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A look into the famous American classic, the “Old Reliable” Parker Shotguns.

Roughly halfway between the coastal town of New Haven, Conn., and the capital of Hartford lies the city of Meridian, the one-time home to the illustrious, fabled and renowned Parker Brothers Manufacturing Company. The state of Connecticut has a storied history of firearms manufacturing and to this day is still home to some of the biggest names in the gun business. Small and large purveyors of the shooting sports, gunsmiths and even some manufacturers still call Connecticut home, though many more have gone the way of the passenger pigeon, as is the case with the subject of this article — the Parker shotgun.

One of a myriad of entrepreneurial endeavors of Charles Parker, the Parker Gun Company began as a wartime effort, manufacturing repeating rifles during the Civil War. After the war, Parker’s entrepreneurial spirit and manufacturing background led him to a vision of a gun with manufactured parts but hand assembled to ensure quality.

Charles and his sons developed and perfected the early Parker shotgun design, and began manufacturing the first guns off their line in 1868. These were not the Parker guns we are most familiar with. They were Damascus steel barreled, pinfire, hammer guns that utilized the transitional cartridges of the late 1800s. Additionally, these guns incorporated a ‘lifter’ mechanism for opening, rather than the top lever that most folks are familiar with.

In 1874 Charles King joined Parker Bros. Formerly of Smith & Wesson, King was largely responsible for the technological advances with the design of the Parker shotgun. Between 1874 and 1902, the forearm latch was developed, hammer gun production slowed in favor of hammerless guns, and the ejector system was developed. The Parker shotgun around the turn of the century would remain essentially the same, except for a notable reworking of the mechanism in 1910, for the remainder of production years.

Production continued in Meridian until 1934. During those years, new features like single triggers, Beavertail forend, and vent ribs were introduced as options on Parker guns. In 1934 Parker Bros. was under significant financial strain as a result of the Great Depression, and pressure from repeating shotguns that were becoming increasingly popular in the market. Parker was acquired by Remington Arms in 1934, though manufacturing continued in the Meridian factory until 1938 when production was fully moved to Ilion, N.Y. Production of the Parker shotgun slowed and eventually stopped in 1947 when the final gun left the Remington factory. 

Models, Grades and Options of the Parker Shotguns

Parker shotguns are one of the most easily recognizable American-made boxlock shotguns due to the fact that their hinge pin was not hidden, but rather made prominent by design. The large countersunk depression in the action, with visible screw head, sets Parker shotguns apart from other boxlock guns of the same period. In addition to their unique hinge pin, Parker shotguns also incorporated a square ‘dolls head’ barrel extension that locked the gun’s action closed. Combined with the Purdy style underbite, the lock up on a Parker shotgun was far stronger than needed to contain the relatively mild pressures shot shells produced. 

Though the Parker Bros. lifter, external hammer design was widely popular and well regarded in the early days of production, the introduction of the hammerless, top lever actuated design swiftly took over and became the predominant version of the gun. We will focus on the hammerless guns with steel barrels, as there are a number of safety concerns that arise when shooting very old vintage guns. Early Damascus or twist steel guns may be safe to shoot, and there is ample discussion on both sides of that heated debate. Additionally, the advisability of entering the woods with a hammer gun presents its own set of ethical and moral questions that I will not dive into here. 

Hammerless Parker shotguns were available across gauge, and from their most basic configurations to the highest and most ornate. Their early start in the shotgun manufacturing arena allowed them access to some of the finest craftsmen in the field, which the Parker Bros. company took full advantage of. The fit and finish on Parker guns is indicative of the level of attention to detail invested by the workers at the factory.

When considering Parker shotgun grades, there are two primary concerns other than gauge. Parker shotguns were made in 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-, 20-, and 28-gauge with the first .410 introduced in 1927. As for the guns themselves, Parker employed a very popular method of sizing the gun’s action to the gauge of choice, resulting in ‘frame’ of ‘action’ sizes. These were indicated by number, and ranged from No. 3 being the heaviest to No. 00 as the lightest.

Guns of various gauge were made on different frame sizes. Frame size was marked on the barrel lug. The final discriminating factor in gun selection was the ‘grade’ of the gun. Parker gun grades ranged from the most basic Trojan, then V or VH for Vulcan (a reference to the barrel steel), PH, GH, DH, CH, BH, AH and A1 Special. An “E” after the designated grade indicated the gun was fitted with ejectors rather than extractors. 

Shotguns were available or made to order with options like grip style, barrel length, and choke bore. As a result there were many combinations of frame, grade, and gauge produced, and even greater when considering the many features a customer could select. Grips could be full pistol, semi-pistol or straight grip. Barrels ranged from 24 inches to a remarkable 40 inches (primarily in trap or specialty guns).

