From a Mississippi hilltop overlooking Gator Point Kennel’s incredible technical pond and proven training grounds, Ramsey and long-time retriever trainer Alan Sandifer visit on the tailgate while resurrected-from-the-ashes Char Dawg pants quietly at their feet. Sandifer tells about how and why he got into professional training, describing what makes good retrievers, how retrievers all have different personalities, how best to prepare pups for training, why his training game differs from our hunting game, and why transitioning from trainer to owner is sometimes problematic. Retrievers are integral to waterfowl hunting, and this conversation focuses on reasonable expectations and responsibilities of both owners and those they entrust in training their best friend.

Hide Article


All About Training Hunting Dogs

I’ve asked you how you got into training, but you’re obviously a hunter. You don’t duck hunt a lot no more because you’re so busy training dogs

Ramsey Russell: How did you get into dog training, Alan?

Alan Sandifer: My papa and my uncle.

Ramsey Russell: Really? Well, I mean, were they competitive trainers or just they trained their own dog to hunt.

Alan Sandifer: Trained their own dogs to hunt. And they did minor competition.

Ramsey Russell: Just to know the dogs was good or just a sense of accomplishment?

Alan Sandifer: Actually, they were more competitive toward each other.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Alan Sandifer: Yeah. Papa was more of the dog’s got a job and I expect them to do it. My uncle, he was more loving, they were his babies.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I could relate to that.

Alan Sandifer: And he lived in Michigan and I’m going to tell you how old I am. This is when we had quail here out the Yazoo and Michigan had pheasants.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You can’t possibly be as old as you look, Alan.

Alan Sandifer: Hey, I don’t guess it’s a mileage, but the pit stops had been rough. But my uncle in Michigan, we’d go up there and he had a German Shorthaired named Radar, and they had a lab. But the way he could get that dog to do things, I was like, I want to do that. I want to be able to get a dog to understand what I’m saying because, I mean, she had a vocabulary. But Mandy’s miniature wiener dog has a vocabulary, it’s just the time you spend with them. But my uncle in Michigan, J. M. Johnson –

Ramsey Russell: He’s the one that inspired you into this career?

Alan Sandifer: To watch him work a dog, that’s what I wanted to do. To Papa I was more of the flunky.

Ramsey Russell: What kind of dogs were they raising? Labs?

Alan Sandifer: Labs and German Shorthairs.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Alan Sandifer: Of course, we had so many quail, daddy had a pointer.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Of course, everybody back in that time did.

Alan Sandifer: And daddy and my mom’s uncle would work the pointers and they’d start little puppies with a quail on a fishing pole and that was cool, I liked it. But nothing like a dog that you could handle.

Ramsey Russell: Folks, welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere I am in Walthall County, Mississippi, which is not duck country, per se. And I’m at the beautiful training grounds of Gator Point Kennels talking to my longtime friend and dog trainer, Mr. Alan Sandifer. Alan, how did you get into – I’ve asked you how you got into training, but you’re obviously a hunter. You don’t duck hunt a lot no more because you’re so busy training dogs. But did you start off a duck hunter?

Alan Sandifer: I loved it, I’d go every day.

Ramsey Russell: Down in Louisiana?

Alan Sandifer: I hunted in Louisiana where Papa lived French settlement all over there. And then, of course, I was born here.

Ramsey Russell: Right here?

Alan Sandifer: Walthall County.

Ramsey Russell: Tyler town.

Alan Sandifer: Tyler town.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Alan Sandifer: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Did not know that.

Alan Sandifer: So, after school and all, I came back and if you wanted to hunt, you had to go to Delta.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Alan Sandifer: To the river.

Ramsey Russell: Still do.

Alan Sandifer: You still do. And used to think nothing about putting a 14ft boat with a 9.8 mercury, Port Gibson and cross the river with a freaking headlight, a dog decoys and go into the shooter of Yucatan.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: And right now, I wouldn’t want to do it in a barge.

Ramsey Russell: No, that river changed a little bit, Alan.

Alan Sandifer: But I don’t know, didn’t think about being scared, now I’m scared.

Ramsey Russell: That’s because we were young and bulletproof. I used to do that kind of stuff.

Alan Sandifer: Dumb.

Ramsey Russell: I don’t do it no more. Alan, I remember when we met, we were talking about this for the recording, come down here to pick up Char dog, we fixing to go make a run up to Canada and let her wrap up the North American season, picking up some snow geese, some spring snows and I remember when I met you, it was over 20 years ago, well, over 20 years ago, I’m going to say, and there was an old chat room in MS Ducks. I met my dog trainer, my doctor, my insurance people, my best friends, my everybody I met on that group that I’m still friends with all these years later, despite social media. And we convened somewhere down in this part of the world, I think you may have organized like, hey, let’s all get together and run our dogs. And I showed up with an old meat dog I had at the time named Delta and then you and I, after we got done with that little get together, we went over to, I guess, wherever you were living then down here, probably ain’t far from here and you laid a setup from old meat dog Delta and we ran some other stuff with her. And then you did something, and it really changed my thoughts of you, seriously, because you broke out a couple of Chesapeake Bay retrievers you had, I had never seen chessies built like that and behave like that, they were master titled and it was the most magnificent Chesapeake Bay retrievers I’d ever laid eyes on.

Alan Sandifer: Yeah, trouble and fatty.

Ramsey Russell: Do you still raise chessies?

Alan Sandifer: No.

Ramsey Russell: You’re all labs now.

Alan Sandifer: All labs. I hadn’t seen another one like them.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Alan Sandifer: I’ve been offered several.

Ramsey Russell: I wonder why chessies – I know some good chessies, but none that are that compact, I would say, just as I remember, I’d have said those dogs were 65, 70 lbs, very lean, very fit, very fast, very obedient. I’ve got a picture, I believe, of one of them hitting the water hard, just launching off the bank and it was amazing to see that, I wonder what happened to that breed. I know there’s some guys listening that still got good chessies.

Alan Sandifer: Oh, there’s several good ones. I mean, lots of, all over the country, but I just haven’t found one that fit me.

