The Retrieve with Bags and Shadow: The Introduction
By: Michael Baggetta
The world of hunting has evolved over the years, but one thing that has stayed consistent is the bond between a hunter and his hunting dog. Through this series of articles and videos I’m going to help you, the reader, develop a stronger bond between you and your hunting companion.
Since my childhood, I have grown up with black labs as my family pets. None of these dogs were hunting dogs and by no means am I a professional dog trainer. Training dogs has become something I have really enjoyed in my free time and my interest has grown as I have become more involved in hunting. About 15 years ago I really got into whitetail hunting, but it wasn’t until about four years ago that I branched out into waterfowl hunting and that’s when my interest for dog training began. Two years ago, I decided to get my girlfriend a black lab for Christmas. Her name is Shadow and she is my hunting dog.
While I am not a professional Dog trainer, coaching is still my profession and my passion. I’m a College Lacrosse coach and an outdoors enthusiast. The aiding in the development and growth of others is something I have been interested in since I was a student in high school. Prior to getting into college coaching, I was working in Special Education teaching and Strength and Conditioning training athletes. I played two college sports, football and lacrosse. People say I am a pretty competitive person (I really do want to be great at everything I do) and I would agree with them. Not only has my background in coaching allowed me to see success in dog training, but the knowledge I have gained from dog training has helped me grow as a coach!
I have to say a major part of my coaching, teaching, and training philosophy is great players, students, athletes, and dogs are not born, but they are made! I had a mentor once tell me, “If you fall in love with what you are doing, you are going to do it more often, and if you do it more often you are going to get better at it. Learn to love the process; embrace the process.” Just like the other aspects of my life, from Coaching to teaching, I have fallen in love with the process of dog training. Because of my success with Shadow, I have been very lucky to be asked to become a member of the Lifeafowl Team and Chasin’ Whitetails Media.
As my interest has grown, I have come to realize that gaining the knowledge needed to train can sometimes be difficult to acquire, due to the lack of time, resources, and experience. I will be the first to admit that I have a short attention span. In order for me to grasp a concept it needs to be short, concise and to the point. As I said before I want to be good at everything I do and so two years ago, prior to getting Shadow, I started doing in-depth research on dogs and training. I read books, articles, and watched any and all videos from some of the very best guys like Tom Dokken, Chris Akin to gain more knowledge. I have also been very fortunate to work with Kevin McLaren, owner of Morning Sun Retrievers. Right before I got Shadow I reached out to Webb Footed Kennel, never will I forget, his office manager had Chris call me directly. In my opinion he’s the Bill Belichick of Dog Training; if you’re a sports fan you get the reference and can understand my excitement when he called. His passion and excitement to talk to me about dog training only helped my motivation. I, like most of you, have limited time, experience, and resources. Needless to say, I have done the research for you so you don’t have to. Through these article and short videos I will condense the knowledge I’ve gained and will continue to gain, to help you with all of your gun dog training.
We are going to start from the beginning- from the first time you pick up your dog, selecting the right puppy, all the way to the first hunt and all the little extras you may not think of (like doggy first aid kit and keeping your dog calm in the blind). I am going to present my knowledge to help you gain a strong understanding of what it is we’re trying accomplish as hunters little by little.
In closing, I’d like to thank our sponsors Drake Waterfowl, Mojo Outdoors, and Hevi-Shot Ammo.
Until next time – Keep the retrieve alive!