Model Grade First Production Year Number Produced Cost at time
Invincible Grade 9 1923 3 $1250
A-1 Special Grade 8 1907 79 $500
AAH (H indicated harmless) Grade 7 1895 238 (hammerless) $400
AH Grade 6 1875 306 (hammerless) $300
BH Grade 5 1875 1034 (hammerless) $200
CH Grade 4 1875 1673 (hammerless) $150
DH Grade 3 1875 16,398 (hammerless) $100
GH Grade 2 1875 31,788 (hammerless) $80
PH and NH Grade 1 1882 15,588 (hammerless) $48.50
VH Grade 0 1869 78,670 (hammerless) $37.50
Trojan 1912 33,005 (hammerless) $25.50

*Find out more at parkerguns.org

The Parker Reproductions

The Parker shotgun was resurrected in the 80s no doubt because of the loyal following of very avid Parker shotgun enthusiasts. The gun and its distinguished name were brought back to life by Tom Skeuse, a chemical engineer and owner of several business ventures of note, including White Flier targets (which he purchased from Olin Industries). Shotguns were commissioned from the Olin-Kodensha plant in Japan, which was already producing several of Winchester’s firearms at the time.

The Parker reproduction was made in every way to be an exact replica of the original Parker shotguns, though there is no denying that advances in machining technology had been made since the 1940s when Parker shut down. Reproductions were offered in DHE, BHE and A1 and in addition most of the reproduction guns were made in sub-gauges 16, 20 and 28, with the 20-gauge DHE being the most common.

The project began in 1984, but production ceased in 1989 when the Olin-Kodensha plant closed its doors for all production of firearms. With this short period of production, only just over 12,000 shotguns produced, and all were marked “Parker Reproduction by Winchester” on the rib or barrel. Though not ‘original’ Parkers, the reproduction guns are viewed by many as very high quality firearms, and in some ways potentially superior to their predecessors because of modern machining. They certainly have a place in the story of this legendary shotgun. 

Unique and Interesting Facts of Parker Shotguns

Parker shotguns have been in the hands of many storied individuals, appear in literature, films, and the hands of royalty. It is not unsurprising why Parker shoguns are so collectible. Buffalo Bill presented a Parker to Annie Oakley, who regularly shot Parkers in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Some of our favorite authors like Foster, Ford and Spiller toted Parkers in the field and wrote about them frequently. So did Ernest Hemingway and Zane Gray. Gary Cooper and John Phillip Sousa were Parker fans as well. Not to mention the famous clay shooters who performed feats with their Parker guns, presidents, and generals who all owned and shot the famous guns nicknamed “Old Reliable.” Parker guns are synonymous with upland shooting, and will forever be. 

The three Parker “Invincible” Grade guns, made to celebrate the production of the 200,000th Parker Gun are in the NRA Museum Collection in Fairfax, Va. The only three in existence, the Invincibles are said to be worth more than $5 million. 

Another storied Parker, the famous “Czar Parker,” was purportedly made to order for Czar Nicholas II, but was lost for almost 100 years. An order was placed with Parker for an exceptionally high grade gun, which was supposed to be gifted to the Czar, but made the trip because of the outbreak of World War I. The gun recently surfaced at auction and sold for $250,000 to a collector.

Parker Gun Collectors Association

The Parker Gun Collectors Association (PGCA) is among the most comprehensive shotgun clubs in the country, with a mission dedicated to obtaining Parker shotgun records and authenticate originals including a database. They even include an online process for identifying Parkers through steps including serial number, marking identifications, grade, and an online forum for other enthusiast and historians to identify and promote the history of each shotgun.

Membership to the organization cost $40 annually, as well as life membership options ranging from $500 to $5000. There are over 1300 members of the PGCA in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England. Membership comes with a subscription to the famous quarterly publication, the Parker Pages, exclusive access to member forums, discounted rates on Research Letters as well as access to PGCA events.

To find out more check them out here: PGCA

The post Parker Shotguns – A Vintage Shotgun History appeared first on Project Upland.

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Good to eat, year round seasons, limitless bag limits, the Eurasian-Collard Dove takes the edge off the days before the Fall

The off-season. That dreaded long span of months between the end of last season and the new season to come. What is a poor upland hunter to do on the off-season?

Sure. There is spring turkey hunting and even summer bass fishing, but how does a self-respecting and dedicated upland hunter, like you, get his or her wing shooting fix? Enter the Eurasian-Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).

