Photo Gallery Adventure Dog 2022 Wildrose Carolinas

For information on Adventure Dog Carolinas 2023, email

Pictures by Tennent Rich, Maria Perez and Erin OReilly

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Sandhill Crane Recipe 

By Maria Perez, owner of Wildrose Banyan

Since we learned about the “Ribeye of the Sky,” a Sandhill Crane hunt was in our future. Thanks to the help of pack members Todd and Monica Swearingen, we found an outfitter and scheduled our hunt in West Texas. 

You may be asking, “Aren’t Sandhill Cranes endangered and protected?”  According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are three subpopulations of Sandhill Cranes that are non-migratory. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane is found on the southeastern coast of Mississippi. Florida Sandhill Cranes occur in many inland wetlands of Florida. The Cuban Sandhill Crane lives exclusively in savannas, wetlands, and grasslands in Cuba. Mississippi and Cuban Sandhill Cranes are critically endangered. 

We hunted lesser Sandhill Cranes that migrate from the Platte River Basin in Nebraska. With our non-resident, small-game license, and Sandhill Crane permit, we set off for West Texas with Guy and Hattie Billups in our campers. We met the guide at a designated field, helped set up, then got ready. Not knowing what to expect, we were excited like Christmas morning. Cranes started to fly into the decoys around 7:00 am. By 8:00 am, we had limited out. We knocked off two items of Lisa and Hattie’s bucket lists. Sandhill Crane hunting and limiting out in an hour. It was an amazing and incredible experience. Will we go back? Heck yes!  

Initially, we planned to hunt the dogs, but after hearing a few stories about how aggressive cranes can be even after you think they are stone cold dead, we decided against hunting the dogs. Instead, we trained with them after the hunt with a couple of birds. It was fun watching the dogs trying to figure out how to pick up such a large bird. 

I researched ways to cook Sandhill Crane and finally settled on the recipe below. I hope you go Sandhill Crane hunting and try the recipe below.  


Method of Preparation 

  1. Trim the white fat off the breasts, remove any pellets, and as much of the shiny membrane that is on one side. 
  2. Combine the olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning in a large bowl. 
  3. Marinate the meat in this for anywhere between 4 to 48 hours. (I did 48 hours and massaged every 8 hours to ensure even coating) 
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet with oil, sear each side of the meat for around 5 minutes.  Aim for a meat temperature between 135–140 degrees.This timing produces a medium-rare steak. You may increase or decrease it as per your requirements. Caution: Too medium toughens the meat.   
  5. Let the meat rest on a plate covered with foil for about 5 minutes before serving. 
  6. Slice and serve with a baked potato and salad. 
  7. Pair with a red wine. 
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Disaster Zone Gun Dog

By Dan Adams, Owner of Wildrose Boca

Hurrican Ian, just before landfall on Sept 28th.   Our place on Don Pedro Island is the red marker.

The Storm

The likely or even inevitable arrival of a hurricane is part of what you agree to when you buy a house on the coast of Southwest Florida.   My wife, Mitzi, and I bought a place in 2018 on Don Pedro Island, also locally called Palm Island or Little Gasparilla, about 11 miles north of Boca Grande Pass and Cayo Costa.    Cayo Costa was the called center of landfall for Hurricane Ian on Wednesday, September 28th.   It was a devastating storm of historic scale, even for a state used to them.    For two days we did not know if our house had endured, but with great relief, a drone flyover photo on Friday revealed indeed it had its roof and four walls.   We could also see our boats had survived and were still on the lifts!    We were aware of reports of severe damage to friends and neighbors’ homes, and of a massive amount of cleanup of trees and debris lie ahead.  Power and Water service were out indefinitely.   

I packed the truck Saturday with what I might need to address damage and start to dig out – two generators, tools, chainsaws, tarps, zip ties, duct tape, K-rations, etc.   I anticipated this would essentially be a demanding camping trip combined with tons of work.   However, the most important thing I brought along was an indispensable companion – Wildrose Boca.  Having a well-trained, reliable, and friendly companion with me in that environment made the experience much more pleasant than it would have been, both for me and the neighbors who were beginning to make it back onto the island.   

