question: 
How do I renew my Double Band membership?

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We are working on developing a Roku channel but at this time we do not have a launch date.

We will post as details become available.

Q: Chokes
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Question: 
When Goose hunting, what chokes do you normally use? I've been watching a lot of the duck and hunting shows and wondering how everyone is shooting that far out unless they are using full chokes but from what I've been told, that is only for lead not steel shot. I use mod choke but the geese have to be right in my face within 15 yards to take them down. Also, what is the best ammo for geese. I've been using Kent #1 Thanks,

Believe it or not, most of the time I shoot the modified tube that came from the factory with my Benelli for geese with Rio BlueSteel shells. I prefer 3 inch 1 1/4 ounce or 3 1/2 inch in 1 3/8 number 2 or BB.

I thoroughly believe the key to killing geese at any distance is to shoot for the head, not the body. Remember, a Canada Goose's head is roughly the same size as a dove, so when you are shooting at passing geese forget about the body and lead the head as if you are pass shooting doves. Doing so will help you reduce non-lethal body hits, and make clean kills at greater distances.

J. Paul Jackson

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Question: 
What would be the best way to locate public duck hunting land in Arkansas? I live in East TN. and have never been able to afford a full guided hunt over there. My wife and myself would like to try public land over there this season, this type of trip would better fit our bill. Thank You in advance.

A complete list of public hunting areas that allow waterfowl hunting can be found here: http://www.greenhead.net/public-hunting
Once you have narrowed the opportunities down to a couple of locations that you really want to investigate, you can find maps of each public hunting area here: http://www.arkansasoutdoorsonline.com/arkansas-wma-maps/
Each Wildlife Refuge and WMA has specific regulations, such as the hours you can hunt, the number of shells you can take, the size of the shot, limits on horsepower for outboard motors, and the bag limit. Be sure to make notes on the information in the first link above to make sure you are following the rules for the property you choose.

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Question: 
My friends and I hunt an area that holds a lot of Canada geese and we have good success during the early part of the season but we have a hard time finishing geese at the end of the season. Any tips for finishing late season geese that get a lot of hunting pressure? - Michael V. - Pennsylvania

You should always have a calling and flagging plan when hunting with a big group, and this is especially true during the late season.  Designate one person to be the lead caller, and this person should be responsible for setting the tone, timing, and how aggressive the group should call.  The lead caller can also be in charge of flagging, since he should already be the one keeping his eyes on the birds at all times.  Having a calling and flagging plan and one person leading the strategy for the group will help keep the whole party focused on calling the birds they need to be called and reduce the chance that one or two people call too much, too little, or at the wrong times.  Create a calling and flagging plan and make sure the whole group is on board and you will put yourselves in a better position to finish late season birds.

Tim Grounds, founder –
Tim Grounds Championship Calls

Goose Calling (3)
A:
Question: 
Hey so I'm 15 1/2. We own a 80 acre pond type area. I mainly hunt with my dad where we put 5 dozen mallards and about a dozen sprig and teal. And usually put 8-10 speck or snow floaters. What should I do if I want to kill more specks and snows. By the way I'm trying o find some goose and duck calls, and decoys. Any recommendations?

Big Goose45,

Thanks for the question. Let's start first by talking about decoys and Specks and Snows. I am believer in a combination of realism and movement. For both ducks and Specks the size of the spread is usually not as important as how visible it is and how much movement you have in the blocks. On a number of occasions we have successfully fooled Specks with a half dozen dekes and good calling. Snow geese, on the other hand are another matter altogether. To be successful with Snows the larger the spread, the better. If you are setting out a rig each day to take a combination of species, you are probably already doing all that you can for Snows.

About calls. Quality calling is very important when it comes to decoying Specklebellies. Haydel game calls makes some of the best Speck calls out there, and their Specklybelly Compensator is an excellent call for a beginner. As for duck calls, I blow a Calef Double Curl most of the time, however there are a number of excellent duck call makers. As a general rule, a double reed is easier for the novice caller to blow, so I would suggest that you start with an affordable double reed and move on to a more versatile single reed acrylic as your skill improves.

Hope this helps!
J. Paul

A:
Question: 
Looking for a good instructional dvd for goose and duck. Appreciate the help.

