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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Consider working your dog to get in shape prior to hunting season. © Mark S. Werner
Consider working your dog to get in shape prior to hunting season.

© Mark S. Werner

August 2007

Creature comforts

Feed those birds and get your pup in shape.

Natasha Kassulke

Shaping up for hunting season
No room for Pepe Le Pew
A bird has got to eat

Shaping up for hunting season

It's not enough to work out yourself. Your canine companion needs pre-season hunting conditioning, too. Retrieving, pointing, flushing and tracking game can poop out your pooch if he has been taking full advantage of those lazy "dog days" of summer instead of feeling the burn of exercise.

As with any athlete, some of the most important training is that which is done during the off season. Now is the time to be working your dog. Let those retrievers roam with you as you stake out prime hunting territory. Consider working your dog with a "dummy" bird.

The Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit offers dry and wet training grounds for people who want to train their hunting dogs. The wet dog training area, located on Division Road just south of Highway F, is recommended for retriever and waterfowl skills training, while the dry dog training area, located on Highway U just east of Highway A, should be used for developing upland bird skills. Call (262) 626-2116 for more information.

The Richard Bong State Recreation Area also has space to train both hunting and sled dogs. All such activities take place in the special use zone or managed hunt areas. The Richard Bong State Recreation Area is eight miles southeast of Burlington on State Highway 142. For more information, call (262) 878-5600.

Consult the Wisconsin Dog Training and Trialing Regulations to determine if a permit is required for the type of training you plan to do. This publication (WM-444 04/2004) summarizes Wisconsin's laws, which pertain to individuals who possess a bird dog or hound dog training license.

See Wisconsin Dog Training and Trialing Regulations for more information.

And don't forget to provide lots of water and some "atta-boys and girls" for a job well done!

No room for Pepe Le Pew

Twenty years later, and I still remember the smell. It was a sort of stinky Bloody Mary cocktail — a combination of tomato juice, skunk scent and wet dog. Our collie, Midnight, had encountered a skunk and my mom got busy bathing him in the age-old remedy for deskunking – tomato juice.

From experience, I can tell you, tomato juice — and vinegar, which also is often recommended — don't work well for countering the foul smelling musk. They barely mask the odor and do not remove the smell. If your pet encounters a skunk, here is some better advice:

  • First, make sure your pet has not been bitten by the skunk. Skunks can carry rabies. A trip to the vet also is warranted if your pet's eyes are red or inflamed.

  • Then, bathe the animal. Treatment is more effective if done immediately – before the dog's coat dries. Wear rubber gloves and old clothes. One bathing technique widely touted for eliminating skunk odor calls for mixing the following:

One quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
One-quarter cup baking soda
One teaspoon strong liquid soap

The ingredients will fizz when mixed and use it while it is still foaming. Keep the mixture away from the pet's eyes, nose and mouth. Leave the lather on for up to 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with tap water.

A bird has got to eat

It's the season for bird seed sales. In fact, many nature centers and environmental groups host fund-raising seed sales in September and October while birdwatchers beef up their supplies for winter feeding.

Watch for notices of bird seed sales in your area. The Audubon Society, local birding clubs, nature centers and even farmer's market vendors offer some sweetheart deals on their own or partner with businesses such as pet supply stores and garden centers to sell high-quality mixes on a pre-order basis.


  • Black oil sunflower – thin-shelled, high in fat, favored by grosbeaks, cardinals, finches and chickadees

  • Striped sunflower – for larger birds that open shells like jays and woodpeckers

  • Hulled sunflower – all meat and no mess for finches and siskins

  • Safflower seed – songbirds like 'em, squirrels and blackbirds don't

  • Niger (thistle) seed – finches and chickadees

  • Cracked corn – doves, jays, and ducks

Natasha Kassulke is creative products manager for Wisconsin Natural Resources.