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best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mikmant » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:58 pm

Hello all,

This is my first post to Gun Dog Forum so I thought I would start a fight. :wink: What in your opinion is the best breed for hunting ruffed grouse and woodcock in the woods of Northern New England.

I have owned a Lab that I hunted stocked pheasants and ducks with. I got him from a from the lab rescue when he was getting on in years. He was a smart as a whip but he had no nose and at times a little too willful. But, I was new to hunting dogs and I made a lot of mistakes. When he passed it took me a couple of years to get another dog. This one was a golden retriever. Wasn't my choice, my wife got him as a birthday present when he was 2. I had no expectation he would be a hunter until we were walking through the woods and he flushed up a couple of grouse off the trail. It turns out he had a very strong hunting drive and a beautiful nose. I was able to turn him into a flushing retriever that satisfied my needs. This past fall on our annual trip to Pittsburg, NH we were putting up 25 - 30 birds (grouse and woodcock) a day. His enthusiasm has really gotten me into hunting New England's birds. He's going to be 10 this year and he's starting to show his age. I know the inevitable is on its way. My problem with him has always been that I spend as much time pulling the burrs out of his coat as we do hunting and to be honest, he's a bit dim.

For my next dog I want to do a better job from the beginning. I've been looking at websites and looking into a few forums for as much info as I can gather. I want a dog that's going to be a family dog 12 months a year and good hunter during the season. I haven't made up my mind whether I want a pointer or a flusher. I know I want something that will work close in the heavy wooded cover I hunt in. I know I want it to have a coat that is easier to manage. I would prefer a breed with few health problems. I know a lot of folks use Brittanies and English setters for grouse. One of the guys I work with hunts over a springer with good results.

Opinions?

Mike
New Hampshire
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby 3Britts » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:21 pm

I've had both Britts and Springers. Where the springer did well in the field, the britts do better in the forest. When hunting grouse you want something that will stand the game and not accidently flush it too far out or when you are not ready. Probably the reason I finally went totally Brittany.

Good luck with whatever dog you choose.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mudhunter » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:47 pm

Its really up to you! You will have the easiest time finding an English setter that has been trialed for grouse simply because they are popular in your area in the cover dog stakes. I have setters and really like them as grouse dogs but that's because I really like them, not because that they are superior to other breeds. Some pointers that are in cover stakes are hard to beat and I have seen Brittanies that I would love to hunt behind.

The hardest part I would image for you is one of the best ways to destroy a puppies pointing instinct is to run it with a flushing dog like your golden, got to keep the two separate when in the woods.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby north country guy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:08 pm

My Vote Is The Brittany ... :D
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Georgia Boy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:39 pm

I dont know if its just this part of the country or the old timers I came up around, but when they had a dog that wouldnt cut it hunting quail they would say it would make somebody a fine grouse dog.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Greg Jennings » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:43 pm

Everybody does that. It doesn't cut it at their game, it'd make a good dog for someone else's game. I think it's incorrect more times than true.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby M1Tanker » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:06 pm

If looking for a pointing dog, find a breeding from lines with plenty of nose, point, and brains (biddable)...welcome!
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby 3Britts » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:00 pm

Georgia Boy wrote:I dont know if its just this part of the country or the old timers I came up around, but when they had a dog that wouldnt cut it hunting quail they would say it would make somebody a fine grouse dog.


My experience is that if a dog won't hunt quail, it won't hunt grouse in the woods, but if it will hunt grouse it will hunt quail. jmo
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ruffshooter » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:58 am

Alrighty: If you get a dog out of any good strong bird dog lines and raise it up in the grouse woods and teach it to command on a whistle. Chances are you will have a good grouse dog.

