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Training a Deer Dog for Sambar Deer

A well trained deer dog keeps get trophy stag

It is a real privilege to be able to hunt sambar deer with a quality deer dog.

Our Hunting Sambar Deer with a dog training course is probably my favourite activity to undertake at Ultimate Hunting Australia, because there is something amazing about watching a hunter and their dog grow together and complete a hunt as our forefathers have done for centuries.

To train a deer dog you must understand three things:

1. what your dogs instincts are driving it to do?

2. what activities will help you and your dog find sambar deer in the bush?

3. what is your training ability and what do you really need to train?

NOTE: for the purpose of this article I will focus on pointer breeds as they are the most commonly used for sambar deer hunting in Asutralia.

1. What your deer dogs’ instincts are telling it to do?

The history of all Pointing breeds is believed to originate from the Old Spanish Pointer and Portuguese pointer. The Pointer came to be in the 16th and 17th centuries, when pointing breeds where brought to the European mainland and then selectively breed by hunters to find and point game.

The selective breeding methods of pointers varied for several countries, but generally focused on dogs with good endurance to cover ground and find game, strong hunting desire, exceptional sense of smell, and steady stalking and pointing skills to allow a hunter to complete the hunt.

The pointer was encouraged to roam around in search of game, and once on point the hunter could throw a net over the game (e.g. the bird hiding in the grass). So that the hunter did not have to cover too much ground themselves the dog was breed to do the running and overtime to hold rock solid on a point for as long as required for the hunter to catch the quarry.

Today, our pointers in Australia have the same urge to run around, find game and point. With the right educational process, pointers will learn what it is that you are trying to hunt and will be more selective in what they hunt. The dogs most commonly used to hunt Sambar deer are German Wirehaired Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, English Pointers, Hungarian Vizslas and Weimaraners.

Young dogs learn a great deal hunting with an experienced dog

2. What activities will help you and your dog find sambar deer in the bush?

In typical sambar deer stalking bush there is limited visibility beyond 50-200 meters/yards most of the time and thus a sambar deer with its strong survival instincts has the upper hand over a moving hunter. Many a deer has simply been walked past or has moved away less than 50 meters from a hunter because it could not be seen by the hunter first.

That is where a deer dog can dramatically help!

While some training theory for deer dogs may be to keep dogs close to your feet during a hunt, this is of limited value for finding Sambar deer and limits the dogs ability to locate deer not within the wind/scent path you are walking. What is more useful is if your deer dog can cut the wind more widely, like they have been breed to do for game birds in more open country. This wider roaming (within 10-30 meters) will enable your dog to find more deer, it gives you greater warning when there is a deer ahead and the hunter will not need to cover all the ground themselves. As a bonus, sambar deer will tolerate much more noise from a dog than they will from a hunter. See this in action (

Pointing is very natural
Get some kills early in the deer dog hunting training

3. What is your training ability and what do you really need to train?

The good news is that generations of selective breeding have created all of the required genetic traits in pointers for us to hunt sambar deer with them. Pointers are strong, love to hunt, have great sense of smell and naturally want to sneak and point. Its your job to GET THEM TO HUNT FOR YOU!

Unlike training a dog for bird shooting, Sambar deer dogs need careful modification to their natural tendencies, in fact trying to mold them too much may reduce the potential of your dog to harness its instincts. We also need to be realistic and most people I speak to have limited time in the day to train their dogs according to most training manuals.

So what is actually important to training a deer dog?

  • MOST IMPORTANT, your dogs genetics. Go to my get a deer dog page to see my dog breeding program and advice.

  • The next most important thing is understanding what your dog is telling you while you are hunting. A dog on point is the final step of a hunt and a pointer will be telling you there is a deer 100’s of meters/yards away with subtle signals that you need to know. This is an important part of my DeerPoint dog training program

  • Make sure your dog understands that you are the master, it should be able to move away from you in search of game, but regularly look back to ensure you are staying together as a team. A training method called directional work will achieve this.

  • Your dog needs to develop a rock solid sneak and point when it finds game. This comes from a training approach I call manufactured hunts.

  • In terms of basic obedience come, don't move and move forward are all that you truely need, but these should be trained very well.

For more information give me a call (Daniel 0459 466 036) and consider our Hunting for sambar deer with a dog training course.

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