Learning to Love a Flushing Dog

JB is such a good flushing dog that he caused the author to rethink his Brittanys-Only policy.
All photos by Scott McEnaney

Now let me start by saying that I’m a dedicated pointing-dog man. All of the hunters I have ever hoped to emulate were pointing dog men, too, and I blame them with for teaching me, in a grandfatherly way, that flushers were for folks who didn’t want to train their dogs. I generally adopted this notion as I adopt most ideas that I’m too lazy to prove wrong, and my prejudice preyed upon the fact that I spent most of my hunting career without ever seeing a really good flusher in the field. That all changed for good just yesterday, when Scott McEnaney and I journeyed south to the Hudson Valley to train with Jerry Caccio and Dan Lusson.

Dan Lusson trained under Jerry Caccio, who is legendary in the field-trial world for his training skills.

Jerry and Dan are veritable household names among Springer folks. Jerry is a field-trial hall-of-famer, a noted speaker, and a tireless champion for flushing dogs. Now retired, Jerry serves as a wonderful ambassador for Orvis, and as a point of contact for many of our endorsed breeders and trainers. Dan has trained on-and-off with Jerry for years, and has built a strong reputation on the field trial circuit, as well as in the world of personal gun-dog trainers. The two are clearly cut of similar cloth where training philosophies are concerned; I was amazed at their light-hearted approach, their quiet manner, their clear joy at simply working dogs in the field. And the dogs… . . .oh, the dogs… . . .they responded in kind.

Jerry and Dan work with dogs in a quiet, light-hearted manner and produce remarkable results.

I now know that a good flusher works close, checks in, maintains contact with the handler at all times. I also no know that a really good flusher leaves nothing unchecked, and vacuums up a bird field in quartering casts that are uniform, tight, and graceful. I’ve always loved the look of a big-running pointer, but Dan’s champion Springer, JB, at work was efficiency, drive, and thoroughness incarnate. Where a pointer ranges, JB became mathematical, and turned the field into a gridwork pattern. He touched every point, found every bird, slammed into every retrieve. It was inspired, and inspiring, and it changed my view of flushing dogs.

Joe rests after a solid workout in the field.

So now the quandary begins. With a wife who’s just commenced to make noises about a puppy, I’m finding my ‘BrittaniesBrittanys-Only’ platform growing pretty shaky. An English Cocker, perhaps, or a close-working Springer? What will my mentors say. . . . But I have a funny feeling that a flusher is in my future, and maybe some more days in the company of Jerry and Dan, to boot!

4 thoughts on “Learning to Love a Flushing Dog”

  1. I also have recently fell in love with Spaniels. After a trip to England and hunting with the legendary Ian Openshaw and his English Cockers I have imported 3 and started raising them. The litter I just sent home were full brothers and sisters to the puppy that Ian gave to the Queen of England two years ago. If your interested in a Cocker check out our website.

  2. Pingback: July 25, 2014: Feather and Fin Link Round-Up | Feather and Fin
  3. Reid,
    Glad you enjoyed your visit to Brook Hills Farm!!! Jerry and Dan also train some of the best labs I have ever had the pleasure to shoot over.


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