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Thread: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

  1. #1
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    Oct 2010
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    How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    With this cold snap upon us now I was wondering how cold is too cold for a furry friends doing water retrieves? I figure labs, goldens and chessies can handle colder water than versatiles like griffs and other wirehairs. My griff doesn't have much belly hair. lol

    She does wear a 5mm neoprene vest but I've got to figure that -14 which is about 7 degrees F, compounded by wind chill, has got to freeze the fur on the dog when it's out of the water. Would hate to see a dog get hypothermia.

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  3. #2
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    I used to hunt ducks above the Harrison River Bridge with my first lab when the only open water
    was the fast moving river itself. I carried an old sleeping bag in my pack to wrap him up in immediately
    after each time he plunged in to retrieve a bird. He had the advantage of his inner fur which didn't
    seem to get soaked like his outer layer. His wet outer layer would freeze white right away once he came
    out of the water. My worry was for his feet, legs, and underbelly...especially when sitting waiting for birds.

  4. #3
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    It really depends on the dog. Some handle cold/wet better than others.

    That said, you Lower mainlanders have a different idea of what cold is compared to those of us who live in the interior.

    Iíve hunted in minus 20 to minus 30 when the only open water was at the mouth of a creek coming into a frozen lake. That Lab would charge out breaking ice to make the retrieve and when he hit the shore after 1 or 2 minutes would turn solid white as the water froze on him......still wagging his tail and ready for more. This was all before neoprene vests were available. He never seemed to be bothered by it.

    Other Labs Iíve had would never be able to stand up to that type of cold.

    Know your dog, know his limitations and hunt accordingly. Be smart about it because dogs do get hypothermic so know the signs and be prepared to act quickly.

    One thing for sure is a dog who is kept in the house will have a far lower tolerance to cold than one who acclimatized from being kenneled outside.

    There is no single lowest temperature for all dogs. Wind plays a huge factor in how much cold a dog can tolerate.
    "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donel fat"

  5. #4
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^this^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ end of story.
    "BORN TO HUNT"
    Foxton's Cuervo Gold "KEELA" Oct. 2004-June 2017. Always in my blind and my heart.

  6. #5
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Had someone post this on my facebook WPG dog site. I wonder how accurate it is.


  7. #6
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Like LG says there is no set scale for cold and dogs, my Spaniels and Goldens used to stay out all day at -20 they had shelters but rarely used them that being said they acclimatized themselves through fall and early winter.
    "BORN TO HUNT"
    Foxton's Cuervo Gold "KEELA" Oct. 2004-June 2017. Always in my blind and my heart.

  8. #7
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxton Gundogs View Post
    Like LG says there is no set scale for cold and dogs, my Spaniels and Goldens used to stay out all day at -20 they had shelters but rarely used them that being said they acclimatized themselves through fall and early winter.
    I would have to think the biggest factor in terms of whether it was safe or not would be if water was involved. If it was a field shoot there wouldn't be any sheet water at all,,,,it would all be frozen as opposed to an over the water shoot where the dogs need to go into water for almost every downed bird, and then their fur would get frozen from the extreme cold and wind chill.

    I'm not particularly worried about temps down to -6 or so,,,,,it's those temps. down to -15 when there is a wind making it feel like it's -25.

  9. #8
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Having to work through ice can be really hard on their feet, cuts. I think it depends on the dog, no two dogs grow the same coat. I had a FM lab that grew a really thick coat with lots of wool under the long for a lab top coat, but I also had a male lab that had short top coat and no where as thick wool as the FM. He couldn't last no where near as long as her, you had to watch him and that was with a neoprene vest on.

  10. #9
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Quote Originally Posted by ACB View Post
    Having to work through ice can be really hard on their feet, cuts. I think it depends on the dog, no two dogs grow the same coat. I had a FM lab that grew a really thick coat with lots of wool under the long for a lab top coat, but I also had a male lab that had short top coat and no where as thick wool as the FM. He couldn't last no where near as long as her, you had to watch him and that was with a neoprene vest on.
    Another excellent point...their feet. As I mentioned, I took my first lab up into the mountains and partly frozen over rivers every year he
    was alive. I was very careful about sharp ice but even then he got several cuts. I had boots for him when up on the frozen broken glass-like
    snow crusts we walked over. Without the boots his pads got cut up right away.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Re: How cold is too cold for hunting waterfowl?

    Hmm my chocolate used to go recreational swimming through the ice in the slough on our way out,so agree with LG different dogs have different tolerances.Hunted deep water for the first 30 years ,hard on dogs no "vests" back then but the dogs definitely had heavier coats.None of those first labs lived past 11 though think the constant cold and wet did not extend there life spans my .02

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