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Introduction of quail to a pointing pup
The proper age to start bird work depends on the development of the individual pup. In most cases, this is around four to six months. Use bobwhite quail that are at least eight weeks old and bred for field performance. If you are introducing birds to a pup during the warm season it is best to start early in the morning when it is cool. The use of an assistant will make the introduction of birds much easier. Use a small field with ground cover about a foot high. This is high enough to cover the quail and keep pup from sight pointing, but will allow bird scent to carry. Always wear gloves when handling quail so you leave as little human scent on birds as possible, which could lead to problems in future training.
Start by placing three quail in a carrying cage from your holding pen. Place two quail far enough apart in the training field to have two separate setups for your pup. You can dizzy quail slightly by holding bird firmly around its body and shaking the birds head from side to side. Then lay the bird on its side in the cover. You must be cautious dizzying quail. A young pup may catch a bird that is too dizzy to fly. Keep in mind that you are slightly dizzying the quail so they will be there when you come back with your pup.
After planting two quail in the training field, take the remaining quail in the carrying cage close to the field and have your assistant hold the carrying cage at the dogís head level. With pup on a check cord, bring pup slowly up to the carrying cage. Allow pup to see and smell the quail but donít put any pressure on pup or give any negatives during pupís first contact with quail. Pup should get excited and want to smell and desire quail. Then with pup watching have assistant open carrying cage door and allow quail to fly out of cage. Allow pup to chase quail if it wants but do not allow pup to catch. Pup will realize that the quail canít be caught.
This introduction to quail puts an image in the pups mind. Pup has just seen a quail, smelled a quail, and knows it will fly away. Now with the introduction of a quail to the pup and no negative response, itís time to take pup into the two birds planted in the training field. With pup on a check cord, take pup into the wind for optimal scenting conditions and to give pup every scenting advantage. If pup points, do not keep on point for long and do not handle pup. Flush the bird immediately and allow pup to chase but not catch. Do not use check cord correctively. Simply use it to ease pup to a stop and call pup back to hunt in another direction. If pup flushes quail and wants to chase, allow it to do so, but do not allow it to catch. Remember at this early stage you are developing search instinct. If you put pressure on pup to stay/whoa for long you could be breaking down pups desire to search. Call pup back and set it up where it first winded scent, give him a stay/whoa command and praise him. Cast pup away from first planted quail and allow pup to search for second planted quail. If pup points, flush the quail and make sure pup does not catch it. If pup chases bring pup back, set pup up on the stay/whoa command, and praise pup.
If he accepts and shows no negative reaction to the quail then in a couple of days put two more quail out for pup. The next couple of times out the pup should show search and natural pointing instincts to achieve staunchness. This is a safe approach to introduction to quail and should be the start of a good bird relationship with your pointing pup.