It is that time of the year when mornings can be cool and by noon unseasonably warm. If we dress for the cooler mornings temperatures you are over dressed and by mid afternoon, when the sun started to warm things up.
As temperatures warm up, the heat is going to take its toll on our hunting dogs.
Can you imagine what it is like for a hunting dog, having been in a kennel the biggest part of the year and as the season opens, trying to cover large fields on these warm days? They are covering at least twice the ground we are, nose to the ground, head in the dust and dirt, running back and forth across the field of heavy cover, unable to sweat or release heat from their body except by panting and they do it all while wearing a fur coat.
This could be a death sentence to a dog if they are overweight and out of shape, as a hunting dog will keep going until they can go no further and drop.
One of the things you can do prior to the season would be to get yourself and your dog in shape.
Imagine what type of shape you would be in if you spent most of the year inside a kennel, let out to run only for short periods each evening , then taken out into the field during hunting season and be expected to run hard for hours on end without becoming tired? Dogs should be worked on a regular basis in order to stay in shape, which can be tough when their owner holds down a full time job. Some kennels are large enough allowing the dog to get a little exercise, but not enough to get them in top shape. Dogs are like humans when it comes to getting exercise, we need someone like an owner or a wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend to get us to do it. Like humans, if not given the opportunity to run or forced to exercise, most dogs will simply lie around, becoming over weight and out of shape. The alternative to running your dog regularly is to take him on brisk walks, which takes very little time and the exercise it gives you will do you good.
Another thing that hunters forget to take into consideration when they hunt early season is the heat when their hunting dogs really take a beating.
Each year as the hunting seasons open up, when temperatures are high, veterinarian find themselves working on hunting dogs with heat exhaustion. Many of which will not survive.
Keeping your dog hydrated is extremely important when hunting early season! Hunters need to make sure they carry enough water to keep their dog hydrated. Having this water in the vehicle does not do you or the dog a lot of good if you are a half mile away from the vehicle.
It is an excellent idea to carry a small bottle of water in your hunting vest when you are in the field. When you take a break, you can pour some water into your hand and let the dog lap it up.
Squirt bottles like the bottles sports drink come in work very well as they have the caps allowing you to squirt the water at the dog allowing it to get a drink. I carry both a squirt bottle and a collapsible water bowl in my vest. When we stop to rest, I will use my squirt bottle to put water into the dish, making it easier for my dog to drink. If a pond or creek is in the area you are hunting, allow the dog to wade in and cool off before continuing.
During hot weather, rest your dog often, preferably in the shade, allowing it to cool off slowly. If you are fortunate to have several dogs in your hunting party, rest one while the other hunts. The dog you are resting will not like being left out, but he will be rested and ready when it is their turn to hit the ground.
It can be a blessing to not have to hunt in the cold weather which is usually associated with hunting season, but to a hunting a dog that is out of shape, hunting in the heat, it can be a death sentence.
Exercise your hunting dog regularly, carry lots of water and don’t overdo it because if you do it right there is always a tomorrow for both you and your best hunting partner, your hunting dog.