Opening Day is for the Dogs


Why Opening Day is for Your Hunting Dog

I don’t know how they know, but they know.  Maybe it’s the cooler nights, or the shorter days that inevitably signal the coming of fall.  Or maybe it’s the decoy painting, camo organizing, and gun cleaning that coincides with the onset of hunting season.  However it happens, our retrievers know that it’s opening day. 


Most of us have been daydreaming and preparing for this day for the better part of a year.  For us hunters, opening day has a certain culture, tradition, and aura around it that can’t be matched.  When the early mornings roll around and we head out to the blind, it signals an opportunity to make new memories with family, friends and most importantly, the dogs.


Unlike most of us who have day jobs and endless other responsibilities that keep our minds occupied throughout the offseason, our dogs have been patiently waiting for this since the last feathers were in their mouth – their sole purpose is to perform on this day. Opening day signals a new season for our dogs to learn, chase their instincts, and do what they’re born and bred to do.  Whether you have a junior hunter ready for his first season, a seasoned gundog in his prime, or a veteran hunting out his twilight years, this is what they live for.   


Opening day is embedded in the DNA of our retrievers – they’re back on the job for another season and more ready than ever.  For us hunters and handlers, it’s a day of both anticipation and excitement.  We’ve worked most of the offseason brushing up on skills that may have needed some refinement during last year’s hunts and have tuned our dogs to the best of our abilities in preparation for the upcoming season.  Now, it’s time to watch them work.  Handling, steadiness, marking ability – here’s where it all comes together. 


As you enter the blind for the first time this season, take a moment to get a good look at the dog you’re hunting with – they’re the most important partner we have with us in the blind.  We ask a lot of our hunting dogs; they sit steady for hours in the worst of weather, jump into freezing cold water, and trust us as we send them for retrieves across the marsh.  There are a limited amount of opening days in each of our lifetimes, both hunters and dogs alike – and our dogs certainly end up on the shorter end of that stick.  Each opening day signals another year gone by, and for gundog owners, that’s never taken for granted.


As you head out there this fall, shoot straight, call hard, and if you’re a gundog owner, remember – as much as we’re out there on opening day for ourselves, we really do it for the dogs.