Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pointing Dogs - Their Training and Handling

Earl Crangle could be described as a second generation old time pointing dog pro. In the 1960's he began to record his thoughts and experiences in training and handling dogs for many years, beginning as a boy working with his father, Hall of Famer George M. Crangle. 

I have a copy of Earl's book, Pointing Dogs - Their Training and Handling  - and have read and re-read the book over the past several years. There is no hollow advice, no tricks, no bullshit. Just solid advice for the bird dog enthusiast. 

One of the intriguing topics is his "Mexico Method" of training bird dogs. Earl lived and trained in Mexico for a number of years, and is partly responsible for the popularity of field trials in Mexico. Here's how he describes the Mexico Method...

"The quail season in Mexico opens November 1 and closes April 1. Thus, there are five months of open, legal shooting per year. I hunted in the states of Morelos, Veracruz,  Chiapas, Tamaulipas, and Yucatan and had the use of thousands and thousands of acres of beautiful quail hunting areas that today still hold an abundance of birds. When the season opened,. I usually hunted two hours in the early morning and the last two hours before dark, sometimes accompanied by friends. Many days I found twenty bevies in the morning and an equal number in the afternoon...


If I have young dogs, from 10 to 18 months of age, I take them along on my hunting trips and brace them with an experienced, fully broke shooting dog. I never run one for less than an hour; and if hunting conditions are good, I let them hunt for two hours. The young dog is allowed to do what he wishes on his birds. If he points, I will kill a bird and take him in to find it. If my experienced dog finds game, I walk up in shooting range in case the birds should flush, and then wait for my young dog to come in... I do not try to hold my young dogs steady to either wing and shot. If they bump a covey or a single bird, I say nothing and resume hunting. Within a week or ten days of this hunting under the gun, most of the youngsters will hold all the birds they point until I flush, breaking to wing and shot. Almost all will back the older dog immediately and remain backing until the birds are flushed.

Starting young dogs in this way has produced for me bird dogs as fine as I have probably seen...

In my opinion, this is required reading for a bird dog person, anywhere and with any breed.


Andrew Campbell said...

Mike: on your recommendation, I just picked up a copy and am working through it. Like Dave Walker's book, it's obvious that Earl has spent a lot of time around dogs and loves them dearly. Sadly, the 'Mexico method' is a little like Ben Williams's 'Montana method' (my phrase) in that the more wild birds you can get a dog into, the more likely that dog will develop into a first-class bird-dog. For those of us with limited wild bird training opportunities, the lesson I take from both is that the earlier you can get a young dog into birds, even if stocked (although ideally not by the owner), the greater your chances of success.


Mike Spies said...


I agree that wild bird training is tough for probably 90% of bird dog owners. I have a few places I can do this, but requires me to drive over 50 miles each way.

Alternatives that I have used include taking my puppies on hunting trips and running them every morning in areas with wild birds... no shooting, just working the puppy.

Another alternative is a professional's Summer Camp. I had a young Ted with Keith Hickam in SD last year, and it helped - although Ted had ad much previous experience with wild birds. I have Tommy at Summer Camp with Randy anderson and Tony Falley in ND right now. This will be his first real experience with wild birds, since he was born last August and (obviously) too young to take hunting last season.

Takes birds to make a bird dog.

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...


I enjoy your blog as well! Thanks for the comments on mine. I'm having dinner with Dale (from LoBank) and his son David tomorrow night in Denver. I first met him through the link from your blog! I'd love to share a day or two in the uplands with you some day! As I've told Andrew...anytime you'd like to chase quail in Kansas or Arizona...or chukars in Idaho or Oregon...I'm in!


Andrew Campbell said...

Mike: we were lucky with Jozsi's birthdate in May... he got into his first quail (at his older brother's hunt test) at 14weeks old... and all last fall I rotated hunting with the two dogs, especially if I knew we were getting into pockets of birds to get him used to searching cover. Jozsi pointed (and retrieved!) his first shot quail 2days shy of 5mos old -- and got points on pheasant and migratory woodcock, as well. While Momo was being force-fetched over the winter, Jozsi spent those weeks at training camp being put out into a bird-field and encouraged to run. And holy heck! it shows.