Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bags, Launchers and Restraints - Gear for the "bird" in bird dog

As I was repairing (again) one of the remote electronic launchers we use in training the dogs, I thought it might be a good time to do a post on some of the unsung equipment we use in dog training.

The first thing I think we bought was the bird bag.  Absolutely an essential piece of gear for any trainer of a bird dog - it can clip on a saddle or slung over the shoulder, it's soft and breathable, easily cleaned and most have a pocket on them for things like bird harnesses and the like.  It's not a long term holding cell, but a great transport device from cage or coop to the field.

Being a pretty fiscally conservative guy, the next purchase was the Orange Velcro Pigeon Restraint with pull cord. 

I have used this on innumerable dogs - it holds the birds where you can check cord them to it, with a long string you can single handedly work the dog and release the bird - popping soft or hard you can get the bird up flying quickly or walking a short bit first, and it really focuses a young dog's attention.  I love these things and they still only cost about $4 each.  Easy to stuff in a game vest or the pocket on the bird bag - these are great for dogs you are checkcording.

Recently I've added the orange wing strap to the arsenal.  It seems with field trials, so many blowups are walking birds the dogs see - or the chuckar that refuses to fly.  With a wing strapped pigeon, this is easily simulated and you don't need to clip the bird wings, you can use your homer and finally get a clean flight.  Another great tool for under $4.

Then there is the love/hate relationship I have with the remote launcher.  Don't get me wrong - when they work consistently well, they are a fantastic tool - very versatlite and more uses than a blog post will cover.  My problem seems to be that I'm forever fixing them, charging them and just when I need a good release, they hang up.  I know I'm overdue for replacements, but these things are NOT cheap, so I milk mine along and will soon go again to Radio shack for a replacement plug.    I tend to use them as much a foot launch trap as I do a remote.

So there are the favorite bird devices we use with our dogs - you can get by with training a dog without the remotes for around $40 worth of gear including shipping, or you can spend easily 10x that for elaborate gear - just keep in mind, sometimes the simplest, least expensive thing can give your dog the best lesson.

All of this gear can be purchased at HuntinDawg - a great little online store run by really nice folks! :-) 

The final point - none of it trains a dog unless you go get the dog and get into the field.  So quit reading this, and go train. 


  1. " It seems with field trials, so many blowups are walking birds the dogs see - or the chuckar that refuses to fly. With a wing strapped pigeon, this is easily simulated. "

    On my shopping list! Thanks.
    Rod and Bailey

  2. Come on up for one of our weekend sessions and It won't cost you a thing - got the straps and the pigeons (well hopefully). I don't even drink anymore, so it won't even cost the customary beer!

  3. Ken,
    I met you in SD last year at the restaurant in Isabel. I was with my dad and two uncles and I am living in Okinawa, Japan, working as an English teacher. Do you remember us? You and Rod introduced yourselves on a night when they were passing out ice cream at the restaurant.

    Anyway, we were hunting behind a springer last year, but she had an ovarian infection this summer and unfortunately passed away, so we are going to be out of the loop for a few years (probably until I get back to the U.S. and can establish myself enough to own a dog). But I really hope to get back to the area soon.

    Are you guys going back this year? Please send me an email so I can send you pictures of my elk hunt this year and ask you some questions about your house there in Firesteel.

    Good luck this year!