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"Freezer birds never die......they just keep coming back"
Training a retriever is a long term process which can be greatly enhanced by using birds..... regularly. Retrievers prefer the real thing. However, ducks or pheasants can prove to be an expensive alternative compared to bumpers. In addition, a source, cost and quite a bit of extra effort is required to use them regularly (compared to bumpers). Ducks in training may seem daunting at first. However, there will come a time when one may decide "My dog prefers the real thing and I need to do something about it."
First, find a source. I have a couple that are less than a two hour drive away. You need a bird crate and a plastic tarp (they are "messy" to transport). Once home, you must find the best way to "prepare" them for the freezer. Often I will use a few as live "flyers". The rest are "dead" before freezing. Every freezer bird is wrapped individually in three layers of newspaper.
Ducks are taken out of the freezer the night before training and left in the newspaper to thaw. Thawed ducks are then placed in a cooler for transporting to the training area. When training is over, they are again individually wrapped in newspaper (as soon as possible) and placed back in the cooler (wet or dry). When home the wet ducks will be re-wrapped in dry newspapers and go directly into the freezer. I DO NOT DRY DUCKS. The newspaper and freezing process "wicks" most of the water out of the feathers.
note: A small, hand held shop blower may be a good idea. I recently saw a pro-trainer
drying off his willing retriever right after a water series. They are not inexpensive.