Bird Dogs & Training  |  01/15/2014

They Don't Point, but Flushers Have Their Bird Cues Too

I really like the lead time a pointing dog gives for shooting upland birds. I owned Brittanys for 10 years and have hunted with friends’ pointers all my life. A point gives you time to change up from stalking mode to shooting mode. It’s a big advantage over fast-flying game birds.
But, I’ve owned flushing dogs most my hunting life. There are many ways a flusher will cue it’s near a bird. My late English springer spaniel, “Wolf,” would “porpoise” into the air and yip if he was close to a bird. He also ran faster and held his nose more to the ground when on a hot trail. In addition to pace, many other flushing dog owners keep their eyes keyed on dogs’ tails, as the more it wags, the birdy-er that dog is.
Wolf hunted with pointers so much, in fact, that he started “flash” pointing himself as he got older. In case you don’t know, a flash point is just that, a quick point before the dog once again breaks into running pursuit of a bird. Even a flash point is helpful in telling me to get ready for a flush and shot – and it improved my kill rate. My current springer, now six-years-old, has yet to flash point – we’ll see.
Not that I’d ever say a flusher is better than a pointer or vice versa; it’s really a matter of personal hunting style and how you’re geared. I just prefer the faster pace of hunting a flusher provides. I love the more dynamic, unbroken flow of following a flusher and the added challenge of having to quickly stop and make a shot in one, unbroken action. When it works, to me, there’s nothing like it in the hunting world.
If you have a flushing dog, what are the birdy cues?

-Mark Herwig is editor of the Pheasants Forever Journal and Quail Forever Journal. Email Mark at‚Äč