I have GSP and French Britts, (had american britts) hunt with folks that have GWP, GWHPG and Setters, seen pointers in the grouse trials. They all do it. Just work them and expose them to the bird you are going to hunt early.
I think that the French britt takes to hunting grouse quicker, (not that at 5 years old they are better than any of the other breeds but just take to it quicker) (i.e. just seem to have a knack for handleing them.) Most dogs learn how to handle them.
As for a quail dog not making it and being a good grouse dog, that is bunk. I took my grouse dogs to Kansas for pheasants, no problem there. While hunting and uncut milo field edge, the 2 dogs started point and walk, point and walk, then one of them circled around wide and pointed from 90 degrees the right, while the other was still on its path behind, (I think she was ground tracking) (at the time I thought they were working a running pheasant). They both were on point, Chris and I moved up and a covey of around a dozen Quail, exploded, we only managed to scratch down one, chris never seen quail so did not shoot. (he does not have dogs). This happened one more time, not quiet so pretty but same result. These were mine and my dogs first experiences with wild quail.
Point being jsut get the type of dog you want with strong lines, make sure the dogs parents show the traits you want. I like a grouse dog to work from 50 to 150 yards out. That same dog will work a wide open field from that 50 yards out to 200 or 300 yards. So get what you want and like. Just take them to the woods and let them learn.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mcbosco » Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:04 am

I can't speak for other parts of the country, but grouse is probably the only wild game bird that has a relatively stable population in the northeast, and I don't mean to imply they are abundant either. Woodcock are around as well but declining at a fast pace. I cant believe that New England is any different.

The few times I have been able to hunt wild grouse have been in upstate new york around the finger lakes with a guy that trains Springers & Spinone. They are skittish birds and have very low scent, so whatever dog you get it better have a monster nose and go about its business rather close and quiet.

You mentioned that the dog would quite of bit a work as family dog, so the brit, english setter, spinone are good choices for the northeast. The Brit is probably the best choice for most, and a great choice period, because of the medium size and availability. I like the traditional lines of setters, but thats me.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ruffshooter » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:19 pm

MSBOSCO, you need to get up to Moosehead, or Rangley or Eagle lake or New Portland or Stratton or washington county, Fryburg, Paris etc. It is all about habitat. Close working is not a prerequistie for a grouse dog. Good nose just like all other birds good to have. My GSP was a bullet in the woods, she came on grouse so fast that they would pop up into the trees and sit there stunned and confused as to what it was that jumped it. Always found her for the first two years with birds in the trees looking down on her. :) the britts all have quick pace and good ground coverage. Anyway enjoy the research and looking at potential parents of the pup.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mikmant » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:57 pm

Lots of good stuff here to chew over. Thanks for all your input. A few folks have sent me private messages about pups they have on the way. I'm no where near ready to make a choice, but thanks for the notes. I'm thinking I might do it next year. There is a place near by (Sharpe's Farm in Hopkinton)that does a lot of field trials in the summer. I don't know the sport but I'm going to make a point of going and watching some of the breeds mentioned here. I'll talk to a few of the handlers. What type of events should I be paying attention to? Or should I? A good dog in field trials doesn't necessarily mean a good hunter right?

French Brittanies are awful pretty.

Mike
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby raven3 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:58 pm

Mike
Go to a few of the AKC hunt tests at Sharpe's this spring. I believe that is what they hold there. Too small of an area for a trial. They do hold a brittany trial in Belchertown, MA in the spring, as well as a field trial. They have some field trials in East Windsor, CT in the spring as well. I think the Yankee chapter of NAVHDA does their field work at Sharpes.
Jen
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby BoJack » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:45 pm

No One breed is better then another.There are good grouse dogs in most of the Pointing breeds.No matter what the breed they have to have the genetics and Intelligence to learn how to handle the unpredictable tactics of the Ruff.They have to learn to point as soon as they hit the Scent cone and not crowd and make the bird flush wild, and that only comes with exposure and experience.There's dogs that are excellent on other species of gamebirds but can't handle grouse.A good grouse dog is worth it weight in Gold to most.And they say the best way to make a grouse dog is to hunt it on nothing but grouse.And there are dogs that have intelligence and adaptability enough to handle them All.It boils down to what breeds fits you and what you're satisfied with.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Yawallac » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:04 am