Our first challenge was encountered as soon as we arrived after the 16-hour drive.   Don Pedro is accessed only by an 8-car ferry, which was not yet back in full service.   My neighbor, Mike, had returned the night before and offered to take me over in a 2-man Kayak.   The truck and tools would have to wait on the mainland overnight.   “You brought a dog?”  he asked seeing Boca with obvious alarm.   He was concerned she wouldn’t tolerate a Kayak ride across the gently moving 200-yard wide Intercoastal Waterway.   I assured him she would be steady and once we were both seated, told Boca to LOAD UP.   While we glided across the channel in the peaceful sunset light, he told me how impressed he was with her.   I explained that as part of her early training, I had exposed Boca to everything I could think of in a process called DE-SENT, part of training the Wildrose Way.   

Once on the island, the extent of the storm’s impact was visible everywhere.   Most of the homes built recently fared pretty well.    Some, however, were a total loss.   It was a dangerous environment for a dog, so keeping Boca at HEELat all times was required for her safety, as was strict adherence to STAY.  (I use the word “JAIL”).  She certainly understood that something was wrong on the island and acted more subdued and cautious than normal.   

Above – Boca sits on the roof and some of the second floor of a house on Don Pedro Island.   Below left, this 26 footer was tossed upside down and off its lift by Hurricane Ian.  Below Right, rail, siding, decking material, and wet carpet and padding were everywhere.   

Watch Dog

After the storm, the humidity and temperature were relatively comfortable.   A light breeze usually blew at night, making for excellent ‘camping’ weather.   Boca and I slept outside on the porch, where we could look west and see the painted ‘just after sunset’ colors each evening over the now-peaceful Gulf.   I had a patio couch, and she had a simple bed – which became PLACE for the week.  With consistent, early place training, no crate is necessary.  I simply tell her ‘Place’ and she is there all night.  Place may be the most important thing you can teach a dog.   In the absence of electricity, the stars were beautifully bright.   The only missing element was maybe a campfire.   I have to say I felt some kinship to all those who have camped alone, with just the night sky and a great dog for company.  I was of course aware of the ugly possibility of looters, and so when Boca awakened me about 3 am on our 2nd night with a low growl, she had my full attention.  Sneaking to the edge of the overhang and shining a flashlight 20 feet down revealed the Bobcat we knew to be living nearby had returned.    We do not train for this behavior, but I like to think that the urge to be protective is always there, teased out over eons of human-dog synergy as a benefit of mutual trust.   Either way, I slept better knowing her fantastic nose and those ears would wake us long before any real threat was nearby.

Our Campsite for the week and Boca’s PLACE

Coconuts and Cleanup

The wind blew literally thousands of coconuts to the ground, as well as mountains of palm fronds and limbs and even entire trees.   Several of us teamed up and cleared roads and access to neighbors’ homes.  After watching us awhile, I noticed Boca picking up debris.  Hold conditioning came in handy, as I would ask Boca to HOLD some of that debris and pitch in by dragging it to the piles we were making.   Turns out Boca likes to eat a Coconut also.   Splitting a coconut with a hatchet, I would let her have one every afternoon.   Should I forget, she would find one and bring it to me, of course.

Cooler Heads and Better Days

I suppose one of the first orders of business when arriving to your home after a hurricane is simply a careful assessment of what may be damaged – or just missing.   I found parts of railing spread downwind for several hundred feet.   A friend who is an excellent fishing guide in the area and I found most of those pieces.  We set about putting railing sections back together.  One item that turned up missing was a white Yeti 65, with a Wildrose Mississippi logo on it.   I use it in the skiff as kind of a mini tower to sight fish for Tarpon, and so certainly wanted it back.   I was lucky to spot it hung in the mangrove, about 300 yards downwind from the boat lift.   It required a kayak ride and long pole to retrieve it, and Boca was again happy to come along, steady in the boat as always.  

