A look into the World of Spaniel Training and Hunting with Spaniels
Being from the South and hunting in South, GA typically means coming across three aspects of upland bird hunting: Piney Woods, Pointers, and Pocket Rockets. By Pocket Rockets I really mean Cocker Spaniels who are typically carried as the icing on the cake for plantation style hunts where pointers point and flushers flush…and nothing more. It is customary to see Cockers and Springers released after the GPS collar indicates a dog is on a staunch point and, on account of many fascinated individuals, the Spaniel breeds really cause a ruckus in the brush, flushing bird after bird and throwing out everything but the kitchen sink inside that covey.
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*Photo by Christina Power Portraits
But after my conversation with Todd Agnew of Craney Hill Spaniels, now a resident Spaniel trainer here in Georgia, it seems that we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. Todd addresses the notion of pairing pointing dogs and spaniels in this episode along with many other aspects of the spaniel breeds, noting them to be much more efficient dogs off the wagon and on foot questing for birds as they were originally intended.
We talk about training spaniels as multifaceted dogs that challenge our ideas of the game finding abilities of the breed and what it takes to develop a High Point and Open Champion. Todd has been published in a number of outdoor publications such as Country Sports and Country Life magazines and published his own literature, Spaniel Training by Todd Agnew, in order to educate and coach those who are interested in developing a solid foundation for their dog.
I was also interested in figuring out many off the nuances of spaniels such as the physical variances from the United States and across the pond and the differences in their uses. Todd is also supported by his wife Christina who has also been integral in photographing and capturing the allure of Todd and his spaniels along with the lifestyle of training in the South. He has been an advocate for teaching owners and handlers in order to fuel them into competing in spaniel trials and test and see their dogs’ success.
Much of the conversation with Todd is studied and to-the-point, as Todd has been invested with the spaniel breeds for years after decided to veer away from the conventional 9-to-5. It was truly an honor to be educated by Todd and I encourage anyone looking into a spaniel of any stature to speak with him and learn about their traits and temperaments while training.
Listen to the last episode: Dr. Emerson Cochran – A Retrospective of Georgia Bobwhite and Bird Dogs
Facebook: Craney Hill Kennels
Durrell Smith is a 28 year old Georgia native, visual artist, wing shooter, and dog handler. While creating compelling ink and watercolor illustrations based on his field experiences and hunting dogs, he also runs a podcast called The Gun Dog Notebook, which can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. Aside from hunting upland game and waterfowl, he participates in Hunt Tests with his Labrador Retriever. As a first generation hunter, Durrell seeks to learn and contribute to the community by connecting with visionaries and veterans within the bird dog community who are willing to share stories and knowledge about the various breeds, creating a bridge to welcome new and novice dog handlers to the gun dog community.