Tag Archives: springer spaniel

Pheasant hunters – Flush dog or Pointer?

 

Brittany vs Springer

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.

Dogs of Wehrspann Part 2

I’m aware of 4 dog runs in the Omaha area. That’s nearly not enough considering how many dogs are in the city. I frequent the dog run at Lake Wehrspann. It is the biggest and the most diverse. Papillion has a dog run at Walnut creek but it is adjacent to an over sized mud hole which get extremely stinky in hot weather. Dogs need to run in order to get the proper amount of exercise. A walk on  a leash just doesn’t cut it.

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Some of the dogs are young and can’t be trusted so they end up at leashes at the dog run.

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The dog above is 13 but he doesn’t look it.

IMG_2472 IMG_2480Black is the favorite dog color. Many of the black dogs are labs or lab mixes. The lab is the most popular dog in the country.

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There’s an eagle nested next to the dog run. Small dogs need to stay close to their owners.

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This is a neat looking Beagle. He looks so proud!

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Gee, its a lot of fun to run!

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This is the largest dog at the park. He’s a Newfoundland mix and weighs well over 100 ibs. He had a brother that passed away several months ago.

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This is a white German Shepherd pup. Many people don’t realize that German Shepherd’s can be white.

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Vizla’s are a friendly hunting breed that are becoming more popular.

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This Springer’s name is Brodie. He looks a lot like my Springer, Cosmo.

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The little guys enjoy running to.

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The two pictures above are of Brittany’s. Most Brittany’s are the white and tan color. My Brittany, Tbone is much darker and many people mistake him for a Springer.

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Reggie is a Springer.

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Another white German Shepherd.

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An unusual colored Cocker Spaniel.

Hundreds of dogs enjoy running at the various dog parks. It’s a joy to watch these dogs have a good time. All photos were taken with a canon SL-1 the smallest DSLR and a Tamron 18-270 lens.

Dogs of Wehrspan I

During the last 30 days I’ve taken some photos of the dogs that frequent the dog run at Lake Wehrspann near Chalco Hills. These are quick snapshots taken with a Canon SL1. The dogs are there to run and have fun so you can imagine that they probably don’t stay still for portraits. The pictures are a record and not meant to be fancy photos. A good portrait of a dog needs to be taken in a studio where light control and the dogs position can be manipulated. It’s much easier to get a photo with the ears up when the canine has fewer distractions.

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This dog is deaf

This dog is deaf

This dog is under one year old and responds well to hand signals. The dog vest with “deaf dog” is there in case the dog gets away from the owners.

13.5 year old Springer Spaniel

13.5 year old Springer Spaniel

This is Cosmo. He is a 13 1/2 year old Springer Spaniel. He has an arthritic shoulder and limps because of it. He still enjoys his walks

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The Brittany in this photo belongs to me. He is the “Forrest Gump” of Wehrspann since he get into lots of the photos. He feels compelled to greet every dog at the park and ends up in many of the photos.

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Some people run their dogs on the dam. They are required to leash those animals. The dog run allows the dogs to run free.

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This little guy is one of the most photogenic at the park and he is a real regular at the park.

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Tbone is a Brittany. This breed needs a minimum of one hour of good exercise a day. He gets a morning walk and another one in the afternoon.IMG_2301 IMG_2302 IMG_2304b IMG_2307 Untitled-1bb

This big guy is really laid back and a little easier to get a photo of. I used a Canon SL1 at the park with a Tamron 18-270 lens. This is a handy lens to photograph dogs. The autofocus is a little slow for fast moving animals however. I chose the camera because it is very light and I have a lens with a broad zoom range that fits on it. To get truly sharp photos with fast moving dogs one would probably need a pro body or at least a Canon 5d mark III combined with a stabilized Canon L glass lens such as a 70-200. Such a combo is quite heavy compared to the SL1 and would be tiring to carry around.

This is group one of the dogs I photographed. There will be more to come in future posts.

Canine tribute continued……………Make prints of those important memories!

Springer Spaniel pupppies

Springer Spaniel puppies

In 2002 I had a client contact me about photographing some Springer Spaniel puppies with their baby. They said they had 8 pups and I recommended that they bring in only 3 so it would be easier to work with them. I mentioned I was l looking for a Springer because Guido my exisiting Springer was ten years old and slowing down as a hunter. We made a deal and I traded $300 worth of photos for Cosmo. He’s the dog on the right side.

