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Using Bird Launchers

Prior to World War II, bird dog training was done on wild birds. Birds were plentiful and easily accessed by most trainers. With millions of soldiers returning home after the War, housing was in great demand. Forests were cut for lumber to build homes, suburban sprawl gobbled up habitat and wild game birds retreated to distant cover. And the pen-raised game bird was invented.

The pen-raised game bird provided, and still does, unlimited opportunity to train bird dogs. Unfortunately, however, they don’t fly like a wild bird. And, sometimes, they don’t fly…period. Now we’re faced with many potential problems…creeping, chasing, sight-pointing and much more.

Early on, pro-trainers began developing methods for getting the bird in the air. This was the beginning of the bird launcher. Early home-made launchers were crudely made of wire mesh and a spring. Whatever would get the bird in the air was considered an advancement in training tools.

Today, there are numerous commercially-made launchers to fit any budget. There are foot activated launchers, string activated launchers and electric launchers. Without question, the most practical and effective launcher is the electric version. Through the use of a remote, the electric launcher allows the trainer to precisely control the flush of the bird. The advantage over a hand-planted bird is huge. The dog trainer is in control of the entire process which is not the case with a hand-planted bird.

There are many applications for the bird launcher. Teaching a dog to be staunch on point is one application. You know the bird isn’t going to run away and tempt the dog to break point. If you’re teaching steady to wing and shot, you’re in control. There is plenty of time to work a check cord before the bird is launched. The electric launcher is an outstanding tool for teaching a dog to stop on a wild flush. Or to stop on multiple flushes using multiple launchers.

Electric launchers are also ideal for teaching backing. You have time to handle the dogs properly prior to the flush.  

Launchers come in different sizes to accommodate different size birds; from quail to pheasant, there is a size just right for your birds. Your author uses the DT Natural Flush Bird Launcher; however, there are many excellent brands on the market.

Dog trainers using launchers will soon discover many uses for their new training tool and ask “how did I get along without this training aid?”

Paul Fuller is a lifelong sportsman.  He’s been an outdoor writer since 1971. He’s the host and producer of the award winning Bird Dogs Afield TV show ( and produced the epic video Grouse, Guns & Dogs. Paul shot over his first German short-haired pointer in 1961.

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