The guest speaker at this year’s conference, Murray Stevenson, spoke about gun dogs and the importance of training them to suit the terrain. The three main groups of gun dogs – retrievers, spaniels and pointers/setters – all have very different temperaments and purposes.
He stressed the importance of letting puppies play and not putting too much pressure on them too early, saying to fully train a gun dog takes two years or more.
Experience has taught him that eight dogs equals eight times more work. It was important for owners of multiple dogs to give each dog one-on-one time and make sure none were left out.
He brought along some of his $3000 worth of dog training equipment with him and explained some basic techniques such as teaching pups to respond to a whistle rather than a human voice, and as a first step for them to learn “yes” and “no”.
Through a series of anecdotes, Murray described his experiences with different breeds. Labradors, he said, were easy to train as they were one-dimensional: they liked peanut butter sandwiches and retrieving ducks.
He said the two true bird dogs were the English pointer and English setter. Murray’s not-so-successful experience with owning an English setter taught him that they are good in long-range conditions but not suited to bush-covered, short-range conditions, and can be a challenge to train.
His advice for teaching a dog to run in a straight line is to train it along a fenceline, using incremental steps, so the dog can only deviate left or right, not both ways, making it easier to control.
He concluded by saying, “We hurry our training too much. Make sure your dog is 100 per cent right before you move on.”
Top of the list should be the hunting licence, and probably the regulations booklet. Check out the Fish and Game website for the most up-to-date information. May 2 seems to be the opening day this year. Remember you must have your licence with you whenever and wherever you go hunting. Don’t try to use the licence from last year. They are not upgradable, exchangeable or refundable. If you lose your licence report it to Fish and Game and they will sort it out. F&G have an online licence system, or you can call their free phone licence number 0800 542 362, business hours only, $5 booking fee. Or you can visit any Fish and Game office or regional licence agent.
Hunting kit reminders:
Basic safety rules:
With Duck Shooting seasons not far away it is well to remember about obligations of farm/land owners and of the recreational visitors on the property.
Owners do have obligations under Health and Safety legislation.
The first thing to take into account is that this is not a paperwork nightmare. There is not lengthy form-filling required nor a need to sign people on and off the farm. It is really a matter of thinking about where the hunters will go, identifying hazards and risks the hunters wouldn’t reasonably expect in those areas, and warning them about those risks and how to avoid them.
The recommendation is to have a conversation with the hunter or hunter in charge of the party to pass on that information. Make a note in your farm diary about what you told them. Most people usually ring up the night (or during the week) before to make sure it’s all ok, so that’s a good time to have the discussion.
Think about the sort of things to warn them about. Remember the things they wouldn’t reasonably expect (so if they are townies you might have to make allowance for that) in the areas they will be in. Some examples: Dangers from things like tree-felling, spraying or other work – if there is tree felling in another area, are the trucks using the same tracks? Areas of instability such as paddocks with unexpected tomos or subject to landslips. Aggressive stock that are near where they will be hunting. You might also let them know about communications (e.g. no cell coverage) so they can make alternate arrangements if they need to.
It’s also a good to get an idea of their timings, and tell them they should let you know if these change. You also need to make sure that all the people who are in the area (staff, contractors, other visitors / hunters) are aware of each other.
If a visitor trips over a tree-root or stone, a property owner or occupier is unlikely to be held responsible for the other person’s carelessness. In addition, if the property owner or occupier could not reasonably have been expected to know of a hazard, they cannot be held responsible for any harm that occurs to a customer or client.
Remember the General Rule - as the person in charge of the workplace you are legally required to point out specific hazards, which you know could harm the person and which the person wouldn’t normally expect to encounter.
Happy hunting season.