For many of us, bird hunting with Dogs in Maine is as much a part of our hunt as our trusty shotgun. Whether you have a dog of your own or you’re accompanying a friend or guide with a dog on a Maine upland game hunt, here are some things to keep in mind when hunting with a companion of the four-legged variety.
How to capitalize on your bird dogs sense of smell
We hunt with dogs largely because of their ability to smell and therefore locate game. Yet so often we try to force the dog to stick to our own grid pattern or zig zagging path through the cover. Do yourself a favor and be flexible with the path you plan to take and simply let the dog do what he was born to do: smell things.
A dog’s sense of smell is tens of thousands of times better than ours. Use that power to your advantage and let the dog take the lead. If he starts veering off course a little bit, follow him. Trust the nose. More often than not, it will lead you where you need to go.
When bird hunting, work the wind
Granted, you will need to exercise some control over the basic course you take. A dog’s natural tendency will be to work into the wind as that’s the course that will give it the most direct exposure to scent.
Use this to your advantage and set a course that quarters into the wind. For instance, if the wind is blowing from the northwest, follow a path that generally takes a north or westerly direction. That way, you allow the dog to pick up scent from in front as well as to the side. If you work directly into the wind, the dog will only pick up scent from directly in front of it.
Again, trust the nose. When a dog picks up a scent, it will zig zag back and forth narrowing in on the source. This will often lead to the dog working directly up into the prevailing wind. Pay close attention as this happens. You’ll soon figure out how to tell the difference between a legitimate track and mere curiosity. Adjust your course for the former, adjust the dog’s for the latter.
Hydrate your dog for better performance
Nothing will hamper a dog’s performance quicker than dehydration. All that panting and smelling and running about moves a ton of air through the dog, drying out its mouth and nasal cavities. This lowers its ability to detect smells.
And just like with humans, dehydration reduces the dog’s energy and stamina. Combined, that’s a recipe for a less successful hunt and a very uncomfortable hunting companion.
To combat the dangers of drying out, carry plenty of water with you in the field. Those sport water bottles bicyclists use work pretty good to lay in the bottom of a game pouch. Take frequent breaks to give the dog a few good squirts. But water is heavy so you can really only carry so much at one time.
If you’re hunting near water, adjust your course to give the dog access to a drink or a quick swim, especially if it’s warm out. If you’re hunting dry fields, make frequent trips back to the truck for rests and refills.
What does it mean when your bird dog’s tail droops?
You can gauge how a dog is feeling by paying close attention to her tail. When she’s doing well, her tail will be up and wagging. As she starts to wear out, her tail will start to drop and won’t move as much. It’s really not that much different than us when we get fatigued.
We begin to sag. Our shoulders droop, we hunch forward some, and our arms don’t swing as freely. This is basically what happens with dogs except the slump is reflected in their tails. Keep in mind this may be the only sign you get since many hunting dogs would gladly hunt with you until they collapse.
When you see the tail sag, it’s time to take a break. Stop for a bit, get some water, recharge. If a short break doesn’t pick the tail up, it’s time to call it quits, at least for the dog anyway. Pushing him beyond his limits won’t do anyone any good.
Pheasant Hunting with Dogs in Maine
A quick note on Maine’s pheasant program. Pheasant hunting in Maine is made possible through the sale of pheasant stamps. Hunters can help promote pheasant hunting in the state by purchasing a pheasant permit for a mere $19 (all but the $2 vendor fee of which goes directly to the pheasant program) at any license vendor or online.
Or, if you’re staying at one of Camp Katahdin’s properties, where the land is commercially zoned, no permit is needed and you can hunt pheasants 7 days a week, as they raise and release their own birds.
Camp Katahdin is a luxury hunting retreat in Northern Maine. Our 15 person Hunting Lodge is set in the most beautiful hunting grounds in the Katahdin area. Step out the door and walk, ATV, or snowmobile to prime hunting locations.
Then, come back and rest easy in our new lodge. We offer independent and guided hunts for all seasons. We are also commercially zoned for Pheasant hunting – that means, no license needed, 7 days a week hunts.
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