I understand from folks who have lived in the area much longer than we that while this was a severe hurricane strike by any measure, the recovery started immediately and was extremely organized.   I was impressed by the attitudes, cooperation, and determination of the people I met.   To a person, seeing a well trained and even helpful dog in that environment was a positive.  All the time and effort invested in her training paid off, but in ways I could not have anticipated when she was a pup.  Having her with me made the experience almost pleasant.  

It will be a good while before the Boca Grande area is back to its beautiful, idyllic self.  The tarpon for which the area is famous never left.   I was not surprised to see a pod working just off the beach in the crystal-clear-again Gulf one morning during that long week.   They are such a part of the area that Boca has learned to notice them.   She will even indicate their presence by suddenly acting ‘birdy’ in the boat.  Oblivious to the damage just over the beach, they were hunting as if nothing had happened.   Watching them, I wondered in the species’ 100 million plus years how many times this same scene had played out after a hurricane.   Their presence was a reminder of the certain recovery to come.   I am glad Boca and I got to see them. 

Boca perched in the skiff looking for tarpon off the beach near Boca Grande, June 2022.   A reminder of Better Days to come again, below.
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Christmas Puppy Poem

By Cathy Stewart, Wildrose International

Dashing through the snow

In a one-horse open sleigh,

Looking for a pup for you

But none are found today.

We talked with Wildrose Kennels

They have the best around.

Your name will be added to their list

A pup will soon be found.

As soon as the pup is ready

They’ll give you a call on the phone

The pup will be your new best friend

Bringing much joy to your home.


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Man on a Mission

Originally printed in Duck Camp Holiday Issue 2022

Written by Oliver Hartner
Photos by Ian Mahathey

People who excel at their pursuit often begin their days before dawn. They understand that nothing worth having comes easy, and the extra winks of sleep they sacrifice become inconsequential in attaining their goals. Chris Torain rises before the sun on most mornings while training gun dogs professionally, or waterfowling for leisure. But before this season of his life, he would rub his eyes during those witching hours and wish for more sleep before finding work that was worthy of his gifts.

Chris punched a clock on a warehouse wall at 4:00 am most days of the week, toiling there twelve hours a day until 4:00pm “It was one of the worst jobs I’d ever had. I absolutely hated it,” Chris recalled. The job paid his bills, but it drained his soul. Then around 2019, one of his friends introduced him to waterfowling, and with those precious hours he wasn’t moving freight, Chris dedicated himself to learning more about waterfowling and gun dogs. “I just kept wanting to learn as much as possible. I wound up buying my own dog and started watching YouTube videos and reading a lot of books.”

While scrolling through Instagram, Chris stumbled across Wildrose Carolinas and learned they operated in Hillsborough, North Carolina close to his home. He contacted them and asked if he could work for free in exchange for knowledge and a place to train his pup. “Once I finished my groundskeeping duties, I was able to work dogs one-on-one with the head trainers. I couldn’t put a price on that kind of instruction.” Several months passed under this arrangement, and as Chris demonstrated an aptitude and infectious enthusiasm for dog training, Steven Lucius and Kirk Parker, co-owners of Wildrose Carolinas, altered the deal; they invited Chris to work full-time as their groundskeeper and apprentice dog trainer. He left the warehouse behind in September of 2021 and hasn’t looked back.

The opportunity to train dogs professionally means more to Chris than simply earning a living or being happy at his job, it’s a passion found, and a promise fulfilled. Hard work with a little luck got his foot in the door at Wildrose Carolinas, but it took encouragement apart from himself to steady his footing along this path. His mentors Steven, Kirk, and renowned trainer and Wildrose International founder Mike Stewart are numbered among his support group along with several close friends. But so too was his beloved grandmother who succumbed to breast cancer. “A year and a half before I started at Wildrose, I told people I wanted to train gun dogs, including my grandmother, and she never discouraged me. So, I focused hard on dog training, and now when I’m working, I feel like I’m showing her, You knew I wanted to do this, and you never discouraged me. Now look how far I’ve come.”

