Breeding and hunting

Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Payce » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:06 pm

Lots of good points. For me, (99% hunting and 1% suspect trainer), finding cripples is the big thing. Everything else is important, as you all have mentioned, but I’m an average shot and hunt a lot in bad conditions (or good cover if you want to look at the flip side). Many birds, both upland or waterfowl, don’t drop dead. Having a dog with enough prey drive & intelligence to track down and return with the cripple is absolutely the big thing for me. No doubt this is a narrow view from someone that knows very little about training, but we can all talk about the time we had one sail into a large area of cattails, or into 40 acres of tall CRP and we sent our Chessie, knowing that bird was moving the moment it hit the ground, wondering if our Chessie would succeed. Time seems to stand still. Minutes last hours as your dog works hard to figure it out. When they pop back into the open, bird in mouth, they often just look at you as to say, “I got it boss, don’t worry”. Can’t train it, can’t duplicated it, can only find out if they can put it all together while in the field with a gun....and lots of different situations.

Old enough to know I’m wrong a lot so take this as a comment and not a negative, but it always seems the dog games are all about getting the dog to the spot, or multiple spots. In hunting you can almost always get the dog to the spot. You can toss rocks, you can walk them over to the grass you dropped the bird in. Training, the ability to run a straight line, and good marking all help get them to the spot. Makes it easier on us while hunting. Training to run blinds even better, but most dogs in the field hunting do not have that level of training. Once on the spot, then whatever that dog has in it’s head takes over. They either have it or they don’t. I can’t find cripples, no nose and bad hearing, but my Chessie can.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Sharon Potter » Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:59 pm

Payce, I'd say that in my opinion, most dogs can easily learn to track a cripple....given the chance to learn it, which usually doesn't take long if the dog has strong prey drive. When I'm starting a young dog and I shoot their first live flyer bird ever, in a training situation (keeping in mind they have already picked up dead training birds and gotten to chase some live pigeons) I like to make sure it comes down as a cripple. (no, I'm not that good a shot...I simulate it by pulling the flight feathers on one wing so the bird will get up....and come down very shortly). That fluttering and movement usually will kick a pup into finding a whole new gear as they chase it down in the cover. And moving forward, it also tells me a lot about how much "bottom" the dog has....if the bird is a runner, will the dog quit after a short hunt or will it turn on its nose and obsess about getting to that bird?

For me a dog has got to be able to mark....but in a realistic situation. That means keeping an intense eye on the bird I just shot at 20 yards and watching where it flew to and landed, whether that's ten feet or three hundred yards. And that also means being steady so as to maintain the focus on that bird until it lands...and if it lands out of sight, I need that dog to go to the area where they last were able to see it and hunt from there. And not quit.

I think, for many hunters who adore their dog and believe it's a well trained dog, they believe that because they've never seen a really trained dog. I remember the first time I saw a dog that could handle (35 years ago)...back then, I thought I had a good dog because he picked up birds and brought them most of the way back ;) but once I saw how much more there was, I wanted that kind of dog. That's one reason I think it's important to get our good dogs out in front of the public so they can see what's possible...most people have no idea what a truly well trained retriever looks like.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Payce » Sun Jan 27, 2019 5:53 pm

Sharon thanks for the posts throughout (and to all the others as well). Wasn’t trying to say training or marking ability isn’t important and not that there isn’t ways to train a dog to track. Also enjoyed your comment about hunting over a trained dog. Rookies like me don’t know what we don’t know!

Maybe I’m saying it wrong and agree with your comment about enough drive (bottom) to finish the job and smart enough to remember the lesson learned while finding a cripple. Tracking is part of finding cripples. Feel most dogs are capable of tracking a scent. I do believe the big effort is real world exposure over time and the dog’s ability to build on that exposure. Sky (and Jack before her) proved to me that most Chessies are bred with the drive and intelligence to get the job done. The more you hunted them, the better they are/were at finding cripples. Using the wind, circling, not backtracking, etc are efforts that the dog needs to have drive, smarts, and enough exposure to learn. Hard to gain the needed exposure in training set ups. Your comment about real world marking also hits true. Some hunt tests seemed to be structured to avoid some of the real world challenges we face hunting and probably that way because of time? Maybe because the more variables you allow it is hard to duplicate for each dog? Where the flyer falls, etc, very controlled. Have had instances were the flyer fell out of the intended area and called it “no bird”. No doubt to be fair to the dog on the line.

Not saying marking ability isn’t important. Ideally the dog has all the important traits in abundance. Just feel the drive (and ability to use that drive) is critical to being a good hunter. Breeding gets us there. With more people looking to test and fewer people hunting, were do we end up? If a dog is a marginal marker I can get by, but if doesn’t have the prey drive and smarts to handle cripples, half the birds I shoot at might not be retrieved (yes I’m not a good shot).

In business we alway are careful about what you measure, because in the end that is what you will get (and maybe all you will get). Also another saying is standardization breeds mediocrity.

