Posts Tagged ‘bumpers’

SHOT Show Shorts: Despite the economic laments, things here at the largest shooting and hunting trade show in the world are looking up. The consensus is if it’s “black,” it’s putting manufacturers’ and retailers’ bottoms lines there, too. In other words, self defense firearms, tactical gear and related products (even if used by hunters, a la’ the AR-15-style rifle) are hot sellers despite (or because of) the credit crisis, political uncertainties and general down-in-the-dumpness.

That said, here are some more great new products for guys and gals like us:

Remember MAD magazine? Remember their ongoing cartoon “Don’t you hate …”? Well, most of us could have chipped in with “I hate plastic bumpers that sink after one puppy bite.” Innovator Tom Dokken (Dead Fowl Retrievers) has solved our problem with foam-filled plastic knobby retrieving bumpers. Available in 2-inch diameter size only, they will float until incinerated, appear impervious to puppy teeth and shot, and will also hold injected scent, just like his clever and realistic bird “bumpers.”

(Watch for a new book from Tom on retriever training, with eventually, accompanying video.)

I also saw another new shotgun, this one an autoloader from Weatherby that runs about $700. It’s made in Turkey with an eerily Italian look, and comes in both wood and synthetic stock choices. Weatherby says their Turkish gun differs from competitors in the use of machined rather than cast metal parts and a dual-gas valve system. Hmmm.

And kudos to Smith & Wesson, a relative newcomer to the shotgun market. They received a Field & Stream magazine “Best of the Best” award for their Elite Gold SxS shotgun. A sweet, nimble shooter at $700.

Duty calls – cocktail parties to visit. Gotta go!

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Not being a professional dog trainer, I do my darndest to be a good observer of canine behavior, in the hope it will make me a better dog owner. Buddy helps when he can, making obvious moves (or non-moves) to clue me to the more subtle training techniques I might use.

What's he about to pick up?

What's he about to pick up?

Years ago, Buddy’s mentor Yankee first got me thinking about how we introduce birds in the retrieving training process and how it is often too much, too soon.

At our first NAVHDA Utility test, Yankee followed the track artfully to the dead duck. But it was the biggest, heaviest, limpest mallard ever grown in the Pacific Northwest. More than a mouthful and ungainly to boot. He simply couldn’t pick it up, let alone bring it to me. Didn’t know how, hadn’t had any practice with something this uncooperative.

My hunting buddy Dave’s dog Missy drove the point home. Pouring rain in the Steens Mountains, we were sheltering under a rock overhang when kee-kee-kee, a chukar squirted out from the same overhang. Missy was already a big dog in a small body, but she gamely brought back that chukar by Braille – one wing was covering her eyes so she had to home in on us by voice commands.

These days, Buddy gets plenty of practice with ungainly, limp, heavy, odd-shaped objects in hopes that there are no surprises at the end of a superb track on his Utility test. Some trainers use hammers. Others, Dokken-style “dead birds.” I use both as well as …

If you reload shotgun shells, you’ve got the raw materials in laundered shot bags. Filled with dry beans and tied or taped closed, they present excellent challenges to young dogs as they learn to get their mouths around them. Add “wings” of empty bags, actual feathers and eventually real wings and you’re on your way to a great test or field trial.

– Scott

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