Chris puts a part of himself into every dog he trains, and anything less than the best won’t do. “I want you to have the option to hunt with one of my dogs anywhere. Flooded timber. A-frame blinds. Pit blinds. Goose fields. Upland hunting. Anywhere and anytime a retriever is required, I want dogs that I train to meet or exceed an owner’s expectations. Both before and after the hunt, they should be calm and obedient. An unruly dog is irritating, and when firearms come into play, they can be dangerous.

Whenever waterfowl season arrives, Chris takes his dogs to swampy bottoms and farm fields where he has permission to hunt. These hunts offer him an opportunity to stay connected with the resource and recruit others into sporting life. “I try every season to take at least one person with me who has never hunted in their lives. And most times, it only takes once before they’re hooked. Watching cupped-winged mallards come down to a call is amazing even when you don’t shoot any of them. It’s something they just don’t normally see.”

Chris acknowledges the hurdles faced by himself and newer waterfowl enthusiasts, often from experienced hunters who have forgotten they also had to start somewhere. “I’ve heard people complain about newer hunters saying things like, ‘They’re skyblasting,’ or, ‘They’re calling too much,’ or some other things. But if they’re not helping those people into the sport, how can they expect them to know better?

As a young Black man, Chris often finds himself being the only minority represented at sporting events or gun dog demonstrations, but he hasn’t felt his race was an obstacle to being involved in sporting life; and he encourages seasoned sporting life enthusiasts to introduce themselves to people falling outside the traditional idea of what hunters and anglers ought to look like. “I don’t ever mind being a minority at an event or at a hunt because I know everyone there shares a connection. As soon as we start talking, we find common ground just minutes into the conversation. We all love our dogs. We all love our sport. And we all love the resource.”

Chris continues setting loftier goals for himself within his profession and his sport. Getting there will take continued progress and dedication, but he draws strength from a fathomless well of enthusiasm. When he couples this passion with his support network, Chris meets the moment and achieves his objectives. He aims to train “an absolute monster” gun dog for a guide service, or perhaps train a dog for 24.7 Hunt, a group of guys with a YouTube channel that he loves. If there’s a Gun Dog Trainers Hall of Fame, I aim to be in it. I know that I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I’ll always be a student of my passion. Otherwise I’m no longer a professional.”

Oliver Hartner is a South Carolina-based writer covering sporting life interests. His work has appeared in Covey Rise Magazine, Shooting Sportsman, Quail Forever Journal, USA Today: Hunt and Fish Magazine, and Covers Magazine of the Ruffed Grouse Society and American Woodcock Society. He serves on the South Carolina State Committee of Ducks Unlimited as its Secretary, and he can be found on Instagram @oliverhartner, or on the web at

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The Drive By

By Mike Stewart, Wildrose International

Last summer at Wildrose Colorado, I developed a training exercise which combined a couple of Wildrose Way elements specifically to address issues commonly experienced with retrievers nearing the end of basic gundog training cycle or even for seasoned dogs in need of tune up.  The training solution is called “Drive By.”  

The technique is designed to develop the retrievers’ skills to drive past short bumpers (and later birds) to pick long ones or to stop and handle to falls in cover when driving out for the long bird.  The exercise combines trailing memories with stop to the whistle and casting into cover, alternating with each pick.  Let’s walk through the process.

The Drive By

The drill begins with a trailing memory single lining in open ground:  short cover woodlands, plowed ground, so the bumper is almost a seen. Imagine a home plate and second base of a baseball diamond.  

The scenario also combines two scented bumpers scattered in close proximity to each other off the center (pitcher’s mound) of the line.  We will mark these 2 bumpers at either a 3rd base or 1st base fall area.  

