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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Bells While Grouse Hunting

I know this is a topic that gets beat to death on the net so bear with me. I did a search on the subject on this site and found a thread about what "kind" of bell, but not "if" one should be used. What are your thoughts...specifically related to grouse. I'm at a crossroads. I've never used a bell while grouse hunting, cause I thought it would spook the grouse. I do however use them while hunting pheasant and woodcock. This being said, I've not gotten shots at a few grouse this year because I couldn't find my dog on point in time. My last time out, I ran a bell. I didn't notice a decline in my flush rate, but not sure if some of my flushes would have been over more solid points if I didn't have the bell on. I know one time out isn't going to be enough evidence to support either theory, so wondering what you do. I'd be interested to hear about beeper collars also if you use them. I don't want to start a whole other topic here on dog range, so let's say I run what "I" consider a medium range dog in the grouse woods, definately under 100 yards, averaging in the 30-60 yard range and hunt the thick nasty cuts.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 03:17 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

NJP,
Using a bell is a personal decission, I have friends and clients who use them even with their beeper collars. Most young Grouse which is really the birds most Grouse hunters get to shoot,
are seldom spooked by a bell, older mature Grouse are a completley different matter. Some men love the sound of the bell in the Grouse woods, I gave up on the bell years ago, when the T&B collars became dependable and worked properly. Training and hunting with a master initiated
T&B collar is fantastic, no noise unless the master initiates the beeper, as a locator. The master/owner then understands he has control of his companion at a much greater distance. There is no worry as to how big a Grouse dog then works. We use the beeper as a command and locator tool, different beeps initiated by the master mean different commands to the dog, the most important being the recall command. Gun dogs are very smart, they learn very quickly the different commands using the T&B collar. When an owner talkes to me about range I advise him that range is not a determining factor with a good Grouse dog, bidability is the key, unless the dog has no pray drive and works to close. You want the dog to work for you
and find the Grouse no matter what range the Grouse happens to be from the master. A good Grouse dog will find and set the Grouse for his masters gunning, a great Grouse dog will
do a walking point without spooking the Grouse, until the Grouse finally sets up, many times this happens out of bell hearing range, especially on a windy day. Thechnology has made bells today, to a serious Grouse hunter, an obsolete tool, however it sure is nice to hear one in the woods from time to time. The simple fact is this, the less noise you make in the woods the more Grouse you will put in your game bag, rookie Grouse hunters have no way of understanding this fact, they simply lack the actual experience in the Grouse woods. Good T&B Collars cost serious money, especially if you want a dual set for running two dogs at the same time. We recommend the older 2000 and before, Dogtra T&B Collars, they are very high quality and work dependably for many years. The newer DT H2O T&B collars work well also. Both these
collars have the beeper units on top of the dogs neck, behind the dogs ears, and the shock unit under the dogs neck, balancing the collar on the dog, and allowing the beeper to be heard for a great distance in the Grouse woods.
Hope I have helped you a might.
Pine Creek/Dave

You can see the Beeper portion clearly in this picture of Daisy as she delivers the Grouse to hand, on a Grouse hunt in NH. You can also see the shock portion of the collar on Penny in the back ground. Notice I have no bell on either dog.




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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 03:46 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

I have abandoned the point-only beeper for the Astro and because ATS is no longer in business.
I run a Flewelling bell along with the Astro for the instant feedback it delivers re location and action occurring in the grouse woods.
While any and every factor of the hunting day can be an actual, or imagined, factor in any particular ruffed grouse response...a bell will do no harm, comparably.
Ruffed grouse imagined responses to noise, etc. can be very creative on Internet message boards...as can when grouse dogs relocate.

Can't comment on e-collars past trash critter concerns...never needed them.

I will add that not all bells are created equal...as neither is the hearing equal with all people...fit & try.

A grouse dog should range based upon the cover and the birds as two criteria...more than that is often simply marketing and personal puffery.
Fret not over keeping a grouse dog at a certain distance...more important stuff is ongoing when a dog is paws down.
Time and Experience will best deliver any decision afield to any individual.....if permitted.

GBE was correct....decades ago.

Rory has a good owner now....lucky lad.

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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 05:34 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

If you "run" a slow dog a beeper would be a better option, especially if the birds have had some pressure.

