Nov 30 cold and windy = day off from training..........scouted for geese (hunt in the morning)
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Nov 23 a cold, rainy day off
Nov 24 cloudy and cool for Thanksgiving.....scouted for geese and they are comfortable (not moving)...northern geese either....slow time....but no freeze-up for at least a couple of weeks
note: a second day off from training and Pounce is enjoying the "down time"
note: the next ten days will have above normal temperatures (into December)
Nov 25 cloudy and cool.....trained around noon at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA. Pounce ran a 3-pile "intro" to the Split Casting Drill at 125 yards. This will soon evolve into two piles
at longer distances to further refine angle back casting skills.
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The summer/fall goal in hunt test preparation was to be well into the skills required for Finished HRC and Master AKC tests. Given the usual distractions of the waterfowl hunting season and impending cold weather, the culmination of this plan appeared to be less likely. However, a warm fall ended up rendering those goals attainable. With very little time spent hunting (too warm for duck hunting) and the resultant "warm weather" well into November, Pounce was given plenty of opportunities to raise her skill levels in setup's with multiples, advanced marking concepts, increased distances and especially "firming up" her water skills related mostly to "not cheating". She's ready for spring's "next phase''. The sequence will begin in late winter with HRC Upland tests, then complete the AKC Senior title, move on to HRC Finished and finally begin AKC Master work in the fall.
Nov 15 day off - excellent weather, but yesterday was a very good workout......let it "simmer"
Nov 16 trained at the Rosckton Road DTA (mid-day) - ran two, remote winger Y-Drills with 3" orange bumpers. The rationale was Pounce has not run any for awhile. It is a marking drill that emphasizes focusing on the AOF with "penalties" for not doing so. The singles are not easy to see (like black & white bumpers) and have less scent (like ducks). The penalty is "big hunts". For a retriever that normally marks very well, her anxiety was immediately obvious. First set was about the worst I've seen her mark in a long time. However, in the second set (different area) she clearly was more intense/focused at the line and stepped on each mark. The training adjustment will be weekly work with a Y-Drill. Hillmann's philosophy requires regular practice, being consistent and striving for precision. Pounce said, "Not Happening."
Nov 17 morning trip to game farm for six live Chukars for "upland" work and a dozen live mallards for freezer "stocking". Pounce ran her first "live" duck cold blind and for a moment it was kind of funny. The hen pinned her neck forward and fluttered after Pounce in attack mode. She was momentarily caught off guard and retreated. Caution gave way to instincts (with a little Hillmann game input) and she was soon making retrieves of a very lively and aggressive mallard.
Then we moved to water for the "diving, disappearing duck intro". Pounce was totally into this and the hen did not make it easy for her (which was a good thing). It was a very necessary learning session......and Pounce was totally into it.
Next up was to drop off the large duck crate at a friend's. His training area is licensed for shooting live flyers and he had placed my name on the list of those allowed to dog so. Did not ask, he just did it.
Anyway, Pounce did her first "planted" Chukar flyers. Awhile back she "saw" six Chukars only as "fly aways". The unusual thing was she just watched them and did not chase (which is a really a good thing). Today she quartered nicely, located birds in deep cover and flushed them. Planting only two at a time provided a brief break to gather her composure. The first four she flushed, stopped immediately almost before the whistle, watched them fly and drop (when shot).
The first one was almost comical and lucky. It flushed back to the west and appeared that it might continue into an area where I could not shoot. Didn't wait, shot quickly, way too close and it dropped. As the Chuker fell, Pounce actually looked back at me as if to ask, "OK, what now?" I have never had a young dog act this responsively during initial upland intros. When she brought it back I was expecting "a lot more than just a flesh wound". Body was perfect.....head was missing.
The next three could not have gone any better. Good quartering, accurate nose and solid flushes, clean shots and quick retrieves from a sit to flush standard. Hard to believe that she just seems to be a natural at this or more so what transpired may suggest just how deeply Hillmann's approach spreads its influence.