The training objective is to develop a dog’s interdependence with the handler forgoing the dog’s “opinion” as to which bumper should be picked.  The willingness to hold the line despite the short bird suction or stop and cast into the cover, ie:

  1. Line past the off-set memories (diversions/suction) for a pick of the long bumper
  2. Or to stop while lining to the long memory and handle directly into cover to a shorter memory.

The core principle is to keep the dog guessing as to which command will be given by the handler.  If a dog is given direction and they independently select another action, then the handler has the opportunity to refocus the dog on the correct command.  The dog does not get to decide.

Every other retrieve is a lining memory followed by stopping to casting from the trailing memory line into different environmental factors, such as cover, marsh, shallow still water or even to negotiate an obstacle like a fence or ditch.  Whatever the selection is for the short memories for hand signals the location should require a hunt for recovery success.  So, you have a bit of diversity in this exercise, the long trailing memory is set for an easy find while the bumpers for casting off the line incorporate a physical challenge and/or nose work.

The Set Up

Select an area of open ground.  Again, it could be short grass, clear woodlands, a pond levy, a plowed field, a place to set up a long training memory single.  To the side of the line should be thick cover, still water, marsh grass or woods, etc.

Place a bumper at what would be home base which will be the first long memory. Walk the line of the trailing memory from home plate (using the old baseball diamond description to help explain) toward second base.  Halfway between home and second, toss out two scented bumpers deep into the cover as memories to the side of the line from what would the location of the pitcher’s mound. The dog marks the falls.  The bumpers should be in close proximity but not piled.  The location for both bumpers placed is either first base or third base, 90 degrees to the line.  Both bumpers are scattered in the same area.  Continue walking out to second base, now the drill is set.

The Exercise Begins

  1. Set the dog to line for the long trailing memory (from 2nd to home) passing the double memories midway down the line without stopping or handling.  “No” the dog off the short birds and pick the long memory.
  2. Next, place the retrieved bumper at second base and heel the dog with you to home plate.
  3. Line the dog to the second base memory just placed then stop the dog on the whistle as he approaches midway on the line (pitcher’s mound).  This stop is 90 degrees to where the bumpers are hidden in the cover. 
  4. Hold the dog’s attention at stop for at least 5 seconds, then cast straight through the obstacle or into the cover for the hidden bumpers.  There are only two scatters, so we have the opportunity for a bit of nose work.
  5. After delivery, line the dog to pick the trailing memory at second base. Next, drop a memory at home and proceed with the retriever to second base.  Once in place, line for the home base memory, then stop the dog for a cast into cover to make the second short pick.
  6. Finally, receive the bumper then line the dog to retrieve the remaining long trailing memory at home plate.


  • If the dog decides on his own to divert from the given line without instructions, stop immediately and use a primary reset (See page 164, Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training, the Wildrose Way.) Recall, reset the line and rerun.  Do not try to handle out of the mistake.
  • If the dog casts correctly but cannot negotiate the obstacle or locate a find on the hunt, return to the basic fundamentals of lining through barriers and hunting cover in separate sessions.
  • Ensure that every other retrieve alternates between a line or a handle.  Overhandling will result in other problems: lack of confidence, anticipating the command, causing a dog to pop (stop and look for assistance) or spinning.


As with many Wildrose Way methods, this one, too, is flexible.  One can make the exercise more challenging by turning the entire setup 90 degrees after the final pick of the initial drill.  Simply re-create the exercise and set up a new run.  Imagine a square after the last trailing memory is achieved.  Turn the setup 90 degrees and set this location as home. Drop the memory.  Walk the trailing memory line out and toss in two memories in cover at the half-way point.  Proceed to second base and set the line to make the long bird pick at home base, continue with each step outlined above.

Developmentally Appropriate

Obviously, a retriever should have a clear understanding of lining memories, casting, whistle stops and experienced hunting cover as well as negotiating obstacles before one can “chain” these skill sets into a concept like “Drive By.”  Nothing is learned through failure.  You can challenge a dog for sure but train, don’t test.

Drive By is an excellent refinement exercise to complete a dog’s basic gundog training or to “polish” a trained retriever’s experience for upland and waterfowl.