Eurasians are a medium-sized dove, larger than a Mourning Dove, but smaller than a Wood Pigeon. They measure roughly 11-13 inches from beak to tail, with a wingspan of about 20 inches. They can also be identified by their black beaks, red-colored eyes and feet. Plumage can vary from a creamy-white to slight gray/white coloration with a black bar across the back of their necks. Unlike Mourning Dove, they have a long squared-off tail that makes them easily identifiable in flight. A well-fed Eurasian can weigh in as much as 9 ounces. The Mourning Dove is known for its melodic and mournful, cooing. The song of Eurasians is not as pleasing to the ear, however. To me, it sounds like someone stuck a kazoo in a sock and is blowing through it! I am not even joking.

The Invasive Eurasian-Collard Dove

Eurasian-Collared Dove are believed to have originated in Asia, spreading quickly during the early 1900’s through much of Europe. By the 1970’s, a small flock of captive Eurasian-Collared Dove escaped (or were released) from the Bahamas and made their way into Florida. Spreading quickly through the South-Eastern United States in the 1990’s, and by the 2000’s, the Eurasian-Collared Dove “invasion” had reached the west coast. Today, Eurasians can be found in almost every state in the United States, with exception to much of the north-eastern part of the country. They also call parts of Canada and Mexico home and are quickly spreading in those countries as well. They are one of the most successful modern “colonizing” species of birds ever.

As a non-native species, there are, naturally, concerns that these bigger Eurasians might aggressively displace native species of doves and other game birds. Data has not proven that this is a factor just yet, however.

This “Invasive” status turns out to be a great thing… because it means you can hunt Eurasians with little to no limitations in most states. So, go grab your shotgun from the closet and read on!

Where to find Eurasian-Collared Dove

Much like domestic pigeons, Eurasian-Collared Dove can be found near human dwellings. Suburbs, farms, and agricultural areas likely have had a big contribution to the successful colonization of the Eurasian-Collared Dove in North America. They are often found in suburban areas where they can easily plunder fruit trees and bird feeders. They are most prolific in areas where there is waste grain and steady food sources like nut trees and fruit. Think orchards, farms, and dairies.

Bust out your county maps and your onX Hunt Maps app and start looking at the edges of these properties where you can legally shoot. It is also not a bad idea to politely knock on some doors and smile big! In areas where the winters are not as cold, Eurasian-Collared Dove will breed all year long. These birds may be a nuisance to people who rely on their crops as a livelihood so most would happily allow you to safely shoot these invaders on their property. It’s worth a shot to ask.

An Accelerated Course on How to Hunt Eurasian-Collared Dove

Hunting Eurasian-Collared Dove is much like hunting any other dove species. Optimal dove hunting is right at sun-up and right before sun-down. Get out and identify the “flyways” and food sources early before your setup and just like preparing for Mourning Dove hunting in September, if you can do this a day or two before you hunt, the better your odds will be.

I find that Eurasians respond well to decoys. There are not many Eurasian-Collared Dove specific decoys on the market today, but Pigeon and Mourning Dove decoys work just fine. I would also recommend one of those motorized Mojo decoys, it really gets the Eurasians going!

Like most other types of dove, Eurasians can be wary when it comes to direct contact with humans, especially after you have thrown some shot at them! I recommend leaving the blaze-orange at home since you will likely be getting your best shooting opportunities through pass-shooting (I often will ‘walk up’ on treed dove, however, but that’s a story for another day). Since you are trying to get these doves to fly within an optimal shooting range, I would recommend wearing a little camo to help you blend in. You may want to also consider a portable blind to mask your movement and position. And don’t be scared to rotate locations.

I personally recommend a 12- or 20-gauge dove shotgun (pump or auto, preferably) for Eurasian duty. Eurasian-Collared Dove can, and will, provide high-volume shooting and these gauges are cheaply and readily available in bulk. I have knocked down Eurasians with #8 and #7 steel and lead pellets plenty of times, but I prefer to use #6 and even #5 (1 – 1/16 oz) Bismuth loads. That is my personal preference.

In many states, like California for instance, Eurasians are considered to be an invasive and “non-game” bird species, which means certain rules do not apply to them. Typically, there are no set bag limits or shell plugs/limiters required (remember that pump/auto preference?). Be sure to check your local/state hunting regulations for specific limitations and requirements.

How do they taste? Just like any other dove! The breast of Eurasians are nearly double in size when compared to a Mourning Dove, however. That just means more dove poppers on the grill!

The post Hunting Eurasian-Collard Dove in the Summers of the United States appeared first on Project Upland.

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When Savage Arms released the Fox A Grade in 2017 they released a gun from a long line of guns that some might argue was broken a long time ago. Still, the new gun bears the Fox name and as such drew much attention from side-by-side enthusiasts. Could this latest iteration of Fox shotguns live up to the name of the A.H. Fox Company? Could it be the rebirth of Fox shotguns for the modern bird hunter—something that has been long awaited?

We now know that in the eyes of the Fox faithful, this shotgun is likely not the rebirth of an upland legend. Still, there is more to the story than meets the eye . . . and beauty may truly be in the eye of the beholder.

