Bird Dogs & Training  |  01/29/2024

Bird Dog Field Care Class Returns to Pheasant Fest 2024


Dr. Joe Spoo will cover treating injuries in the field

One of the most popular aspects of last year’s Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic is returning in 2024. 

The Bird Dog Field Care class will take place once again in Sioux Falls. At the helm this year is Dr. Joe Spoo, a South Dakota based, board certified veterinarian who specializes in working dogs. Dr. Spoo is a native of northwest Iowa and a 2001 graduate of the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. After spending his first two years in practice in northern Minnesota, he relocated to Sioux Falls — an area with both abundant hunting dogs to treat and endless opportunities to chase his own dogs through the uplands. 

“Our hunting dogs are extreme athletes, and as such encounter unique hazards and conditions both in and out of the field,” Dr. Spoo said. "In this course, I’ll help you become a more educated and empowered dog owner when it comes to keeping your hunting partner healthy, active, and in the field.”

This year’s course will be broken down into two basic parts. During the lecture portion, Dr. Spoo will cover what gun dog owners should carry in their first aid kits in the field. He will also cover numerous health issues, injuries and conditions encountered by working dogs — including how to recognize, treat and prevent conditions ranging from heat stroke to migrating foreign bodies and everything in between. In addition he’ll cover post-hunt issues like stress diarrhea, anorexia and soreness.

The next portion of the class will be hands-on, as Dr. Spoo will demonstrate how to properly conduct a tailgate exam at the end of a hunt, showcasing tips and tricks to identify sources of a lameness in a worn out dog. Next, he’ll run participants through bandaging and splinting a limb, bandaging an ear wound, how to properly examine, flush and apply medication to the eye — with each participant getting a chance to practice these methods. Participants will also learn how to safely remove their dogs from leg hold and conibear traps, as well as snares. 

The hands on portion of the course will wrap up with a demonstration on how to properly staple a wound in the field, how to recognize which wounds should be closed, which wounds shouldn’t and when to seek veterinary care. 

“The Phesants Forever Field Care class filled in critical holes in not only my canine specific first aid knowledge, but also what first aid supplies I need to have with me in the field,” said Tim Mattson, who attended the course at Pheasant Fest 2023. “It’s my job to make sure all of us that go out in the field make it back to the truck, and that includes my kids and my bird dog.  Oftentimes when you’re upland hunting there isn’t time to get to a vet, or even make it back to the truck if there is a traumatic injury, and this course provided me with the piece of mind that I can take care of my hunting buddy if he gets hurt chasing birds — It was worth every penny.”

Courses run each day of Pheasant Fest, with two sessions on Saturday. The cost is $500 per person, with each participate also receiving a lifetime Pheasants Forever dog membership and a Sporting Dog premium first aid kit. 

Register Now

The 2024 National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic will take place at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls on March 1-3. Tickets and more information can be found at: