Editor’s Note: Jared Mophett of Honey Brake Lodge (www.honeybrake.com) in Jonesville, Louisiana, has been keeping dogs tuned-up and ready for dove season for over 20 years. “I’ve learned plenty from great trainers on how to keep our dogs at Honey Brake in peak performance to retrieve,” Mophett says. Mophett also competes his dogs in the Amateur Division of retrieving dog competitions and in the Super Retriever Series and explains, “I run some dogs in the hunt test. I also have some dogs with professional trainers.” Often, when you’re talking about retrievers, some waterfowlers don’t like to use their duck and goose dogs to pick up doves. But according to Mophett, he tunes up his Labradors before dove season and hunts them during dove season. He believes his dogs are better prepared to find and retrieve waterfowl by his working with them well before dove season arrives. He says you need to expect your dog to perform just as well in the dove field as it does in the duck blind. Remember that you’re training your dog while it’s dove hunting. Let’s look at 10 secrets for getting your retriever prepared for dove season.
When we think about tuning-up a retriever for dove season, we often lay all the responsibility for the dog doing what we ask it to do on the dog. However, the hunter has to be tuned-up also. During the training sessions, the hunter has to make sure that the dog has plenty of water, which may mean carrying a bowl and bottled water with him to give the dog during the training sessions. The owner also has to determine if the weather’s too hot to work the dog on the day and the time he’s planning to train the dog. The owner needs to be responsible too for any hazards that may be present in the area where the dog will be working. The owner needs to know whether the ground has any holes that may trip the dog, if there are thorns, briars or cacti that may puncture the dog’s pads. Is there any unseen wire in the training area that may tangle up the dog? Remember, the owner is responsible for making sure his dog is safe, while it’s being trained for dove season.
Tip 10: Send Your Dog Back to the Original Trainer for a Tune-up Before Dove Season Starts
We’re seeing more dog owners who don’t have that time to get their dogs in shape and tuned-up for dove season. For many retriever owners who want their dogs to perform at the best of their abilities on opening day of dove season, the solution is sending their dogs back to the trainers who first trained the dog for a 2-3 month tune-up before the season opens. By using this system, the trainer can correct any bad habits that the dog may have developed, especially if it wasn’t worked after waterfowl season. The trainer also can make sure the dog fully understands what it’s supposed to do when it hears certain words or sees hand signals. He can be certain that the dog knows where it’s supposed to be when it’s walking with its hunter to the stand in a dove field, where it’s supposed to be when the hunter is either sitting or standing and shooting doves, what the dog should be looking for to mark a dove correctly, and where the dog should be walking if the hunter gets-up and changes positions.
To contact Mophett at Honeybrake, call 318-775-1007.
To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Kindle and Nook eBooks and audiobooks at johninthewild.com/books.