The Wildrose Way always emphasizes developing a retrieving partnership between the dog and handler.  The goal is to become a proficient game recovery team.  Drive By is just another small step to assist one’s journey to achieve Gentleman’s Gundog ecstasy.

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The Wildrose Way at Hollywood Farms

Register HERE for the Dec 9 – 11, 2022 Event

Event Details

The recap below was published by Hollywood Farms following the event, The Wildrose Way at Hollywood Farms, on November 11th – 13th, 2022.

Our First Wildrose Event!

Not only is it exciting to meet guests from so many different places, but it is also wonderful to see how many value the fact that we are trying to shape responsibly our next 100 years! Here are some images of our first-ever Wildrose event. Much fun was had by all…and along with some invaluable learning.

“The venue, the event, and the food were superlative. We feel singularly blessed to have been part of it!-Kelly

“Absolutely perfection! Exceeded all of my expectations!” -Judy

What a great event! We are delighted to have partnered with Hollywood Farms and look forward to conducting our next event on December 9th! Register below today!” –Mike Stewart; Founder Wildrose

Register HERE for the Dec 9th – 11th Event

Event Details

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Alpha Dog Nutrition Joins Wildrose

We field tested these supplements during summer training and throughout the active fall seasons of 2022. After months of evaluation, we are confident in our recommendations of these natural products that have worked “as advertised.”

Our endorsed Alpha Dog product line-up includes:

Vitality – a fantastic krill oil supplement in pill form that is a highly absorbed form of omega 3 acids beneficial to joints, skin condition and coats.  Krill oil has proven to be more easily and completely absorbed when compared to regular fish oil products. In some dogs we found that dandruff (dry, flaky skin) & shedding were reduced.

Resurgence – An effective rehydration and recovery product for active dogs afield. Replaces nutrients lost during physical activity. Can be added to food at the end of the day’s activities or during field activity when mixed with water. 

Paw Relief (roll-on or salve) – Certified organic beeswax, coconut and sunflower oil combined with a host of other natural beneficials, this product proved its worth in the rugged conditions while training in Colorado for paw recovery, dry noses, fly bites, and skin abrasions.

Free Range –A beneficial supplement for hip joints, knees and spine. Reduces inflammation and pain.  Field tested and proven at Wildrose Colorado and Wildrose Midwest. Highly recommended for older dogs displaying joint discomfort, arthritis or other mobility issues.

 Please see this important and highly informative article about Protecting Joints in active sporting dogs written by Joe Scott, Founder, Alpha Dog Nutrition:

Protecting Joints Over The Long Haul

Wildrose Testimonials:


“Wildrose Pappy, 13-15 months old has noticeably benefitted from Vitality.  His coat is shiny, smooth, and dandruff-free.  Shedding has diminished as well. I continuously receive comments about the beautiful condition of his coat. I’m convinced that the combination of the excellent nutrition he receives from Purina Pro Plan 30/20 along  with Vitality krill oil produces this amazing black coat.  I highly recommend.”

Mike Stewart, Wildrose International

“We have been giving our dogs Vitality since August, 2022.  We have noticed less shedding.  We have also been giving 2 of our dogs Free Range and have noticed better mobility, especially in our 9-year old dog.  I would like to see larger containers though.  We have 5 dogs, so we go through a bottle of vitality every 6 days.”

Hattie Billups, Wildrose Texas

Free Range

“Rick being a Senior dog, age 10, and having hunted ducks in Nebraska, pheasants in N Dakota, quail in Georgia, and many other local hunts developed some arthritic pain in the front shoulder. Our vet prescribed Dasaquill, basically a pain killer. 
I discovered Alpha dog products. Free range and Vitality provide support for the joints, vs a painkiller, which has revolutionized Rick’s days afield this season.  His shoulder has improved significantly. Highly recommend Alpha Dog products.”

