Here’s a look at eight of the rare bird dog breeds you’ll see at Pheasant Fest.
“Our method for testing over dogs is to hunt them a lot and watch each one for signs of a good nose and intense prey drive as well as natural point, quartering, backing and retrieving,” Austin emphasizes. “We hunt all over, 30 to 40 days each year on quail in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas, and on pheasants and prairie grouse in South Dakota. We also sometimes run a few select dogs in hunting contests as another way to prove their potential in our breeding program.
Anyone watching this gun dog at work would quickly understand why this breed has been, still is, and will be so popular with hunters who appreciate high style combined with an intense bird finding ability on anything from ruffed grouse and woodcock to prairie grouse, all species of quail, and, of course, ringneck pheasants.
Pheasants Forever Bird Dog Breeds
Pheasants Forever Bird Dog Breeds
The crown for the best pheasant hunting dog goes to the English springer spaniel. This breed is hard-working and high energy, which are traits that are essential in pheasant hunting. Yet, its strongest attributes when it comes to pursuing pheasants are its flushing and retrieving skills.About the only chink in the pointer’s armor is in the breed’s ability to withstand cold. I’ve seen two dogs go down with hypothermia and they were both pointers, hunting late-season pheasants in single-digit temperatures.Boykin Spaniel is very energetic dog breed that loves to . They are often used in hunts for mainly pheasants, grouses or quail (upland). Occasionally, hunters will also take Boykins with them for hunting ducks and geese, although this is not their specialty.Pheasant hunting and gun dogs are a way of life here in North Dakota. Having hunted over all the breeds through the years, we believe field English Cockers, English Springer Spaniels, and the British Labrador Retrievers make the ideal ‘all-round’ gun dogs, not only for their stamina, nose, and their affinity for water, but for their easy going natures and enthusiasm for people. In this way they are a lot like us here at Absolute, easy-going and enthusiastic. It’s a good match!The red setter is an upland bird dog with a high prey drive, work ethic, and stamina. While registered as Irish setters, they are referred to as red setters to acknowledge their distinct differences. Red setters are a product of an extensive restoration initiated in the 1950s. They have a racy ground pattern, can cover extensive range, and are known for their high intelligence. They are at home in pheasant fields, grouse woods, and on the prairies, and tend to break out easily and at a young age. They are an excellent choice for the hunter who has a variety of upland hunting destinations. Most specimens are natural backers and retrievers.Jack Russells are bred primarily for pest control—getting rid of badgers, foxes, or raccoons—but this is a very versatile dog. Big-game hunters use them for blood-trailing deer and elk. I once met a PH from South Africa who used JRTs almost exclusively for trailing lions because he said it was the only breed that was brave enough to go face-to-face with a lion, and agile and fast enough to get away if the lion came after it. There was a time when I used JRTs on pheasant hunts. They were good at running up the corn rows to flush the birds—too good, actually. They’d run too far ahead and flush birds way, way out of range. For them, it was all just a tremendously fun game, so I stopped using them for that.