About | Gregg Elliot – dogsanddoubles.com
“I’m an avid bird hunter and gun collector. I also spend a lot of time outdoors fly fishing and canoeing, and my latest hobby is learning how to play guitar. I grew up hunting ruffed grouse and woodcock in Berlin, N.H., a town in the northernmost part of the state. Today, I live in the Northeast and I hunt in Maine and New Hampshire. I also make it out to Montana, South Dakota, and Wisconsin whenever I can.”

To Follow | @dogsanddoubles

To hear Gregg’s previous appearances on the Project Upland Podcast:

Listen | Episode #18
Listen | Episode #21
Listen | Episode #50

Get it on iTunes: Project Upland Podcast – Episode 69

Enjoy the show and don’t forget to rate, review, subscribe and share this podcast for a chance to win the Project Upland Podcast giveaway!

The Project Upland Podcast is Presented By: onX Hunt, Pineridge Grouse Camp – Adventure Awaits, Gordy & Sons Outfitters, Eukanuba Performance Dog Food, Dogtra Collars, Dakota 283 Kennels and Trinity Kennels

The post #69 | Side-by-Side Comparison with Gregg Elliot – Project Upland Podcast appeared first on Project Upland.

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An Exploration into the Personal Ethics and Community of Upland Hunting Shotguns

Lately there has been an increasing amount of “heat” around newer upland hunters and more “refined’ parts of the industry. Now the rant that could follow that statement could be contained in volumes. Instead, we have decided to take the approach of debunking one-by-one over the course of time and space so as not to cause an even larger and more hostile panic from the old guard. This first myth is the idea that you need to shoot a double gun to be a bird hunter. The conversation certainly has some depth to it as that perception increases and decreases via subculture. But here’s the short form summary of this whole article – shoot whatever shotgun that works for you.

I will start first in the area I’m most seasoned – grouse hunting. Double guns are a beautiful thing. I personally made the switch some six or so years ago. It’s possible I would have sooner, but money was always a factor. Before I toted my first over-and-under, I shot an 870 pump Youth Model 20-gauge. It’s still in my safe and I still use it on the rare occasion I deer hunt. It kills deer, and ruffed grouse, without discrimination. No grouse has yet to cry “fowl.”

Some years back, I handed a semi-automatic shotgun to one of my camera guys. A grouse got up and he shot it (on the wing) with one shot. Later that day another camera man shot his first grouse with an 870 pump (again on the wing). Then a bird got shot in the road, with a double gun, it was that gentleman’s first . . .

A first grouse taken during a Project Upland film shoot.

All versions of the above story are potentially frowned upon in the eyes of the “old guard” based on choice of gun and position of the grouse. Fact of the matter is that Fox, Parker, and L.C. Smith typically don’t make good entry level shotguns, neither do expensive Italian-crafted over-and-unders or European side-by-sides. And regarding the grouse, can you honestly say you’ve never shot a grouse in the “pre-flight” position? If yes, more power to you. Either way, we only ask that you remember where you started and where somebody else might be on the spectrum of newbie to pro.

There are certainly ethics to be observed when you take to the field. Also laws that are required and not suggested. But ethics are relative to the person, not the whole world of grouse hunting. Just because one has advanced their “ethics” to only shooting grouse over a staunch pointing dog while carrying a vintage side-by-side and kneeling as the setter returns the bird to hand, doesn’t mean that someone else’s method is wrong. The reality is most ruffed grouse rarely behave for anyone and, statistically speaking, the setter most likely didn’t bring the bird back to hand. (Sorry, I love setters, but we all know it’s true). The even bigger reality is that those judgmental folks often seem to have amnesia about how they arrived at their current ethical framework.

Personal standards choose a double gun, not the rules of grouse hunting. No one is shooting up hordes of grouse because they have semi-automatics. The ruffed grouse himself sees to that, challenging as he is. Additionally, birds will always be shot off roads (unless it’s outlawed) no matter the gauge, action, or age of a shotgun. And quite frankly, if you think any of the above is the true threat to the future of ruffed grouse populations – wake up, there are bigger issues.

Semi-automatics catch the most flack in the upland world. Less so in the Western states and especially in the South. Our recent film “Flushing Grouse” particularly caught some isolated flack. According to some, you cannot use a semi-automatic to shoot at ruffed grouse! Imagine now if they are public land quail, and the hunters are following up singles like selfish heathens! Perhaps it would be more acceptable at the $3000 per day plantation where the birds are “managed” in different manners? But then again, if you can afford $3000 a day for quail hunting, you can afford the British best doubles . . . No need for that all-around semi-auto when you can afford a gun for each day of the week.

A bobwhite quail taken on public land with a semi-automatic shotgun.

