Mix it up: 5 ways to team up canine hunting styles and put roosters in the gamebag
By Tom Carpenter
One of the rewards of all of Pheasants Forever’s habitat work is the magic of being in the field with our bird dogs. According to survey numbers, about 70 percent of Pheasants Forever members own at least one hunting dog. The flushing dog:pointing dog split is about 55:45.
That means, sooner or later, we’re all probably going to going to have to “mix it up,” which makes the following two questions arise.:
How can I hunt with someone who runs a dog that points while mine flushes, or vice versa?
Won’t the dogs just cause problems for each other and the hunting group?
The answer is simple: Just do it! Until you’ve tried it, it’s amazing how effective and easy it is to hunt pointing and flushing dogs together.
It all starts with mindset. You’ll have plenty of days to hunt alone with your dog – something we all live for. But on a shared hunt, you’re there as much for the camaraderie as the kill. That’s not to say you can’t or won’t get birds, though. You can, and will. Here are 5 approaches.
Run the flushing dog inside a habitat seam of thicker cover, working in. Let the pointing dog cruise the outside / lighter edge of a seam, working out.
Work as close as you want to your partner hunter-dog team, but a hundred yards or so is about right in thinner cover, 50 yards or so in thicker habitat.
Call each other over if your dog gets on a bird … especially a pesky runner, looper or lurker. Often a different approach – the plowing of a flusher or the finesse of a pointer – can locate the bird. And two noses and eight legs are better than one and four.
If the pointing dog locks up, life isn’t over if the flushing dog works in and does the flush ... as long as somebody’s there to shoot.
Because they stay closer and quarter well, flushing dogs are perfect for a line of hunters working a field. But pointing dogs can partake too; place them on the ends of the line, pushing out to the sides where the flushers don’t go.
Life, friendships and hunting season are too short to miss out on mixed-dog hunts. More nose power is better than less, and bird dogs are pretty smart at working together and figuring it all out.
Tom Carpenter, editor at Pheasants Forever, is assisted by Lark -- a pointing dog whose best friends are flushers.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Pheasants Forever Journal.