VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

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Higgins
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VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:19 pm

Here is Moose. He is a Chocolate Lab/German Shorthair mix. This is a clip from a video I'm working on. It shows Moose when he was learning my flush/stop cue.

I enjoy watching flusher/pointer mixes develop their particular hunting strategy. Will he stalk and point (like a pointer) or will he smell a bird, accelerate and flush (like a flushing breed)? Before I agree to work with these clients, I require that they accept whichever hunting strategy their dog chooses. If he decides, with some experience, that he wants to flush his birds, we will help him develop that strategy. If, on the other hand, he decides stalking and pointing is his preferred strategy, then so be it. What they all learn, regardless of their strategy, is that there is no chasing of birds. That will not lead to success.

I have one goal for all the dogs. Give me all you have, whatever that may be, every time. I want to see all the style, intensity and drive he possesses. Moose is a good example.

https://youtu.be/FHijKehimxw

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http://HigginsGundogs.com

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Featherfinder » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:57 pm

Mr. Higgins, for starters I thoroughly enjoy your posts and many of your concepts. Respectfully, they are intriguing.
My only concern with this one would be that I am unsure of which program to embark upon until I know what the dog conveyed (pointer vs flusher) OR, to keep it simple I might put a pattern on said dog. In this way, it wouldn't matter as much what the dog elected to do in any given circumstance.
What do you do when a dog of this nature switches it's preferred application (flusher-to-pointer-to flusher etc.). The only reason I ask is that, I prefer my pointing dogs take me to birds, meaning they don't pattern/quarter as much as they think their way to likely cover (target the objectives) at a range that suits the particular species/habitat (typically a much greater distance from the handler than that of a flushing breed).
Thanks for sharing Sir!

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Fri Mar 02, 2018 8:09 pm

Hello Featherfinder,

Good, thoughtful question. Before any steadiness training, I introduce these type of dogs to the field. Let them learn about the birds, play bump and chase. This gives me a good idea what strategies they prefer. You are right that I can have a lot of influence at this time regarding their hunting styles. I always try and keep it simple. In this case, I leave it between the dog and the birds. I'm just an observer. After a few flash points and chases with no reward, some will begin trying a stalking, pointing strategy. Sometimes, the flushing drive is so strong, some individuals will build more and more excitement with every flush (flushing strategy). As a handler, I watch carefully, from a distance. I look for the change in their energy when they get in a bird place. When their energy spikes (upon making scent), they will do one of two things. They will accelerate (flushing strategy) or decelerate (pointing strategy). When I see this, I know we're ready to begin the steadiness process.

I start by using a checkcord while working loose birds in the field. I begin to manage their success. The flushers will smell the bird, accelerate and give me that beautiful, aggressive flush. As soon as the bird flushes, I manage them with the checkcord to prevent any chasing. The shooter kills the bird, brings it back and gives it to the dog. Now we take a walk. With the pointing dogs, it starts out the same, with the checkcord. I always use good flying, wild acting birds. The dog smells the bird but instead of accelerating, he decelerates into a stalk or point. If he gets at all pushy, the bird flushed and he loses. At this point, I do something a bit different. I want all the pointing dogs to flush the birds, but only on my "alright" cue. When he is steady and on point, I say "alright". I go in with him and we flush the bird as you saw Moose and I do in the video. We both stop as soon as the bird is in the air. The shooter kills the bird and brings it back to the dog. We go for a walk. Doesn't take but a few birds and I can say "alright" from a distance and he will aggressively flush/stop all on his own.

The foundation of my method is based on building trust and cooperation through managing success (a bird in their mouth). It's exciting when they show me all their natural style and intensity. I get to see who they are when they have experienced no handler induced pressure. It's truly training with no handprint.