I cannot say I’ve ever heard or seen a rant from those chukar folks, who some days seem like more of a sadist than those in the grouse hunting community, about what gun you can and cannot use. They seem more concerned with running up impossible terrain while trying not to break an ankle than to worry about that double standard.

The same goes for the pheasant hunting world. Not that I’ve ever shot a wild pheasant, but some of the New England stocked birds I happen upon in woodcock covers certainly can take the heat. I will take any shots I’m afforded and that seems to be the sentiment of the general community.

In short, you should shoot the shotgun that works for you. You should make your decision based on what matters to you whether it’s price, fit, or anything else that has nothing to do with my life. Upland hunting is a single user experience with a very large and intertwined community. Follow the laws, be mindful of the conservation issues that surround your pursuit and don’t forget about ethics. Just don’t let someone else’s passing judgment determine your morals and value system.

Sure I shoot a side-by-side these days, but that’s my bubble and while I write this my semi-auto is sitting by my desk ready to be cleaned after a solid turkey hunting season.

The post You Do Not Need a Double Gun to be an Upland Hunter appeared first on Project Upland.

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A look into the new Premium Grade Beretta SL3 in words and film!

The screen above me said my flight was on time, and after a two-and-a-half hour drive to the airport I needed that good news. It was winter in Boston and a storm had delayed just about every flight. International is always tricky, and as I stood in line to check my bags an email made quick work of my hopes. Flight canceled.

There I stood, hours from home wondering how in the world am I ever going to get to Italy for the 72-hour window I had to tour Beretta — to be fair, something I was giddy about. Soon I was on a call with the travel agent and the folks from Beretta to resolve the issue. The travel agent wanted to make travel easy on me, but I was determined: get me there as soon as you can. I can sleep when I get back stateside.

My answer came in a crazy travel barrage that involved driving between airports in rental cars and all sorts of minor details that seemed daunting with a ticking clock going. But I made it. And as you can watch in the video, I got to experience 500 years of the Beretta tradition.

Gregg Elliot of Dogs and Doubles discussing the SL3 design.

The first day I did not sleep. We went straight to the Beretta factory in the Province of Brescia, Italy. There were a number of industry writers and editors present when I arrived — big names like Garden and Gun, Shooting Sportsmen, and Wildfowl. I stood there with my camera, out of place, but ready for whatever an editorial trip entailed. Then I spotted a familiar face: Gregg Elliot, writer and owner of Dogs and Doubles. The ice was broken for my introvert engagement and we began our way into the reveal of the SL3 in the Beretta Premium line.

The Beretta SL3 is sleek. In fact, I will never forget how Roberto Zarrillo who is charge of the Premium Business in Italy described the design as the flow of a pony tail in his thick accent. Take high-end Italian cars, apply it to shotguns and you land at Beretta Premium. Probably why their running video of the Beretta SL3 shows an Italian sports car — confused me a bit at first until I got my hands on one.

A look at the Beretta SL3 line up.

The Beretta SL3 is a marriage of the cutting-edge technology Beretta is known for and the old world craftsmanship of handmade guns. I think it is always necessary to point out the success and reliability of the Beretta 686 as a staple in a world of over-and-under shotguns. This shotgun is even worlds past that, which leads to the why and how.

The SL3 is a box lock design, simple and reliable mechanics that are anchored at three separate points. Beretta threw 11,500 magnum rounds through this masterpiece and it came out locking the way it did at start. The trigger is the same used on their competition shotguns, which have a lot of medals to show for it.

Like all of Beretta’s over-and-unders, it is built with a mono-bloc barrel. It’s widely agreed upon that they make the best mono-bloc barrels in the world so there is something to say for that. At one point we sat in a boardroom and talked to an engineer who went through the science of how they reduced recoil in barrel design. Over my head, I’m not even going to try and repeat it. For the sake of my skillset and simplicity, I will say as someone who hates 12-gauges, it did not have much of a bite to it at all.

A look inside the Beretta private museum with Ian Harrison of Beretta Premium USA.

The science inside the Beretta world I think is what took me most by surprise. The research that is going on to better improve their product through 3D printing, virtual imaging, and god knows what else was going on around me. You can understand why their products hold up over time.

Shotguns are like ice cream flavors: we all have our picks. And as a lover of side-by-sides I will say that although I shot this shotgun well, it is not on my wish list. Maybe if they had only had a 20-gauge or 28-gauge when I was there, they could have swayed me! Lately I have mused more on the idea of single shotguns that you will never have to replace, a shotgun that can be passed on and stand the test of time. This shotgun falls in that realm and carrying a price tag of $20,000, it makes sense that this is a legacy gun.

Maestro Ferdinando Belleri showing features on the SL3.

