I’ve owned 6 Springers. Five hunted, three were excellent hunters, and one wouldn’t hunt at all. The dog I have now is a Brittany. H’es the one pictured on the left. I though he was a Springer when I bought him off of Craiglist. You can see by his color why he might have fooled me. When I hunted him I realized I had a different breed.
He ranged much farther out than any of my Springer”s and he pointed. It was a little unnerving to have him go out so far. Most Springer’s which are flush dogs tend to range pretty tight and seldom go beyond 30 yards. Tbone felt more comfortable ranging out 50-60 yards.
I am a bit prejudiced, but I believe the Springer Spaniel is the best choice for pheasant hunting. You will get more flushes from them because they put the pressure on the bird. Seldom do they point. They just put the pressure on and up the bird goes. My main complaint with pointers is they go on point and the pheasant runs off while their still pointing.
Granted unless you know your Springer well, you will get many more surprise fushes and you might miss a few more birds because of it.
I’ve had Tbone for 4 hunting seasons now so I am getting used to his style. He is an air scenter, sticking his nose up in the air and deciding where to go next. After he decides he bounds off full steam and starts ground scenting. He covers lots of territory in a very short period of time. That’s why I whistle trained him. He also sports an electronic collar if I can’t get his attention with a whistle.
My Springers on the hand stayed close enough to me I never used electronic collars with any of them. My Springers were ground scenters the majority of the time and would work the birds hard.
When Tbone gets a good scent his behavior changes. He moves quickly back and forth and if he stops, the scent is very near. If he stiffens up and drops his head a bit he is on point. I move in closer and if I’m lucky the bird sat tight and I’m going to get a very good shot. You have more warning when hunting over a pointer and you will get some really easy shots, but pheasants are tricky and they can still catch you by surprise when they flush. If a bird flushes right under you you have a maximum time of 3 seconds to shoot.
Springers will often flush birds so they fly left to right or right to left. I prefer those shots since more of the pheasant is a target exposing its head, body, and wings. Shots straight away are the hardest for me because if you shoot to early the bird will rise above the shot pattern.
For years I’ve taken my dogs out and tried to photograph them hunting. With Springer’s it is difficult because you never know which way the flush is coming from Pointers like Tbone will give you a chance to approach a bird and get fairly close flush photos. This especially important if you are using a gopro or wider angle lenses because the birds will appear fairly small in the video. Below is an example of a video done with Tbone
If I were to score my flushers versus my pointer I would have to say it is a matter of preference. I can enjoy hunting with both breeds. Anytime you can hunt with a trained dog you will have a good hunt.