Higgins

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Trekmoor » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:36 am

I enjoyed the little film clip. What age do you think Moose will be before it is certain that he is a natural flusher rather than a natural pointer ? As you know the pointing instinct can be there right from the start or it can take until a dog is well over a year old before it seems to trigger.
If the dog decides to be a flusher , will you then have to train him to hunt closer in as a spaniel should do or are you not letting him develop any real range at present ?

I noticed the check lead and have very little experience of using one. I somehow manage to get dogs to hunt, point, hold point , flush on command and then stop to flush while seldom , if ever, using a checkcord .....is it really necessary ?

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:24 am

Early introduction to live game ''on sight'' before any flush stop has been conditioned usually develops a well known Hunting strategy called 'Chase' ,no matter the breed or mix (ime) ,so the check cord is just restraining the dog from doing so. Good that you can get game to stay like that ,rather than ............Run :wink:

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:40 am

Hello Trekmoor,

In my experience, once the dogs know what works, they rarely change strategy. This is especially true with the pointing dogs once they have built an association to the "alright" (flush/stop) verbal cue.

Once I show the dogs how to be successful with me holding the 12 foot checkcord, I begin dropping it and letting them drag it. They have built an association to success with me and the checkcord. Dragging it keeps them mentally closer to me without taking their focus.

As far as range is concerned, I can adjust that with how I handle them in the field. Basically, I handle the flushing dogs closer (within gunshot range). I don't use hand signals whistles or voice to handle. The dogs naturally look to my body movement. Here is a link to my handling video. https://vimeo.com/104148324



Hello Polmaise,

I use the checkcord early in training to slow the dog down so he can focus on what I'm showing him. Once he understands that steadiness leads to success, I drop the cord and let him drag it while we work a few birds. This is where Moose is in the video. He is free to move if he chooses to. You'll see he waits for my "alright" (flush/stop) cue. You're right about the bird standing there. We will often pursue a bird through two or three flushes. That's what we did here with Moose. This was the birds third flush. Often the birds will change strategy too. If flying didn't work and running didn't work they often try other things. The important thing is that it flushed well and we were able to reward the dog. :)

Higgins

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:24 pm

Higgins wrote:
Hello Polmaise,

I use the checkcord early in training to slow the dog down so he can focus on what I'm showing him. Once he understands that steadiness leads to success, I drop the cord and let him drag it while we work a few birds. This is where Moose is in the video. He is free to move if he chooses to. You'll see he waits for my "alright" (flush/stop) cue. You're right about the bird standing there. We will often pursue a bird through two or three flushes. That's what we did here with Moose. This was the birds third flush. Often the birds will change strategy too. If flying didn't work and running didn't work they often try other things. The important thing is that it flushed well and we were able to reward the dog. :)

Higgins
I use the 'whoa' to slow the dog down so he can focus on what I'm showing him . (well I don't really use a command 'whoa' ) I just let the dog figure it out with the bird , rather than have the restraint of a check cord, but hey' It's a cross breed ,Pointing on a seen bird . ...? rather than scent of a bird , by any breed. A strategy may be complex .I think not (imo) ..It's either going to point or it's not ,or it's either going to flush or it's not . Hunting and pointing and flushing and steady to wing and steady to shot and steady to fall may be a strategy that requires a process that is beyond one that is restrained from chasing rather than being trained ,but that may not be the hunting strategy for all.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Sat Mar 03, 2018 4:24 pm

It all boils down to one simple thing that the dogs need to understand.......Don't chase. From the dogs point of view, all the rules and definitions people use including, steady to flush, steady to shot, steady to fall, etc., are simply releases to chase (retrieve). To the dog, steady to flush means chase at shot, steady to shot means chase when the bird falls, etc.

For my personal dogs, in most cases I want them steady until I verbally release them to retrieve. I like to keep it simple.

