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Ontario’s Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed GrouseAlthough sometimes regarded as “wilderness” birds, Ruffed Grouse have no aversion to living in close proximity to humans if the cover gives them adequate security. In some areas of Ontario, Canada –  Ruffed Grouse are more abundant in remote wilderness forests. They thrive best where forests are kept young and vigorous by occasional clear-cut logging, or fire, and gradually diminish in numbers as forests mature and their critical food and cover resources deteriorate in the shade of a climax forest.

Ruffed Grouse response to man varies greatly across their range, depending upon their experiences. In southern Ontario generally they are usually quite elusive and difficult to approach. Yet they can still be killed with a canoe paddle or thrown stones in NW Ontario wilderness forests.

When the ground is bare of snow, Ruffed Grouse feed on a wide variety of green leaves and fruits, and some insects. They have also been known to eat snakes, frogs as well. But when snow covers the ground as it does for most of the winter across the major portion of their natural range, Ruffed Grouse are almost exclusively “flower-eaters,” living on the dormant flower buds or catkins of trees such as birches and pin cherry bush’s.

Known as solitary in their social behavior they do not develop a pair-bond between males and females, although there is usually at least one hen in the woods for every male. Young birds, especially, collect in temporary, loose flocks in the fall and winter, but this is not equivalent to the covey organization of the quails and partridges.

Male Ruffed Grouse are aggressively territorial throughout their adult lives, defending for their almost exclusive use a piece of woodland that is 6-10 acres in extent. Usually this is shared with one or two hens. The male grouse proclaims his property rights by engaging in a “drumming” display. This sound is made by beating his wings against the air to create a vacuum, as lightning does when it makes thunder. The drummer usually stands on a log, stone or mound of dirt when drumming, and this object is called a “drumming log.” He does not strike the log to make the noise, he only uses the “drumming log” as a stage for his display.

The drumming stage selected by a male is most likely to be about 10-12 inches above the ground, in moderately dense brush, (usually 70 to 160 stems within a 10 ft. radius) where he can maintain unrestricted surveillance over the terrain for a radius of about 60 ft. Across much of the Ruffed Grouse range there are usually mature male within sight in the forest canopy overhead.

Drumming occurs throughout the year, so long as his “log” is not too deeply buried under snow. In the spring, drumming becomes more frequent and prolonged as the cock grouse advertises his location to hens seeking a mate. Listen to an example at the top of this page.

Courtship is brief, lasting but a few minutes, then the hen wanders away in search of a nest site, and there is no further association between the male grouse and his mate – or the brood of chicks she produces. A hen may make her nest more than 1/2 mile from the log of her mate.

Nests are hollowed-out depressions in the leaf litter, usually at the base of a tree, stump or in a clump of brush. The nest is usually in a position which allows the hen to maintain a watch for approaching predators. Sometimes hens will nest under logs or in brush piles, but this is less common, and a dangerous location.

A clutch usually contains 8 to 14 buff colored eggs when complete. Eggs are laid at a rate of about one each day and a half, so it may take 2 weeks for a clutch to be completed. Then incubation, which usually commences when the last egg is laid, takes another 24 to 26 days before the eggs hatch. A nest has to be placed so that it will not be discovered by a predator during a period of at least 5 weeks.

The chicks are prosocial, which means that as soon as they have dried following hatching they are ready to leave the nest and start feeding themselves. Grouse chicks are not much larger than a man’s thumb when they leave the nest. They are surprisingly mobile and may be moving farther than 1/4 mile a day by the time they are 3 or 4 days old. They begin flying when about 5 days old, and resemble giant bumble bees in flight. The hen may lead her brood as far as 4 miles from the nest to a summer brood range during its first 10 days of life.

Although grouse broods occasionally appear on roadsides, field edges or in forest openings, these are hazardous places for young grouse to be, and broods survive best if they can remain secure in fairly uniform, moderately dense brush or sapling cover.

wawanggrouse1The growing chicks need a great deal of animal protein for muscle and feather development early in life. They feed heavily on insects and other small animals for the first few weeks, gradually shifting to a diet of green plant materials and fruits as they become larger. Chicks grow rapidly, increasing from about 1/2 ounce midgets when hatched to 17-20 oz. fully grown young birds 16 weeks later. That is a 38 to 46 fold increase in weight. At 17 weeks of age, a Ruffed Grouse is almost as large and heavy as it will ever be.