Bill Reames, Owner of Wildrose Rick

“Although WR Beau is only 8 years old, he has done a significant amount of waterfowl and upland hunting all over the country and his heavy workload is starting to catch up with him.   About 6 months ago, I started noticing signs of joint stiffness.  Beau would come out of his crate in the morning and stretch and moan for a few minutes until things started to loosen up.  As part of our evaluation of Alpha Dog products, I was eager to try Free Range, the product designed as a joint supplement.  Within the first 30 days, I saw a big difference in Beau.  He was no longer showing signs of pain and stiffness in the morning.  Recently on our first pheasant hunt of the year with a group of guys that I hunt with every weekend, I brought out Beau and he was moving around like a three year old.  They asked; “who are you hunting with today?”.  When I explained that it was Beau, the same dog that they had seen for years, they were so surprised with the added bounce in his step and the energy that he attacked the fields with.  Beau receives one scoop of Free Range on his food every day.”

Allan Klotsche, Wildrose Midwest


“When we are out pheasant hunting, I always have a couple of bottles of water for the dogs that I give them when we take breaks.  This early pheasant season was unseasonably warm in Wisconsin (70 degrees) and I was worried whether we would even have enough dog power between our four dogs to cover the field.  Alpha Dog has a product called Resurgence that is designed to help dogs recover after any strenuous activity.  Since it is in a powder format, it can be sprinkled on top of the dog’s food, or mixed with water.  I mixed up two bottles of water and was curious to see how it would work in the field.  As Beau was quartering through some very thick sorghum, I was giving him frequent water/Resurgence breaks.  After 30 minutes in the excessive heat and successfully flushing 5 pheasants, Beau was completely spent, as a matter of fact, I saw some early signs of heat exhaustion and felt like I overdid it.   When we got back to the car, we put Beau on a tie out as I did not want him to be cramped up in his kennel, and we got out the next dog.  On our walk back to the car, a rooster pheasant ran past the car and caught Beau’s attention.  By the time I reached the car, Beau was standing up, tail wagging, and signaling that he was ready to chase that rooster down.  Five minutes later, in some very deep cover, Beau flushed that rooster and was “back in the game.”  I now carry an extra canister of Resurgence powder in my car ready to mix in bottles of water for my own dogs and those that I am hunting with.”

Allan Klotsche, Wildrose Midwest

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Rules of Engagement for the Covey Rise

By Mike Stewart, Wildrose International

Enjoying a day afield quail hunting with a well-trained retriever is something special.  Watching all the dogs working: pointers, flushers & retrievers doing what they love.  To me, this is a hunt that is hard to beat.

Seeing a pointer locked on the scent of “king bird” tucked in cover is exciting to witness as the dog’s keen intensity anticipates your approach and the inevitable flush. The same will be true with your retrievers at heel. Their anticipation will definitely be keen as well.  

Now, the first question for the handler arises.  Will our hunting companion be used to “strike” – that is flush the birds from cover, or is it preferable to steady the retriever backing the pointers as the shooters or guide makes the flush, then utilize the retriever to recover game?  Circumstances (and appropriate training) dictate which approach the shooter/handler selects but in either situation, steadiness to flush – wing – shot matter.  Despite the likelihood that the pointers may well not do so after the flush, The Wildrose Way requires steadiness.


  1. A dog running in to chase birds will likely not see as many of the shot birds fall missing the opportunity to recover birds quickly.
  2.  Danger:  running in under the guns exposes the dog to a wayward shot taken too low.
  3. The unsteady dog bolting afield may well flush secondary birds that did not fly on the initial “rise.” Opportunities missed.  
  4. The retriever chasing flushed birds, often supported by pointers thrashing about each on independent frolics, will push the flushed birds in flight further away, perhaps into dense cover before they settle making the prospect of locating singles less successful.

With the issue of steadiness to flush, whether backing or striking addressed, let’s turn our attention from the dog’s performance expectations to the responsibilities and considerations for the shooter/handler at the scene of a point.  What’s on your mind?