The fifth Chukar flushed right back over my head and as I screwed myself into the ground the shot was high. This was the strongest flyer (of the six) and Pounce watched it sail off into the adjacent bean field and land. She did not move (which was good!) and looked back at me. I am not sure whether she said, "You missed!" or asked, "What now?" Turning around, we walked back to the south searching for the last Chukar and didn't locate it. Senior moment?
Today was a very interesting and exciting change of pace for Pounce. She "grew up" just a little bit more....well, actually....a lot more. On a side-note, the freezer is full of fresh mallards.
note: We finished training at about 3:30 pm in the afternoon, well into the last half of
November, in northern Illinois, wearing bluejeans, tennis shoes and a T-shirt.
It was not cool.....but it was.
Nov 18 last warm day - only needed a light "Hoody"......Pounce ran five blinds at the Roscoe Riverside Park DTA so as to utilize the 25 mph winds out of the southwest. A few day ago, she was running a long blind into the wind and did not deal with it very well....."gave in" (often).
This is a big, known pattern blind and she ran to the primary "target" from five, successively different directions where the wind eventually transitioned to "head on".
note: Pounce ran fast with very few handles (lined it the last two) and the wind did not
appear to bother her.
note: Daisy had a solid set of walking singles - good exercise....And Kooly was allowed
out for a short time. His issues with DM are not leveling off. Every two or three days
"measures" a worsening condition. This may be his last winter.
Nov 4 day off from training
Nov 5 wonderful day for November - trained at the Stoughton FT property, arrived just as
a large group was leaving....used northwest pond and setup three remote winger stations plus the Zinger "Uplander" with "stickmen" and mallards plus plus one blind......the most difficult mark was the "cheaty" one and she got wet out and back......that "made the day". After picking up (and letting the two older dogs "help" for exercise), Pounce ran a long, cold blind (367 yards) from the mound to the east fence line......that went extremely well.
note: The "Google photo" is not an exact match to the pond's present condition.
note: Kooly just made it up his ramp into the van....the left hind leg was
bothering him much more than before. When arriving home, he came
out of the van looking much better. Tomorrow?
Nov 6 It is Sunday with perfect weather to train. However, the dogs are not going anywhere.
note: The trainer will be doing "yardwork".....mowing and leaves.....lots of leaves.
Nov 7 weather this week will be outstanding for training.....Monday, Tuesday and Thursday,
Friday will be sunny, in the 60's every day with some rain on Wednesday
Trained later in the afternoon at the Stoughton Field Trial Grounds using the southwest technical pond. While setting up, Kooyl and Daisy (the old dogs) took turns "helping". They needed to get out and exercise. Setup four singles and a blind using stickmen, three Gunners Up Wingers, a Zinger "Uplander", mallards for the marks and an orange bumper
for the blind
note: Forgot about the fact we had just "lost" an hour of daylight. Finished with
quite a bit of time to spare and home before dark. No bugs!
note: Pounce continues to thrive as the challenges increase.
note: The warm weather of this November is a fortunate bonus! Never thought I
would say training can be more fun than duck hunting......until recently.
Nov 8 trained in the afternoon with temperatures in the 50's and a stiff breeze out of the northwest....Pounce ran the "Pin Point Marking Drill" in the "stand alone/send back" mode
note: nine singles "angled in, flat and angled back" with a black & white flagged
bumper = good session with a "zippy" description for her work
Nov 9 afternoon at the Rockton Road DTA Pounce ran two sets of four cold blinds
note: today I started using my range finder to get a better sense of where the blinds
were placed......don't understand why this was not done sooner
note: The warm November is providing a huge bonus in training time and Pounce
continues to advance. Based on her present skill levels, she will be well
prepared for Finished HRC and AKC Master work next spring and summer.
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Nov 14 Monday morning "Vet" appointment for Kooly came up with a diagnosis of probably Degenerative Myelopathy and it is progressing at a steady rate. Winter will not be easy.
