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Keep up with all things "Big Billy Kinder Outdoors"


I would really love to know how many miles I’ve traveled, walking behind my bird dogs over the years. These days you can do that. Garmin, and other companies, have products that count your steps, heartbeats, blood pressure and probably even the hairs on your head. Back when I started, beeper collars were the latest and greatest technology. You would charge it up, or in most cases, install fresh batteries, strap it around your pointing dog’s neck along with his training collar and off they would go. A shrill beeping sound would echo thru the West Texas mesquite flats and Montana coulees, giving you an approximate location of your hunting dog. It was pretty neat tech really. It would beep maybe every five seconds or so while the dog was running, and every one second when the dog stopped to point or pass along the leftovers from last night’s dinner. Someone got real tricky and designed a collar that would beep while the dog was running, and screech like a hawk when the dog was pointing. Game birds don’t like to get airborne when a predator with sharp claws and eyes, and Air Force jet speed is nearby. So, the hawk screech was meant to fool the birds into holding tight on the ground until you could catch up with your pointing dog to make the flush.

The desire of a bird dog to hunt and point upland birds is so strong, that after a few short minutes of obtrusive noise, just inches behind their ears, they seemed to totally ignore it all together. After the first beeper collar hunt, it was always welcomed by the dogs. The collar was a sign to them that once they were fitted with their jewelry, it was time to hunt. My friend, Ted Gartner with the Garmin company is an avid bird dog man. He and a few techie types made the old beeper obsolete. Once on a hunt, Ted wondered around the camp-fire one night if he could duct take a GPS unit to one of his dog's training collars and take the first step towards a quiet dog locating collar. The Astro was born from that evening of pondering and red-necking around with GPS technology and duct tape. Astro, now several generations older, shows you where your dog is and what he is doing at all times.

Waaaay back...before the battery powered beeper collar was the simple little brass bell. Obviously making noise while the dog runs, and falling silent when the dog locates birds and points. Purely from nostalgia, I held on to that old bell method. Yes, I always had and primarily used the latest and greatest technology, but could easily step back in time by removing the tech collar and replacing it with a simple bell. I especially enjoyed this practice when hunting alone, working a smaller patch, and partnering with only one dog on the ground as opposed to two, three or even four. If I saw little Button, or ol’ Jill disappear into a plum thicket and the bell jingled no more, it brought an instant smile. Birds!

I still have those old bells that carried the jingle of fall, and the collars from many of my dogs. I can look at a particular collar and tell you about the dog that wore it. I can tell you in detail about how they liked to hunt, how hard they ran, how far or close they felt necessary to hold birds, and how I loved each one. When you step into the fields of fall, behind a well trained bird dog, it's magical. Matters not the technology or lack of. Enjoy your bird season and throw ol' Nose an extra treat tonight. They will give you every ounce of heart that they can muster tomorrow as they jingle off into the plum thicket.

Fondly,
Billy Kinder
BBKOradio.com

October 12, 2017