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Irrigation canals and your bird dog

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by wireguy, Sep 14, 2010.

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  1. wireguy

    wireguy TS Member

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    I wrote this specifically about California's Imperial Valley but it might be germane to other rural areas as well - wireguy

    For the second time in two years I have received a tragic report of a young dog drowning in one of the Imperial Valley's concrete feeder canals. If you have or know of anyone who hunts with their dogs in the valley, please know those concrete lined canals are canine death traps. A dog, even powerful adults, are almost never able to extricate themselves from those canals once they are in, and a bird on that water or the desire of the dog to cool itself and drink will have the dog jumping in without hesitation. Know too that if your dog goes in, you may be forced to go in after it, and if you have never been in one of those canals you will experience a very un-pleasant surprise: they are also very difficult for people to extricate themselves from. The speed of the water, though fairly shallow, will not allow one to plant one's feet and push. The second you attempt to lift your body out your feet are swept downstream and unless you can latch onto some weeds on the bank, YOU may be in some trouble.
    There are two deadly places dog handlers should avoid in the Imperial Valley. One is any canal with a concrete liner. The other is the big earth bank canal weirs. The big canals like the West Main are mostly safe for any healthy dog that can swim decently, but the weirs (dams) are total death traps. Any dog that goes over the falls at one or is sucked in from downstream is dead. That is a 99% certainty. There is an undertow that rotates back toward the falls at each of these and the dog will be sucked back under repeatedly. There is no escape, and anyone who attempts a rescue at a weir will die just as surely. If you hunt the canals as I do keep your dogs a minimum of 200 yards up or down stream from a weir. Remember, your dog, chasing a cripple or rabbit can cover 200 yards in seconds. There is no dove or pheasant in the world worth the needless loss of a dog in one of these canine death traps. Please spread the word.
    TIP: If a dog gets into one of the concrete canals and you have nothing else, un-load your shotgun and when your dog attemps to climb out, push the barrel down firmly on it's back between it's front shoulders. The extra pressure there will sometimes give the dog the extra purchase it needs to claw it's way out. If I am hunting anywhere near a concrete canal, I carry on my hip in a home made holster, a collapsible fishing rod with a stout steel ceiling hook such as we hang plants from, screwed and glued into it's tip. The rod cost me 20 dollars, and having been forced to claw my own way out of one of those innocuous looking canals after a rescue, I can tell you this is required gear for a dog handler down there. Much easyer to snag your dog's collar from the bank and haul it out than any other method. If you are pheasant hunting there can be canals in the area that you can't even see until it's too late and your hot thirsty dog is in.
     
  2. grunt

    grunt TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Good advice.
     
  3. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

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    In my younger days I was a Zanjero(ditch rider) of those canals in the Imperial Vally. I pulled many dead animal out of them, including hunting dogs. Called the Sheriff when some bodies turn out to be human, and almost didn't make it out when I ended up in the water on the back side of the weir gates. The sides of the concrete is covered with scum and make them slick as glass.

    Very good advice Wireguy.

    Ajax
     
  4. gotbass

    gotbass Member

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    Wireguy is right, live there for a number of years and fished, frogged and shot all over the place. More concrete now than then and more danger. Good advise.
     
  5. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    Those concrete irrigation ditches are a big hazard in my area also. They are very arrtactive to a hot thirsty bird dog but next to impossible to get out of even for a dog in top condition. I have had to chase my bird dogs down stream a couple of times until they hung up enough to where I could grab them. Luckily there weren't any drops or gates to get sucked into.

    We recently had a local woman get killed at an irrigation drop when she went in after her Wirehair pointer during one of their walks and this was a person in good condition that was use to the canals.

    Good reminder Setterman.
     
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