After the appointment, drove on up to the Stoughton FT property and trained Pounce. Weather was superb. Set up a long remote winger triple with a blind. She has not seen this distance in a multiple before and had no issues. Moved the wingers and ran a second "big" setup, but had a problem. The memory winger did not respond to the transmitter which turned it into a double. Drew up the setup on the photo, but the mark to the left of the blind was not run. After picking up the gear, Ponce was taken to the southwest technical pond and spent a good amount of time working on "down the shore" fundamentals. Kept the session extremely "upbeat" with
the "Hillmann Game" approach and she was "hitting on all cylinders". What a great session!
Nov 12 day off - however "yard work' was necessary......more leaves "to get rid of"
Nov 13 Sunday afternoon training - two sets of tight (inline) doubles with mallards out of wingers and a blind at the "New Place" DTA
note: forecast = sunny, middle 50's with 14 mph SW winds
note: having an "overhead" Google master provides "pre-planing" given
the probable weather forecast with respect to wind direction
note: training day planning - did sketches on a clip board/black/white photo
note: The setups were not long and the close, tight lines gave her no
problems (almost too easy). Shrubs and trees are "packed in".
Pounce's five "wind blinds"
"Waiting for Geese"
Nov 1 van needs to go into the shop for repairs.....avoiding being on the road. Pounce did a session of "Yard Work" - up beat and fun focusing on square whistle sits and deliveries.
It is not "work" in that everything functions within Hillmann's "Game" concept.
Nov 2 morning - Pounce worked in the yard and WE just finished when the rain began
note: dropped van off at mechanics......$$$$ ouch!
note: used book arrived and read the first chapter..."The Labrador Shooting
Dog" by Mike Gould copyright 1999 3rd Edition 2004
Nov 3 slept in..."Go Cubs Go!" trained this afternoon at the Rockton Road DTA & set
up a "Stand alone/Send Back" Pin Point Marking Drill....in the early evening packed the "Uplander" into the Sand Ponds DTA and ran four water singles
note: the Pin Point Marking Drill was not easy and Pounce was sharp
note: the "pack in" walk to run a few water singles was good as far as getting
to the training area on the big pond....the "cheating" issue is not solved
note: Searched the storage area and found the ideal "thing" for "packing in" a
Zinger Uplander. The "Sand Ponds" DTA is five minutes from the house,
but it is a good hike to the water. Packing in the "new toy" will allow a
good week or two of water singles plus blinds. Warm weather forecasts
for the next ten days are perfect for training.....but not for duck hunting.
note: Go! Cubs Go!......after 64 years as a faithful Cub fan.......the wait is over!
two doubles + blinds repeated as singles
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Nov 29 for late November it was warm (still training wearing a "hoody") Trained at the
"New Place" with Pounce. Three GU remote wingers and the Zinger "Uplander" with mallards. First setup was two doubles and finishing with two blinds using an "HRC line"
(bucket, shotgun, "primer loads and duck call)
note: focus was getting a "read" on any line issues and then targeting this for
future sessions over the next five months leading into spring HRC tests
note: to assure a lasting analysis..... the video camera captured "stuff" for You
Tube "visuals".......no surprises WE both need a few "upgrades"
Nov 10 day off for the dogs - trainer did yard work on leaves
Nov 11 trained in the afternoon - low "fifties", stiff breeze out of north east, Pounce trained
at the Y-Property DTA in Wisconsin - setup remote winger triple and initially ran the marks in "schooling mode" (first)........"rebooted" the wingers & added two blinds
note: she made it look easy
note: used the Gunz-Up "sounds" at the line
note: camera exposure into the sun "was not good"
Nov 26 almost took the day off, but just before sunset Pounce finished the second phase of yesterday's Split Casting Drill.......reduced to two legs 15 yards apart at 125 yards and ran from both left & right heeling sides
note: besides the lining and casting in the field, we worked on the precision of
our "routines" at the line
note: fast and accurate (put out six bumpers at each "target") with nine "goes"
and afterwards Pounced was still in "The Game" (playful and energetic)
note: There were three bumpers left. As we began walking toward them, Pounce
ran ahead, picked one up, delivered it via a front sit and I dropped it into the
bucket.....same thing on the second. With the third, I set the bucket on the
ground in front of her while she was on a front sit and said, "Drop it in the
bucket." She immediately slammed dunked it (into the bucket), turned and
then took off looking for another. My mind asked, "Did that really happen?
note: Pounce has been taught to do "remote drops"......so that might be the link.