I prefer Pointers ...but who didn't know that! :lol:

Setters are the classic grouse dog, but Pointers have been doing very well in the cover dog trials the last few years. ...and you don't have to spend the entire night pulling burdocks out of a Pointer! :wink:





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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Grouse Dog Guy » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:04 am

mikmant wrote:Lots of good stuff here to chew over. Thanks for all your input. A few folks have sent me private messages about pups they have on the way. I'm no where near ready to make a choice, but thanks for the notes. I'm thinking I might do it next year. There is a place near by (Sharpe's Farm in Hopkinton)that does a lot of field trials in the summer. I don't know the sport but I'm going to make a point of going and watching some of the breeds mentioned here. I'll talk to a few of the handlers. What type of events should I be paying attention to? Or should I? A good dog in field trials doesn't necessarily mean a good hunter right?

French Brittanies are awful pretty.

Mike
New Hampshire


April 23th to concl. - Northern New Hampshire Bird Dog Club
Kilkenny Open Shooting Dog Classic & White Mountain Open Derby Classic
This trial will be full of grouse dogs and great people that can point you in the right direction.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby smokinsam » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:12 pm

I believe that the dog you pic and put the time,a bit of money,and a whole lot of patience into is the dog that will work for you.
My personal preferance is GSP'S and Brittany's just cause I like the biddability of most.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ryman Gun Dog » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:50 pm

mcmant,
I like the Ryman Setters and the Sure Thing Gordon Setters for Grouse and woodcock hunting in New England and Pa.
They get the job done big time and are fantastic dogs around the house. I have 6 Grouse dogs here at Pine Creek Grouse dog Trainers,
4 Setters, one Small Munsterlander and one new Weimar pup.
RGD/Dave

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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Mountaineer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:40 pm

Experience is more important in the development of a grouse dog than breed.
All pointing dogs will work after a fashion given opportunity and hunting in the gene pool.
Buy what you like to look at, what makes you grin and what fits your household and family.
Setters are classic but brits, pointers and gsps are very popular.
I prefer field setters(Needlepoint) at about 41#.
Labs can be effective but are a whole different experience.
Last edited by Mountaineer on Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Grange » Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:00 pm

As an avid grouse hunter I want a dog that can find and pin birds. My lab is a pretty good grouse dog and even better at phesant, and my young english setter did extremely well for her first season. The brittanies I hunt with also do very well with grouse especially the male. I've also been behind chesapeakes, golden retrievers, springers, german shorthairs, german wirehairs, and pointers and all found birds. I figure why settle for a just a good grouse dog when you can have one that also raises the hair on the back of you neck while hunting for grouse and woodcock. For me it's the english setter over any other breed that does that so that's why I went with an english setter for my last dog. That crack'n tail, graceful stride through the thick cover, and amazing point really puts a smile on my face.

When you're ready to find the right breed for you be sure to look at this link for information on pointer and englsh setter breeders if either of those breeds make your short list. In your area I'd definitely look at Long Gone Kennels in New Hampshire. They have a solid reputation for producing english setter grouse dogs.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Gordon Guy » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:29 pm

Gordon Setters!! They were hunting grouse in the US before there were many E. Setters around. The Ruff Grouse Society puts on an annual hunt near Grand Rapids MN and Dean Fries, with his Clearcut grouse dogs (Gordon's) takes the top honors almost every year.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby 3Britts » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:21 am

Ryman Gun Dog wrote:Image



I'd go with this fine looking animal. See how he gets the bird back to his master without mouthing it in the slightest. :wink:
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mikmant » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:44 pm

As I said before I've never worked with a pointing breed. I went to a seminar at the New Hampshire Fish and Game office a couple of years ago to watch a gentleman show how he trains his GSPs. He had a couple of pups and I was pretty impressed at how quickly he was able to get them to respond to his instruction. If I end up choosing pointing breed what books or training method should I use? I own several of Richard Wolter's books and a couple of companion videos.

