The steady dog is one that has been trained to stay in place, whether that be a blind, field, tree, swamp, ok I think you get the point. It’s a dog that will stay and not leave that spot until the command is given which is usually their name.
I got invited to go on a cut corn field hunt in Eastern Washington several years ago with my last dog Molly. Molly was not a steady dog. We were in layouts with 7 guys hunting. This hunt was like the hunts you see on the TV episodes. I’m talking 300-400 ducks circling this field 4 to 5 times that day. We set up later in the day, around 9 a.m. and we were done with a seven man limit by noon. 49 ducks and a few geese. Molly did well but she would leave on the first shot.
Mike, who invited us, had trained his dog to be in the layout with him under the back rest. The command was ‘load up ‘and in he went tucked under the back rest of the layout. As he rose up, the pup would mark the birds shot and be sent from inside the layout blind. I had never seen anything like it before.
The birds on that day we so close you could see the bands on their legs if they had them. So imagine 7 guys coming up at ground level taking birds 1-10 feet off the ground. Now picture Molly leaving at first shot and being out front of the 7 guys trying to take the low birds in front. I was lucky to be in with a group of guys that were seasoned duck and goose hunters.
I remember driving home and thinking about how Molly did. Thinking about how she was not trained properly for this type of hunt. I went back and hunted with Mike that Sunday. We limited out again on this same field. Mike had made a comment to me that a lot of guys will not hunt with breaking dogs due to the safety factor. Mike didn’t say this in a ‘Your Dog Sucks’ kind of way, I understood what he meant.
The comment from Mike wasn’t coming from a guy being an ass. It was coming from a guide, a seasoned waterfowl guy, and a guy who had trained dogs himself. It was taken by me as a learning lesson. After that hunt with Mike I told myself, ok my next dog will be different. She will be steady, rock steady.
So here comes Cabo. My dream pup whom I trained myself. A dog with great bloodlines and a dog that I picked first out of a litter of 10. Alright, that’s B.S., she picked us but that’s another story. The number one thing I knew that I wanted out of this dog was for her to be a steady dog. The kind of dog that I could take anywhere to hunt, with other dogs and other people. I know that when you are invited to take part in a hunt you are their guest. I wanted a dog that would perform well. A dog like Molly that breaks, in my opinion does not fit into a hunt where you are a guest. This is especially important when there are other dogs involved in the hunt. Last thing you want is a dog competition.
When I began training Cabo I had no idea of where I was going to hunt. If I was going to be invited to places I had never been, with hunters I had never hunted with before and be welcomed back, she would need to be steady. I am so confident that Cabo is that dog now.
We can go anywhere, hunt any place, with anyone who wants to go, with any other dog and do it safe. Getting a phone call asking us to come back to hunt again is the confirmation that we have done it right. Cabo is my number one hunting buddy, my partner, we are a TEAM. We go together.
A steady dog, can mark birds better, doesn’t flare birds, makes the hunt more enjoyable, and retrieve birds safely.
Now back to my previous duck hunting story. Picture the birds coming in 1-10 feet off the deck. All the shooters pop out, 21 shots go off and 10 birds on the ground. Everyone yelling, laughing, giving high fives. Now picture the dog still in the blind and after all that excitement is still waiting for that one word.
Am I crazy about all of this? Maybe. I am not writing this to say that Cabo is better than any other dog and that I am the authority on dog training. I hope you can see the point I am making. I also hope to join you one day on a hunt!
You’ll hear me say it all the time. Its about the dogs.
AKA Cabo the Duck Dog