With dove season, and for that matter early goose and even teal seasons, going full bore, you need to take precautions to keep your pup safe.
The early seasons are a great time for us to knock the rust off our wingshooting and head afield, but the with the September 1 openers comes the danger of heat-related injuries and death for our four-legged friends.
When you hit the field this weekend, be sure to keep them safe by using the following tips:
Shade: Set up in the shade of a tree if possible. On dove hunts this is often the case, but make sure pup stays in the shade between retrieves.
Water: Bring plenty of water to give your dog between retrieves and periodically while you’re sitting there. Also, if you set up near a pond, let him jump in and swim between flights. A wet coat and skin will help keep him cool via evaporative cooling.
Get off Your Butt: If your dog is doing a lot of retrieves, make him sit while you pick up the easy ones. Not only will it help keep him cool, it will help maintain his steadiness.
Water Additives: Tablets and powders like Rehydrate supposedly help dogs replace electrolytes lost during extensive workouts and hot weather. I’m not sure they do that, but my dog does tend to drink more water during dove hunts when I add the tablets…and that’s what I’m concerned about.
Rest: Dove hunting is nice in that you can give ample rest between flights and retrieves, but if the action is hot and heavy, make sure you don’t over do it.
Pick Your Battles: Working steadiness, delivery, marking off the gun and honoring are hallmarks of a dove hunt. They also usually take place in hot weather and dusty fields. Doves don’t put out much scent, so they also allow you to work on handling and keeping your retriever in the area of the fall when he wants to hunt big. However, keeping your dog on an extended hunt just to pick a single dove can might not be the smartest move. Give him a chance to pick a blind/memory, but if he’s having difficulty, don’t keep trying to handle him and making him work in that heat. Walk out and make the area of fall smaller and smaller until he can easily find it.