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Scott Rall: My bad luck continues

SCOTT RALL Daily Globe outdoors columnist When you consider yourself a pretty dedicated pheasant hunter, you end up with lots of dogs. I made the statement way back when that I did not understand why anyone would need more than one dog. After my ...

SCOTT RALL

Daily Globe outdoors columnist

When you consider yourself a pretty dedicated pheasant hunter, you end up with lots of dogs. I made the statement way back when that I did not understand why anyone would need more than one dog.

After my one dog was cut in a fence on day three of the season, I knew why I needed two dogs.  After I hunted on a hot day in October and two hours into the day both of my dogs were shot, I knew why I needed more than two dogs.  Now I have four Labradors and a rat terrier.  My son’s dog is home from Denver for the season, so now I have five hunting dogs that all love their jobs and can’t wait to show me what they know.

When you get used to having lots of dogs around, you get pretty good at taking care of the day-to-day injuries that they sustain in a normal hunting day. For most folks, that's a first-aid kit you buy in the store with the basics included.  

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When you get as many dogs as I have, even the minor injuries that require a veterinarian can start to add up. The more intense the dogs you own, the more injuries you will have to deal with.

Most dogs get what I call “wire wise.” This knowledge results in a let-up on the throttle when you need to cross or go under a fence.  I spend my days removing barbed wire from wildlife habitat, and it is one of my favorite things to do. Others spend their lives putting up new barb wire for their livestock needs. I try not to hunt in areas that have lots of fences.

Last weekend while hunting in Presho, S.D., with some guys I knew and some I didn't, a rooster jumped out of the road ditch as we were walking back to the truck and headed across the field.  One member of the group shot that bird across the road, which I would have never done, and my No. 1 dog Tracer, who has no gear other than super high, raced to the fall and in the process piled into a fence at full speed.  The result was two tears --  one in the crease on his front left leg and the other in the front of his right shoulder.

For almost every other dog owner this would have ended the hunt for the day, and the hunter and the dog would have been on the road to the closest vet. I, on the other hand, took pause. I looked over the wounds and saw they were both clean cuts. I rinsed these with sterile saline and then went to my first-aid kit and got out the skin stapler. This is used to close cuts and wounds and is a substitute for a needle and thread.

I carry a needle and thread for use in areas where a staple won't work. It was a minute or two and Tracer was treated in the field but was out of the hunting rotation for at least 7-10 days.

It has been a week and I looked at his wounds today and they are healing nicely, but he will still miss this weekend’s hunts. I have told you many times how bad of luck I have.  This accident happened on the first walk of the first day of this long-planned trip to South Dakota. I was glad I had other dogs.

Being able to care for your animals yourself is nice, but having a stapler was not the only piece of equipment needed in this situation.  A dog’s natural instinct is to lick the wounds.  This act will result in all the staples or stitches being licked out before the end of the first day.

The normal fix for this is an Elizabethan collar.  They are the big plastic cone that a dog wears.  Everyone has seen one and they work fine.

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The issue is the dog cannot go in and out of a kennel and they end up running into everything. They hate wearing one and they are usually just miserable when doing do.

There is a fix for this problem and that is a vest made by a company called Sylmar Dog Gear Co. They make all kinds of vests and other protective gear.  My dogs wear protective vests all the time, but most vests cover just the chest and stomach area. Very few cover the entire front of the dog’s chest.

For everyday wear, the full body vests just don't seem to work for me.  They rub the dog’s fur and underarms when worn for long periods  of time. The full front body vest works perfect for an Elizabethan collar replacement. The dog is usually on light duty as they recover from their injury, so there is very little exertion and this eliminates the rubbing in the underarm area. It keeps the dog from licking the injured spots and allows the dog to live a pretty normal life while sitting on the bench during their period of injured reserve recovery.

Tracer just hates sitting in the truck when the other dogs go hunting, so he gets lots of extra understanding in the whining and carrying on department during this two-week period.

His son Raider, who is 11 months old now, just got home from one month on a hunting preserve in Gettysburg, S.D. My training partner Thad Lambert, who guides at Paul Nelsen Farms there, took him along and hunted with him for one month. A young dog is always hunted with two other experienced dogs to ensure the clients get a great hunting experience, but Raider did get to make some retrieves and got lots of bird scent in his nose over those four weeks.

I am heading to Redfield, S.D., on Saturday to hunt with a local there who has roots in Worthington.  Mary Larson's son, Jeff Hansen, farms near Doland, S.D., and has extended an invitation to check out his rooster population. We have tried for a few years to make this happen and we finally got the dates set.  

Casey Ingenthron, a mutual friend, is also going.  I don't know if he will actually hit anything or if he is just bringing along an extra license so the group can shoot three more birds.  Only time will tell.

A little joke for Casey:  The last time I took him hunting a rooster busted up right in front of him and he did not shoot.  I asked why he did not shoot. He responded, “Sorry, I was on my phone.”  Now all phones get left in the truck or put on silent. Every hunter should adopt this rule.

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Dog injuries are part of owning a dog, but I feel that if you take the proper steps in planning you can make a really bad day into just a poor day if you have the stuff you need. Check out this dog wear company at sylmardogwear.com They have good stuff that will help you be prepared when dog meets fence.  It is bound to happen, not if, but when.

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