BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS — Want to take your dog hunting? Time to start training.

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, May 18, 2021

It currently is four months until early teal season, and roughly six months until waterfowl season in Texas begins.

If you have a dog that you would like to take hunting, now is the time to get started with your training. If you wait much longer, you won’t have adequate time to succeed in the training process.

One of the most important things for you to do before you get started is to come up with a proper evaluation of your dog’s current skills. A good way to do this is to take your dog out to a pond and set up a mock hunting situation.

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With your dog off lead, go through the heel, “sit” and “here” commands. Next have someone throw a bumper from a distance while your dog sits at your side. Make the dog remain steady until you call his name.

Once sent, the dog should make the retrieve and deliver the bumper to hand. After completing this step, try doing it with multiple marked retrieves at one time.

A final test would be to hide the bumper over a hundred yards away and try to get the dog to find it using hand signals and whistle commands. If your dog does all of this then he has obviously been through a great deal of training in the past and will likely perform well this season.

He would benefit from some brushing up and a little polish, but otherwise should do great.

Most dogs, however, will not be able to perform all or any of these tasks. No worries, this is the reason for the evaluation. Simply start at the beginning and when you come to something your dog can’t already do, that is where you start training.

If the dog doesn’t have obedience start there — if the obedience is great but the marking abilities are lacking — then start with marking and so on down the list.

Once you have discovered your dog’s deficiencies, you will know the areas where you should spend the most time. Develop a plan to work through these areas over the next few months.

With a good plan, lots of patience and diligence, you should have an adequate hunting dog by the time the season rolls around.

Remember this saying: “train don’t complain.” Complaining won’t fix your dog, but training sure will!

If I can help you come up with a plan, feel free to reach out to me at

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of First Baptist Church of Winnie, owner of and an outdoors writer for Port Arthur Newsmedia.