How to Hunt With English Pointers

English Pointers are well known as working companions and family pets.
Dog looking birds image by Stjepan Banovic from

The English Pointer is a tall, sturdy breed of dog used for decades to help flush and retrieve birds from the field. Also known as the Pointer, the English Pointer earned its name from the rigid pose assumed when a bird is detected in the brush. The Pointer will stop and raise one leg off the ground, lowering the head and pointing with the nose in the direction of the bird. Hunting with English Pointers can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Step 1

Begin your training when your English Pointers are young. Pointers are highly intelligent and motivated dogs and will display a strong hunting urge as early as eight weeks. Make sure to schedule an appointment with your vet to have your pup fully vaccinated before taking him out into the field.

Step 2

Fit your English Pointer with a flat buckle collar and leash and begin teaching him basic obedience commands. A well-trained Pointer responds to simple commands such as sit, stay, come and heel. Get the dog's attention with a treat and give him the commands, rewarding him with the treat as soon as he responds.

Step 3

Introduce your dog to the canvas dummy. The dummy teaches your dog to pick up and carry items in his mouth gently, as he would be required to with a bird in the field. Show the dummy to your Pointer, moving it back and forth in front of his muzzle before tossing it and asking the dog to retrieve it. Reward the puppy with a treat when he brings the dummy back to you.

Step 4

Tie one end of your string to the bird wing and one end to the pole to make a bird dummy. Place a few drops of bird scent on the wing to intensify the bird smell and entice your Pointer to follow the smell, giving him the command to search. Drag the wing slowly along in front of your dog, keeping it just out of his reach. As he approaches the dummy, he will slow down and assume a natural pointing position. Reward him as soon as he points, repeating the exercise until he points as soon as he smells the wing.

Step 5

Move your English Pointer to an open field and acclimate him to the sound of a shotgun. Have a helper stand approximately 25 yards in front of you and the dog as the helper fires the gun into the air. The dog may seem startled at first, but will relax once he becomes used to the sound. Move five yards closer after each shot until you and the dog are standing side by side with the helper as the gun is fired. Praise your dog when he pays no attention to the sound.

Step 6

Hide a number of scenting wings around the field and give your Pointer the command to search. Walk quietly beside him, encouraging him to travel in the direction of the wings, but allowing him to find the scent on his own. Your English Pointer should willingly search out the wings and point each one as he approaches it just as he will live birds in the field.

Step 7

Take your dog on a live hunt to test his skills. Select an area with a plentiful wild bird population and walk with the dog, giving him the command to search. He will walk back and forth through the field as he looks for birds, pointing as he picks up the scent of a live one. Approach the dog, noting the location he is pointing to and walking forward until you flush and kill the bird. Call the dog to follow you as you collect your bird and reward your English Pointer for a job well done.


  • Never hit your dog if he misbehaves. Striking a dog can not only injure him, but can make him reluctant to work for you in the future.


  • You can find bird wings and scents in most hunting and sporting goods stores.

  • Work your dog in short sessions to prevent burnout. Two or three 15-minute sessions a day are enough to keep the dog focused and learning without overworking him.

Items You Will Need

  • Flat buckle collar
  • Leash
  • Canvas dummy
  • Pole and string
  • Bird wing
  • Bird scent
  • Treats
  • Shotgun