By Kristy Fike
Many avid waterfowl hunters have been tuning their calls, polishing up their retrievers, repairing blinds, replacing gear, and managing properties to help create a successful upcoming season. They count down the days until their hearts can once again be filled with joy and their ears can hear the priceless sound of wings above. They share this joy and make memories that last a lifetime with their four-legged partners.
When out in the field making memories this season, ensure your retriever’s safety to prevent dangerous situations. Accidents happen to everyone. The hunt of a lifetime can take a deadly turn in the blink of an eye. The good news is most of these accidents are avoidable.
Ensuring that your retriever has a strong foundation of basic obedience will go extremely far in both the blind and field. With the COME or HERE command by voice or whistle, you can call your retriever out of either a dangerous situation or out of a potentially dangerous situation.
If you teach your dog to PLACE in the same secure spot every time he is in the boat, then that will almost eliminate the chances of him falling overboard. Some owners also use the same command when in the blind. They will have a designated spot in the blind where the dog is expected to stay until released to pick up birds. This is put in place to prevent the retriever from breaking, which can lead to him getting shot. These all build off the fundamentals of basic obedience.
While always knowing your retriever’s exact location when out hunting might be impossible, it is this critical to know where they are. This will allow you to ensure that they do not run off the property or run into gunfire. Ensuring that all downed birds are picked up is valuable information for waterfowl hunters. This information allows hunters to eliminate wasting birds. By keeping track of your dog’s location, you will know how many downed birds they have retrieved, and how many still need to be picked up.
When in the blind or field, is it necessary to know when your dog has had enough for the day. While we may do everything possible to get our retrievers in top shape for season, in some circumstances it is better to call it a day. A few results of pushing your dog too hard in the field might include dehydration, heat stroke in early seasons, hypothermia in late seasons, and exhaustion. Hypoglycemic retrievers can also fallout without proper care. The hunt is not worth risking your partner’s health or life, so make sure you can tell when they have had enough.
After a day in the blind or field, many retrievers turn into the ultimate family dog when they get back home. Ensure that your partner comes home just as they left. Keep a first aid kit and the nearest animal hospital contact on hand when out waterfowl hunting just in case an accident does happen. Use common sense and do not let the thrill of the hunt cloud your judgment. Keeping safety as your top priority this season, will result with many more memories, big smiles, and wagging tails.