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Skills List - Basic Hunting Retriever
  1. Positive Attitude towards Thick Cover, Water & Birds – most retrievers from hunting stock naturally love to explore thick cover, cannot stay out of the water, and are crazy about chasing birds. Combine this natural ability with basic obedience and field training, and the basic Hunting Retriever becomes an effective conservation tool.
  2. Reasonably Obedient- basic obedience skills are the foundation of the Basic Hunting Retriever; they include: come (here), heel, sit, stay, hold and leave-it. The basic marked retrieve (the dogs sees the bird fall) is simply a series of basic obedience commands:
  • Come over Here beside the duck blind;
  • Heel beside the blind so you are looking over the decoys;
  • Sit and Stay until after the shooting is done;
  • Go get the bird and Hold it until you get back to the blind; and,
  • Deliver the bird to the hunter and Leave-it in their hand.
  • Basic Marked Retrieves on Land & Water – are the primary job of the basic Hunting Retriever; the dog watches where the bird falls, remembers its location, runs or swims directly to the bird, and retrieves it to the hunter. These include single and double (2 birds) retrieves in rough cover (thick grass, tall weeds and brush) and challenging water (cattails, stick-ponds, rough open water).
  • Patiently and Quietly waits for Birds – the basic Hunting Retriever can sit and wait with reasonable patience while being quiet as the birds are spotted, flagged, and called into gun range. The basic Hunting Retriever does not spook or flare birds and does not interfere with the success of the hunt. 
  • Steady to Shot and Fall – the basic Hunting Retriever stays beside the blind while the birds are called into range, stays while the birds are shot, and stays while the birds fall and until the hunter releases the dog to make the retrieve. Called “steady” or “steadiness” this a basic safety skill that is required of any hunting retriever. A steady dog is also far less likely to flare birds and is able to mark the locations of the downed bird better, resulting in quicker recovery and fewer lost birds. Hunters who claim they want their dogs to break (not be steady) because they get to the birds faster are rationalizing a major flaw in the dog’s training. The basic Hunting Retriever does not spook or flare birds and does not interfere with the success of the hunt.  
  • Deliver to Hand without Delay – the basic Hunting Retrieverquickly, but gently, picks up the downed bird and returns directly to the hunter without dropping or mouthing the bird. The dog delivers the bird to the hand of the hunter and only releases the bird when so ordered by the hunter. The basic Hunting Retriever will quickly fetch both dead and wounded (but alive) birds, promptly delivering them to hand.
  • Seek and Trail Wounded and Crippled Birds – one of the primary jobs of the basic Hunting Retriever is to seek, trail, and recover wounded birds that may otherwise escape, only to die and be wasted. This function is at the center of the conservation mission of the Hunting Retriever. A basic Hunting Retriever is able to locate birds in thick cover, gnarly swamps, and dauntingly big open-water; and has the ability to trail a bird for hundreds of yards.
  • Hunt Uplands Cover in Gun Range (Optional for Upland Hunting) – the basic Hunting Retriever is also a capable upland hunting dog. It will work within gun range of the hunters: 30-35 yards in open pheasant and sharp-tail cover; and 15 – 25 yards in grouse and woodcock thickets. It will check-up (turn and hunt back to the hunter) on moderate whistle and voice commands. The basic Hunting Retriever will not chase fly-a-way birds (misses or hens) and will not chase non-target species (deer, foxes, jackrabbits, etc.). 

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