Duck Dog Selection Process 

I finally picked her up in late September and took her out hunting and realized immediately, this dog is not even force fetched.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve trained a lot of my dogs, you’ve trained Cooper, the chicken dog, her sister from another breeding Stormy, one of the puppies that didn’t quite shake out that one of my kids kept and of course Char dog. I’m going to start with Char dog because I was at a point right there, I knew some guys out in Wyoming that had some dogs out of this, I knew a guy in Manitoba that had some dogs from this kennel and I just liked the looks of them, I liked their behavior, I like their demeanor, the guy that was outside of my local sphere of contact and I talked to him and bought this puppy named Char. And I never will forget, when I laid eyes on him, I wasn’t impressed with his kennels, ain’t nothing like this right here, wasn’t really impressed with this guy. But when that little dog, he brought this little 8, 9 week old puppy out of the kennel, yapping dogs and junkyard and everything else and when he laid her down, her tail was straight up, her head was straight up, she was completely indifferent to everything. And I loved immediately everything about this little dog. We spent 2 months riding around, she was a tiny little puppy, I was on a road trip, she sat on the front seat in a little dog crate and we connected and bonded in a way. I ended up sending this dog up to that trainer and I won’t say his name, I can’t say that name and be polite. And essentially, Alan, I felt like he just didn’t do nothing with her, knowing I was coming to pick her up in August, then September, then late September, I finally picked her up in late September and took her out hunting and realized immediately, this dog is not even force fetched. Do you remember when I brought this little dog to you?

Alan Sandifer: Oh, I remember. And I told you –

Ramsey Russell: What was your initial impressions of her? When I first brought her?

Alan Sandifer: I told you I’d do the best I could and after a month, I was on the verge of calling you and telling you I can’t fix her.

Ramsey Russell: What was wrong with her, Alan? What happened that got her in a place that you were worried you might not be able to fix it?

Alan Sandifer: I took for granted she had been with a trainer 14 months, she should be able to do certain things and she couldn’t. It wasn’t she couldn’t do it, she didn’t know how to do it. And first of all, I’m not the greatest trainer in the world, but I’m going to go slow as the dog needs to go. And when she figured out that I wasn’t going to cook her with a collar, I wasn’t going to get her with a heeling stick, I ain’t going to lie to you, treats in my pocket, I got treats in my pocket right now and she knows it.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.

Alan Sandifer: Teaching her to place for a treat and she realized she was getting rewarded for doing something. And it took 3 weeks to get that done.

Ramsey Russell: But at the same time, you were having to go back and teach her force fetch.

Alan Sandifer: Well, we had to go back and do obedience because you could say heel and she would start out, may start out with you, but if you turned your head, she may be 20 yards to the left going somewhere else. So, we went back through some basic obedience and started just throwing fun stuff for her to retrieve and she’d love to go get it, but come back, drop it. And that’s when I realized, well, crap, going to force fetch her. But we did that –

Ramsey Russell: She wouldn’t even force fetch them mallards you brought out when I brought her down here?

Alan Sandifer: No.

Training Duck Hunting Dogs

It’s like she was 8 weeks old and I’m at a hotel in Saskatoon, I take her out to air, put on a little old leash, she learned to heel immediately, first day she started heeling and sitting on day 2, everything I tried to teach that dog to do, she just did immediately. She was smartest dog ever had.

Ramsey Russell: Been training, throwing all that money at her for all them months. And I always felt like, him thinking he could drag me along and string me along like some silk stocking guy in a big city and have for 2 or 3 or 4 years and her just be a half ass dog, when I came, when he realized, holy cow, this guy is really coming to pick her up, held her high water, I think he just tried to do it all in 30 days and put just too dang much pressure on her. How I felt like he did.

Alan Sandifer: Could have had a cram session and a little bit of this, a little bit of that and try to match it all up and it’s a wreck. She knows enough to be dangerous.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, well, she really did. And I took her hunting on a real nice place up in Missouri, my buddy Ira McCauley and that dog just, it’s like she’d never seen a duck, seen a mark, seen nothing. And I’ll be honest with you, when I dropped that dog off, at that point, having spent 6 or 7 months with her before I dropped her off, I told the guy and I know all dogs are different and everything else, I know that. But I told him, I said, you know, I’m really going to be disappointed if this dog doesn’t have a senior pass. He said, oh, no, I’m really going to be disappointed, because I just got the feeling this dog is the one, it’s just something about her, I’ve never had a dog like this. It’s like she was 8 weeks old and I’m at a hotel in Saskatoon, I take her out to air, put on a little old leash, she learned to heel immediately, first day she started heeling and sitting on day 2, everything I tried to teach that dog to do, she just did immediately. She was smartest dog ever had. So, I was highly disappointed, when I went to Missouri on a great place to duck hunt, we were shooting mallards and this dog was a fool, didn’t know nothing about nothing, didn’t know place, didn’t know nothing about nothing. It’s like he literally just put her in the kennel and charged me and didn’t hit two lick of the snake. But Alan, what was it in her training process, she was down here for a period of time, I dropped her off and it’s right in the middle of duck season and I brought her down here around Christmas break and did not see that dog again until September, in which case she was titled. But when was it after I dropped her off that, what was it – you let her out one day and something just rounded a curve because you called me and you said, hey, I didn’t think it for about a month, but now I’m thinking I can do it. What happened? What did she do? What did it click?

Alan Sandifer: Well, you use a mud hut.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.

Alan Sandifer: And you sent one down here.

Ramsey Russell: I did.

Alan Sandifer: And it took a while to convince her to get in it but for a treat. So, I left it out all the time and we walked by it, and I got her where she would get in it. Well, what turned the light on for me is, we’re 100 yards from it and I pointed and said kennel and she left me like I shot her out of a gun and ran in it and turned around and looked out and I said, lights on, somebody’s home, it’s time to go to work.

Ramsey Russell: That’s her happy place. To this day, I will set the mud hut in the middle of my backyard and all the other 3 mutts are laying on the back porch and I wonder where she is, and I’ll go look, she’s sitting there watching the world go by her in her mud hut, she waiting on something to happen.

