"I read an article in the Winter 2005 issue of NWTF's The Caller concerning the possibility of allowing the use of dogs for turkey hunting in Wisconsin. I have never hunted in Wisconsin and do not anticipate so doing. However, as a turkey hunter living in Virginia, I am accustomed to hunting with dogs, and, in fact, it is my favorite outdoor sport. I have hunted turkeys with dogs in both Virginia and West Virginia, both of which have a long and proud tradition of "turkey dogging."
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My personal experience is that the use of dogs contributes to a hunter's success to some degree. However, the primary benefits in my experience are (1) a significant increase in recovery of birds shot which do not fall immediately within sight, and (2) the great joy of working with an intelligent and much loved animal.
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I live in the City of Charlottesville, on a small, downtown lot, so my dogs are very much pets as well as hunting dogs. I own three turkey dogs, all Llewellin English setters. The oldest is almost 14 years old and is now retired. The other two are his son and grandson, also purebred setters, aged almost 5 years and 7 months, respectively. The grown dog is my current hunter, with the puppy "in training".
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The season in Virginia opens in mid-October, closes for most of the month of November, then reopens from just after Thanksgiving until early January. I hunt with a dog probably half the time I go out, the other half simply calling on my own. My unscientific guess is that I am successful in bagging a bird slightly, but only slightly, more often with the dog than without. Accordingly, the use of the dog in no way diminishes the hunting skill required nor does it in any way impair the element of "fair chase." Harvest figures in Virginia, collected and analyzed over many years, bear out this conclusion. On the contrary, the dog simply changes the nature of the hunt and adds at least two dimensions of enjoyment. 
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First, in the event that a bird is hit but not instantly killed (which has happened to me on a couple of occasions), the dog is enormously helpful in finding the downed bird, especially in failing light or heavy cover. I venture to say that the aid of a good dog can prevent the loss of many cripples.
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Second, and most importantly, the dog is a full partner in all aspects of the hunt.  To me, it has become almost as enjoyable to watch the dog work as any other aspect of the hunt, including both the calling and the harvest. I know of no greater thrill than to hear the dog break up the gang of birds; and then to watch him, lying at my feet under a sheet of camouflage netting, listening to my calling and the answering calls of the birds, watching the called bird come to the call and finally bursting out, on command after the shot, to secure the kill. 
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I have hunted both quail and grouse over fine dogs, but nothing compares to the
satisfaction of working an equally accomplished animal on the greatest of all game birds."
Frederick W. Payne, Esquire Payne & Hodous, LLP 412 East Jefferson Street, Charlottesville, Virginia
* * * * *
Sir Francis DrakeFred and his
                    dogsSir Walter Ralegh
                    turkey dogRalegh and
                    FredRalegh
                    Drake Fred turkey
My dogs are named Sir Francis Drake (k/a Drake), Sir Walter Ralegh (k/a Ralegh) and Sir John Hawkins (k/a Hawkins).  (I suspect you have discerned the naming pattern.)  Drake is the old guy, retired after the 2002 season. He is a big dog, almost pure white with faint orange flecking. Ralegh is white with orange ears and body markings.  Hawkins is white with a black ear and black ticking. Descriptions of the pictures are as follows, from left to right above (click on pictures to enlarge):
(1)    Drake, aged 6, Spring, 1997.
(2)    Drake (aged 13), Ralegh (aged 4) and Hawkins (aged 4 months), October, 2004.
(3)    Ralegh, aged 2, Fall, 2002.
(4)    Ralegh with his turkey, November, 2003.
(5)    Drake and Ralegh examining a turkey, December, 2002.
Update August 10, 2006. My oldest dog Drake died.
It was time, but it doesn't make it any easier. He was truly an extraordinary creature.
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