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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Oakridge Sportsmen’s Club Upcoming Shoots and Events

Tue, June 11, 2013

The most exciting shoot and one that still needs participants is the youth shoot on July 20th.  Please sign up your youngsters age 10-16 for this great event and at a cost of 10$ for shells, food, gun use, and equipment—it simply can’t be beat!  Participants must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and they must have eye and ear protection.  Contact Dewey for registration details: 309-208-2624.

Other upcoming shoots at Oakridge:

6-15 Midwest Food Bank

6-22 Riding Therapy and Delta Water Fowl

7-20 St. Jude and Youth Shoot

8-9 MS Shoot

8-10 Greater Peoria Contractors

8-17 Bill Brady Shoot

8-22 Farm Bureau Shoot

8-24 Rocky Mountain Elk

8-25 Pekin Mission

9-7 Boys and Girls club

9-19 Easter Seals

9-21 Good Sheppard’s School

9-26 Easter Seals Lyle Finch

9-28 Pekin First Baptist Church

Again, contact Dewey at the number above for more information.


IL Conservation Foundation Banquet This Saturday in East Peoria

Fri, May 03, 2013

Join the Illinois Conservation Foundation this Saturday, May 4 at 5:30 p.m. for the annual Peoria-area Illinois Outdoor Hall of Fame Fundraiser.  The event will again be held at the Stoney Creek Inn, 101 Mariners Way, East Peoria.  Join the ICF and supporters from throughout the state for dinner and a chance to win door prizes and a great selection of auction items including hunts, outdoor recreation gear, and youth and ladies’ items.  Tickets are $45 per person in advance, $60 per person at the door, with tables of 10 for $425.  For tickets or more information, phone 217-785-2003 or check the ICF website at This is a great organization that supports youth hunting in our great State of IL—well worth the time and effort. . .

Parting shots:

Much to the horror of my loving wife, a wandering raccoon found it’s way into our backyard last night.  Dog:1 Raccoon: 0.  He really doesn’t like raccoons, although he’s tolerant of opossums (because they play dead and don’t fight back).

One gobbler down on public ground.

Big yellows in central IL in the past few days—good luck


Hunting Dogs Part 2 - Getting Started

Sat, April 27, 2013

My buddy’s lab of over 12 years finally passed this winter and his family was pretty tore up about it.  This little bugger was the new addition a few months later. . .

We got to talking about first steps with a hunting and family dog so I thought I’d write something up based on my experience with puppies.  Here goes the list for year one of a puppy’s life:

I start by warning not to push the puppy—let them be puppies.  Teach them slowly and don’t use harsh corrections.  Pushing the puppy to grow up does no one any favors.

Whoa/sit/stay: Whatever you prefer to teach (each of them or just one), you can easily start by commanding the puppy, holding them with one hand, and setting their food bowl down in front of them.  Use a release command such as okay. Stay consistent with your release command.

Come: Let the puppy drag a 20 foot check cord while you’re out and about.  Every once in a while call his name and pull him back to you as you say come.  Do this multiple times and especially when he’s distracted or really interested in something while out.

Heel: I always prefer to use a prong collar (spike collar) over a choke.  Hold the leash at the exact length you want the dog to heel at and let the prongs do the correcting.  Command “heel” when he’s at your knee and doing it right.  Move to taking sharp left and right turns unexpectedly.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly the prong works.

Checking in: Hide from your buddy multiple times while out running and once you’re sure you’ve got the come command down.  Say nothing—just hide and make him get nervous and search for you.

E-collar: Wait on it no matter how tempted.  There is not magic time period in months, but the dog should know each command before using the e-collar to reinforce.

Jumping up: Start early and correct often.  Get your whole family to correct also. Knees to the chest always worked for me.

Gun shots: Start with a cap pistol and wait for them to be paying attention to something else.  Shoot behind your back and when you shoot, pretend like nothing happened.  Move up in caliber sloooowwwlllyyyy.  Don’t rush it—it can be life altering and dog ruining if you do it wrong and rush.  Some dogs aren’t afraid of anything right out of the box—others can be screwed up immediately.

Water: Puppies generally don’t like cold water.  Wait for it to warm and then get in the water yourself and coax. Start in shallow water.  Other dogs swimming also help.  Don’t throw them in—seriously—bad idea.

Retrieving: Do NOT go overboard with retrieving, especially before retrieve training (as I would suggest doing).  I’ve seen some natural retrievers but every one I’ve seen has also failed at least one retrieve and it’s usually when you down a duck in water over your waders and 10 degrees and all you have is waders or a dog to get the duck. The start to retrieving would be a couple throws down a narrow hallway so that the dog cannot get away from you once he gets it in his mouth.  Lots of praise when he comes back.  Do this every once in a great while.  Retrievers do not need a lot of retrieves—the more retrieves in which a dog has a chance to get away with the object, the more you reinforce bad behavior.

Hunting: Hunting your dog in year one is not a bad idea, but you must be hunting for the dog, not for yourself to do this right.  Keep the hunting to perhaps one or two other friends so as not to spook pup on guns and overwhelm him.  Focus on the dog and treat him exactly as you do during training.  This is tough, but letting him act badly while hunting will take you two steps back.  My next article will explain some tricks for first time hunts with pup on various game. . . .

Praise and Correction: Err heavily on the side of praise when it comes to dog training.  Like any kind of training (kids, employees, etc. . ) there comes a time when harsh (and I use that word lightly) correction is needed.  70% praise, 30% correction comes to mind if you want numbers.  Even mentally tough dogs can be broken if corrected too harshly. 

Get the puppy out around people, cars, other animals, at night, during the day, in fields, around and in water (but don’t push).  One caveat: Be careful of large game birds on a really young and timid pup so as not to spook them.  The point of this paragraph is exposure and it’s extremely important when they are young. If you do nothing else when they’re puppies, get them out!

Join a dog training and testing chapter and meet people who know more than you do to teach you the right way to train a dog.  NAVHDA and local retriever clubs are perfect examples.  Start your puppy in basic obedience classes with other breeds of dogs to socialize and help them learn basics. 

Speaking of NAVHDA—here comes my shameless plug.  May 25th is the Spoon River Chapter’s first training day at Oakridge Sportsman’s Club near Mackinaw, IL.  Check out our website for more information:  We welcome anyone who wants to learn how to train a pointing dog.  Testing is your option, not a necessity. We offer access to experienced trainers, incredible training grounds, game and training birds, cool events, and new hunting buddies.  Give us a try for $35 a year.