Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Kazakh Bird Dog

When I got Ataika from Kazakhstan years ago her people insisted that a good tazi would also work as a bird dog to the gun, and wouldn't need much training. Atai has always worked as a hare courser and a falcon's partner (see last weekend's post) and during the one month she was taken out with a shortwing (a Harris) instantly adjusted her range and behavior to that too-- I'll put a photo below, at the end, as a reminder.

But starting in her second year and noticing her instant adaptation to whatever was going on, I began to take her out with the gun, exhorting her only to "hunt close" She like most of her kind was already a natural retriever. I shot a few rabbits and birds, and with no further ado she became as good a bird dog as my spaniels were, and as most of my friends' labs (barring water-- a certain desert fastidiousness still prevails there!) She hunts in shotgun range, checks cover, flash points and flags, usually-- she uses her good judgment whether it is necessary-- only chases birds after the shot.

She will be seven this year and I rather take this all for granted, but I sometimes get the feeling bird dog friends are a shade skeptical. This weekend, pursuing an article, I wanted to take out the four pound English .410 "one- hand" gun that has been hanging around on- spec for months. Photo op!

Unfortunately the Government trapper was in action on our preferred ranch coverts, so I went to a heavily hunted place and came up dry. But I think her style will leave little to doubt.

Heading out:

Closing up as we enter cover:

Checking carefully:

Coming in; no treat even needed:

And the gun-- yeah, this one:


And one of Atai with the Harris a couple of seasons back-- something I may now try with my own HH.

I should add: in none of these photos am I giving orders, telling her to heel, saying "hunt close" even. She is far past my commanding her to do anything but come in at the end of the day-- then, she can be a little reluctant IF we haven't caught anything! Otherwise a simple "Good girl Taik" suffices.


Janeen said...

Nice dog!

I find it interesting (and unfortunate) that landraces that can serve several different needs for us have been replaced in most cases today by narrowly specialized 'pure' breeds. Not just of dogs but livestock as well.

Teddy said...

I have always found the old bitches seem to know just what is needed in a hunting situation, no matter what the quarry. They pace themselves, adjust to conditions and just go ahead and get the job done with little or no instruction from the handler.

Josh said...

What a great dog! It's truly amazing just how powerful our overspecialization fetish can be, eh? Thanks for the eye-opening post.

I've wanted to mention my dog to you, Stephen, and this seems like a great time.

She's now going on 12 years old, and so doesn't hunt anymore, and she'd always been a little gun-shy, but she regularly out-hunted the purebred labs and pointers with whom she occasionally rubbed elbows. She wouldn't do water, either, but would push coveys of quail to me, sniff out the only rooster in miles of barren California corn cover, and run down birds like mad.

She's a golden retriever/border collie mix.

Retrieverman said...


A golden/border collies sounds like a great dog. I've written about that very cross on my blog. I've often thought that crossing would produce something near a super retriever.

I am not a fan of overspecializing dog breeds.

I have also written about a greyhound family (which included one "Newfoundland" derived Lurcher):

My own golden, who is of mixed English lines, wishes that she had been born a saluki, because she is a coursing dog, just with the wrong conformation. She disdains the retrieve, although she will on occasion humor me.

So unlike my first dog, who was a true golden retriever.

BorderWars said...

I often wonder if there's some cognitive hitch that prevents people feeling comfortable with landraces and more nebulous definitions for what constitutes a breed.

Division and exacting definitions seem to be the greater arc of dogdom versus versatility or diversity. It's a shame that there are vocal groups out there who want to split up the sight hounds by any metric possible, especially country.

Perhaps the desire for being a big fish in a smaller pond, for greater control, is too tempting for some breeders, thus they must divide before they can conquer.