Ritka Training – First day with no launcher & no check cord

This afternoon, I decided to try Ritka on chuckar without using the launchers. I’ve slowly been working to teach Ritka to be steady on her birds. Usually we use bird launchers which lets me control when the birds flush. But someday we need to graduate to loose birds. I put out 3 chucker. I put one in the field to the west of our yard, and two in the field with the radio tower – also to the west of our house. I drove the van the parking lot so Ritka couldn’t track my scent at easily.

I also had 5 pigeons in my bird bag and started with one in my hand. When I released Ritka from the breezeway she went flying round the front yard. She stopped when I tossed the pigeon. I released her with a head tap and noticed I’d forgotten her treats. My boots were muddy so I did not go back to get them. Perhaps I should have, but I do like to mix up some when I feed her for good work in when she just gets praise. At the field trial I can’t use food (at least I don’t think so). I want to be ready to enter spring field trials.

Ritka ran a head along the front fence and into the west field. She hunted the field while I walked across. This was the first time I’d been in the field since it snowed – I’m glad I’d mowed a few paths. Ritka went past the scent cone, turned and pointed. She held while I kicked around trying to flush the chuckar. The grass caught my feet so some of the time I stomped. Ritka tends to watch me rather than staring intently at the location where she thinks the bird is located. This distracts from her usefulness pointing – I can’t just look back at her to see where she thinks the bird is located. I’m not very good at finding chuck burrowed down in the grass – I had to relocate her several times before we found the bird. I tossed two pigeons during this search for the chucker and blanked each one. On one of the relocations she hunted all around the area before re-pointing – that bird was there hidden deep in the grass. When I finally flushed that chucker it flew back toward the house near a big pine and Ritka watched the chucker with a tensing with I blanked it, but did not move her feet.

I clap released Ritka toward the building by the radio tower. She looked back at the bird, but came forward and did not try to go back. I kept Ritka close as we went near the tower – I did not want her going into the woods as sometimes there are deer hunters in the woods. I sent her west to hunt toward where one of the released chucker had landed. The cover is thick about 5 ft high in this area. I lost sight of Ritka and somehow thought she’d gone in the woods. I called and called – I should have hunted for her near where I thought the chucker had gone. After a bit (maybe 5 minutes) I saw the chucker flying with Ritka chasing right behind. She is obviously not steady for long (yet). Fortunately they ran near by where I was standing. I called for her to stop with a growl in my voice. She came to a stop – looking at me and upset. Normally I’d carry her back to where she was, but I did not know where that was. I left her standing there a bit while I thought. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I cued her to hunt forward with her touch cue (to taps to the head like most folk talk about). She hesitated – worried, but ran forward hunting strong. She found the last bird and stayed steady for me to flush the bird. It took a bit of hunting on my part – she is learning to wait while I search. I tossed a the last of my pigeons while I searched for the chucker and blanked both the pigeons and the chucker when in flushed. If I had not found the chucker – at least she would have the sight of the pigons flying.

On the way back home, Ritka found the first chuckar again. At first I couldn’t find it. Then I realized that she was looking down wind – it was a sight point, not a scent point. There it was running under the brush and low branches under the big pine. I could not get that chuckar to flush. This is when, I would have sent Farli for the flush expecting her to stop on flush. I don’t think Ritka is ready for that yet. So when I finally got it out if sight (but running, not flying), I shot the blank and clapped released Ritka back toward the front of the house – the opposite direction of the bird). She came – wanting to go back, but easily obedient.

I think we are making progress – this was the first day we trained on chucker with no launchers and no harness or check cord. Not too bad, but of course we will continue to work on confidence and steadiness.

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