Grange,
"When you're ready to find the right breed for you be sure to look at this link for information on pointer and englsh setter breeders if either of those breeds make your short list. In your area I'd definitely look at Long Gone Kennels in New Hampshire. They have a solid reputation for producing english setter grouse dogs."

Thanks for the link and the tip.

Mike
New Hampshire
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Grange » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:30 pm

mikmant wrote:As I said before I've never worked with a pointing breed. I went to a seminar at the New Hampshire Fish and Game office a couple of years ago to watch a gentleman show how he trains his GSPs. He had a couple of pups and I was pretty impressed at how quickly he was able to get them to respond to his instruction. If I end up choosing pointing breed what books or training method should I use? I own several of Richard Wolter's books and a couple of companion videos.



When I got my setter I read The Best Way To Train Your Gun Dog: The Delmar Smith Method book by Bill Tarrant. I also bought the DVD set The Perfect Start and Perfect Finish by Perfection Kennels.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Wog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:50 am

I've been doing some research for a good grouse dog recently myself. I've always been a big fan of the English Setter, but recently I started looking at French Spaniels (Epagneul Francais for the francophones) a little more closely. I know they're not too common in th US, but there are a number of breeders in Quebec and apparently they're known for their ability to hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock specifically. From what I understand they're an ancestor of the ES.

Anyone have any experience with this breed, and/or are able to recommend a reputable breeder?
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ryman Gun Dog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:13 pm

Sir,
Another dog that really handles spooky Grouse well is the Small Munsterlander, a German dog that is a very serious hunter.
RGD/Dave

Sampson on Grouse point in the Pa woods

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Sampson with his true double Grouse, taken with the L.C. Smith 16 Guage Hammer Gun

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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ruffshooter » Fri Feb 19, 2010 1:44 pm

Wog: Will be able to tell you first hand next fall as a buddy of mine a Long time GSP person is getting one this year. He based this choice on him getting older and slower. Still faster than me. But He really liked the hunt in the French Spaniel, he like the water work etc. He found that the dog he saw worked a good hard and thorough 50 to 200 yards in an open field. He is a NAVHDA judge and was judging the dog in a UT test I believe. He Still loves the GSP but he was totally capitvated by that French Spaniel.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Wog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:33 pm

Thanks Ruffshooter,

Do you know which breeder your friend is planning on getting his/her pup from? I'm starting to lean rather heavily towards a French Spaniel myself and would interested in the opinion of someone with more experience than myself. Slow and thorough is how I tend to hunt, so a dog that does the same would be a plus. I don't do any open field hunting - mostly grouse and ptarmigan in the brush, and occasionally some waterfowl. I'm finally in a position where I feel I can get a pup with good conscience (stable job/lifestyle, good location) and am hoping to make the addition sometime this summer.

Back on topic - Small Munsterlanders, English Setters, and Brittanys seem like the three that always come up when I see discussions about which breeds tend to be good pointing grouse dogs (the latter two perhaps moreso). I don't have any experience hunting over them so I can add anything from direct personal experience, but it may be a good starting point for further research.
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby mcbosco » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:38 pm

wog,

where do you live?
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Wog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:48 pm

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We have all the ptarmigan a dog could ever hope for, and a reasonable amount of grouse to boot.;)
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Ruffshooter » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:52 pm

Wog:

Bob is getting his in Quebec area of Canada, I believe. We also hunt full cover no fields mostly Ruff Grouse, and Woodcock and ducks.

I do not believe there are pups on the ground from this coming litter.

Rick
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Re: best breeds for ruffed grouse and woodcock

Postby Wog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 6:25 pm

All the breeders that I've come across have been based out of Quebec as well. Thanks to all those who left comments/pm's. I'll have plenty to think about in the upcoming months.

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