Nov 27 Sunday..........no training
Nov 28 morning = cloudy, windy with temperatures in the low 40's and rain beginning around 10:30 am. Drove to the new place and Pounce ran nine walking singles. Since the last time training there, someone put a lot of effort into clearing "weed shrubs" from the bases of many, many trees and this "opened up" the terrain a great deal. The ability to see and easily "select routes" for walking singles was pleasantly enhanced.
note: Pounce was in good form and "flew through" this session.
note: It began to rain on the way home.
Nov 19 With a forecast high in the 30's plus NW winds at 25 mph these equate to a day off.
note: Goose "patterns" will change.....finally, grass will not be enough.
Nov 20 middle 30's (noon) - Pounce "worked" a two tiered Wagon Wheel at the Thorson
Pond DTA "grassy area". Focus was on "lining" and delivery routines (precision & practice).
note: energetic and sharp....When finished, she picked up the entire setup
while I stood there placing bumpers in a bucket and did this just for the
sheer fun of it....full speed.
We drove to Lowe's Home Improvement Center to buy a few bolts needed to attach four blind brackets to the Phowler Extreme. Lowe's allows "dogs on a leash" in their store.
Nov 21 trained in the afternoon (not much time) in nearby, a overgrown wheat field five minutes from the house. There was a great deal of variety in the cover with rolling terrain. Pounce ran seven "stand alone" walking singles (75 - 150 yards steady, accurate, fast & fun)
Nov 22 Pounce went on an early morning goose hunt with a goal of "bagging" her first Illinois limit. Yesterday's scouting revealed that geese were on the pond in the Thorson Pond DTA. In the last, first hunt a few weeks ago, they seemed to be wary of landing on the east end of the pond......where the blind must be placed. Mulling this over some, the decision to place several decoys "on and in" the east end near where geese were feeding in the bean field yesterday.
After being somewhat spoiled by the warm days of this November, the morning was cold. In addition, waiting for three hours made it seem even colder. Suddenly, calling from five big geese announced their arrival. They swooped right in to splash down about 70 yards away. This tactic was anticipated because the far end is kind of a safe zone. Very quickly, they began calling to my decoy "temptations" while they cautiously paddled toward them. This was an exciting and anxious interlude. When they finally reached the big Dakota floaters, their necks suddenly got "longer" with a body language ozzing, "Ahhhh.....Oh"! I stepped out from behind the blind. They jumped and two were dropped beyond the floating Dakota decoys. The farther, second one needed a "finisher". Pounce's newest milestone was nearly "in the bag".
Pounce came out of her hide ready for action. It should be noted she weighs almost fifty pounds and the two geese were big (later registered 11 and 12 pounds). After lugging in the far goose, she was sent for the near one. When surging forward, the goose suddenly rolled upright and started flapping both wings as Pounce slid underneath. The shackled, diving hen mallard "intro" from a few days before hardly prepared her for what was probably not going to be so simple. In all accounts, this "situation" was not going to be very "pretty" if I did not do something very quickly. Pounce did not object to my calling her back. In fact, I think she thought it was a very good idea. Ha! The goose was quickly dispatched and retrieved.
The next thing to do (as quickly as possible) was to pickup the decoys (24) and "Get out of Dodge" before educating any late arrivals. Mission accomplished. In addition, a milestone was recorded. Pounce's very first Illinois limit.....on a day to remember.
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