If you run a dog that has a set of legs and lungs to complement his wit and nose, a bell and GPS collar are very hard to beat. Here's a few grouse "rookies" still running bells.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EooC7GojJ80
(I have a female out of Zeena the first dog, Madison whelped Zeena as well)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-58nisr_dc
(My youngest dog was sired by Boston)

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 05:41 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

I too am hunting silent these days, no bell or beeper. The Astro has taken the place of those noise makers for me and I really enjoy the quiet calm. I suspect that my dogs are enjoying the quiet as well although they haven't mentioned it.
I hunted with a bell for decades and with a beeper for maybe 20 years. There were times I felt that the bell made grouse more jumpy but who knows for sure? I always ran my beepers in point mode only because I could not stand listening to that shrill beep all day long. I think the Astro has been a huge leap forward.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 08:56 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

I have always hunted my bird dogs with a bell. I guess I just like hearing the sound of it in the woods (especially when it suddenly goes silent). I do not think that it has ever been the cause of a grouse spooking. In fact, it may hold a grouse better as with the constant sound it makes since the grouse knows where the possible threat is. When my dog goes on point I use the locator button as I am approaching the dog. I also have the Dogtra 2000 T&B, going on 9 years now and have never had a problem with it after almost daily use during that time period. Without a doubt, the best collars made. Think of it this way, there is no way that you are sneaking up on a grouse. They ALWAYS know you are coming...it is just a matter of how itchy they get as you approach their comfort zone and it does not matter how quiet or noisy you are.
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-27-2012, 09:02 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

One other thing the Pine Creek hit on...smart bird dogs figure out commands pretty quickly. For instance, the locator mode on the T&B collar means two very different things to my dog. If she is on point, I use it to locate her and she would never move off point. However, when she is in the woods hunting or in the yard, one hit with the locator beep and she is by my side quicker than a grouse can put a tree between him and I.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 03:49 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

Gentlemen,
Let me clear up one point, because something is obsolete does not mean it is bad, or never used. Traditional hunters of which there are many, love to hunt in a traditional manner. Long Bow Archers and the Bell on a Grouse dog, are just 2 of those great American traditions. Sudden changes of noise in the Grouse woods, do spook mature Grouse, no matter what the noise happens to be, even the wind can set a spooky Grouse into flight. A Bell can certainly do it at different times, the Beeper can also do it from time to time, that is why they invented the hawk scream, on some of the collars. It does work fairly well on young Grouse, making them freeze due to fright, however again with the mature older Grouse it forces the bird into deeper safer cover, almost immediately. It is true that you really can not sneak up on a Grouse, 90% of the time the Grouse knows exactly when a predator enters it's safety zone, however young Grouse must learn to use their safety zone to survive and many fail the test, and are killed by predators and a few are actually killed by man, sport hunting, with or without a Grouse dog. Few Grouse hunters take fully mature older Grouse, most take 1st and 2nd year birds, lots of these birds are taken early in the Grouse season. If a Grouse hunter is lucky enough to take a mature Grouse he has a real prize and usually it gets mounted. Most of these birds are large, but not all. Looking closely at their wings at certain feathers that come in later in life can usually idendtify these mature birds. Walrod talks about this in his book, (A Grouse Hunters Guide) and Bill Palmer (PGC's formost Ruffed Grouse Biologist - Retired) always talked about this in his lectures for the RGS - Grouse Camp, at Penn State.
In fact both of us had this educational piece in our slide shows, at the RGS - Grouse Camp, we both thought it was that important. There is a lot to learn about Grouse, Grouse hunting and Grouse dogs, equipment and Grouse guns.
Its an enteresting sport, in our family it's a way fo life. I hope each Grouse hunter educates himself or herself and becomes the very best wing shooter they can be,
and is blessed by God with a least one Great Grouse dog.
In this Grouse hunting sport nobody knows everything, after about 30 years you know a little something, after 40
you know even more, and after 50 years you realize each time in the woods with your dog, is a God granted gift, as your education continues.
Pine Creek/Dave

Mike W with his incredible Small Munsterlander Grouse Dog, Pine Creek L.C. Mike is starting to learn a little something about Grouse Hunting, he has been at it about 12 years now.

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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 04:46 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

Here's a photo of a fully matured bird, incredibly lucky that his stupidity didn't bring him an earlier demise in life. Shot over a nice belled find on a brace of birds last year, the bigger ones seem to fly slower or perhaps they're just a bigger target.





I would have to say there are only two objective truths regarding grouse hunting: They are hard to hit and they are fun to hunt, beyond that it's subjective to situation and opinion.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 11-28-2012, 07:14 PM
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Re: Bells While Grouse Hunting

Gentlemen,
Remember the more isolated the Grouse population is, and the less predatoized the bird are, the more tame & foolish they seem to become. I have seen few times here in Pa where a big mature Grouse was slow and easy to hit, just to many predators here. Now up around the Canada border some place, or parts of northern NH, the Grouse are definiely different, and not as spooky. I have hunted Grouse in many different places thru out the world, the ruffs in Pa are still my favorite Grouse to hunt, its not how many Grouse
a man takes that is important, its the dog work and how the Grouse is taken that makes the sport so incredible.
When a sportsman walks out of the Pa forest with 2 fine
mature Grouse, taken on the wing, with his old double bird gun, that his Grouse dog has handled to perfection for him, there is no finer sporting accomplishment known to man.
In our families mountain tradition, all the Oympic Gold metals ever won, can never match it.
Pine Creek/Dave










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