Howdy fellow gundog addicts. NDT from Devils Lake ND here. Posted a bit on the hunting forums in 07' and have been lurking a bit since.
I am an am gundog trainer, prefering to work with labs. Being in DL my girls Josie (Jacie's Dakota Gold) and Sunny (Gabbriella's Dakota Sunrise) get a lot of waterfowl work. This year was a bit slow by our standards and the girls split 150 some odd retrieves.
Really interested to learn how living in Alaska affects your training & hunting. About all we have to worry about down here is the occasional snake when hunting upland out west or the dogs getting cut running into a fence. A few years ago while hunting sharps in Sept. about 30 miles east of my farmstead, Josie and I did run smack into a paddle racked bull moose bedded in a patch of red willow out in a CRP field. Josie was used to our horses and I think she thought it was one as she ran right up to it. Was an interesting situation to back out of. 1-1/8 oz loads of #7.5s do not give a feeling of security when your well meaning lab is jacking around a moose!
Anyway, just wanted to introduce myself & say howdy...
And "Howdy" back at you, sir! I'd have to say the inclement weather is the top problem facing us in terms of getting out to hunt or train dogs. We cram a whole lot of stuff into the warmer months. I'm one of those who will get out and hunt my Brittanys throughout the long winter when the temps moderate enough to do so. I hit it hard again during the spring hunting months as well. Moose don't really pose a really big problem. Same can be said for bears, wolves and coyotes. They tend to stay away. Having said that...my now 2 1/2 year old Brittany had a run in with a bull moose of some 50 inches two years ago. Bull was in full rut and wanted nothing to do with my pup out looking for grouse in the aspen. The bull did charge the pup and try and stomp him until I drew near and discouraged the moose from such activity. My oldest dog Buddy, now 13, pointed a grizzly on a moose kill many years ago when I was some 2 miles down into a wilderness valley, alone as usual, and armed with my favorite 16 gauge sxs and one ounce of 7 1/2s in each barrel. But generally nothing bad happens and my dogs and I hunt more than the average hunter does.
Hi NDTerminator! Don't have much to add, but I find the short daylight hours & footing also put a crimp on training. Have had dogs tear up feet on ice or hardpacked snow (even bare, frozen ground), wrench wrists & shoulders, and take some real ugly tumbles. When it's really cold, outdoor training tends to be segmented (10-15 min. outside, in the house to thaw out, and repeat), and try to avoid long sits or honors. I've sent the youngest Chesapeake to a pro in Idaho in Feb./Mar. for a few months the last 2 years. While it's expensive, the dog gets trained when I just can't give her the training she needs, lots of birds, well-cared for, she's happy & is not a sulker/pouter when corrected, plus is not bouncing off the walls here.
Haven't been to Devils Lake, or North Dakota for that matter, for about 35 years, but my parents were born & raised just down the road from you (Sheyenne & New Rockford). Small world!
Have a wonderful Christmas & stay warm!
Winter months do present there own challenges. For me I focus more on the quality of the training grounds. Ice, amount of snow, the snow and ice texture and etc. This year has been more ice than snow. I am near Anchorage so I don't get the temperature extremes those in the interior do. My dog truck is heated so I am in the cold longer than the dogs are.
Electronic launchers do not work in the cold. Just too frustrating. I abandon all use of them until things turn to water again. So having throwing buddies is a must.
I also travel out during the winter when I can. I have trained on the east coast where I have family. Sc,Nc and Va.
For the last two years I have gone to Ore and Wa for early spring training. Mainly to get the dogs into water training much sooner and have them better prepared for the competitions that occur during the summer. I have another trip planned already for this season as well.
As far as summer.....well daylight is not an issue. Very long days. Mosquitos can be bother some for the dogs. So rubbing them down with some bug repellent is necessary at times. Never had issues with moose. I can only recall one instance where I encountered a bear. Pretty interesting and might have gotten ugly but it didn't. I had walked in with a group of 8 retrievers to a pond for training. I staked them out and worked them one at a time on my drill. The dogs where whining and making noise because they all wanted there turn. I think that is what got the bears attention. I noticed the bear in the grass coming along the shoreline towards the dogs I had staked out. So I went back over to them quickly. By the time I had gotten back to them the bear was only 50 yds away. I figured I didnt have much time to make a decision so I just started acting like a mad man. Yelling, throwing , thrashing sticks into the trees and tossing things toward the bear. It worked....the bear just huffed and walked back the way it came. I took control of the dogs, kept them real close and made my way back to the truck. I left all my other equipment there. Went back a few days later to train again but this time with a shotgun. But I haven't had an encounter like that since.