Alan Sandifer: You can put it in the living room, I don’t care, on a bus, you put it anywhere and you point to it and she will knock the back out of it.

Ramsey Russell: She sure will.

Alan Sandifer: When she did that, I could hear her tail in there wagging when I finally got to her, I’m old, takes me a while to get that 100 yards.

Ramsey Russell: You had worked with Cooper, you had worked with Stormy, two entirely different personalities from this dog here, they have entirely different personalities we’ll talk about in a minute. But you called me one day, I don’t know, a few months into her training and you said, Ramsey, and you knew Delta, I love that dog.

Alan Sandifer: Delta was more than a meat dog by the way.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, she was more than a meat dog. But you told me, she said, this Char dog might be one of the best dogs you’ve ever had. Something happened. I mean, she must have just gotten off that pressure, you got into her head, treated her how she needed to be treated as an individual, and you all rounded a curve together and rest is history.

Alan Sandifer: Rest is history. She wanted to please then, but she always wants that treat and she knows I carry it, and she will kill herself for a treat. But when she went and got in that mud hut at 100 yards and was just waiting for me to get there, everything just like Domino’s. She started picking the birds up good, coming back, she’d go in that mud hut with that bird and have it hanging out for you. And we started shooting flyers and she started getting a charge out of a flopping bird. Then we taught her to handle and she was just so compliant, biddable and easy going and easy to be around, she wanted to be where you were and see what you were doing.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: And I mean, just the easiest dog to get along. I told you, I said, I’m taking her north, I took her to New York for the summer. And when we brought her back, we actually met, I dropped her off, met you in Meridian, you and Anita.

Ramsey Russell: And you came on back down her home and I headed to camp to go hunting.

Alan Sandifer: You went straight hunting.

Ramsey Russell: The next day, she was fetching and I never looked back, the dog is a whole new dog. Alan, you got an interest in dog training through your family, bird dogs, duck dogs, when did you decide, besides the fact you wanted to teach a dog that you wanted to move into professional? Because I don’t know how many dogs you got in that kennel right there, but it’s a bunch of them. And you’ve had a bunch of dogs in training for how many, 10, 20 years, 30 years? How long have you been doing these?

Alan Sandifer: I don’t know, I trained my first dog by myself. Here’s my age 1978. And my mom still says that’s the best dog I ever trained. But I just had one dog and that dog was like Char was to you, she went everywhere I went, she slept with me, she ate with me that dog was my life. I lost dad when I was a snot nosed kid and of course, I had my grandfathers and my uncles and that dog just filled a void that I had and I put all my time in that dog. Then, of course, you got to go, got to get a job, a real job, you got to go to work, make money and that consumed me for a while. And then she got old and I said, well, I’m going to get me another puppy. And I spent more on that puppy, I shopped trying to find the greatest bred dog I could get and I paid a small fortune back then. Now it wouldn’t buy a backyard dog. Well, we were working 7 to 12, I don’t have the time to do this. I said, I know how good lady was, if I send him to a professional, just think how good he will be.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.

Alan Sandifer: And I did. And then when I went and got him, of course, my expectations were on the moon.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah. How long did you leave her in there for? 6 weeks?

Alan Sandifer: Too long. 6 weeks I wish. Probably a year. And then work had went back to 40 hours a week, I said, well, I got time, I can finish him. And I never been so heartbroken in my life and I brought him home. Here’s this puppy I was so proud to buy, I sent him to a pro and when my mom saw that puppy and she said, you was an idiot. She said, you spent all that money and your dog is 10 times better. She said, why don’t you do it yourself? So, I started doing mine myself. Then my cousin had one, and then my buddy had one, and it led into – and when I retired from a real job.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. You quit working part time 40 hours, started working 120 hours.

Alan Sandifer: Yeah, exactly. And it just snowballed from there. And we’ve got dogs, I say we because the brains, the backbone is Mandy, not me.

Bird Dogs that Can Handle Pressure

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah, I know.

Alan Sandifer: And she’s a way better handler, probably a better trainer. But we’ve got dogs for clients the state of Washington, state of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, I mean, everywhere. And you tell them, when they call you, I can give you 20 names of good trainers, that’s between us, closer and most of ours are repeat just like you. Like you talk about the chicken dog coop, Cooper had more go than tin dogs, Cooper could mark a bird, Cooper didn’t want to wait for you to send her.

Ramsey Russell: No, still doesn’t.

Alan Sandifer: And Cooper wouldn’t deal with pressure real well.

Ramsey Russell: Not at all.

Alan Sandifer: She wanted the bird. But like, when it come to handling, I could make her – but it was never going to be great. And I told you that –

Ramsey Russell: Because she wouldn’t take that pressure.

Alan Sandifer: She wouldn’t take the pressure. And it’s not all about pressure, but sometimes you keep doing the wrong thing, no it’s not getting it, you got to have a little pressure. And coop just, no, that ain’t my bag. But if you shoot that joker and he goes 1000 yards, I’ll be right back.

Ramsey Russell: That yellow chicken dog was not as technical as Char, as technical as Delta, I never could push her out there that way. But if she knew there were birds out there, I could cast her back and she’d go find it. But that dog and her sister Stormy were the rootinest dogs I’ve ever seen. If either one of them dogs think there’s a duck or they smell or even suspect there’s a duck in that thicket, you can’t call them back, you can’t shock them back, you just put your hands in your pocket. But they’re not going to come out without that duck.

Alan Sandifer: No, Coop was bad about that and to the point that you fixing to get wet, because you’re going to have to take a lead and go get her because she ain’t coming back.

Ramsey Russell: No, she ain’t coming back without it. And that’s really, to me, more asset than liability that I got a dog that’s so badly – the ducks, impossible ducks that either one of them two dogs have picked up that I don’t believe Char would pick up. Char get in there and hunt it and then she says, fuck it, I’m coming out. I’m ready to go mark, and get some more birds. She’s a little more efficient than that, just shoot another one we’ll get it. But those two dogs are Rude and Stormy, because this meant something to me, Forrest was in high school, it was his first real dog, we brought him down here, and I can remember where I was. I was walking down a creek bank, Forrest and I were going to go out and shoot some wood ducks that morning at camp, and you called and you said, hey, man, I got some bad news, this little dog just ain’t going to work out, I can’t get it to do nothing. I said, well, Forrest gets to do all kinds of stuff, he said, well, I can’t get it do nothing.

