Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Payce » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:08 pm

Been quiet on the site, so figure it was a good time to start a new thread. Spring snow goose hunting in full swing and heading down to Southern MO for a hunt in 10 days. Final preparation and training coming together including dog blind and layout blind exposure. Also longer blind work (thanks Sharon). Last hunt was two years ago (guided) and did notice the the guides seems to have a higher number of Chessies than the general population. If memory servers me right 2 guides out of the 6 we met had Chessies. One guide didn’t have any dogs. The guides hunted for roughly 60+ days straight, or more, and the dogs had more retrieves in a season than 99% of the dogs see in a lifetime.

So is it a fluke that (statistical anomaly) that the group I met used more Chessies in a high work work environment?

You all know I’m new to this, but in the few years I’ve been involved the two Chessies I’ve had have never stopped hunting because of the weather or work load. Even my little female Sky has hunted at 0 degrees on packed snow and never stopped, even though I thought about it :D

Please share your opinions. Also any advice on training for the snow good hunt always appreciated!
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:14 pm

I spent roughly my first decade of guiding running big white spreads most mornings and sometimes twice a day and did use Chessies. But though I knew of more good Chessies in our area then than now, I was the only guide I knew of using one. Whether that's more or less the norm than what you saw I couldn't say.

Couldn't begin to say how many retrieves my dogs enjoyed working white spreads, because we humans did a lot of the close retrieving while the dogs handled the more distant falls.
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby thomas wilkins » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:53 pm

Rick, That had to be a lot of fun watching your chessies go on those long retrieves for those crippled snow geese.
I bet they got pretty good at it.

Tom
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:18 pm

In all candor, the most fun I've had watching light goose work was the morning my last Brittany filled in on a 52 bird hunt. At least one of my hunters enjoyed it, too, as I ran into his brother at a spring retriever test and heard the little wonder dog's by-then-73-bird hunt recounted. No telling how many geese Kie's retrieved on that hunt by now.

Know we made a few hunts that actually did break the century mark once they loosened the limits up, but the ones I best recall were those where I found myself regretting sending the dog for tipped birds that just kept going and had me thinking "lost dog" until he finally returned, seemingly most often with a bird - though not always the one they started after.

(Later on, the aforementioned Britt finally taught me the virtue of not cutting a dog loose until its mark is all the way down, as the seeming advantage of a "head start" is more often a marking disadvantage on the long stuff.)
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby thomas wilkins » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:30 am

Great stories Rick, That is what I love about hunting, nothing is choreographed. You and your dog have to figure it out
as you go along. Which create's great memories and stories on each adventure. Thanks for sharing Rick.

Tom
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:19 pm

I suspect some here are most anxious to hear snow goose hunting accounts related to some special nature of their chosen breed, so I'll oblige with why I chose my first Chesapeake, Bud, and how he went on to make me "a Chessie person".

I'm certain the Lab guys would argue the point until long after the proverbial cows are home, but when I was seeking my first retriever (and yet to this day 33? seasons later), Chesapeakes were the most incredible marking dogs I'd seen. Not just in terms of pinpointing distant or otherwise tough to reach marks but in terms of remembering multiples after accomplishing said tough or distant marks. And I'd somehow dodged much exposure to the incredibly sorry flip side of the breed as a whole.

In any event, I'd had enough pointing dog experience to know the value of beginning with the right blood, researched that of the most remarkable Chessie I'd encountered and purchased a half-sibling out of a sire that was a testament to pee-poor ownership but seemed to throw nothing but strong marking gun dogs similar to the one I'd come to know and admire so. And Bud did not disappoint.

Bud proved a tremendous asset when we started guiding white spreads quite early in his life, in large part thanks to his eye for chipped birds. When I'd cut him loose after a rain of shot geese, he'd often take off after those escaping, initially pissing me off - until a cripple I'd not noticed arced down or bled out and fell. Then, upon his return with it, he'd befuddle us all by demonstrating that his focus wasn't just on the chipped bird but also on marking most, if not all, of what else fell.

Wasn't too many seasons back that a fellow who'd hunted over Bud in the '80s returned to our camp (after coming out on top of a long run of personal misfortunes). And when I introduced myself to that thought-to-be-stranger, I learned, "I remember you. You had a big Chesapeake that just kept doing things I didn't believe a dog could do."

Bud demonstrated another characteristic of what I think the best hunting Chesapeakes: uncanny predatory instincts. I suppose I could rattle on about his finding birds that couldn't be found long enough to put us all to sleep, but those who've hunted white spreads much at all should appreciate the following, and I'll set a little background for those who haven't.

Light geese, blues and snows, are extremely gregarious birds that most often seek out the security and feeding opportunities represented by great "bodies" of their own kind on the ground. Which hunters try to replicate with enormous decoy spreads, and I very seldom bothered to put out less than a thousand pieces and sometimes doubled that, in order to at least be in the game with them. The logistics of our wet-ground region, where large trailers of full-bodied decoys aren't feasible, dictated that spreads be made up largely plastic "rags," windsocks or other less realistic but more readily transported pieces that many geese would see for what they were before getting within gun range. Such white-spreading is a numbers game where, if you build it large enough, many birds will come take a look. But of those, only a relative few will cruise on into gun range on autopilot before spotting the deception.

After some time of watching geese come and too often go on a daily basis, I thought myself pretty adept at discerning those that would buy in and those that wouldn't. But I eventually noticed that the dog laying by my side didn't always share my opinions. I might tell my hunters to be ready, then see that Bud was looking off in the distance or licking his family jewels. After which my sure things would push off to points elsewhere. Other times, I'd have little or no hope of an I-thought-disinterested flight making it in, only to see Bud locked in on them and slowly lowering his head between his front paws as they swung on in. And, no matter how many seasons we two shared such spreads, I never approached that dog's ability to recognize whatever signals he was keying on.

None of which is intended to suggest that all of my Chesapeakes have been exceptional markers or expressed exceptional predatory instincts, only that some have. But I've loved each of the five to date and wouldn't have traded any of them for the world.
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby thomas wilkins » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:43 pm

WOW Rick that is really a awesome detailed story. I could just picture what was happening with your details. Thanks for taking the time to type that out.

Tom
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:37 am

You're welcome. I enjoyed rambling...er, reminiscing.
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:54 pm

Rick, thanks for sharing that. Great read!!
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Re: Chessies and tough snow goose hunting

Postby Ed Bahr » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:04 pm

Great read Rick!
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