This shotgun can take a few months to turn around as much of the work is still handmade in the Beretta factory under the watchful eyes of Maestro Ferdinando Belleri, including an in-house custom case. He really fulfilled any childhood imaginations I had about what master gunmakers should look like and carry themselves. But that says something about this shotgun; every one will pass through this man’s hands before it reaches the States. That detail is across the whole process.

Eventually my trip came to an end. My 72 hours exploring the Beretta SL3 had been more than I could have imagined. I had seen Roman ruins, the private Beretta museum, eaten good food, and of course enjoyed good Italian wine. And a part of me wishes I could take an SL3 for another spin back stateside in the grouse woods of the North Country.

The post Beretta SL3 Review – From the Beretta Factory appeared first on Project Upland.

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Leaning the process, equipment, and troubleshooting of crate training a bird dog.

It was a late stop in a hotel room for a quick sleep before continuing the road trip the next morning. Arms loaded with bags and dog gear, the executive decision was made to leave the kennel in the car. “She’ll be fine, it’s late, and we’re all tired anyway.” Famous last words.

And so began the longest night ever spent in a hotel room. The poor German longhaired pointer pup, used to the comfort and security of her crate, had never spent a night “out” on the floor. Without the familiar enclosed space, she spent a restless night on high alert. Every mosquito that flew down the hallway was cause for a bark alarm. Each distant car door was surely worth growling about. Finally, at 2am, we reached a point of desperation and did the unthinkable: she was scooped up into the bed to just get some peace and quiet. The pup stretched out to impossible dimensions for a small dog and soon fell asleep in her newfound security. The humans, regrettably, did not.

With this experience still etched in my memory, I caught up with Gunner Kennels Ambassador and pro trainer Kaitlynd Wilson to talk about the importance of crate training young puppies. Kaitlynd has been training advanced obedience topics and hunting skills for several years, but stresses the importance of setting a good foundation of crate training from an early age.

The author training her German longhaired pointer. Why you should Crate Train a Bird Dog?

“Crate training is more than just teaching your dog to go in a box on a command. It’s a big part of the puppy’s development, whether you’re house training, preparing for travel, or just teaching the puppy to be calm,” Kaitlynd says. Since dogs are naturally den-dwelling creatures, the crate simulates a den by offering a safe and secure place for a dog to relax. Puppies who are taught that the crate is their space will naturally learn to seek it out as their quiet place.

This den mentality also extends to house training. By keeping an unsupervised pup in its crate instead of wandering the house, the puppy will quickly learn the concept of waiting to go outside, since it will naturally avoid going in its den. This isn’t to say you can simply lock your pup up until it is house trained, but the concept of a den space goes a long way toward teaching this important subject.

Finally, crate training is essential for the safety of your dog throughout its lifetime. At home, being crated when left alone will keep her out of destructive trouble and possibly prevent the ingestion of something harmful. On the road, a durable crate is critical for safety in the unfortunate event of an accident by keeping the dog safely restrained. When you reach your destination, the crate becomes a portable “safe place” to help the pup relax in unfamiliar places.

Gordon setter puppies with their Gunner Kennel. Photo by Buzz Hayes Choosing the Right Kennel Size

Selecting the correct kennel size is an important part of the process and will set you up for easier success. An appropriately sized kennel is safer, more comfortable, and more effective for house-training a puppy.

The kennel should be just large enough to allow the dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably. Remember that this is meant to simulate a den, not a bedroom. Dogs don’t think of space in the same way we do, so don’t assume bigger is better. In fact, for transport, bigger is definitely not safer in the event of an accident or sudden maneuver.

Puppies make the question of kennel size a challenging one, since they don’t stay small for very long. Kaitlynd is often asked whether a smaller kennel such as the Gunner G1 Small is required for puppy training, or if you can start with an Intermediate or Large size for the puppy to grow into.

“You can use any size kennel to teach the concept of going in and laying down, but if you’re traveling or house-training, it’s really important to have an appropriate puppy-sized kennel,” she says. If the kennel is too large during house training, the puppy may use part of the crate as a toilet area, which works against your best efforts to teach the puppy to wait until he’s outside.

To be most efficient at training and safest while traveling, the same general rules of sizing a crate for an adult dog should be applied to puppy crates. It’s also a good idea to discuss crate sizes with your veterinarian, especially if you have travel plans with your pup.

Getting Started with Crate Training

Regardless of how you approach crate training with a puppy, there is one unbreakable rule: always keep it positive.

“It’s really important that the puppy always associates the crate with a positive experience, or else you’ll hurt your ability to create that calm place,” Kaitlynd recommends.

Begin crate training from the first day the pup arrives at home. Put the kennel in a central location and leave the door open. Encourage the pup to enter and praise him enthusiastically when he does. Don’t shut him in at first, but allow him to check it out and get used to entering and exiting. Be consistent in praising his good behavior.

