Dove hunting is a difficult skill to master. Many hunters try for years, and yet success still eludes them. The best dove hunters know to watch and observe the bird. Finding the bird’s home territory, when they arrive and where they’ll feed, are all things a good hunter knows. Dove hunting dogs can be a great asset to the hunt, but they’re useless if the hunter doesn’t have a basic knowledge of his target.
There are many characteristics that a good bird dog must possess; obedience, trainability, and one of the most important things, especially in the case of dove hunting, is a dog with a gentle mouth. Some dogs have a mouth so gentle they are able to carry around an egg for a long period of time without even cracking it. This is a high standard to meet, but demonstrates the ability of a truly great dog. When shopping for a hunting dog, know that just because a dog excels at field trial games, doesn’t mean he’ll excel in the wild. This is a heated debate among game hunters, and an article from Quail Unlimited Magazine in the Jan/Feb 2002 issue flushes the debate out thoroughly.
A new breed of dove hunting dog that’s came to the forefront is the Boykin spaniel. They are a relatively small dog once used for flushing out turkey. Hunters soon realized though that they flushed out the whole flock, not just a single bird. It wasn’t until years later that wise hunters realized that the Boykin could be a great hunting dog for other types of fowl. Since then the Boykin has soared in popularity in the South, where dove hunting is favored among hunters.
The Boykin is known for working close to the game, and in a more relaxed manner than the upland dogs. The Boykin is also great because of it’s smaller size; they are better able to travel in boats than the Retriever or Brittany which is about 40lbs heavier, and they work well as a family pet in the off-season. Hunters are also using the Boykin for upland game such as pheasants, quail, and grouse.
The Boykin has emerged as a superior bird dog, particularly for smaller fowl. They possess a gentle mouth, and because of their small size, work well for hunting in a variety of conditions. They have a sweet temperament, making them a great choice for a family dog, and an excellent choice for the dove hunter.