BTW, FT and HT are great in many ways. Enjoy working our local club events. Also tremendous way to see how experienced trainers work and great dogs. Always worthwhile. Maybe this thread is creating just noise. Hunting has always been my main enjoyment, always with dogs. First with hounds and now Chessies.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Sun Jan 27, 2019 6:01 pm

Sharon Potter wrote:...In the field trial and hunt test world, it's a lot like baseball. If every batter that came to the plate was knocking the ball out of the park, they'd move the fences back. If you look back to some of the early field trials, back when a dual Labrador was possible, even the National was more like a Senior hunt test. Things continue to become more and more technical, which swings the pendulum far from hunting.

Yes, marking is important. And yes, we've all had those birds in real world hunting that have sailed several hundred yards as cripples. The difference is, the dog saw that bird at 25 yards when we shot it and then marked the whole flight out to that 300 yard landing spot. Marking in a hunt test or field trial situation isn't the same as marking in the real world of hunting. Blinds: In hunt tests and field trials they are tests of teamwork and control. In the real world, they are tests of teamwork and instinct....

...Instinct takes a distant backseat, which I find sad. In real world hunting, the dog's job is to recover the bird as fast and efficiently as possible, which is sometimes in direct opposition to requirements in some of the games...


Never going to happen, of course, but I've long wondered how much differently mainstream retriever training would have evolved if field trial judging straightedges were replaced by stopwatches?

Know that when we're working, efficiency comes second only to safety. We need both my ability to control my canine partner and good sense not to let doing so get in his way - or even put him in harm's way.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby UphillDoc » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:50 pm

Great topic and insights.
I have played the games in the past. I don't think they are an accurate reflection of hunting, but they are of some value.
I wont chase another MH title, but I will continue to support the clubs, maintain/build contacts, and hunt the hair off my dogs.

Take care.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby sandrajrwilliams » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:43 pm

Thanks
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Tracy Wagner » Thu Apr 04, 2019 2:54 am

Is there a chance that we are heading down a path that could change the abilities of our breed to fulfill its original purpose or at the least reduce its ability to do so?

We may already have an answer to this question, to some degree. I bought my first CBR puppy in 1982, and have always had at least one in the kennel. I participated in several WD, WDX tests back then, as well as a bunch of informal or club trials. I was away from dog events for a while, and in the past few years have attended several CBR "Training Days" as well as FT/HT.
Using this snapshot, in general, I feel the dogs have improved speed, style, temperament, today vs. the dogs I saw run back in those days. I realize this is far from scientific, but in my case pretty clear. How much can be attributed to modern training methods, etc. ? Does this translate into a dog that will dig that cripple out of the cattails? It probably makes them harder to screw to the mat, but you can't add what is not there. All of the pups I have bought have been from FT parents, other than one, though she had 3 of 4 grandparents QAA. All were as good of hunting dogs as my training would allow. I have never attended a FT Specialty, or show Specialty. I am interested in the opinions of those who have been around awhile and have had more exposure to dog events.

At my last FT in 2018, I spent some time watching the first series of the open. Test was a triple, 420 yards retired, 380 yards retired, go bird 200 yard flyer, almost in line with memory bird. All quartering downwind and pretty tight. The dozen or so dogs I watched made this look easy. Realistic? Hardly. But I find it hard to believe a dog capable of this, trained for a different objective, couldn't handle any marking situation encountered.
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby thomas wilkins » Sat Apr 06, 2019 12:59 am

When reading Chesapeake puppy adds, it seems to me the selling point is geared more towards hunt test and field trial potential then natural hunting ability. I purchased my first Chesapeake in 1981 from Old Bay Kennels because my passion is waterfowl hunting. I had to have a dog that could handle cold weather because I live in Michigan. I was not disappointed. She was a natural hunting dog and could figure things out on her own. Since then, I have raised and trained over 40 different lines of Chesapeake dogs, and I have only kept three. When you have one that shows you what a real natural hunting Chesapeake is like, you want another one. Now, out of the other 37, they were not bad hunting retrievers, but they were not great. I am sure some of you out there have had the pleasure to experience hunting over a great Chesapeake that will WOW you.

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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby Rick Hall » Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:18 pm

thomas wilkins wrote:When reading Chesapeake puppy adds, it seems to me the selling point is geared more towards hunt test and field trial potential then natural hunting ability.


Unless you get to hunt over the parents a few times, there's not a whole lot else to try to hang your hat on. While trialed or tested parents generally offer more opportunity for observation, either by self or like-minded observers one trusts. (Suggests a fellow without much faith in trial, much less hunt test, titles alone.) As there may be about as many notions of what constitutes a "great Chesapeake" as there are loving Chesapeake owners, and one man's run-of-the-mill may be another's "Wow!"
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Re: Breeding and hunting

Postby thomas wilkins » Sun Apr 07, 2019 12:24 am

As long as you are happy with the Chesapeake or Chesapeakes you own that is all that matters. My main concern is to keep the natural hunting ability in the Chesapeake breed. That is what they were bred for.
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