Bea and Bert Tuning For Hunt Test
February 5th of last year was a beautiful day to take our Spinone Bea to the field. My friend Dawn was going with us to another friend George’s to help with some bird work.
We met at my house and talked over our plan, then got ready to go. The training was geared at preparing Bea for an upcoming hunt test, with a back course and finish with retrieving a chucker. Before leaving the house, Bert another pack member wanted to go and blocked the door. He lobbied hard by bringing me every shoe and piece of folded laundry he could find. I couldn’t break his heart and decided to work him into our trip.
With our pack 1 Spin goes to the field at a time, or the combination of Bea and Bert. They run independent checking on each other and back with me, honor, and give me the opportunity to walk and talk with another person.
Dawn, Bert, Bea and I loaded the truck and headed toward the farm. Grasses are thick at George’s. His fields are cut in wide strips and triangles making it a good place to work dogs. Fields are surrounded by trees with wooded islands perfectly placed for training.
We set our birds then started hunting. The dogs did great finding all the birds quickly. At end of the first field Bea and Bert cut through the woods to a smaller one then into the woods working in the direction where our quail had flown. I wanted to see if Bert or Bea could find the birds a second time before setting the chucker and ending our day.
Bea came out of the woods and into a field while Bert stayed in the woods. It wasn’t long before both dogs were getting scent. Bert slowed head up then down over and over trying to locate his bird, while Bea swung into the wind and came on point; several seconds later Bert locked also. He raised his head high and looked at Bea, Dawn, and I, then focused into the woods. Periodically he looked back toward Bea as if to be both pointing and backing at the same time or trying to keep track of the action. Bea was pointing looking away from Bert so I worked her first. I kept talking as I moved in until she could see me. Once in her sight I gave reinforcing commands and moved in for the flush. This quail flew 40 yards before I fired two blanks simulating gunners in a bird field. Dawn, my second set of eyes watched both dogs making sure things went according to their training. Everything went well but I wasn’t sure what to do next. I still had to work the bird in front of Bert and release Bea; but release her to do what? Thinking back to yard work I decided to make up something similar combining our backing / marking drills. I called her by name and commanded no bird, gave her a line toward Bert, followed by hunt on. Just like on the barrel in our yard she spun in place, saw Bert, and took to honoring. It worked and I was amazed! Dawn walked to us and stood with Bea while I went to my boy.
I kept talking to him as I moved in front of his point. The bird started walking keeping distance between us with a tree. It took some time but he finally flew and I fired the blank gun. Both dogs held steady awaiting their next command. Bert received his first; no bird, given a line, tap on the head, and hunt on. Then looking back toward Bea, she received her instructions. No bird, Dawn tapped her on the head as I gave hand signals and commanded, hunt on.
It had worked! Both dogs were heading in the proper direction away from the birds. We had all gotten through this unique situation without any flaws. Every command was followed and we were on our way to another of George’s fields for a run before calling it a day. As for the bird field and Mr. Chucker, he went back into his pen saved for another trip to the field.