Here are our top picks on instructional videos and CD’s for goose and duck calling tips:
 
Goose Calling CD’s / DVD’s:
• Tim Grounds – Grounds Goose Control CD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=GOOSECD
• Tim Grounds – Top Ten Questions About Goose Hunting DVD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=TOPTEN
• Bad Grammar DVD – Live Goose Sounds and Goose Calling Tips - http://www.moltgear.com/badgrammardvd.html
 
Duck Calling CD’s / DVD’s:
• Tim Grounds – Grounds Duck Control CD - http://secure.yisi.net/timgrounds/product.asp?dept_id=30&pf_id=DUCKCD
• Barnie Calef – Calling Ducks My Way DVD - http://www.calefcalls.net/index.php?mod=MyDB&p=detail&product=34
• Kent Cullum – The Duck Dictionary DVD - http://store.hoboduckcalls.com/products/102-duck-dictionary.aspx
 

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Question: 
My friends and I hunt an area that holds a lot of Canada geese and we have good success during the early part of the season but we have a hard time finishing geese at the end of the season. Any tips for finishing late season geese that get a lot of hunting pressure? - Michael V. - Pennsylvania

You should always have a calling and flagging plan when hunting with a big group, and this is especially true during the late season.  Designate one person to be the lead caller, and this person should be responsible for setting the tone, timing, and how aggressive the group should call.  The lead caller can also be in charge of flagging, since he should already be the one keeping his eyes on the birds at all times.  Having a calling and flagging plan and one person leading the strategy for the group will help keep the whole party focused on calling the birds they need to be called and reduce the chance that one or two people call too much, too little, or at the wrong times.  Create a calling and flagging plan and make sure the whole group is on board and you will put yourselves in a better position to finish late season birds.

Tim Grounds, founder –
Tim Grounds Championship Calls

Shooting (4)
Q: O/U
A:
Question: 
Looking for a O/U for duck and geese hunting. I seen that browning had made a 3.5 in O/U. Is there any other manufactures that do. Is there any really big down fall beside one less shot then a semi.

Not answered yet.

A:

This is a great question and, while we can provide some basic tips, the answer only comes by knowing your equipment and practice, practice, practice. There are many variables that impact how far to lead a flying duck, but these factors can be broken down into a few basic categories: speed of the target, distance of the target, and your shotgun/ammo set-up.

Speed of the target – this only comes from experience in the field. Different species of ducks have different flight characteristics and flight speeds. A mallard duck casually gliding over your spread for a closer look may only require a lead of 18” off the tip of its bill. A speedy greenwing teal buzzing your spread will require a greater lead, more like 30-36”. A high-flying goose that isn’t working your set-up but is low enough for a shot will require a long lead, as much as four feet. The key to leading a flying target is follow-through. There’s an old saying that goes “butt, body, beak, boom!”, meaning that you acquire the target by moving through its body, continuing your swing out in front of the duck, and continue the motion as you squeeze the trigger. If you stop the motion of your barrel as you pull the trigger, you’ve just eliminated your lead. Keep that barrel moving through the shot until you see the duck fall. Doing so also keeps you in position in case a second shot is needed.

Distance of the target – it goes without saying that the farther you are from the target, the longer it takes the shot to reach the duck. The same rules of target speed above still apply, but you also have to consider how close you are to the ducks. Ducks back-flapping and falling into your spread require basically no lead. Ducks passing at 35 yards require about 50% more lead than ducks at 20 yards. This is all relative to your own set-up and equipment, but the principle is sound. The farther the shot, the greater you lead the target.

Shotgun/Ammo set-up – you can’t predict what the ducks are going to do, but one thing you should know intimately is the pattern and capabilities of your shotgun and ammo. One great tip that a friend at Rio Ammunition suggested to me is that you should always try to use ammo with a consistent speed. Whether you are practicing at the skeet range, shooting dove, or duck hunting, look at the “feet per second” rating for your ammo and try to keep it consistent across all the types of loads you use, from low-brass target loads to lead dove loads and even the various non-toxic waterfowl loads you use. What good is it to practice at the skeet range and get comfortable with leading the targets if you switch to a faster/slower ammo for hunting? For me it is 1300 fps. No particular reason other than I can consistently find target loads, dove loads, and non-toxic waterfowl loads that are all in the 1300 fps range, understanding that a variance of +/- 25 fps is acceptable.

Q: Chokes
A:
Question: 
When Goose hunting, what chokes do you normally use? I've been watching a lot of the duck and hunting shows and wondering how everyone is shooting that far out unless they are using full chokes but from what I've been told, that is only for lead not steel shot. I use mod choke but the geese have to be right in my face within 15 yards to take them down. Also, what is the best ammo for geese. I've been using Kent #1 Thanks,

Believe it or not, most of the time I shoot the modified tube that came from the factory with my Benelli for geese with Rio BlueSteel shells. I prefer 3 inch 1 1/4 ounce or 3 1/2 inch in 1 3/8 number 2 or BB.

I thoroughly believe the key to killing geese at any distance is to shoot for the head, not the body. Remember, a Canada Goose's head is roughly the same size as a dove, so when you are shooting at passing geese forget about the body and lead the head as if you are pass shooting doves. Doing so will help you reduce non-lethal body hits, and make clean kills at greater distances.

J. Paul Jackson

A:
Question: 
What is the best shell/shot size for pass shooting geese in 3 1/2 inch shells.name brand?

Not answered yet.