The Love of a Dog

And I told Forrest I said, this would be the best dog you’ve ever had.

Alan Sandifer: I force fetched her and she held a grudge and she hated me and she hated my guts. Forrest came, you sent him down here –

Ramsey Russell: Well, you said, send your kid, he maybe me one of them dogs that’s so connected to him. And you taught him to train, and he trained the dog under your supervision and she’s a great. She might be one of the best dogs he ever has.

Alan Sandifer: Hey, she’s going to be hard to beat. But she loved Forrest. He could ask her to run to a pit of fire and she would go. She hated me with a passion because I put the pressure on her to force fetch her. And I told Forrest I said, this would be the best dog you’ve ever had.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Oh, it is.

Alan Sandifer: I said, because she wants to do it for you. And I think Char has got to the point that she wants to do it for daddy.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, she does. She wants to do it for herself now, Alan.

Alan Sandifer: Well, she do it for herself, but when she comes back here just to stay in shape, she really doesn’t. I mean, she does the work, but you can tell it ain’t in her like it once was. She wants daddy and let’s go shoot ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Well, you bring up a good point. We talk about a lot, Alan, because she was trained playing your game AKC. I take her out and play my game, and I ain’t the trainer you are. I don’t have the expectations you do, I don’t have the heavy hand that a trainer does because of my expectations, it’s a totally different game. It’s apples and oranges. But like last time I brought her by here, you all were out here running, you got an incredible technical pond and you run off these high points and throw these marks and you were going to throw a mark, I said no, don’t throw that and she ain’t going to do nothing, she did it when she left here. And they shoot that mark out there about 300, 400 yards, and she runs out there about 50, 60 yards and starts hunting. I knew she wasn’t looking 400, 500 yards away no more because the countless ducks, she’s picked up within 40, 50 yards.

Alan Sandifer: Well, daddy can’t shoot that far.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Alan Sandifer: And I mean, they will build an invisible barrier.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: She knows how far these ducks are falling and they can fall behind her, she doesn’t have to see them, but she knows the direction and she pretty much knows how far. And so, when she comes back here, of course, it’s longer and it’s stretched out further and she does it, I mean, crap, she’s master title dog, she could have stayed in that game and been awesome, but as you said, hey, I let her play that game long enough, them ribbons don’t mean crap to me, it’s time to go get ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. She’s my partner in crime, man. No matter what the weather is doing, no matter what, we got a habit. I hear a lot of people outside of this fear of training, there’s a lot of mindsets that you don’t use electrical pressure collars and stuff like that. But I’ll let her out. If we were hunt right now, I’d let her out and she goes and does her business in the dark and I’m getting suited up, and by the time I get those waders clipped and turn around, she’s sitting there waiting on her collar. And once that collar goes on, buddy, her tail start wagging, she starts vibrating, she won’t leave us my leg and she is like, she’s just chomping at the bits to go hunting. She gets that part of it.

Alan Sandifer: Well, you make them a learner, not a burner.

Ramsey Russell: I never have to use – once in a blue moon, like last year in Canada, another dog on the other end was breaking, a young dog and it was just that competitive. And there was a couple of times she come back grinning like a possum because I had that continuous stimulus on. But normally I just give it a little vibrate, just a vibration, no stimulus at all. And she knows I want her to do something and she’ll come back or whatever the case may be. And really, it usually is so rare that I have to do anything at all with this dog, it’s usually buried up my coat or down to my waiters and once she messes up, I have to start scrambling, trying to get my handle out of.

Alan Sandifer: Too late.

Training Dogs or People?

And besides that, you’re going to need training because this man has never owned a duck dog like what he wants.

Ramsey Russell: Alan, I want to swap into this, because I see this a lot. I come out here and right now down the lake Mandy and some of your guests are out here running big blinds, big handles, big marks out there in your technical pond, you all’s training grounds. And I’m always reluctant to do that because I’m a lousy handler compared to you all. I don’t play that game. I can drive this little dog a couple of hundred yards over the water, maybe more over dry ground. But I don’t really play that game and it brings up a good point. I can handle my dog to pick up a lot of ducks and geese and swans and you handle your dog differently playing this AKC game that you all play. But I see a big disconnect. I realized that if I really want to get the best out of my dog, like you and Mandy can do, I need training. Do you see that a lot? Do a lot of your clients that play game. But the clients that do need training.

Alan Sandifer: They do. Most of ours, like I said are repeat client, competition, master national, like right now, Charlie’s over in gettings Texas, at the amateur national, whatever they call it. And Charlie comes 3 days a week to learn to handle. But a lot of dogs go home, and most of them are – well, I watched you, I can do it and they can’t do it.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve told me some horror stories about that over the years. And you can tell when I come back the first time I ever brought Char dog. Because here’s my philosophy, there are times when I go for a month or 6 weeks at a time, she can’t come with me. So, she’s either in the backyard doing nothing or she’s down here, body’s in motion stay in motion. And I believe that the best way to treat an athlete, keep them fit, keep them top shape, keep them sharp, keep them hard, instead of just letting them be couch potatoes during the offseason. That’s just my philosophy. I bring her down here, you ain’t really train her, you just run her in the mornings and what not –

Alan Sandifer: She just gets her workouts.

Ramsey Russell: Gets her workout. And every time I pick her up, she looks like she’s been lifting weights or something.