Cosmo 10 weeks

Cosmo 10 weeks

Cosmo as a pup

Cosmo as a pup

Cosmo was always photogenic. He had these big eyes that would just grab you. As a pup he was extremely playful and after a day of photographing high school seniors I would play tug a war and ball for hours at a time.

Cosmo and his frisbee

Cosmo and his frisbee

Cosmo with frisbee

Cosmo with frisbee

Springer with frisbee

Springer with frisbee

We used totake  many walks at the park where Cosmo was known as the dog with the frisbee in his mouth. He carried it everywhere.

Cosmo with ball

Cosmo with ball

Cosmo also had his favorite ball to play with in the house. He loved to play tug of war with it.

Cosmo after successful hunt

Cosmo after successful hunt

I introduced Cosmo to hunting when he was only 4 months old. He hunted along side Guido and mostly played during the first year out. He was quickly acclimated to gun fire as I took him down to the gun range and let him hear the shotgunners practicing. He never flinched. The above photo was taken when he was one year and four months old. He caught on to hunting very quick and aided me in a number of pheasant limits.

Cosmo and me after hunt

Cosmo and me after hunt

One thanksgiving my wife Carmen came along while Cosmo and I hunted. We had been married for over 20 years and this was the first time she ever went along. Of course she took the picture which I cherish because I can’t get a picture like this on my own.

Cosmo and me South Dakota

Cosmo and me South Dakota

We hunted South Dakota every year. Unfortunately Cosmo got cut by barbed wire on this trip and I had to cut the hunt short by a day.

Cosmo, me, and grouse

Cosmo, me, and grouse

I used to get a grouse permit for the eastern part of the state. You received 3 tags and were allowed to take 3 birds for the season. On this occasion I got 2 grouse with one shot.

Pheasants Winnebago Indian Reservation

Pheasants Winnebago Indian                    Reservation

We used to hunt the Indian reservation. On this occasion Cosmo flushed 10 roosters one at a time out of a creek area. I shot poorly but managed to get my limit.

Cosmo  flushing pheasants

Cosmo flushing pheasants

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On rare occasions bird hunting was so good I would get my limit early and then photograph Cosmo flushing birds. The first photo was taken on the Indian reservation. I got my limit in a half an hour that morning. In 2011 South Dakota was crawling with pheasants and I had some real opportunities for photographing Cosmo at work.

Cosmo with and without haircut

Cosmo with and without haircut

During warm weather Cosmo gets a haircut. Since he has an affinity for water I is much easier to clean him up after a walk. He’s never seen a puddle he didn’t like.

 

Cosmo's retirement hunt

Cosmo’s retirement hunt

This is Cosmo’s South Dakota retirement hunt. He is 12 years and 4 months at this point. Tbone had hurt himself the previous day and I benched him, hunting only with Cosmo. Although slower than Tbone , Cosmo hunted well that day. He did a good job flushing birds and helped retrieve every bird I shot. The old boy still had it in him.IMG_2278

Cosmos Nebraska retirement hunt

Cosmos Nebraska retirement hunt

We had our final hunt of 2014 in Tekamah Ne.  Cosmo did well considering Tbone covers twice the territory because of his youth.

Cosmo 12 years 6 months

Cosmo 12 years 6 months

Cosmo is slowing down but he still likes to carry his frisbee around and play tug of war with his ball. It is hard to see a dog get old. I will truly miss him when he’s gone. Cosmo is the last of 6 Springers that I’ve owned. It is the end of a dynasty.

Tbone- my Brittany

Tbone- my Brittany

During the summer of 2014 I decided to get another dog. It was that, or quit hunting in a year. I had contacted Springer rescue and jumped through all their hoops, which included several interviews as well as paperwork, to get an adult Springer. I was accepted as an applicant but found at the time only out of state dogs were available. On a whim I checked the dog posts on Craigslist. I couldn’t believe it someone listed a Springer. It was a young dog and the owner was in Onawa, IA. The drive was about 70 miles, so Carmen and I went there to check out the dog. Tbone is a very dark brown and because of his color I thought he was a young Springer, who hadn’t filled out yet. He was terribly underweight, tipping the scales at 34 lbs. The seller wanted $75 for him. I was very concerned about his weight and said I would probably have some vet bills with him. The seller dropped the price to $35 so I decided to take a chance. And boy did I get a deal! I just didn’t know it yet.

