An Essential Tool
I love duck hunting. Love it. I also love duck dogs. To me they are essential elements of the same component. A well-trained Labrador is the best conservation tool on a duck hunt. I don’t care where you hunt. Recently, I “tongue-n-cheeked” a tweet suggesting that a hunter isn’t a “Big Time” duck hunter unless he owns a dog. I got a response from a person who was angry about the post and stated he didn’t need a dog because he like “a lot of people hunt in areas where a dog is not needed”.
Now, at the risk of making this guy even more angry, I will tell you that from my point of view, that place doesn’t exist. Yes, I have hunted places where it is more likely that the ducks and geese are able to be retrieved. But even in these situations, a bird can be clipped and sail into a tree line 400 yards out. I have hunted in cut wheat fields were that were so clean it was hard to hide a coffin blind and had difficulty finding a duck laying out in the open. It happens. A dog “sees” with his nose. The cover doesn’t hide the bird. A trained lab is unmeasurably better at retrieving downed birds then any human.
Even with a dog, if you hunt a lot, you still can lose a bird or two in a season. If you hunt without a dog, on more than a few hunts, you WILL lose birds. I know; I, or I should say my dogs know. They have found your birds. On more than one occasion walking out to the marsh my dog will come back to me with a broken wing teal. Someone, probably without a dog, shot a bird they never collected.
There is an even worthier reason I own a trained lab. My labs are my best hunting buddies. They are my best companions. My hunting season lasts at least part of 7 months. The other five months I am preparing. I am training and refining my labs whenever I am not hunting. The joy I and my family get from my “buddies” is much. They provide smiles, laughter, an amusement for I and my family.
In closing if you love duck and goose hunting consider expanding your sphere to include a hunting buddy. Training your dog is a great adventure and will be a source of on-going pride for you. It will cause you some frustration and much pleasure. It will enhance every hunt you take, (especially if you hunt alone).
So, until I see you in the field (with your dog) be Safe, Be Good, and BE LUCKY!