Alan Sandifer: Well, I mean, in swimming, she does a lot of swimming, which builds her muscles. But there’s a lot that will take the dog and then they’ll call you, hey, my dog won’t do this and you go to asking, well, what did you do? And you come to find out, they didn’t communicate. He didn’t know how to communicate to the dog, the dog didn’t know what he wanted, we got other situations that I hate. One, say you bring me a young dog and it excels, it does great, it’s the breeder that’s why that dog was great, the breeder. Genetic, the breeder. That’s the way it goes. If the dog kind of like Stormy, I forced fetched her and after that she turned me off. So, I would call the owner and say hey, I can’t do nothing with it. Well, then it goes home and starts doing just like Stormy did for Forrest. And, well, the reason it wasn’t no good, then it’s the trainer. If it’s great, it’s the breeder, if it’s not, it’s the trainer’s fault and that just drives me bonkers.

Ramsey Russell: I had a buddy ask me the other day, well, it was back during duck season, he was hunting with Stormy and Char dog, we’re all out there hunting together and had a great hunt. And he said, man, I’m thinking about getting me a dog. Him not knowing that adding a 3rd dog in the equation kind of just limits him hunting with me and Forrest, we’re going to bring ours, right? But anyway, I said, well, there’s a lot of good genetics out there, talk to a good trainer, talk to somebody, you see some dogs that are proven, you can buy that genetic pool, get pretty good odds, you’re getting a great one, not to say you got guaranteed. Because kids are different, dogs are different. But he asked a question, and I know you’re going to enjoy this, but he says, how long do you think I need to train that dog for? Would 3 months be enough? I said, 3 months? No, it could be a year, it could be 9 months on the low side to have, I think, just a rough shotgunning dog. But it could be way longer than that, depending on your dog and what you want and what you expect. And besides that, you’re going to need training because this man has never owned a duck dog like what he wants. So talk about that a little bit. Do you ever hear from folks that want to spend a month or 2? What can you do in a month or 2 or 3, Alan?

Alan Sandifer: Absolutely nothing.

Ramsey Russell: Just a little bit of basic obedience?

Alan Sandifer: We have this other situation that we get into. Somebody buys a puppy and you know what it’s like to raise a puppy. They going to tear up stuff, I mean, it’s a full time job. They call and say, hey, I can’t do this, my wife said, this puppy or me has got to go, will you raise my puppy? I said, well, yeah, I will. I said, but it costs the same to raise your puppy as it does to train a dog, so yeah, I will. Well, usually we don’t take a dog till they’re 6 months old, basically shedding their baby teeth to start training, formal training. You play with them, get them retrieving in the water, teaching them to sit, but there’s no pressure if they don’t do it right. So, they get into it, you’ve raised it for about four and a half months where you can actually start to train the dog. 6 weeks into that, they decide, I’m going to come get my dog. Okay, your dog. I’m not holding a gun on you. They come get it, then they call you mad. My dog ain’t this, my dog won’t do that, my dog’s been there 7 months and won’t do this. Yeah, you forget that first 4.5 months he was a puppy.

Ramsey Russell: A puppy. They got to really get their permanent teeth before you start the technical part of it, which is 6 to 7 months old. There used to be an old guy named on the scene in the dog training duck hunt world of Mississippi, Mr. Fred Riley. And he was running a Magnolia AKC Retrievers club out of Kearney Park when I got that Delta dog, she was a baby, a puppy, and I started going out there when she was 8, 9 weeks old, it wasn’t nothing she could do then, but as she grew up, and one day I’m going to say she’s about 2 or 3 months old, he said, come out here to my camp and Mossy Island and bring that dog, will you? We’ll visit for a little bit. And I wish I had that piece of notebook paper he wrote down. Because this wasn’t nothing about training a dog, it was about what I should do as an owner to socialize that animal. So, when he was given to a pro trainer to start force fetching on, she understood the human language. And it was the craziest things like take the dog around horses, take the dog around chickens, take the dog in public crowds on a leash, take it to loud events, just everything humanly possible to expose that dog to people and teach this dog these 7, 8, 9, 10 commands. Sit, heel, come, bop, just all this different stuff, he said, and if you’ll do that, you’ve stacked your odds that when you give it to somebody to train, that dog understands to communicate on the back end of that, Alan, I’d imagine after all these years, since 1970, something you’ve been training, you might have a few duck hunters that want a duck dog, show up that because they work a lot, they do a lot, and they ain’t got kids, they live a professional life, maybe they ain’t really taught that dog to socialize like you need. So, even when you get a 6 or 7 month old puppy, you might have to go back and start teaching it some basic socialization skills.

Alan Sandifer: We’ve had puppies, I call them puppies, if they’re under 2 years old, I’ll call them a puppy. We’ve had some dropped off that they were purchased just like you said, somebody that work, put them in a kennel, paid somebody to feed them and water them and then at 6, 7 months old bring it here and it’d be like a wild animal, doesn’t know anything about you petting it, handling it, it’s kennel blind. It wants to stay in that run and that’s its safe place. You try to put it on a lead and they go to alligator rolling, biting, fear biting, and I mean, they just total messed up. They don’t come here messed up, we mess them up.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: No different than peewee football, little league baseball. Every kid out there somewhere has these aspirations, I’m going to be a pro. You can have a litter of puppies, 10 puppies, you got 1, 2 maybe are excellent, some average, and you got some that just won’t make it, it don’t matter who the mom and daddy is.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I’ve had those dogs, I’ve had them all.

Alan Sandifer: Right. So have I.

Ramsey Russell: It’s as expensive to feed a mutt as it is a great dog. All things equal, you’re going to have as much money tied up in a dog. It just ain’t really what you want as a dog, the best dog you ever had, all things equal.

Alan Sandifer: It is. But back to like the kids, oh, I’m going to play pro football. Well out of that team as they go through school, just like Forrest and them did, a few of them, a low percentage gets a scholarship to go to college. Everyone that’s in there, and it’s a lot of them, I’m going to be a pro ball player. Out of that percentage, very few go to the pros and those that do, very few end up playing. The dogs are the same way. I mean, when you get it, you got aspire that this is going to be the greatest dog that’s ever been when in reality it may not be. But if you love it and you do the best you can with it and it does the best it can, you got to be happy. You give me all you got, I’m satisfied.

How to Choose a Better Duck Dog

…I really like this dog, wasn’t the fastest dog, but I really like the dog’s attitude around people, its mannerisms and go that route. 

