Angi’s Story – Goose Mafia Retriever Drifter

I am co-creator of The Goose Mafia which is our private hunt club. We mentor youth hunters stressing field ethics, field safety and good sportsmanship. We also practice conservation & preservation of all species we hunt. We have our own wood duck house project with over 25 duck houses in a local marsh area that we maintain and keep records on. We donate to local wildlife chapters & charities regularly and offer our time. We focus on waterfowl hunting but we also hunt turkeys, whitetail deer, pheasant, bear, coyote, & bobcat.
Drifter is the first lab that I trained to hunt on my own. He comes from excellent breeding, from Workingman Gundogs. No dog has American bloodlines. They are all bred from dogs originating in Ireland or Scotland. Drifter is 100% British Lab. He’s smart-beyond smart! I have trained him to retrieve geese and ducks, and to antler shed hunt. We just started him flushing pheasants this fall. He shows so much drive and intelligence in the field that it amazes me every time we hunt. 2015 was his first season as he is only 1. His first retrieves were 5 blind retrieves in standing hay for Canada geese. One was wounded & got up. We had no clue how he would react, as we hadn’t prepared him for this, but he went all in and pummeled that bird & brought it back! I videoed everything but I’m crying through the whole thing because I’m so proud.
In late fall 2014 we brought him to the field just to experience it. He was leashed and I sat far away from the rest of the hunting party with him. He did really well & was happy when we took him out to a fallen goose. I knew we had magic in the making. But the next day, I was working basic training in my yard and my neighbors came out unannounced and started shooting high caliber hand guns and ruined him. He was TERRIFIED. He cried and ran and I had all I could do to catch him before he ran across a busy 2 lane County Highway. I had NO CLUE at the time where it was coming from. They had never shot guns there before. (A new boyfriend/new development, I later learned), but the damage was done. I took him to the field the next time hoping the calling of the geese would remind him why we were there. He lived to retrieve and he LOVES birds. So I prayed. But after the first shots rained down, he cried, curled in a ball and shut down. I rushed him out of there to the truck and I just held him, crying. I had ruined my first lab.
We worked REALLY hard in the off season and summer of 2015 to prepare him. He wanted to retrieve from sun up til sun down, and he loved every time there was a bird in the mix. We just had to get him to put together the puzzle piece with the gunshot. He was so gunshy that at one point the sight of a gun made him run into walls, tables, tip over chairs…it was horrible.
And then one day, the day the photo was taken I said he has to come along. This is what he was born to do. It’s what he loves to do. He just has to get past the gunshot. I don’t care if I give up my own gun all season or for life. This is about my dog now. And low and behold—-he did it. He put the pieces together that day! He went from being gunshy to being bird crazy and thinking every time he saw a gun it meant there were birds for him!
Hence, the congratulatory kiss for my formally gunshy British Lab, Drifter. He taught me more about perseverence and alternate ways of learning things than any book or teacher ever did. And he made me a better, kinder, more compassionate, empathetic person and trainer. It’s a thin line to walk…to be your pup’s disciplinary but yet be their best friend too. Drifter & I have that. He’s so much more than a hunting pal. He’s my companion dog. My therapy dog (even without the official paperwork yet), and he’s the best medicine when I’m sick.
I could go on forever about Drifter and how great he is. But right now we need to get ready for the antler shed season which could happen any time now.
Thank you for this opportunity
Oh, Drifter has his own FB page as well, “The Drifter Files”. Not because I’m arrogant or anything, but Drifter came into my life in a most unique way and this is how I chronicle his life and antics since he came home to me 😊 feel free to check it out. 😊

Apr 26, 2016 | Category: Blog | Comments: 1


One comment on “Angi’s Story – Goose Mafia Retriever Drifter

  1. Angi Ignarski

    🙂 Drifter has become my registered service dog now, and we have been training every chance we get for the upcoming September 1 Wisconsin Goose Season Opener! Thank you for this opportunity to share not only mine, but Drifter’s story, as we are a unique team.

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