Should you get a dog?

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October 8, 2011 by saltdogsducttape

As a new hunter, it has been hard to find resources that are geared to my level of knowledge.  That is one of the reasons that I started this blog.  My goal is to chronicle what I am learning and to create a resource for new and first time hunters.  While I am no well of information, learning from others mistakes has always been helpful.  So I am out there making the mistakes for others to learn from.
This year, Vermont’s ruffed grouse (partridge) season started on September 24th, with the woodcock season opening on October 1st.  Due to scheduling conflicts I didn’t get into the woods until day two of the grouse season.  Three weeks into the season I would call it successful.  This being my first season hunting upland birds I have nothing to judge this season against so I’ll call it all positive.
Having no prior experience I have been teaching myself what I need to do to be successful.  After going out pretty frequently the last couple of weeks, I’ve established something of a routine that I think might be helpful for other first time hunters who don’t know where to start.  This post will be the first in a series about what kind of gear a first time upland hunter should be looking to get.
The first thing I got was a dog.  While he has been an amazing addition to our family, I don’t know that I would recommend one as your first investment.  Once you get a dog, and especially a bird dog you have a huge commitment to train and work that dog.  By their nature they don’t tire easily.
That being said, if you are going to get a dog first, you get exactly what you pay for.  Take your time finding a breeder and talk to them a lot.   A couple hundred dollars more spread over the live of the dog is a small price to pay for a good hunting partner.  A good breeder should be asking you a lot of questions as well, they want their dogs going to homes where they will work and be happy.
If you do get a dog first find a good trainer.  Again, take your time and ask a lot of questions.  I initially tried to train my dog on my own.   I did a lot of reading and had an idea of what I needed to do.  In the end, I was much better off working with a trainer.   The standard with hunting dogs is to board them for three to six months.  I don’t feel like this is necessary and it takes away your opportunity to work with your dog and watch them grow.  I was able to find a trainer where I could take my dog for weekend sessions every couple of weeks and work on my own in between.
So would I do it again?  Get a bird dog before I knew anything about bird hunting?  Yeah I probably would.  Hudson is one of my best friends and a close part of our family.  If I hadn’t started by getting a dog, I would say get a good pair of boots, a map and a compass.  Spend as much time in the woods as possible.
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