Duck hunters tend to differ from upland hunters in plenty of ways, but the most striking might be the devotion to gear. Take a peek into any die-hard pheasant hunter’s truck and you’ll see a gun case, maybe an e-collar, and dog kennel. That’s about it.
Now, consider a waterfowl hunter’s truck…if you can see into it through the windows caked in mud. You will notice his truck isn’t big enough to hold all of the decoys, blinds, etc… He’ll either have a trailer if he’s a field hunter, or a boat for water. Or he might have both, packed to the gills.
For as long as I’ve been hanging in bird-hunting circles, I’ve witnessed this difference between the two factions, but also something else. The duck hunter, a dream customer for any sporting goods store, is often light on dog-training equipment.
These must-haves, while not always needed during the hunt, are as important as decoys and calls. Maybe I’m biased toward the dog side of things, but I believe they take precedence over replaceable pieces of plastic. Because of that, I’ve compiled a short list of training products all duck hunters should own, and why.
I use platforms a lot throughout daily training sessions with personal and client dogs. There are several reasons for this, but the easiest to understand is that a good dog is a steady dog. This is true in many aspects of life, but especially in a duck boat or blind. A dog that knows where he is supposed to be and won’t leave that spot is a dog that is going to mark downed birds better, annoy your hunting partners less, and hunt more efficiently overall. You can use a square of plywood or a piece of carpet to train a dog to stay put, but I prefer an elevated platform for two reasons. The first is that there is no gray area with this type of platform. They are either on or off, and there is no cheating. With a piece of carpet, any smart dog will quickly test his boundaries and try to stretch as far off of it as he can while still keeping a toenail on his “place.” They can’t do this with an elevated platform. The second reason is that it provides a nice transition to hunting because there will be times in the flooded timber and other situations where things will be wet. You shouldn’t ask your pup to stand or lay in…