Higgins

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:03 pm

Yea, I call it 'conditioning through phases' in a process .
Wow, I have a unique method that works .
Call it what you want. :mrgreen:

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:35 pm

I see my method more as being based on natural cause-effect scenarios with the freedom to learn through trial-error, and a wild acting bird being the primary teacher. Much different from obedience-repetition based methods.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:46 am

Higgins wrote:I see my method more as being based on natural cause-effect scenarios with the freedom to learn through trial-error, and a wild acting bird being the primary teacher. Much different from obedience-repetition based methods.

Higgins
Except in this strategy .
Quote
"I use the checkcord early in training to slow the dog down so he can focus on what I'm showing him"
It would be repetition based on obedience ?
I'm sure the same result shown in the clip would be achieved using a planted pigeon

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by crackerd » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:11 am

Robt., a "real" wesslpointer http://www.wesslpointer.com don't need no checkcord. Pedigree check, maybe...
polmaise wrote:
Higgins wrote:I see my method more as being based on natural cause-effect scenarios with the freedom to learn through trial-error, and a wild acting bird being the primary teacher. Much different from obedience-repetition based methods.

Higgins
Except in this strategy .
Quote
"I use the checkcord early in training to slow the dog down so he can focus on what I'm showing him"
It would be repetition based on obedience ?
I'm sure the same result shown in the clip would be achieved using a planted pigeon

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Featherfinder » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:16 am

Thanks for sharing Mr. Higgins. I get it. Good stuff especially where the dogs get to make the decisions, to an extent.
Keep sharing Sir.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:44 am

Featherfinder wrote:Thanks for sharing Mr. Higgins. I get it. Good stuff especially where the dogs get to make the decisions, to an extent.
Keep sharing Sir.
Feather finder, you make a good point. A major difference in my method is in the use of the checkcord. I always talk about giving the dogs free will to make choices and decisions. I use the checkcord in the beginning to slow the dogs down and show them how I can help them be successful in getting that bird in their mouth. I believe they need to see the final goal first, so they have the information necessary to begin making decisions. I want them to know what success looks like first (I guess from the point of view of the obedience based methods, I would be seen as training a dog backwards). Once they understand how to be successful, I drop the cord and give them their head. I never punish them for trying things or making mistakes. There is no "whoa". The only punishment used, if you could call it that, is in the lack of success. And that's between the dog and the bird. I'm still the good guy!

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:30 pm

I'm sure there is a difference between 'Back-chaining' and 'Back-peddling' :)

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:55 pm

For those that might still be interested in this thread. Here is the definition of Back-Chaining:

"Back chaining in training refers to teaching a dog the last step in a sequence of tricks or commands first, and then working backwards to get to the first step in the sequence. Back chaining is normally used when talking about dogs that are training for competitions, agility tests or an obstacle course. "

Sounds like obedience training. It's not what I do.

Higgins

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Featherfinder » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:34 pm

Thanks for clarifying Mr. Higgins. The application for most folk that hunt woodcock around here is that if they get out by themselves and their dog goes on point in dense cover, they are unable to flush and still get a decent shot. The reason is obvious. If they try to bust through nasty, dense, restrictive cover it's all they can do to mount their shotgun, never mind get a decent shot! So, the dog(s) you are developing have a practical place in the gun dog world.
I don't use my dogs that way but that doesn't undermine either the process or the practical application of your training strategy.
At my age, success has taken on a diverse definition that it did when I was 19. As such, I really enjoy a dog that is traditionally steady along with other aspects that are pleasing to me. It is not a right/wrong thing. It is more of a personal preference.
Again, I do see the practical aspect of what you have shared. I will likely learn something from it!
Keep sharing Sir.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by gundogguy » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:03 am

Higgins wrote:For those that might still be interested in this thread. Here is the definition of Back-Chaining:

"Back chaining in training refers to teaching a dog the last step in a sequence of tricks or commands first, and then working backwards to get to the first step in the sequence. Back chaining is normally used when talking about dogs that are training for competitions, agility tests or an obstacle course. "

Sounds like obedience training. It's not what I do.