Biologists and others who want to age Ruffed Grouse rely upon certain peculiarities of the molt of the primary flight feathers. The booklet A Grouse in the Hand explains this aging procedure. And following the first complete molt by a 14 to 15 month old adult grouse, there are no known physical characteristics which reliably identify the age.

When about 16 to 18 weeks old, the young grouse passes out of its period of adolescence and breaks away to find a home range of its own. This is the second and last time that Ruffed Grouse are highly mobile. The young males are the first to depart, when they range out seeking a vacant drumming territory, or activity center, where they can claim a drumming log. Most young males find a suitable site within 1.8 mi. of the brood range where they grew up, although some may go as far as 4.5 mi. seeking a vacant territory. Many young cocks claim a drumming log by the time they are 20 weeks old; and once they have done so, most will spend the remainder of their lives within a 200 to 300 yard radius of that log.

Young females begin leaving the brood one or two weeks later than their brothers, and they normally disperse about three times as far. Some young hens move at least 15 miles looking for the place where they’ll spend the rest of their lives.

Occasionally a hen and her brood will remain together as late as mid-January, but this is unusual, and most groups of grouse encountered in the fall and winter are composed of unrelated individuals who gather together temporarily to share a choice food resource or piece of secure cover.

In fall and winter some inexperienced young grouse frightened by a predator or something else, crash into buildings, trees or through windows in a so-called “crazy-flight.” Sometimes they are evidently simply trying to take a short-cut when they can see through two large windows on the corner of a house. After all, young grouse in their first fall have never been confronted by something that can be seen through but not flown through, such as glass!

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Grouse Hunting at Wawang Lake

Join us in NW Ontario CANADA for some exciting and thrilling grouse hunting

P1130017
Grouse Season:  September 15th to Oct 31st

Grouse hunting is a relaxing pastime that is getting more and more popular every year.  In our area bird hunting can be an adventure in itself!  Driving down the back roads & trails in your truck or on your ATV can not only be thrilling but breathtaking as well as you wander down roads that are in full color deserving of natures fall foliage. Just taking in these magnificent fall colors, peaceful wilderness & the wildlife that you’ll encounter will make you feel like you are definitely “North of the Tension Zone”.

The bush trails with the rise of the birds, singing of the guns, the smell of the pines along with friendly comraderie back at the camp will not long be forgotten.

Surrounding Wawang Lake are hundreds of miles of ATV trails, old logging road, game animal trails and hiking trails. The bush is just stuffed with these upland game birds and on a sunny fall afternoon you will see hoards of them. Many of our guests choose a fishing / grouse hunting combination package and spend half the their time taking advantage of the awesome northern pike and walleye fishing and spend the rest of their time enjoying the clean fall area and exploring the many trails where birds are plentiful.

There are three species of grouse found in Ontario.

Ruffed Grouse  –  Spruce Grouse  –  Sharptail Grouse

Ruffed Grouse is the most common and comprises of 80% of what you will encounter during your hunt.

The limit for grouse in Ontario is 5 birds per day in any combination of species with a total of 15 in your possession and you will be surprised at the number of grouse we do have and how fast you’ll bag those limits.

Compared to other areas the grouse cycle in our area has remained consistently high over the years and we credit this because of less human population that other places are known for.  In a nutshell what you’ll experience at Wawang Lake is a vast area of complete privacy during your hunt.

The most popular guns for grouse hunting are .410 or 20 gauge shot gun and some hunters use a 12 as well.   Quickly becoming more popular is BOW HUNTING for birds.  To increase the thrill and excitement of your hunt give your bow a try and the challenge alone is sure to thrill you.

Blaze orange hat & vest is required and must be worn out in the field

Canadian Firearms Regulations
All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one-year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000.

Canadian Customs
You should be aware of special customs and immigration issues whenever traveling to another country. For people with prior legal issues (including DWI’s) you need to find out what restrictions may be placed on your travel. Visit the Border Crossing Link and/or the Canada Citizenship & Immigration.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS
A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt. Balance to be paid in full upon arrival at the resort.  Hunting deposits and installments are non-refundable. Consideration may be given to date transfers if vacancy can be filled.

