Saturday, November 1, 2008

A funny little story about launchers

This story, taken from the Foster Award site relates a funny story on early bird launchers and there usage. This is the story as related to Ryan Frame...

The Bird Launcher
by Travis Gellhaus (as told to Ryan Frame)
I grew up around bird dogs. Pointers specifically. My father was a dog trainer and a carpenter too I suppose. His successful veterinary practice, however, meant that dog training and carpentry were, to my father, hobbies rather than professions, and without getting into more detail than is necessary, that was probably a good thing.
At some point, Dad decided that we needed a bird launcher to help us train the dogs and, even though he could have easily paid to have one delivered, no thought entered his head other than to build it himself. He had no directions or even photos to work from - that would not have been any fun., I suppose. As a base for the launcher, he chose a choice piece of maple that was lying around waiting for its purpose in life.
Unfortunately, the block of maple was about two inches thick, weighed some sixty pounds, and probably, had he sold this nice cut of maple, he would have made enough money to pay for a bird launcher. But again, that would not have been any fun.
Anyway, setting this hunk of maple on the garage floor, he bolted down a homemade cage to it, hooked up a piece of canvas to springs, devised a tripping mechanism, and rigged up a servo engine that he had laying around somewhere. Soon this rather unsightly device had taken shape and was ready for testing. We lugged it outside into the yard and rigged it up with a pigeon encircled in the canvas. The cage, however, was open at the ends and the pigeon merely crawled out the opening and flew off. So it was back into the garage for more ‘adjustments.’
With that little design flaw corrected, we decided to do further preliminary testing right there in the garage. We convinced ourselves that it was wise to test indoors before moving to the field (neither of us was quite ready yet to admit that this device was a bit cumbersome to lug back and forth). Dad put a plastic bottle inside the canvas, and, folding it in, set the mechanism. While he was still hovering over it however, it sprung unexpectedly and threw that bottle right into his face with such force that it caused a bloody nose and put a small cut above his eye. Naturally, this just made Dad more determined. I can still him working through the blood and bruises to make the final adjustments to the release mechanism. Then it was ready for testing again. Dad stuck the bottle in the canvas (making sure that his head was well out of the way) and hooked up the latch.
We stood back and he pushed the remote button. VAWOOOM! It shot the bottle up immediately. Success! Or …. Uh… success for the most part. The bottle, even though it was just plastic, had caused some light injuries to my Dad on the first test. Then the second test had resulted in a pretty good sized dent in the garage ceiling. Perhaps we should have taken these observations as a hint that more adjustments were needed. We didn’t.
Any way it was time to take it to the field for a real life test. I lugged the thing out into the yard, we rigged up a pigeon inside, and we check corded a dog into its vicinity. The dog pointed the bird, took a small step and Dad hit the button. VAWOOOM! The bird went up like a rocket, unable to even spread its wings until it was more than fifty feet in the air. That pigeon went up so fast that the dog never even saw it go by, never looked up, and never saw the bird fly off. Nevertheless, we had our bird launcher… with due emphasis on "launcher." Sure it required some muscle and effort to move it around. And sure… it scared the crap out of some of the dogs when it went off. And, sure, you could not put it near a tree or you would just splatter the pigeon on a branch. And even though, in short order, it just sat in the garage gathering cob webs and dust, we still were proud of it.
Together (mostly him) we managed to finish two pointer field champions. We also gathered up a lot of memories along the way but none stands out more than the ordeal of the building of that homemade bird launcher.

(Note: Travis Gellhaus is a pro trainer and chief proprietor of Hawkeye Creek Kennels Of Thunder Bay, Ontario.)


  1. Thanks for posting that Bill. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story,really its very funny to read i enjoyed a lot,thanks for make me laugh loud.
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