Casper: Here is a version of Tak's suggestion with a little more detail. It is taken from a document I wrote for my clients a number of years ago.
Disked birds are a term I have coined for a technical modification I have created to the “carded” bird technique used to make non-covey or non-homing training birds recyclable. Not everyone has access to wild birds whenever certain training sessions are called for in the development of your bird dog. Not everyone can house homing pigeons or set up a recall pen situation yet wants the benefit of a “soft” planted bird that will flush as close to wild. Hampering the birds ability to fly very far yet be able to get up without hindrance, as a wild bird would, are great benefits to a trainer. Trainers for decades have been creating drag and using gravity to fatigue different bird species (quail, chukar and pigeons) so the bird could simulate the flush of a wild bird yet is recoverable for future reuse. The common method was to use cardboard in the shape of a rectangle of approximately 8”X12” dimensions to create this drag and weight. All materials have limitations and I found cardboard to be easily affected by water (rain or ponds) and too easily bent therefore loosing the drag benefit offered from a flat resistant surface. I also experienced the square corners snagging more often than what I perceived a round or disk shape might. I became aware of a material called Coraplast years ago which researching materials to use for solving various challenges in housing and transporting my hawks, falcons and owls. Coraplast is simply a “plastic” corrugated cardboard. It is much more durable than cardboard yet possesses approximately the same weight. Combining the durability of the Coraplast with a less snag resistant shape (circular) I hit upon a modification that seems superior to the one of old.
I made a few other small modifications that aid in the use of this “system”. Obviously the disks can be created in any practical size. Quail need less drag and gravity to bring them back to ground than pigeons. So I cut disk of 4”, 6”, 8”, and 12” and place a 3/8” hole in the center of all except a few of the 4” disks. These 4” disks I call my base disks and they have a 12” line (any longer increases the risk of tangling on equipment or low bushes yet doesn’t increase the effect of the system) fastened to the center of the disk using a small hole and simple knot to create a size that cannot be pulled back through the center hole. At the other end of the line I attach a quick opening fishing swivel. The reason for the fishing swivel? To reduce tangling and improve attachment ease to the bird’s leg. Many a potential training bird has escaped while the trainer is attempting to “tie” the string to the bird. When the training session is over and the bird recovered removed of the disk system is also very easy because of the clip-fastening portion of the fishing swivel. Because of the holes in the larger sized disks a larger disk (if needed) can be slipped over the line to increase drag and weight. One final modification I implemented was the use of brightly colored Coraplast. This aids in locating the down bird and yet seems to be more difficult for the dogs to see while the bird is planted or in the launcher.
Disked birds can be used in combination with launchers but care should be taken to have a training area devoid of trees that may allow the bird to roost out of reach or worse yet get hung up for a most disrespectful death.
William L. Dove © Copyright 1999-05 Owner and Operator of Lonesome Dove’s Kennel, Lonesome Dove’s Training Diary and Lonesome Dove’s Discussion Group.