There are a limited number of spaces available for our hunts. Often there are more guests interested in hunting than there are available spaces, and hunts are often booked a year or more in advance. It is extremely difficult to fill spaces that become available due to cancellation. For these reasons we ask that our guests do not book hunts lightly

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

 WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
  BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

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Grouse Hunting at Wawang Lake

Join us in NW Ontario CANADA for some exciting and thrilling grouse hunting

P1130017
Grouse Season:  September 15th to Oct 31st

Grouse hunting is a relaxing pastime that is getting more and more popular every year.  In our area bird hunting can be an adventure in itself!  Driving down the back roads & trails in your truck or on your ATV can not only be thrilling but breathtaking as well as you wander down roads that are in full color deserving of natures fall foliage. Just taking in these magnificent fall colors, peaceful wilderness & the wildlife that you’ll encounter will make you feel like you are definitely “North of the Tension Zone”.

The bush trails with the rise of the birds, singing of the guns, the smell of the pines along with friendly comraderie back at the camp will not long be forgotten.

Surrounding Wawang Lake are hundreds of miles of ATV trails, old logging road, game animal trails and hiking trails. The bush is just stuffed with these upland game birds and on a sunny fall afternoon you will see hoards of them. Many of our guests choose a fishing / grouse hunting combination package and spend half the their time taking advantage of the awesome northern pike and walleye fishing and spend the rest of their time enjoying the clean fall area and exploring the many trails where birds are plentiful.

There are three species of grouse found in Ontario.

Ruffed Grouse  –  Spruce Grouse  –  Sharptail Grouse

Ruffed Grouse is the most common and comprises of 80% of what you will encounter during your hunt.

The limit for grouse in Ontario is 5 birds per day in any combination of species with a total of 15 in your possession and you will be surprised at the number of grouse we do have and how fast you’ll bag those limits.

Compared to other areas the grouse cycle in our area has remained consistently high over the years and we credit this because of less human population that other places are known for.  In a nutshell what you’ll experience at Wawang Lake is a vast area of complete privacy during your hunt.

The most popular guns for grouse hunting are .410 or 20 gauge shot gun and some hunters use a 12 as well.   Quickly becoming more popular is BOW HUNTING for birds.  To increase the thrill and excitement of your hunt give your bow a try and the challenge alone is sure to thrill you.

Blaze orange hat & vest is required and must be worn out in the field

Canadian Firearms Regulations
All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one-year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000.

Canadian Customs
You should be aware of special customs and immigration issues whenever traveling to another country. For people with prior legal issues (including DWI’s) you need to find out what restrictions may be placed on your travel. Visit the Border Crossing Link and/or the Canada Citizenship & Immigration.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS
A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt. Balance to be paid in full upon arrival at the resort.  Hunting deposits and installments are non-refundable. Consideration may be given to date transfers if vacancy can be filled.

There are a limited number of spaces available for our hunts. Often there are more guests interested in hunting than there are available spaces, and hunts are often booked a year or more in advance. It is extremely difficult to fill spaces that become available due to cancellation. For these reasons we ask that our guests do not book hunts lightly

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

 WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

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Tips For More Grouse

trees3Learn to Recognize Good Cover
Some hunters seem to have a sixth sense about where the grouse are. This isn’t magic but rather the culmination of years of experience, observation, and a working knowledge of what the birds need. These guys are constantly reading about grouse habitat and lore; they take note of wherever they hear drumming in the spring. They know that good grouse cover holds food and provides protection from predators — if it is near an evergreen stand or gravel so much the better.

Take a page from these hunters. Every time you or your dog move a bird, have a good look around after the smoke has cleared — you’ll see a pattern soon enough. Study grouse biology at home; carry field guides when you hunt; learn to recognize common grouse foods in your area. After a while you’ll develop that sixth sense too.

Keep a Log
Every serious grouse hunter I know keeps a hunting log. Some maintain elaborate leather-bound journals in which they detail particulars of the hunt such as the date, cover, number of flushes, dog work, weather, harvest, and crop contents of the birds. Other keep it simple, by marking covers on their handheld GPS. Either way, the hunter is reminded of the places that produced grouse last season.gps

Do this consistently and it won’t take many seasons before you have a bevy of early, mid, and late season options. The more options you have, the better your chance of having a grouse dinner.

