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Discussion Starter #1
With the Covid 19 issues, it has been difficult to effectively train in Connecticut this year. I've done quite a bit which I'm not sure has been within all regulations, but I have not intentionally broken any. The gun, was the sticking point. Connecticut has some fairly restrictive gun laws which I did not want to run afoul of. (I still haven't gotten an answer as to whether or not a blank pistol is technically ,and legally, a firearm in Connecticut.) I used my dummy launcher earlier this year. I was pretty sure it could not possibly be considered a firearm.
Ordinarily there are any number of derby's, trials, fun runs, and club sessions, to use, to introduce the dog to the gun. Not this year. It's been a pain.
This week squirrel season opened, which finally afforded me the legal opportunity to take a shotgun onto public areas, so we began the intro to the gun. Well, the squirrel hunters actually started it for me the first day, as I had forgotten.
So far Finn has been completely non reactive, but we still have quite a ways to go. I've been letting him get onto scents and work, then walking 75-100 yards away and firing in the opposite direction, into the ground. Each time he kept searching game, and then immediately came when called. I haven't been closer than 75 yards.
Over the next few weeks we'll work closer, continue to watch, and monitor him. My wife will be working with us starting next week, so it should be a lot of fun! I've used this technique for the last thirty years with success. Slow, steady, and watch the dog. Back off if necessary. It actually starts with just working the action on the shotgun, unloaded, while walking through the woods, or in the backyard,until they aren't paying any attention to the mechanical noises any longer.
I'll start setting out quail again in October, and work him to flight. I can't actually shoot any birds until Oct 17th, so we have time. Then I have 4 months to work him solid. Through the rest of this year, and into next year. Ordinarily, I would have had him ready to go this year, but Covid 19 has really had an effect. I'll use this hunting season, as a training season.;)
There's always that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you introduce the dog to the gun. Even after thirty plus years of doing it, I still get nervous about it. So many things can go wrong, and then hundreds of hours of work are undone.
 

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I know I use a ton of birds, and time, on intro to gunfire.
I'm positive it can be done a lot faster.
But you can do it right 100 times correctly, and it only take one time for things to go wrong.
Even when I'm at the point of shooting over a dog, I buy special shells that aren't quite as loud. Only one shell is loaded in the gun, so there is no chance of taking that quick second shot. We slowing work up to taking the second shot if needed. Then move from the 20 gauge, to the 12 gauge, and start all over again. Adding a trusted second shooter, still comes at a later time.

I am so over-protective of my dogs their first season, and even the start of the next season.
 
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Discussion Starter #3
"I'm positive it can be done a lot faster."
I do it slow. I Always have.
I used to have a .22cal blank pistol in an oven mitt. This would start at about the 6 month age. Just a good walk, hitting planted birds. Fire the gun inside the mitt, behind my back, and keep walking the dog into more birds. It was kinda like "Quail Jiffy Pop".
I'd say the time frame for me from initial intro, to the first actual shot over the dog is a couple of months. A long, slow intro is better in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
More work has been going on with the gun.
We've been slowly working things closer, and with different types of shotguns.
Introduced the dummy launcher last week and tonight we were actually working pretty close to each other. Finn was maybe 25-30 yards away, at the "stay", and I'd fire the dummy down a mowed row, at a 90 degree angle to him, for easier marking. No issues, nice retrieves, but a little bit distracted by "other things". Called it quits after a ten or twelve retrieves and then just cut Finn loose to be a dog.
Twenty minutes later he's pointing and flushing quail! Unfortunately I left my shotgun in the truck, to work the dummy launcher, so I wasn't able to get some gun work in on the flushes to wing, but Finn got a good half an hour on quail at the end of the session. Invaluable for a young dog.
Next time I'll have my shotgun to work the flushes to wing. Maybe tomorrow evening. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Got some really nice gun work in last nite. Multiple flushes allowed me the opportunity to work closer to him, with the distraction of flying birds.
He was really doing well. He was picking up the scents and following the birds from 50-60 yards out through some really tall grass, 4 to 6 feet high. The birds mush have been moving on the ground in between the mowed rows. Finally he worked them enough to get them to flush. Lots of flash points, and searches. He keeps his nose in the air until he's right on foot scent. Very stylish.
Has one particurally pretty point. He had a male quail pinned and pointed on the side of a hill. He held it for a good three or four minutes while I got through all of the brambles and grape vines to get to him.I flushed the quail up the hill, and let him chase it. As soon as they broke the top of the hill, I fired in the opposite direction. Then we worked it in some really thick undercover. Really nice moment from a dog just coming up on one year old.
He's being allowed to chase the flushed birds right now so I can work the gun. We'll work on steadying to wing over the next few weeks and finally try and put the whole picture together for him in mid to late October.
I love watching a dog start to realize their purpose. When you can see in their eyes that their brain is engaged and now their instincts, and thought process, are formulating as they try to work things out. It's fun.
 

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i so much agree with you, the process of seeing them developing into their potentials is super enjoyable and relaxing.
we will hopefully be able to start picking up bird work here too, it is still way too hot in the Houston area.
 
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