You’ve seen them: Photos of hunters with their bird dogs proudly standing with the birds they’ve flushed and retrieved for their master. Though a dog’s job is different depending on the bird, upland bird hunting and waterfowl hunting typically go hand-in-hand with bird-dogging. But what if you don’t have the time to train a dog? Or what if you simply don’t want to own one? Andrew McKean, editor of Outdoor Life, says bird hunting without a dog is tough but doable.
In some cases, you can be even more effective without a four-legged hunting partner. A good bird dog is a seamless extension of yourself. But a poorly trained dog will flush birds out of range, and chase deer and rabbits instead of roosters. And hard-mouthed hounds will treat your precious birds like chew toys, bringing mangled corpses to your hand—if they retrieve them at all.
Given the choice between a bad dog and no dog at all, you’re wise to leave Hellhound in his kennel and hunt alone. You’ll get birds, but you should expect to work like—wait for it—a dog.
Photos: Ohio Department of Natural Resources (top); Vincet Soyez (above)
Read More: How to Hunt Upland Birds Without a Dog (Outdoor Life)