Ramsey Russell: What advice do you have for anybody listening that wants a better duck dog or a great duck dog in terms of finding, stacking their odds at finding the breeding part of the equation you were talking about earlier, what can I do?

Alan Sandifer: If they’ve not been around dogs, they just up and decide, hey, I’m going to get me a lab just because it’s AKC registered doesn’t mean deadly. Go find somebody that has dogs, watch them. But don’t just go watch one dog, watch several dogs. And they all have tendencies and you pick out something hey, I really like this dog, wasn’t the fastest dog, but I really like the dog’s attitude around people, its mannerisms and go that route. You got to have some proven genetics to get started, doesn’t mean you’ll make it, but, I mean, your odds are better.

Ramsey Russell: And it seems to me like there really are a lot of great lab genetics out here.

Alan Sandifer: Oh, it’s tons.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of good genetics.

Alan Sandifer: Tons. I don’t know, I can’t name them all. I wouldn’t try to name them because I’d leave somebody out and they’d be butt hurt.

Ramsey Russell: But a guy like yourself, you would have a better idea than I would of a good breed. Dogs that you’ve seen maybe for even generations out there campaigning on the AKC trial or even the UKC trial. Because I know Mandy does a lot of UKC stuff, too. You’d have a good idea, that may be the dog. Like I tell you this, I always had this opinion of chocolate labs that maybe the chocolate labs I’ve owned really weren’t that terribly good. I’m a black dog bias, and I got a buddy, TJ, that got a dog from me. And a dog has never had such a good life as TJ and Christie give it, but she’s a heck of a great dog. And see, you’re aware of stuff like that. I think people like you that do 24/7, 365 days a year dealing with dogs and going to campaigns and have a lot of people coming in and out training dogs, you’ve got your finger on the puff a lot better than I would.

Alan Sandifer: TJ actually has got his second one.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, does he?

Alan Sandifer: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Well, good.

Alan Sandifer: And another chocolate, he likes mahogany.

Ramsey Russell: I just like a good dog.

Alan Sandifer: It could be green with yellow stripes. And if the fact that he can go get the chicken and come back.

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover

Teach a dog to communicate, teach a dog to crate.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I heard a story about Charlie Moody had told me all about the sire of Cooper and the mama wasn’t all this and all that, but he said, I think for 250 bucks, she’ll make you a good duck dog. I talked to that little girl from up in Louisville, Mississippi, up in the hills, and a little high schooler had these dogs for sale. And the one question I never asked was, what color is? I just assumed it was black. And when I picked that puppy up, it was white as a marshmallow. But she ended up being a great dog. She really did. Color ain’t everything.

Alan Sandifer: Color is not everything.

Ramsey Russell: Can’t judge it by the book, can you?

Alan Sandifer: No, you can’t.

Ramsey Russell: And what about training? Now, let’s dig in deep for – So, I get this dog, what would you suggest? I’m going to bring home 7 week old puppy, what do I need to teach that dog until. Walk me through a great process. A dog you would like to see come up, all things equal, of what that owner has done for the first 6 or 7 months of his life.

Alan Sandifer: First of all, everything you name that the old man gave you the list of –

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: I want to crate train it.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely.

Alan Sandifer: Teach it. Hey, that’s a safe spot and don’t potty in there. We go outside to potty because there’s nothing worse than getting a dog that was allowed to be dirty in the kennel, because they didn’t have time or didn’t take the time to teach it to go out. Go out and potty, basically house break it. Get in that kennel, run and when you start feeding, they all going to get amped up and crap at the gate and then spin a hole in it, finger paint, I call it a Poo-Caso. And you walk down there to feed this dog, and they jump up and hit that gate with their feet, and it just slings it all on you, in your mouth, it goes everywhere. And it is so hard to walk down there day in and day out, knowing what you’re going to receive. And that’s from a dog that was allowed to, just who wasn’t taught.

Ramsey Russell: Teach a dog to communicate, teach a dog to crate. It’s Funny that, because we’re sitting here talking, I picked up Char today, she’s sitting in her crate, that is her happy place.

Alan Sandifer: Oh, she loves it.

Ramsey Russell: She loves that crate right there, and she loves that mud hut. And I’ve noticed when I hunt with dogs or when a dog is at the house or a dog needs its place, I’ve got my recliner, she needs her place. And as long as she’s got her place, trouble’s minimized. Whether I’m in a duck blind or I’m here or she’s in back of the truck, she’s got her place. Now we go in a hotel room, Alan, and you’ll love this, you know where her place is?

Alan Sandifer: On the bed.

Ramsey Russell: On the end of the bed. Yeah, right there on that corner, she knows exactly where her place is. And sometimes you look into a Hilton or something, it’s got a little couch in there, and she goes right forward. She can stretch out.

Alan Sandifer: I can’t remember how far back it may have been that I hadn’t slept with a dog.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a big deal.

Alan Sandifer: Kind of a security blanket, I guess.

Ramsey Russell: And then what? So, they’re 6 or 7 months old, what advice would you give for picking a good trainer? Like, I’ve had bad trainers, you’ve had bad trainers.

Alan Sandifer: I did.

How to Choose a Good Waterfowl Hunting Dog Trainer

Watch every dog they bring off. If every dog they bring off is all happy, tail wagging gets out there, does a nice job, upbeat, then you watch one come up there, tail between his legs, it’s all hunkered down, they don’t want to go, read the dogs, the dogs will tell you.

Ramsey Russell: What advice would you give? I think it’s as much of what they – like I know what you and your wife have earned in the AKC circuit, I think you all have got credentials on your own. But at the same time, I got a click with you and I get along with you good, I get along with Mandy good, you all get along my wife, get along my dogs. But what am I really looking at? If I’m going to start shopping, because there are some, not all trainers are created equal.

Alan Sandifer: Well, yeah. And people say, do you know how expensive that trainer is? Well, he’s not near as expensive if he’s good as a bad one.

Ramsey Russell: That’s the truth.