Higgins
Right-on! Back chaining has been a way of life for me for decades.
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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by crackerd » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:49 am

polmaise wrote:I'm sure there is a difference between 'Back-chaining' and 'Back-peddling' :)
Hold on, Robt. Is "back-peddling" selling something back to somebody after they've sold "it" to you in the first place? Just need a clarification for my (and maybe gundogguy's) back-chaining edification. :wink:

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:10 pm

I'm pretty darn sure You ,me and Gundogguy know exactly what 'Back-chaining' in terms of Dog Training means .
No one including me, You or any one else can claim that 'their way' is unique.
When some folk start to play on variations (especially with written words) to justify 'Their' misinterpretation I call that Backpedalling . Politicians do it successfully .
.........
In the short clip ,we have a dog on a sight stop with a game bird that has already come across previously ! (btw) It wasn't even a Point ;) .
Fact No1 "That's what we did here with Moose. This was the birds third flush."
Now, this would definitely be Repetition and Obedience in any mans language ,especially if a check cord is used .
Fact No 2 . That is Classical Conditioning through repetition and in no way has anything to do with a 'Hunting strategy'
Fact No3 . "If flying didn't work and running didn't work they often try other things. The important thing is that it flushed well and we were able to reward the dog."
Now , this is definitely a defence strategy on the Birds part ,not a hunting strategy on the dog's part because it was on a check cord ! So it wasn't 'au naturel ' as the author would depict .
Fact No4. "It's exciting when they show me all their natural style and intensity. I get to see who they are when they have experienced no handler induced pressure. It's truly training with no handprint."
Well the author said it , But that ain't what's shown or 'Has been said previously' ..It Kinda contradicts the 'Vision' of 'My way' ?..Simply because there WAS an experience of Handler induced pressure ! The frigging check cord for one !!
..............
What Mr Higgins does with his dogs is admirable . Much of what he says and shows is admirable (imo) .
I have the greatest respect for any one working and training dogs of all breeds world wide.
'Back pedalling' is trying to get yourself out of a hole by digging deeper in the same hole MG. Some just stop digging and pop their head up to see the clouds :wink:

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:06 pm

I'm gonna make this easy. I no longer use "checkcords". That name causes confusion and conjures up images of obedience training. From this day forward, the rope I use with the dogs will be known as a "Higgins Learning Line". So let it be written, so let it be done. :D

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:24 pm

Amen Brother , and my collar is now known as the Brethren's shirt and my whistle is called the Polmaise Flute :lol:

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:32 pm

Now we're gettin' somewhere. :D

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by ezzy333 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 6:01 pm

And much of what Higgen's show is what many of us have done for years but once he does it, makes a video, it quickly becomes "Higgin's Method". I will admit there is a Higgins method of explanation of an old time and true method that is little different than common practice with many dog trainers..
http://www.perfectpedigrees.com/4genview.php?id=144
http://www.perfectpedigrees.com/4genview.php?id=207

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by gundogguy » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:43 am

ezzy333 wrote:And much of what Higgen's show is what many of us have done for years but once he does it, makes a video, it quickly becomes "Higgin's Method". I will admit there is a Higgins method of explanation of an old time and true method that is little different than common practice with many dog trainers..
Thank-you ezzy, I could not have said it better! By the way have heard about my methodology...The Justamuc method of dog training!
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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by crackerd » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:36 am

Higgins wrote:Now we're gettin' somewhere. :D
Not so fast, Professor - where's Eliza Doolittle figure into all this pronouncing of the "'Iggins Method?"

MG

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by gundogguy » Wed Mar 07, 2018 5:06 am

crackerd wrote:
Higgins wrote:Now we're gettin' somewhere. :D
Not so fast, Professor - where's Eliza Doolittle figure into all this pronouncing of the "'Iggins Method?"