Break Some Clay
Over the course of a season, few of us get enough shots at grouse. So it only stands to reason that a hunter ought to make the most of each opportunity. I do this by honing my shotgunning skills in the off-season. Skeet, trap, or sporting clays keep a hunter sharp so that mounting and swinging his scattergun becomes second nature. You’ll still miss — grouse have a way of humbling everyone — but you’ll also make some shots that you might not have without the off-season practice. It just takes a few of these to turn a mediocre season into a great one.

Don’t Forget the Dog Days
Spring and summer are tailor-made for training your dog. Despite this, few of us take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, we expect our dogs to work flawlessly on opening day and we’re actually surprised when that doesn’t happen.

Does your flushing dog hunt too far ahead and blow cover before you get there? A little “hup training” (teaching your dog to sit on command, no matter how far away) in the off season goes a long way towards remedying this. You might also consider brushing up on retrieving drills or introducing your dog to pigeons or game farm forays prior to the season. Some advanced training, such as steadying to wing and shot (where a dog sits down automatically at each flush) might require the help of a professional dog trainer. If that’s what you want, the off-season is the time to do it.

P1040011

Pointing dogs have their own set of training needs, which might include bolstering staunchness, retrieving, hunting range and finding dead birds. Whatever your canine hunting partner’s flaw is, the off-season is the time to address it.

The idea is to learn to handle your dog so that you perform as a well-oiled team during the hunting season. There are plenty of great dog training books and videos — the off-season is when you should benefit from them most.

Follow the Food
Grouse eat hundreds of types of food and each provides a clue as to where the birds are hanging out. That’s why it’s a good idea to check the crop of every bird you shoot. Knowing what grouse are eating helps you understand their habits and tells you where you should focus your hunting efforts. If the last three birds you shot were full of blackberries, for instance, it’s definitely time to hunt any of your covers that hold these shrubs.

Against the Wind
A dog relies on his nose to find birds. So why would you hunt with the wind at its back? We all know that there isn’t any good reason for doing so, but it’s one of the first things excited dog handlers forget when approaching good cover.

If you hunt into the wind, your dog will work closer, scent more game and, hopefully, find more birds. It’s a simple but often overlooked strategy that can make the difference between a full and empty game bag. This is also an important consideration when looking for a lost bird. Take your dog downwind from where you think it fell and let it start hunting from there.

Stop and Start
A good grouse hunting dog provides opportunities that you might not have otherwise had, but that’s not to say that a dog less hunter can’t do well. The key, for a dog less hunter, is to stop and start through likely cover and change direction often. These unpredictable patterns unnerve grouse and invariably pressure them into flushing. Another added bonus is that when you stop you can sometimes hear the put-put-put of a grouse moving just ahead of you. If that’s the case, get the gun up and rush it.

Don’t Hesitate
A good upland shot doesn’t hesitate. He takes the first available shot, even if it’s not a great one.

If you wait for a better chance you’ll rarely get it. Similarly, if you are leading a bird that disappears behind a screen of leaves, follow through, and shoot anyway. You’ll be surprised how often you connect. If not, shells are cheap.

While we’re on the subject of shooting, be ready for the second flush. Often, especially, early in the season when birds are still in their family groups, multiple flushes do occur. If you keep this in mind, they won’t catch you flat-footed — or with an empty gun.

Follow Up
Whenever you flush a bird and don’t fold it, mark where you last saw it. Most times they won’t fly much further than 150 yards. If you marked it well and follow up immediately, you have a good chance of forcing a second flush.

 

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Another advantage of following up on grouse is that they sometimes lead you to new covers. If that’s the case, don’t forget to mark it.

Lastly, never assume that you missed any grouse that you shot at. After the shot, keep quiet and listen. Sometimes you’ll hear a mortally wounded grouse doing its death dance against the ground — that’s the one that you thought you missed.

The Right Tools
A fast-handling 12, 16 or 20 gauge shotgun is ideal for birds. Most gunners like double guns. Some happen to prefer a pump because that’s what they shoot best with.  However, don’t discount the light weight, easy to carry .410 shotgun.  Nice little gun with ever growing in popularity in our neck of the woods.

Whatever, your preference, you can’t go wrong using 2 3/4-inch shells filled with 7.5 shot. Grouse aren’t tough birds and it doesn’t take much to bring them down. Since most shots are within 15 yards, the more open-choked your barrels are, the better.