Alan Sandifer: But you don’t like the competition. AKC, you don’t care nothing about the ribbons, nothing. But that’s a good place to go and watch and you can watch a pro. He’s going to have 4, 10, 16 dogs running in the competition. Watch every dog they bring off. If every dog they bring off is all happy, tail wagging gets out there, does a nice job, upbeat, then you watch one come up there, tail between his legs, it’s all hunkered down, they don’t want to go, read the dogs, the dogs will tell you.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Have you got a – like I know when I saw Char the first time, head up, tail up, absolutely an impervious posture, just bulletproof and bold. I knew that’s what I was looking for. I’ve done stuff like take a puppy and put the nose on the wall and a dog that’ll just sit there forever at the wall, probably ain’t the dog I want. I want a dog, I ain’t sitting in the wall, I want to look out here. Do you got any tips for picking a good puppy? Or do you just reach down and say, good breeding, she’s a female, I want this one.

Alan Sandifer: My grandfather would say, do you want a male or female? And you said, I want a female. He said, take all the females, put in this box, go put all the males up, come back over there, close your eyes, reach in this box, grab a puppy, and that’s the one you go home with. A swag, he would call it. He said that was a scientific wild ass guess.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: And that’s – I don’t know, Mandy can pick one, I don’t have a way of –

Ramsey Russell: You just swag it through there and go with it.

Alan Sandifer: My most consistent dog was one that nobody wanted.

Ramsey Russell: Right. You hold any credence to like the run of the litter? You never really know what you’re going to get until they fill out, do you?

Alan Sandifer: No. One of my dogs is a runt and she was, I’m not going to say the best dog in the litter, but she was one of the top ones. But we own her brother too, and he’s 3 times her size and just as good. So I’m not going to say the runt. You walk up and look at them and whichever one draws your attention, grab it. I mean, are you going to roll dice regardless.

Ramsey Russell: You are. And there’s a lot to be said, I know people that will only get a started or finished dog. And all things equal, those dogs aren’t cheap, but all things equal sometimes you’re probably going to have about that much dog, that much money in a dog by the time you finish it.

Alan Sandifer: If you buy a good bred puffy price, I’m just going to throw this out there because it seems to be in the middle. $2,500 for a 7 week old puppy, you raise it till it’s 6 months, you don’t done all the vet crap, you got a bunch of money tied up in it. Then you take it to a trainer and after 6 months they tell you, hey, this is just not what you’re going to be looking for. Well, now, what have you got in it? And then you going to find somebody to give it away because you don’t want it, you don’t want a pet, you’ve got a pet sits in your wife’s lap.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Alan Sandifer: This dog needs to be a teammate of yours. You got to have somebody to play ball with. And if it’s not going to do what Ramsey needs it to do, what’s a use Ramsey owning it. So, you go with a started, well, you got an idea, hey, the dog’s doing pretty good, dog made it through force fetch.

Ramsey Russell: What would a dog be? A started dog would be force fetched and a year or two old?

Alan Sandifer: No, probably a year old through obedience, force fetch, steady, deliver to hand. They may be started a little three hand casting, but it ain’t going to be much far as a started dog to me. Now started dog to a lot of people, you hold it and it goes and gets it and comes back drops it at your feet, that’s started.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Alan Sandifer: Mine’s just a little different. And a finished dog, yeah, they’re expensive.

Ramsey Russell: Probably going to be titled, isn’t it?

Alan Sandifer: Oh, it’s going to be titled and expensive. But if you look at it, they probably got 18 to 28 months training in this dog that was a $2,500 puppy and you add the months of training up, well, they really not making no money. So, it’s whatever you want. Do you want instant gratification? You buy a finished dog, just plug and play or do you want satisfaction? You bought a puppy that you picked out and now you’ve raised it and now it’s in training and it turns out you’ve got satisfaction.

Ramsey Russell: I don’t really care about the ribbons on the one hand, it doesn’t mean anything to me, I couldn’t tell you where none of my dog ribbons are, probably got thrown away, but what it means to me – but the thing I do like about that process is it’s like a report card on a child, you got an idea of what you’re dealing with. What is this dog capable of? And by the time you get to master titled, that dog is capable of a lot of pressure, it’s capable of a lot of thinking, it’s got a lot of wheels turning in its head when it gets to there because of the poison birds and the long and the handling and all that other stuff. So you’ve got a good idea of what – I’ve always felt like. If I gave you a dog, Alan, and you got through junior and it passed a bunch of seniors, you got through senior and it passed a bunch of masters or whatever else, at least I’ve got an idea of, I’ve brought that dog to its fullest potential. And that’s what the whole process means to me. In my humble opinion, a dog that is AKC master, it’ll do bite anything any duck hunter wants it to do. Once you teach it that game.

Alan Sandifer: Definitely. I don’t want to bring up names, but Sam Pierce.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.

Alan Sandifer: Love him to death. He had cowboy, we qualified cowboy for the national and Sam said, no, we going to Canada hunting. But Sam, he was getting old, Sam bought a well bred, Sam was a yellow dog guy. He bought a well bred little yellow female and raised her just like he was supposed to, he did all the right things, brought her here and I fought with that dog, and I told Sam, I said, Sam, I just don’t think this dog is going to be what you want. He said, well, I’ll find her a home.

Ramsey Russell: That’s it.

Alan Sandifer: He did. He could still hunt cowboy, he was getting on his last leg and Sam called me and said, I got to have a dog. And I told him, I said, all I really got is my personal dog, a little black female, I said, she’s never hunted, she don’t know nothing about hunting, she don’t know anything about a gun, we’ve been training her for field trials. And I said, but if it’s you, you come get her, take her, try, if you like her, I’ll sell her to you. I said, but you’re going to have to train her to hunt. He probably had her a week and said, she ain’t coming back to you.

Ramsey Russell: He loves that little dog.

Alan Sandifer: Yeah, that was Spanky. But he did bring her back, we finished her titles master hunter, qualified for umpteen national, caught some bad breaks at national, but Sam loves that dog.

Ramsey Russell: She’s a great dog from what I have heard and amazing duck dog.