The pointers have located what could be a covey and remain solid on point and backing as shooters approach.  The retriever is at heel moving forward with his hunting partner toward an appropriate shooting position.  The retriever is placed, backing with the command ‘whoa’ or ‘sit/stay’ as the adrenaline rises with both gundogs and hunters.  The shooter/handler approaches the cover likely holding birds at an angle to the pointer moving forward of the dog ready for the flush all the while keeping mindful attention on several important factors.  What should be going through the shooter-handler ‘s mind on the approach?

Cover Rise – Rules of engagement for the wingshooter/gundog handler:

  1. Target acquisition:  pick a bird in flight making absolutely sure of a clear, safe shot.  No low birds.  Where are the dogs, the other hunters, the guide?  A misplaced shot due to excitement or intention becomes very unpopular.
  2. Where’s your dog as you approach?  Steady or creeping forward?  Preparing to break at the first opportunity?  Will they run in to flush birds or chase birds when flushed?  Will the retriever chase other dogs after the flush? If you shoot, and a bird falls, will your gundog remain steady?
  3. The shooter/handler must mark birds down as they will be expected to work their retriever for prompt recoveries.  That’s the retriever’s job, no bird left behind.  Handlers should pinpoint as many of the falls as possible to place their dog in the proper area.
  4. Keep an eye on all dogs working the field as you attempt to locate birds.  One annoying behavior may occur with a fast-moving gundog that locates a bird, picks it, but has no inclination to return the bird to hunters. This dog enjoys a bit of a run around with the trophy then drops the bird and moves on.  Keep an eye on all dogs moving about or a bird may be lost, or a great deal of time will be expended in the attempt to locate the displaced game.
  5. As you work your retriever for recovery, watch for a secondary flush of singles as the single may offer you another opportunity.  Be aware of your position and the location of dogs and hunters wandering about looking for their own birds.  Everyone now may be scattered about the field so close attention must be paid before taking the shot.  Safely first always.

Wing shooters handling their own dog at a point-flush demands concentration while avoiding overexcitement.  Prepare your dog’s behavior through training and prepare yourself through mental conditioning.  Know your dog’s abilities and limitations.  Focus your attention on an approach to point on several important awareness factors:

  1. Where is your dog?
  2. Where are the dogs on point & backing – will they run in on the flush?
  3. Where are other hunters, guides, vehicles?
  4. Where are the birds?  Take only clear shots, never low ones.
  5. Stay calm walking in on the flush – it’s exciting!

One thing is for sure, as a shooter/handler on a quail hunt, a covey rise is never boring.  Aim well muchachos!

Training the Upland Gundog

Preparing your gundog companion for an upland wing shoot is a fun experience following the Wildrose Way.  Wildrose offers a step-by-step lesson training program for preparing your dog for quail, pheasant or chukar hunting.  Choose from two platforms:  the DVD or now download the course to your platform of choice for mobility, The Wildrose Way, Training the Upland Gundog – DVD – Wildrose Trading Co. (

TheWildrose balanced training methodology has been successful in development retrievers, spaniels and versatile pointing breeds for field success, whether flushing, quartering or retrieving.

Follow the detailed training program and begin training your gundog for an upland field experience.

Good boy Deke.

Photos by Dwayne Bratcher

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FTW Spireview Captain “Captain” (WR Oxford)

Video by Dwayne Bratcher

Captain is a dynamic game finder afield yet has a very amiable personality as a companion. With a wide array of internationally known field trial champions in his pedigree, Captain is everything you would expect. Some of his renowned ancestors are FTCh Greenbriar Viper of Drakeshead, IRFTCh Ernevale Maud of Tudorcourt, FTCh’s Waterford Easter and Waterford Ganton. Captain’s marking ability and ease of handle is unmatched. Incredibly steady but with a high drive he is a true pleasure to work with. We couldn’t be more pleased to add Captain as a sire at Wildrose.

Captains Pedigree

Captain has the style, temperament and game finding ability of a true British Gundog. These fine characteristics combined with impeccable handling make him an invaluable companion afield.

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