Other essential grouse hunting tools include a quality blaze orange upland hunting vest with a lined game pouch; brush pants; comfortable, well-supported hunting boots; and a compass and/or GPS. If you are hunting with a dog, a whistle, water bottle, portable dog dish, dog first aid kit, and lead are important too. When working heavy, thorny cover, a pair of shooting glasses that protect your eyes are worth their weight in gold.

Conclusion
No one ever said grouse hunting was complicated. But it does take some planning, know-how and skill. Over the last few years, these strategies have made many a much better grouse hunter. Hopefully, they’ll do the same for you.

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Grouse Hunting at Wawang Lake

Join us in NW Ontario CANADA for some exciting and thrilling grouse hunting

P1130017
Grouse Season:  September 15th to Oct 31st

Grouse hunting is a relaxing pastime that is getting more and more popular every year.  In our area bird hunting can be an adventure in itself!  Driving down the back roads & trails in your truck or on your ATV can not only be thrilling but breathtaking as well as you wander down roads that are in full color deserving of natures fall foliage. Just taking in these magnificent fall colors, peaceful wilderness & the wildlife that you’ll encounter will make you feel like you are definitely “North of the Tension Zone”.

The bush trails with the rise of the birds, singing of the guns, the smell of the pines along with friendly comraderie back at the camp will not long be forgotten.

Surrounding Wawang Lake are hundreds of miles of ATV trails, old logging road, game animal trails and hiking trails. The bush is just stuffed with these upland game birds and on a sunny fall afternoon you will see hoards of them. Many of our guests choose a fishing / grouse hunting combination package and spend half the their time taking advantage of the awesome northern pike and walleye fishing and spend the rest of their time enjoying the clean fall area and exploring the many trails where birds are plentiful.

There are three species of grouse found in Ontario.

Ruffed Grouse  –  Spruce Grouse  –  Sharptail Grouse

Ruffed Grouse is the most common and comprises of 80% of what you will encounter during your hunt.

The limit for grouse in Ontario is 5 birds per day in any combination of species with a total of 15 in your possession and you will be surprised at the number of grouse we do have and how fast you’ll bag those limits.

Compared to other areas the grouse cycle in our area has remained consistently high over the years and we credit this because of less human population that other places are known for.  In a nutshell what you’ll experience at Wawang Lake is a vast area of complete privacy during your hunt.

The most popular guns for grouse hunting are .410 or 20 gauge shot gun and some hunters use a 12 as well.   Quickly becoming more popular is BOW HUNTING for birds.  To increase the thrill and excitement of your hunt give your bow a try and the challenge alone is sure to thrill you.

Blaze orange hat & vest is required and must be worn out in the field

Canadian Firearms Regulations
All Firearms (does NOT include bows) being brought into Canada must be registered at the Canadian Customs at the time of entry into Canada. A one-year permit costs $50.00 Canadian, or there is a long term permit as well. If you would like further information, you can visit the Canadian Firearms Website through the link on our website or call toll free, 1-800-731-4000.

Canadian Customs
You should be aware of special customs and immigration issues whenever traveling to another country. For people with prior legal issues (including DWI’s) you need to find out what restrictions may be placed on your travel. Visit the Border Crossing Link and/or the Canada Citizenship & Immigration.

DEPOSIT REQUIREMENTS
A $150.00 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation to guarantee a hunt. Balance to be paid in full upon arrival at the resort.  Hunting deposits and installments are non-refundable. Consideration may be given to date transfers if vacancy can be filled.

There are a limited number of spaces available for our hunts. Often there are more guests interested in hunting than there are available spaces, and hunts are often booked a year or more in advance. It is extremely difficult to fill spaces that become available due to cancellation. For these reasons we ask that our guests do not book hunts lightly

For further information, or, to book your next bear hunt please contact us at:
1-888-534-9217 or EMAIL

 WEBSITE    RATES     FISH    HUNT    CABINS    PHOTOS
BROCHURE    HUNT BOOKLET

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Get More Early-Season Birds

It weave left, slip right, then disappear through the auburn treetops. It’s not often you get such a clear look at an escaping grouse during the early weeks of the season, but there I was, frozen as the bird slipped through the prettiest shooting lane I’d see on the entire trip. I never pulled the trigger.

ruffed-grouse-flying-down-from-limb-timothy-flanigan

The embarrassing reality of this scenario is that I’d been caught off guard. It was my first grouse hunt, and I wasn’t prepared for the surprise of the flush. That was a tough lesson, but it wasn’t the only one I learned during that trip to the hallowed grouse of NW Ontario’s Boreal Forest. Here are some more hits and misses that, if you’ll consider before you reach the woods, should help you bag more early-season birds.


