The Western Montana Fair is over. The days are hot, the nights are cooler and the days are getting shorter. Ah, it’s almost hunting season.
You should now know if you have gotten that special big game permit you requested from Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. And, the opening of grouse season is only a handful of days away.
It’s clearly time to get your dog ready for hunting for now is the time to spend extra hours with your dog in preparing him or her for the first day in the field.
Where do you start in your training?
“Obedience, obedience, obedience”, says Jeff Smith, better known as the “Dogman” to his statewide radio audience on the Montana Outdoor Radio every Saturday morning.
With just over two weeks left until you start chasing mountain grouse, you still have time left to get your dog ready, Smith said. “Work on the basics first because everything we do is an extension of basic obedience,” he said.
“’Here!’ or ‘Come here!’ and heel and sit are the big commands. If your dog can do these commands consistently, well then at least you can keep control of the dog when you take him out in the field.”
Beyond the basics, work get the dog out for some bumper retrieving work.
“Bumper work gets the dog back into the habit of looking out in the field for birds,” adds Smith. “Again, this area needs practice just like we get rusty picking out a deer in the brush with out eyes the dogs get out of practice as well.”
Smith also advocates not letting the heat be an excuse not to work with your dog. On hot days, take the dog to the water. The idea is to go everyday and do something it doesn’t make any difference what, where or how long just do it.
Getting your dog prepared is half the battle. “Other things to think about is the equipment need for the field,” said Smith. “If you hunt with a e-collar, make sure it is working properly and make sure you have your leashes and collars in order too!”
Smith also recommends a dog first aid kit. You can put one together yourself or buy one already equipped with the essentials. It doesn’t have to be expensive but it should have enough in it to deal with scrapes, cuts, and punctures that your dog might get when out in the field.
Smith also advises that with the first days of hunting season usually being hot, take special precautions for your dog when out in the field.
“Make sure you bring plenty of water,” he said. “And, don’t overdo it in the field when it is hot. Let your dog get into the swing of things slowly.”
Smith advises to take breaks during those days that last at least 20 minutes to let you dog catch its breath and get re-energized.
Last year, for example, the opening day of the pheasant season in South Dakota was very warm with temperatures running into the 90’s. Owners who didn’t exercise some caution with their dog put the dog in danger of getting very ill or even death. Some died because of it.
If you have any hunting dog questions for the Smith, you can e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.