MG
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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by JasoP » Wed Mar 07, 2018 11:13 pm

How anyone can whine about someone trying to help others train their gun dog on a gun dog forum is beyond ignorant. I am an inexperienced dog handler and have been consuming as much knowledge as I can for a few years. From my point of view,Higgins videos and website is night and day difference from any of the books I have read or most of the nonsense I read on here. Please keep doing what you are doing Mr. Higgins, it seems like the "many of us [that] have done [it] for years" crowd is jealous the diddn't create a video first.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Trekmoor » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:33 am

Jasop ..... I don't think anyone objects to Mr.Higgin's film clips. Personally I think they are often pretty good and are informative. What we do object to is his insistence that his way of doing things is a new "method."

Some of it may be but not all of it. The bit I didn't understand is the check -cord or rope or whatever being on the dog and yet the dog is said to be making it's own decisions. A dog with a check cord on is unlikely to feel it is a free agent.

I don't claim to have a "method" yet I very, very seldom ever put a check cord on a dog . My dogs still end up hunting game, pointing game, holding point , flushing only on command and then being steady to flush and to shot and to fall of game but I still don't claim a new method for many other people on this side of the pond do much the same thing .

Are my dogs "making their own decisions ?" I'm darned sure they are not ! I trained those dogs along with a great deal of help from the wild birds I hunt for, not to chase or to run in. It did, I think, take a good bit more time and walking than "The Higgin's Method" but in some ways what I do is closer to allowing a dog to make it's own decisions. There is very little that is truly "new" in what we do to train dogs.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by gundogguy » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:57 am

Trekmoor wrote:Jasop ..... I don't think anyone objects to Mr.Higgin's film clips. Personally I think they are often pretty good and are informative. What we do object to is his insistence that his way of doing things is a new "method."

Some of it may be but not all of it. The bit I didn't understand is the check -cord or rope or whatever being on the dog and yet the dog is said to be making it's own decisions. A dog with a check cord on is unlikely to feel it is a free agent.

I don't claim to have a "method" yet I very, very seldom ever put a check cord on a dog . My dogs still end up hunting game, pointing game, holding point , flushing only on command and then being steady to flush and to shot and to fall of game but I still don't claim a new method for many other people on this side of the pond do much the same thing .

Are my dogs "making their own decisions ?" I'm darned sure they are not ! I trained those dogs along with a great deal of help from the wild birds I hunt for, not to chase or to run in. It did, I think, take a good bit more time and walking than "The Higgin's Method" but in some ways what I do is closer to allowing a dog to make it's own decisions. There is very little that is truly "new" in what we do to train dogs.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Higgins » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:03 am

Hello all. I just posted a new topic: "The Unique Higgins Method, Falconry for Dogs". It might help explain why what I do is different. Hope to see you there.

Higgins

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by polmaise » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:57 pm


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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by crackerd » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:18 am

NO!, Robt., lurchers trained to pick cress or ferrets steady to flush...

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by mask » Fri Mar 09, 2018 1:56 pm

Any dog trainer today has a way of training derived or learned from other trainers. These put with his own ideas and a way of training make it his method. Brad has a way of training that works for him and he makes a living at it. I have trained my own and others for over sixty years and I still learn a tidbit here and there from trainers today. Take his method or any method for what it is worth to you and if you don't like leave it alone.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by Featherfinder » Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:31 pm

Mask, that is well said. Here is something to consider. As mentioned, a good part of what we do today emanated from past practices. And yet, we continue to evolve, migrate towards better ways, better methods, a better understanding. I often have shared my learning experiences with folk that solicited assistance in their particular challenge. I'd love $5 for every time I hear, "Oh....yeah....I do the same thing sort of." ????......ok.
While many of our processes stem from those that went before us, sometimes those "subtle changes" are only subtle to the untrained eye.

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Re: VIDEO: Choosing a Hunting Strategy

Post by mask » Sat Mar 10, 2018 3:40 pm

Can't argue a bit with you on that Featherfinder. Good points.

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