One of my favorite things about our dog is that she falls into the ‘versatile‘ hunting dog category. This means that even though she is a German Shorthair Pointer, she does more than find and point at birds. She will also flush and retrieve them, she loves working in water and she likes finding other small game. While generally quail or some other upland bird species is our goal, we do come across many other small game species as we search out quail.
Most of these small game animals are often over looked, but no less edible and delicious than their ungulate or winged counter parts. The most commonly seen on our outings is the jackrabbit. More often than not these I see these lighting fast hares as they rocket off between the brush never to be seen again. That’s where the dog comes in. Similar to finding a quail she will begin to ‘get birdy’ when one of these is nearby, indicating I should get ready as well. When we see what has her so excited we have her hold while we pursue the jackrabbit. Mainly so when we shoot at the hare, the dog isn’t running right behind her and is behind where we are shooting (this is less of an issue with birds because they are airborne). A well trained bird dog can easily transform into a well trained small game dog with a little encouragement.
Many who run shorthairs and other versatile breeds for birds limit it to just that, birds. They do not want them off busting rabbits or treeing squirrels. However doesn’t that take away some of the versatility from the dog? I understand some of the more competition minded trainers keep their dogs focused on birds because that is the name of the game. This is no knock against these dogs or trainers because they do incredible work and yes birds are the goal when I head out. I do however, want a dog that will maximize our opportunity to find, harvest and recover game.
Luckily our dog found a jack rabbit and turned a birdless skunk, into a delicious jack rabbit dinner!