Brittany on the run

Tbone on the run

I took Tbone to the vet. There was nothing wrong with him. He needed shots which I was aware of but no health problems. I took about 6 months and I had his weight up to 42 lbs. The first thing I noticed with Tbone is that he liked to range more than a Springer.

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pheasant hunting

pheasant hunting

I took Tbone along to South Dakota for a hunt even though I didn’t know the dog very well.  I’d only had him 2 weeks and he hadn’t ever hunted where there was a good pheasant population. I did fit him with a shock collar to keep him honest. We got into a field that was thick with birds and all hell broke loose with birds flushing all over. Tbone went ape shit  and chased flying birds well over a block and a half. The shock collar wasn’t working and I was scared I would lose him.

I had decided too put him in his cage and just hunt Cosmo and had already left the dog behind when I noticed that the sending unit for the shock collar was set on the wrong frequency. I corrected the problem, left Tbone out of the cage and started hunting again. After a few shocks when he got too far ahead he settled down and hunted well, even retrieving several birds. His style of hunting was a lot different than Cosmo’s but I chalked that up to inexperience.IMG_1608

I took him hunting up to Tekamah with several other hunters and I noticed Tbone seemed to be pointing at times. This is not typical with Springers. When I got home I started googling Brittany images and saw several Brittanies that were a dark liver color. Tbone was a Brittany not a Springer.

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In his second year of hunting Tbone matured into an excellent hunter. He is whistle trained and has done a good job of pointing and retrieving birds. I believe he may be one of my best hunting dogs. I did get a good deal!IMG_9388

 

Photographs are important memories. Take as many as you can and make prints of the ones that are the most important to you. Many of the pictures on this post are also in print form. Your computer will die some day. Don’t lose those precious memories, make prints.

A photographic tribute to my canine family present and past

Since 1971 I have had 6 Springer Spaniels and 1 Brittany as pets and hunting companions. They have enriched my life and brought me joy. My first Springer was Archie. I got him as an 8 week old pup in Platte Center NE. He was the pick of the litter and the best hunting dog I ever owned.

Archie

Archie

I lived in Leigh the first 3 years of Archies life. I remember him chasing up his first bird on the edge of town at about 6 months of age. He was an aggressive hunter and caught some bird when he was young. I had my best years hunting in Nebraska with Archie.

 

Archie - 9 years

Archie – 9 years

Archie hunted until he was 14 in spite of a hip injury which required the removal of the hip joint because of severe arthritis in it. Dogs form a muscular hip and can continue to function after such surgery. The early years of hunting in Leigh were the best I ever had in Nebraska and I could normally hunt 2 or 3 farms during the entire season and take 30 birds or more. I really miss those days of hunting with Archie. As I said Archie was an aggressive hunter and you had to keep up with him when he was on a hot trail. I could do that in those days, not so any more.

Augie ca.1987

Augie ca.1987

My second dog was a gift to my wife at the time. She loved dogs as much as me. It was a smaller female tricolor and I bought her from a broker whom I later figured out was selling for a puppy mill. The pup was not healthy and coughed a lot. We took her to a vet several times before she improved.

Ginger as a pup

Ginger as a pup

Ginger turned out to be a disappointment in the field since she didn’t like hunting. She was a nice pet though. Neither Springer was neutered and we had a litter of pups on our hand within a year. We did find homes for all of them. Several years later she had another litter. We kept two of the pups. I wanted a black and white and my wife wanted to keep the pup we named “Harry” who was born with a harelip. His birth defect required that he be fed by hand when he was of suckling age.

Augie and Harry

Augie and Harry

Augie was really attached to me. I remember holding him as a pup and his little claws would dig into my chest. Both dogs grew into adults and both were hunted.

Augie

Augie

Augie had real skills as a hunting dog. I think he had the best nose of all my Springer’s but he was a little lazy. When I hunted he was reluctant to go into heavy cover and would stay with me on the outside of cover patches. However, he was a great retriever and was right on top of any birds I shot. He let the other 2 dogs do all the hard work and he would take the credit. I hunted the 3 dogs together until 1986. Harry and Archie both died in 1986. Augie hunted pretty well on his own but he was nowhere near the dog Archie was.

 

Augie ca.1987

Augie ca.1987

The picture above was taken sometime in the mid 80’s. I had a picture of both Augie and Harry together with this setting but put it in a veternarian’s office and never retrieved it.