Once he’s comfortable with going in and out, you can begin to close the door briefly. Continue with the generous praise whenever the pup is in the crate and behaving calmly. At this point you can begin to introduce a command word of your choice and start to associate it with entering the crate.

Keep these sessions short and fun. Puppies have short attention spans and you’ll want to be sure to always end on a positive note. It’s better to err on the side of ending the session too soon than to risk over-pressuring a young pup.

Graduating Towards Independence

Once the pup gets the concept of entering the crate, you can start latching the door and leaving his sight. At this point, it’s an exercise in reading your dog: you’ll have to determine if the whining is truly a young pup’s insecurity or if it’s a loud demand to be let out. Start by ignoring the crying to see if the puppy gives up and calms down. If it seems like the puppy is truly scared of being left alone, you might pass by his field of view and reassure him that everything is ok and you’re still in the vicinity.

Kaitlynd advises that above all, you must remain patient and controlled when dealing with the pup at this stage. “Make sure you never open the door of the crate when the puppy isn’t being calm and quiet, or else you’ve just taught him that he can be released with enough whining and crying – which is a hard thing to undo.”

When the puppy has calmed down and is sitting quietly in the crate, return to open the door and let him out. Once again, be generous with the praise. You’re rewarding the calm behavior and demonstrating that tantrums don’t result in his freedom.

Soon the pup will see the crate as his space where he can go to take a nap or just relax. This is a huge achievement because you can now transport this special space anywhere you need to go, throughout the life of the dog. The permanent association of the crate with calm behavior is crucial for safe and sane travel.

In Conclusion

As gun dog training goes, crate training hardly makes the list of fun or exciting training subjects. It’s not as thrilling as seeing your pup’s first point or as entertaining as retrieving. However, crate training provides a strong foundation for shaping your dog’s future as a calm, balanced, well-behaved companion – which is ultimately what we all want most out of our dogs. That, and a good night’s sleep.

The post How to Crate Train a Hunting Dog appeared first on Project Upland.

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The sharp tailed grouse once inhabited the mountain valley ranges of western Montana. Today it does not, but that could change in the near future. Thanks to recent forensic findings, the reintroduction of sharp tailed grouse to western Montana has become a much more realistic possibility, and Ben Deeble, of the Big Sky Upland Bird Association joins the Project Upland Podcast to tell the story.

Ben Deeble wrote his thesis paper on Montana sharptails back in the 90’s and his passion for the birds has been growing ever since. Recent findings about the subspecies of sharp tailed grouse that previously inhabited western Montana have debunked previous theories making a reintroduction much more likely. Ben shares with us the history of western Montana sharptails as well as their potential future. 

About | Big Sky Upland Bird Association
Dedicated to improving habitat for all of Montana’s upland birds, opening more land to the public, encouraging ethical hunting and good relationships with landowners and managing agencies, and educating upland bird hunters while fostering friendships among them.

To Contact | bddeeble@gmail.com

To submit a question for our upcoming interview with J.C. Bosch of No Limits Kennels:

Email | nick.larson@northwoodscollective.com
To listen to episode #32 | J.C. Bosch – @nolimitskennels

Get it on iTunes: Project Upland Podcast – Episode 68

The Project Upland Podcast is Presented By: onX Hunt, Pineridge Grouse Camp – Adventure Awaits, Gordy & Sons Outfitters, Eukanuba Performance Dog Food, Dogtra Collars, Dakota 283 Kennels and Trinity Kennels

The post #68 | Western Montana Sharptails with Ben Deeble of Big Sky Upland Bird Association appeared first on Project Upland.

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onX Hunt is the new title sponsor of the Project Upland Podcast, The Gun Dog Notebook, and the Endless Migration Podcast.

We are pleased to welcome onX Hunt as the Title Sponsor of our growing stable of podcasts. Using the most up-to-date maps and GPS technology and placing them in the palm of your hand, onX gives outdoor enthusiasts more information about their surroundings than they ever thought possible.  It is our passion to bring our podcast audiences both inspiration and education so that our collective hunting experiences are as epic as they can be.  In pursuit of that overlapping motivation, the Project Upland Podcast, The Gun Dog Notebook Podcast, and the Endless Migration Podcast will now be officially “Presented by onX.” 

 
The editorial vision of our podcasts will remain intact and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the listener experience while simultaneously servicing the advertisers that keep the lights on. With that as our goal, each podcast will now feature a segment on using onX’s vast array of features to enhance and improve your days in the field and in the blind. We’re all personally passionate onX-users and are thrilled to share our love of and tips for utilizing the app. We hope to learn a few things ourselves as well! We promise that these tips and tactics will genuinely help you become a better hunter so you’ll definitely want to steer clear of your “Skip 30s” button.

