With ticks, cold hands, wet feet, fluctuating bird numbers, wolves, other hunters, muddy trucks and increasing expenses, why go to the grouse woods? Gun Dog training of course! If you want to produce excellent bird finding canines, you need to train them where the wild birds are. There is no better wild bird for training spaniels than the ruff grouse.
Northern MI is an excellent training ground for our gun dogs.
Also, it's a lot cooler than Georgia right now.
One of many training fields on the days we are not in the woods.
To produce wild birds successfully, your dog needs to beat a wild bird at its own game and on its home turf. These birds have honed their escape routes. They know when something is out of place and they know you and your dog do not belong in the woods with them. Most hunters never hunt wild birds and those that do will likely only hunt a couple of days each year. So then, why is it so beneficial to send your dog to the grouse woods?
For young dogs, the experience is most beneficial. The exposure of running on grouse in the woods for 2-4 weeks cannot be replicated in a training environment. The change in a dog from the first day to when we break camp is not always evident until we return home. It is easy to see the dogs that learn about grouse and woodcock; where they hide, picking up foot scent and crashing the evergreens. But what about the dog that shows little advancement? These dogs typically are the ones that get the most out of the trip and in many cases, the experience is likely to salvage the dog as hunting partner.
Whether your game is a field trial, hunt test, game preserve or wild bird hunting; the real field trial, we must separate the bird dogs from the imposters. And, that must shake out itself as nature has always done it in the grouse woods.
Traveling Down The Roads Of MI!!
Roadside Bakery!! Choose Your Cake or Cookie!!
Please Deposit Your Money In The Box.
This Is Todd's Favorite Spot!
I want to emphasize this fantastic experience can be far better described as a grouse “training” camp than solely a grouse camp. While still delivering on all the fine attributes of the latter, such as beautiful grouse habitat and often mischievous camaraderie, there was a focus on training. The value of a solid day of hunting wild birds with Indie while Todd observed was extraordinary. Todd gave me great insight on how to work her as a gun dog versus a hunt test participant. Often the changes he suggested were more about my actions than hers – not unexpected given she was trained by Todd and I was not!
In the end Indie and I had a great time and came away with training goals for next year. We also made a few new friends that we hope to hunt with soon. If you’re lucky enough to get a spot next year – take it.
Going to the grouse woods is not about shooting grouse. It is about developing prospects out of dogs that otherwise may not make good hunting dogs if left on the farm.