Tony Dean on Hunting with a Good Dog.

      “He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
      You are his life, his love, his leader.
      He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
      You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion” — Unknown

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      On October 19, 2008, conservation lost one of its foremost leaders with the death of Tony Dean, at the age of 67.

      For over two decades, Tony reached more than 200,000 people each week with his award-winning Tony Dean Outdoors TV Show and Dakota Backroads Radio. He wrote many articles for regional magazines and newspapers. He educated his audience about threats to the environment and wildlife, as he wove stories about the outdoors into his shows and articles.

      Tony Dean left a giant footprint, and spoke for many of us.

      visit: to read more of Tony's article, stories, even recipies.

      The voice of South Dakota’s outdoors has gone silent.
      Tony Dean, a North Dakota native whose silky broadcast voice became the symbol of South Dakota hunting and fishing, died Sunday morning in Pierre.

      Obedience Key to Good Hunting Dog

      By Tony Dean
      For the Argus Leader
      Published: September 6, 2007

      (used with permission)
      How many times have you heard the owner of a good bird dog say, "If I didn't have a good dog, I wouldn't even hunt upland birds?" I've said that often over the past five years I have hunted with Dee, my pointing Lab. She's not just my dog, she's my best hunting partner.

      During that time, Dee has found birds I'd never have found without her, and has made some often spectacular retrieves on birds I'd never have been able to recover. Besides, at day's end, she curls up at my feet and makes it clear she is my dog ... and best hunting pal.

      Until she came along, I'd never trained a hunting dog. So, I read everything I could on the subject, but kept in mind the advice I received from my friend, Stan Lieberman, a former GFP commissioner and expert dog trainer from Rapid City.

      "All we hope to accomplish in training a bird dog is to develop a pattern of obedience that the dog will pay attention to while hunting," he told me. "Remember, the dog's instinct is to find and flush birds, which is what we want unless the dog flushes them far ahead and out of shooting range. That's where obedience becomes important."

      Stan's right. I did use an electronic collar when I trained Dee, and still consider it a great training tool, but one that should never be used in anger or to get even with a dog. In fact, before I used it, I shocked myself at every setting so I knew what the dog would go through, and I can tell you that when you get to the highest settings, it's not pleasant.

      Yet the collar came in handy in teaching Dee to not chase rabbits, deer or livestock. And while she wears it in the field while hunting, I haven't had to actually use it for several seasons.

      It helps if you start with an intelligent dog because smart ones learn quickly, and while you can teach the basic obedience commands, you can't teach bird-savvy. A dog learns that only one way; through experience. Thankfully here in South Dakota where the pheasant populations are at the highest levels in the world, a smart dog has plenty of teachers.

      I don't like hunting a dog in row crops, especially those bereft of ground cover because the birds will run and run, and that's where the obedience training pays off.

      Even so, Dee and a few other good bird dogs I've hunted with, accomplish some feats that are amazing. Cripple a bird that sails far in front of you, where several other wild birds are running, dispensing scent as they do. How can the dog separate that scent from that of the crippled bird? Darned if I know, but Dee does it often enough to prove it's not accident.

      She's unusual among Labs because she doesn't like water. Even so, she made a couple of great water retrieves for me in a Brown county pothole a year ago.

      Now allow me to brag a bit more. Don't believe that stuff about how a good hunting dog must be a kennel dog. Other than when boarded, Dee's never seen the inside of a kennel and is a bonafide house dog. It hasn't affected her hunting ability at all.

      Finally, each time I drive south of Pierre in route to Lyman County where I do nearly all of my pheasant hunting, Dee falls asleep immediately upon getting in the truck, but awakens instantly the minute the car leaves the pavement and hits gravel. From that point on until we head for home, she's on instant red alert.


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      Article by Tony Dean from the Dakota Country magazine about hunting with Pointing Labs. (used with permission)

      The Joy of Hunting with a Good Dog: Obedience Key to Good Hunting Dog

      I wrote to Tony to ask him a few more questions about his Pointing Lab Dee and this is what he had to say.

      "'Dee was, a gift from a hunting pal and owner of some of the best pheasant hunting land in the nation, Steve Halvorson. I hunted with him over his pointing lab, Jewel, and said, "I'd give my left arm for a dog like that."

      Several months later, Steve called, said he had Jewel bred with a dog out of Lisbon, IA called Jo-Mac's Dead on Arrival, and she had pups. he said, come and pick yours, you get first pick of the litter. I took my son along and played with each pup, using a pheasant wing on monofilament line at the end of a fishing rod, and Dee, the smallest pup in the litter, showed the most interest, so we chose her.

      At first, at least for several months, I thought we'd made a mistake. She seemed very difficult to train, and chewed up everything in sight, including my glasses.

      But all of a sudden, it seemed like the light came on. I took her hunting with Steve and Dee's mother, Jewel. Jewel pointed a pheasant and Dee ran into her. Jewel snapped at Dee and she came back to me, cowering. Minutes later, she pointed her first bird.

      Good retrieving came much slower. She showed little interest, but in terms of finding birds, she had that figured out. I concluded, I had a very smart dog. And, almost overnight, she minded well, thanks to the judicious use of th electronic collar.

      A year later, she discovered the joy of retrieving and that was great, except that she'd retreive every bird shot by anyone, and bring them to me. At times, I'd get to the end of a field with my hunting vest bulging with dead birds.

      Today, she has matured (5 years old now) has calmed down a lot and developed into one of the best bird dogs I've ever seen.

      I hunted last fall with US Sen. Tim Johnson on a hunt he holds every fall. She was really in a zone that day, pointing more than 50 pheasants, and retrieving more than that. One Washington, DC lobbyist offered me $10,000 in cash for her that day. I said she wasn't for sale, and he thought I was holding out for more money. So, he upped the ante another 3 thosuand bucks. So I told him, Dee isn't for sale, at any price, ever.

      And that's the way I feel about this wonderful dog. Smart, obedient, affectionate and loving. As well as the best hunting dog I've ever seen."'


      Tony Dean


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