 

Harry

Harry

Harry had several surgeries on his harelip as a pup and although it looked better it was still obvious if you viewed him up close. He was a beautiful dog but didn’t like his picture taken and he didn’t photograph well. I really think he was self-conscious about his harelip. He had more personality than any of my springers, always excited and full of spunk. He had gold colored eyes that would really stand out as you looked at him. When he hunted he ran out of steam after a half hour or so. This was on a consistant basis and I never could figure out why. When he was approximately 7 years old he started losing weight and eventually he lost his sight. I had taken him to a vet and mentioned that he seemed to have trouble seeing. Although there never was an official diagnosis, it is quite obvious he had diabetes. He had a good seven years.

In 1992 Augie was 10 and beginning to slow down with his hunting skills. I mentioned that to a customer and that I was looking for a springer pup. He said he knew someone in Columbus who had pups he wanted to give away and that they would be 8 weeks old in another week. I drove to Columbus and picked Guido out of the litter.

Guido

Guido

Guido lived up to his name. He was a bit tempermental at times and got downright  grumpy in his old age. He wasn’t overly cooperative when taking pictures and I never did get a close head shot of him in all the years that I tried.

Guido during a hunt

Guido during a hunt

Gudio enjoyed hunting and was quite good at it although he didn’t retrieve birds well. Hunting in the 90’s was pretty good in Nebraska and it was during Guido’s tenure that I started hunting South Dakota.

South Dakota 2003

South Dakota 2003

Gudio was 11 years old on this photo and still enjoyed the hunt although he did let my younger dog Cosmo do a lot of the hard work. Guido died in 2006 at the age of 14. He was a little hard to live with his last year but I enjoyed his company and hunting skills in his earlier years.

Gudio,Cosmo, and myself

Gudio,Cosmo, and myself

Unfortunately the average age of Springers in my life have been around 14 years.  After year 11 most dogs slow down considerably and hunting with them is not as effective. I’ve always tried to get a new dog while the older one still hunts because they do learn from the older dog and I can transition into the younger dog rather smoothly. I added Cosmo in 2002 when Guido was ten.

I will have another post covering the two dogs I have with me today. Their names are Cosmo and Tbone.

 

 

Appreciate your pet every day you have it! Take lots of pictures of your dog and cat and print some of them.

I was at the veternarian today picking up some medication for my Springer Spaniel. While I was there a family came out of the back room. All three were in tears. It was obvious they had to put a pet down. It was a very sad time for them. I know how sad. I’ve had 4 Springer spaniels that I had to put down over the years and it was hard every time. Each dog had its own personality and could never be totally replaced by a new dog.

I spend a lot of time with my Springer, Cosmo. He has been a lucky dog. I had a photography studio in my home so I could be with him most of the day year around. He’s a bundle of energy and even at age 11 he is still very active. He loves to play Frisbee and when he hunts he is all business. I will never take him for granted. He is a great friend. He gets two walks a day and travels 5-7 miles per day. Here’s a few photos of him.

Springer with frisbee in snow

Springer with frisbee in snow

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

English Springer named Cosmo playing frisbee

Springer Spaniel

Springer Spaniel

Springer Spaniel pheasant huntng

Springer Spaniel pheasant huntng

Springer Spaniel with owner after successful pheasant hunt

Springer Spaniel with owner after successful pheasant hunt

English Springer Spaniel with pheasants

English Springer Spaniel with pheasants

English Springer Spaniel with pheasants

English Springer Spaniel with pheasants

 

 

 

Pet photography- Studio pictures are the best

If you want truly good pet portraits they need to be done in the studio for several reasons. The controlled lighting will bring out the detail in the pets fur much better than outdoor lighting. Too large a light source eliminates the specularity needed to show fur at its best. Secondly control of an animal in the studio is much greater. You have to work fast because they have a short attention span. An unexpected squeak from your own voice or toy will get a dogs ears up but don’t expect that to last for long. Often the best shot in a session with a dog is in the first several shots. I used to continue shooting for the clients sake but I knew I had the shot early on. I’m not a big fan of a lot of props. With hunting dogs I have several pheasants prepared  by a taxidermist. They are hanging mounts made to look like they have just been harvested in the field.  Studio shots of dogs are much better because the dog is not bothered by sounds and surroundings that may occur in an outdoor portrait session.  I have photographed many a hunting dog with this set and their owners have been thrilled with the results.The photo below is a shot of my Springer Spaniel named Cosmo.  The studio setting is made up of old barnwood and the pheasants had  been harvested earlier in the day.

Springer Spaniel with pheasants

Springer Spaniel with pheasants