By Scott Linden
Life is complicated. Hunting life is complicated times two.
Whether it’s shooting, hunting or dog training, anything we can do to simplify our lives is always welcomed. I’ve hunted with professional guides and dog trainers for 25 years, and while I may not shoot well, I do ask some pretty good questions. The answers I've gotten are worth their weight in kibble.
Before you set out on your next training session or hunting trip, see if these hacks help.
Teach your dog to drink from a bota, or the modern equivalent. No dragging a bowl into the field, and you can both share one water source. Save the wine for after the hunt.
Protect your dog's feet.
Dog boots are expensive, wear out fast, or get lost. Carefully wrap your dog’s feet, Roman sandal-style, in duct tape instead. circulation — and who cares if they fall off? Pack it out.
Missing birds? You could be lifting your head off the gunstock because your hat brim is too low. That forces you to raise your chin to see the bird as it flushes, throwing off the geometry of your sight picture. Push it back before you mount your gun.
Help your friend’s dog retrieve: Turn your back on the dog so he only has one face to lock in on … his master’s.
Can’t find your dog? Watch for a dust cloud in the distance. If there’s another dog nearby, watch where he looks — his superior hearing will often detect your dog’s location.
Lose the shades. If your dog is not following directions well, it could be your fault. For some reason, I’ve found that wearing sunglasses confuses Mine. Take them off when you give a command, especially when you yell “come!”
Medicine trick: If your dog is licking all the medicine off a wound, put something tastier on another accessible part of his body.
Start at the end: When training a complex command, teach it the way professional musicians learn a tough song: Start with the last part and add the other parts in reverse order. When you get to the beginning, it’s a downhill ride.
Get their attention. Dogs see moving objects better than stationary ones. If you use hand signals with your dog, add movement to them and see how much better they work — a waggling hand or waving arm might helphim better see and understand what you really want him to do.
When fogged-over shooting glasses leave you stranded in a pea-soup of your own making, turn your hat around. Put the bill in back where it won't catch your exhaled breath, hang around your glasses, and condense on the lens.
Shooting trick: If you’re lucky enough to own a staunch pointing dog, set yourself up for a good shot. Approach the point so you’re facing away from the sun (there goes my best excuse).
Must-bring gear for any hunting trip: boot dryer, duct tape, multi-tool, lawn chair, zipper-lock plastic bags, tie-out stake, headlamp, après-hunt moccasins.
Shoot like a sporting clays pro: Anticipate the direction a bird will likely fly once flushed, and with your last step to kick it out, set your feet for the best shot.
Humane dispatch: Wringing a bird’s neck quickly and cleanly is more difficult than it appears. “Cervical dislocation” is much more humane: Grasp both of the bird’s legs inyour non-dominant hand. Wrap your dominant index finger and thumb around the bird's neck just below thehead, so the back of the bird’s head is inthe crook of the finger and thumb. As you stretch your dominant arm straight out you will put tension on the bird's body. When you reach the limit of stretching the bird, bend the head back and increase tension so that thevertebrae is separated from the skull.
To the right cover: Want your dog to work a specific piece of cover? Call him back, maneuver him so his nose is pointed toward your goal. Release him, and there’s a good chance he’ll “follow his nose.”
Hunt high: As the day goes on and ground heats up, warm air rises from the bottom of draws, valleys and river canyons, creating an uphill, up-canyon or upstream breeze almost everywhere. As the sun rises, hunt from above the best bird hideouts and you’ll help your dog intercept scent as he leads you along a ridgeline or down a draw.