Join us in welcoming onX Hunt to our podcast community and if you haven’t checked out their app, you can sign up for the free version to get a taste of how it might just change your hunting life. https://www.onxmaps.com/

To learn more about using OnX Hunt for bird hunting check out: Bird Hunting App Series – onX Hunt

You can also catch Matt Seidel, Product Owner of onX Hunt, on a past Project Upland Podcast talking the ins and outs of the practical use of the app in hunting: Matt Seidel – Product Owner at onX Hunt – Project Upland Podcast

And last but not least, catch a trip we took this past season with some of the folks at onX Hunt for sage grouse in Montana in the film Fourth Generation

The post onX Hunt becomes Title Sponsor of our Podcasts appeared first on Project Upland.

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Exploring the idea of barrel training and how to apply it to your bird dog

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts: Gun Dog Notebook

Subscribe on other Devices: Gun Dog Notebook

My aim for this episode is to address many listener and viewer questions that I’ve received about my dog’s barrel training. It’s not to be considered an absolute truth, but based on my adjustments and modifications, it is MY truth that I would love to share if it helps anyone interested in barrel work. 

It’s very apparent that most pointing dog lovers admire a dog with an upright tail that stands tall with its head in the clouds. I often daydream about the thought of my Vegas dog locked up on bobwhite quail in the midst of a field trial in classic pointer fashion, as stately is its English name assures among a gallery of onlookers who whisper and trade praises about “THAT dog.”

I shamelessly pride myself on the allure of my dog’s potential. Admittedly, my standards are high as I seek a champion trial dog in the spring and a bird finding machine in fall and winter. What it takes to get there is a combination of yard and field skills that piggy-back on one another in almost stair step fashion. Many folks desire to pose a dog in training, but the details on how can often be vague, misleading, or there just may be too many ways to “skin a cat.” 

What I detail in this episode of The Gun Dog Notebook is my personal account of working my young pointer on the barrel — a tried and true process that elects a proper stature for a young puppy starting from 7 weeks old and developing throughout its career and campaign. 

Throughout this process I detail a number of critically effective steps (hopefully not ignoring any of the finer details) that place value on the minute details of what the barrel training process entails. It’s a slow process in the beginning — along with being repetitive and enduring — but after four or five sessions, a young dog should begin to find its legs on the barrel. 

It should also be noted that this process is not of my own innovation, but learned from a legend of a field trialer and one of the original founders of the Field Trial Hall of Fame, Bud Moore. Bud has spent a great deal of time speaking with me on the process, and you can take notes from his “A Minute with Molly” DVD parts one and two that go further in depth on the barrel process. He has since turned his “Fast Money Molly” into quite the trial competitor. Additionally, a short snippet from field trial legend Ferrel Miller is referenced to support the process of barrel training. Both these dog men have placed high ranking dogs in the American Field and set the tone for proper bird dog work in the field. 

Little Vegas has since come quite a ways since I started him on this process at 7 weeks old; early on he learned to enjoy being up off his feet. It’s also important to be aware of learning indicators that tell a handler when the dog is receptive and receiving the information as well as when a dog is nervous or unsure. All of these I’ve experienced with my dog during this process, but they’ve given him the confidence to help him feel sure about himself — key to his growth as a young bird dog. 

Stay tuned for this episode and take from it what you must as the barrel training process should be fun for both the handler and the dog, encouraging a diligent and hands-on state of mind.

*Included in this episode are new updates for a title sponsor of The Gun Dog Notebook and many more recent events from the last few weeks of traveling.*

The Project Upland Podcast is Presented By: OnX Hunt, and Eukanuba Performance Dog Food

The post Barrel Training for Bird Dogs – Gun Dog Notebook Podcast appeared first on Project Upland.

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How well do you know the leader of the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society? Ben Jones, President and CEO of RGS/AWS, joins the Project Upland Podcast to tell his story and the story of an organization that fights for healthy forests and abundant wildlife.

About | Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is North America’s foremost conservation organization dedicated to preserving our hunting traditions by creating healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other wildlife. RGS works with landowners and government agencies to develop critical habitat utilizing scientific management practices.

To Join | Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society

To submit a question for our upcoming interview with J.C. Bosch of No Limits Kennels:

Email | nick.larson@northwoodscollective.com
To listen to episode #32 | J.C. Bosch – @nolimitskennels

Get it on iTunes: Project Upland Podcast – Episode 67
The Project Upland Podcast is Presented By: OnX Hunt, Pineridge Grouse Camp – Adventure Awaits, Gordy & Sons Outfitters, Eukanuba Performance Dog Food, Dogtra Collars, Dakota 283 Kennels and Trinity Kennels

The post #67 | The Story of a Conservation Leader – Project Upland Podcast appeared first on Project Upland.

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