1.  Being Aggressive

There’s no place for methodical shooting when hunting grouse. There’s no time for the shot to develop, as with long, loping shots on the sporting clays course. Grouse are fast, and they live in dense cover. But you don’t have to be a snap shooter to be successful. You just have to be aggressive. You should have nothing on your mind but finding that bird. The sooner you see it, the sooner you can move for it. Visualize beating the bird to the treetops with your gun.

2.  Going Off Trail
We started our morning busting brush but by midday got lazy and stayed on old logging roads & trails. The result was a half dozen points in cover that we couldn’t reach in time. Our hunt picked up tremendously in the afternoon, when we got back in the brush.

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3.  Misjudging Range
Twice I flushed grouse that I thought were out of range, although they were visible, only to realize afterward that they were makeable shots. Part of the fault was how I prepared. Before the trip I had practiced mostly fast, outgoing targets thrown from a few yards in front of me—textbook fast-flushing bird presentations. I was visualizing those shots in the field, and when birds flushed from farther away, I had the impression they were out of range.  Be sure to practice at longer ranges.

4.  Starting With The Gun Up
A solid ready position is a key to hitting fast-flying birds. It gets your body and eyes ready to make a quick, efficient move. When you moved in on birds with the stock up under your armpit and the barrel pointed forward, you will shoot much better.

5.  Relaxing After The Flush
Grouse might not covey up like quail, but they do often travel in close proximity to each other, especially where there’s a good food source. I saw this first-hand when we flushed three pairs of grouse over the course of a day. So when a bird flushes out of range or doesn’t offer a shot, don’t drop your guard. Be ready for another bird to flush.

Evening_Flight-_Ruffed_Grouse_large

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Start Your Retriever Off Right

Here are a few helpful tips to help you do it right and get your retriever pup off to a good start:

wading
WATER
Taking your retriever pup out in a boat to the middle of a lake and throwing her overboard is not a proper water introduction. Ideally, you want the experience to be pleasant and fun.

Find a small pond with a shore that drops gradually from shallow to deep water. The weather should be mild, and the water temperature 60 degrees or warmer. Wading into the water with the pup will help alleviate any fear she may have. Bumpers and water retrieves can come later.

GUNFIRE
The worst thing you can do is to take a puppy to an open field and fire a 12-gauge over her head. That’s almost guaranteed to cause gun-shyness. Instead, recruit a friend or family member to help with this part of your pup’s training. While you handle the dog, have your training partner move a good distance away. Each time you toss a bumper, your partner should fire a shot with a starter pistol or cap gun. Be careful not to overdo it. A few shots each outing will suffice. Each day, decrease the distance between the dog and the gunfire and repeat the same drill. Keep in mind that introducing a dog to gunfire is a gradual process that shouldn’t be rushed.

gunfire
DECOYS
Don’t wait until hunting season to familiarize your dog with decoys. Incorporate them into their training exercises. Place a dozen or more decoys around a field when you’re tossing bumpers. This will help teach the dog that decoys are just part of the setup and not her main focus. Once he/she learns that, they can move on to retrieving bumpers around a decoy spread set in shallow water. This will help them learn how to swim through the decoys without getting tangled in the lines. If you hunt with motion decoys, incorporate them into your training spread as well.

BOATS The best way to acclimate a pup to watercraft is on dry land, where the boat won’t rock or tip over. Place your retriever in the boat and let her explore this unfamiliar setting. Do this several times over a period of a few days, and when the dog is comfortable in her new surroundings, launch the boat and take your pup on a cruise around the lake. Be sure to go slow and avoid rough waters. Keep the outing as pleasant as possible, with the dog sitting calmly beside you. Allowing them to run around while the boat is under way can be extremely dangerous.

BLINDS
Whether you hunt out of a permanent blind or a layout blind, your retriever should have a place of her own. Set up a dog stand or platform during your training sessions. Begin by teaching the dog to sit still on the stand. The younger the dog, the less patience they will have. But after several training sessions, they should learn to be patient and sit on the stand for extended periods of time.

blind1

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