Alan Sandifer: She is so fun to watch, either in competition or hunting. And she sleeps with Sam’s boys, she goes to his office, he’s a doctor, you go in his office, and she’s laid up on a leather sofa. So, it was the greatest –

Ramsey Russell: My kind of doctor, by the way.

Alan Sandifer: Yeah, my kind of, yeah, mine, too. I drive all the way over there.

Ramsey Russell: I do, too.

Alan Sandifer: But I was sad to see her go, but you got to be happy for her. I mean, she has the life.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Yesteryear Master Title Dog Versus Now

They got to learn to honor. 

Alan Sandifer: It don’t get no better. And hopefully, when he decides to raise a litter of puppies, I’m going to snag me one.

Ramsey Russell: I might also. I was talking to somebody last year, a client of mine, who, for some reason, I thought he was, I don’t know, I just would have assumed he was police, law enforcement or something, but he’s not, he’s a dog trainer. Not as active as you are, not nearly, but he’s dog trainer forever and we got to talk about this and somehow another he was telling me how, and I’m sure you’ve seen this change what I’m asking you about is how back in the day, a master then versus a master now, it just continues to evolve, longer distances, more technical marks, just a whole lot of grading. I said, well, I don’t understand that, he said, well, it’s easy, son, he says, the training has improved, the trainers have improved, the dogs have improved, the genetics have improved and there’s got to be a way to shake out the wheat from the chaff, it’s got to be extremely more competitive. How have you seen that competitiveness change? Then your first master title dog versus now, how has it changed? What would be a yesteryear master title dog versus now?

Alan Sandifer: My first master title dog would probably be a weak senior dog.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Alan Sandifer: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: This changed that much? Wow. And break me through real quick, what’s the difference in a senior and master title dog? On what that dog has done or can achieve?

Alan Sandifer: Well, I mean, in senior, it’s a double mark, you’re going to have two on land, two on water, and you’re going to have blinds and they have to honor, which is the beginning of a duck dog, really?

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Alan Sandifer: They got to learn to honor. When you go to master, it’s going to be triples, poison birds, more technical blinds, longer marks, you’ll have three series instead of two, you’ll have a land, a water, a land water combination and judges are getting, for no other word inventive. They are coming up with stuff, it’s all about the placement of the bird, you try to put it where you know a dog don’t want to go and I prefer that over tricking one. I mean, their brain ain’t as big around as a baseball, it ain’t hard to trick them.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. So when you say try to trick them, putting a bird like, where doesn’t a dog want to go? I’ll ask you that question first. And then how would I trick that dog?

Alan Sandifer: Okay, we’re looking down there in that group of trees. All right. Well, naturally, if the bird was thrown out from them, that’s the easy route they want to go there. Now, you throw it in that group of trees, up against a tree, the dog is –

Ramsey Russell: It’s not instinctive.

Alan Sandifer: Well, no. Well, I did mark it, I don’t run down here, but was it this tree? Was it that tree? No, it can’t be over there, just for different things.

Ramsey Russell: And I’ve seen how they’ll plant a bird or throw a bird to where the dog has to go through that scent cone to get the market supposed to be going –

Alan Sandifer: Running through an old fall and I mean, you’re talking about your meat dog, you call her a meat dog, I don’t.

Ramsey Russell: She’s just old meat dog. A cover hog when she’s on the bed.

Alan Sandifer: My game here, she’s taught to run through that old scent, your game she’s taught when that nose smells that bird, you best dig in, you own it. No different than ran a blind with her yesterday, had some cover that she had to go by, well, when she got to the cover, she kind of want to turn me, hey, it’s got to be right here, because when I’m hunting with my daddy, they always in this cover. So it’s just different things.

Ramsey Russell: Last question, Alan, what’s the difference in training? One of these little Dotson’s you got, that’s my favorite video you send me is when you – That little dog you sent me yesterday, a video you got that little Dotson is yammering, barking, ready to go and it must have been a 70 yard mark in the water.

Alan Sandifer: Yeah, if the big dogs had as much desire as that little dog, it’d be an easy life. I don’t do social media stuff. But, I mean, Mandy’s got videos of me pinching her ear, force fetching her, sitting in my lap and then later saying, force fetch is complete, holding it, fetch, she grabs it, hauled butt, jumps up on the couch, turn around, sits there and holds it. Mandy has run her as a pickup dog in a test, the test dog. Of course, started junior stuff, but she’ll swim all the way across the pond just like the big dogs, when we’re shooting flyers, she expects to get one. You catch the flyers and put them in the crate, and then you got to pry her off that crate because she’s trying to tear in there and get to them. And loves the water to the point now she’s done figured out that, hey, we’re going to let her have one or two and then somebody else’s turn. Mandy has had to get a dip net to get her out of the water. She’ll bring it back to the bank and when you go to, then she going to go back in the water and look at you about 10ft out there like, well, I brought the bird back, you can get the bird, I ain’t coming out because you’re going to pick me up.

Ramsey Russell: You ever had anybody call you up and wanted a Char dog?

Alan Sandifer: Yes, and a Spanky. Those 2, they’ll call you and say, I’m looking for a dog. And I said, well, what are you looking for? You want started dog, finished dog? I want a dog like Char, well, that don’t just happen.

Ramsey Russell: The stars really do got to kind of line up between breeding and background and experiences and training, more than just a month or 2 training.

Alan Sandifer: And Char is biddable. And people say, what’s biddable? Char would do whatever to please you, if she thinks she’s rewarded.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Alan Sandifer: And a biddable dog is the way to go and you just happen to luck up.

Ramsey Russell: I got lucky this time, I will say that, it is a lot of luck going into it. Folks, you all been listening to my buddy Alan Sandifer down at Gator Point Kennels, Tylertown, Mississippi. He don’t do social media, but his wife does. You all can search Gator Point Kennels on Instagram and reach out to Mandy, she is the brains of the operation. Thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, see you next time.


Podcast Sponsors:, your proven source for the very best waterfowl hunting adventures. Argentina, Mexico, 6 whole continents worth. For two decades, we’ve delivered real duck hunts for real duck hunters. because the next great hunt is closer than you think. Search our database of proven US and Canadian outfits. Contact them directly with confidence.

Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks