Old coach, new tricks

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published March 17, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 15, 2013 at 12:09 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Cane fetches a “bumper” while training. Stan Brown is in his 12th year of training dogs, mainly to be hunting dogs.

Stan Brown was a football coach and teacher for 36 years. Though he has retired, he’s still teaching, but his students are a bit different.

The retired Jacksonville High School

football coach now trains dogs to retrieve waterfowl on command.

Brown taught ninth-grade civics at Jacksonville High School, along with coaching.

This is Brown’s 12th year of training mainly Labrador retrievers as hunting dogs. He is also an active member of the Hurricane Lake Hunting Retriever Club in Searcy.

Brown got started training dogs when he just wanted a dog to go hunting with him.

For his 50th birthday, Brown’s daughters got him a puppy, which he trained to take duck hunting.

Brown spends 20 to 30 minutes every morning training the dogs he keeps at his house.

“I like to train no more than six dogs at a time,” Brown said. “If there’s more than that, it’s a full-time job.”

Brown said he likes training dogs because he can train in the morning and golf in the afternoon.

He starts training dogs when they are about 6 months old, when they have all of their adult teeth.

“We start them out walking on the lead on their first day,” Brown said.

By the time Brown finishes training a dog, which takes three to four months, it is able to walk beside a person without a leash and retrieve waterfowl on command. If Brown is training a dog to retrieve “blinds,” which are waterfowl the dog did not see fall from the sky, it takes six months to a year.

Brown takes the dogs to an open field that resembles a location where a person might go duck hunting. This gives each dog a chance to practice until its retrievals are essentially perfect.

“It all depends on the dog,” Brown said.

Some of the dogs pick up on commands quickly, while some take longer than others.

He uses hand signals and different whistles to let the dog know what it should be looking for or the direction it needs to go.

Brown’s teaching background comes into play when he is training dogs.

“Dogs are like kids; they have bad days, too,” Brown said. “If you have a bad day, you just have to put them up and try again [another day].”

Praise is another tool Brown said is important in training. After every training session, Brown lets the dogs do a retrieve that is just for fun. Brown said it keeps the dogs excited about training.

As training progresses, Brown takes his dogs to national and state competitions, where they get the chance to show their retrieval skills to judges. He said he has met people from all over the United States and Canada through the national Hunting Retriever Club.

The ultimate goal for a retriever is to get to the International Grant Hunt.”This year’s competition is in Carbondale, Texas.

“It’s like the Super Bowl for us,” Brown said.

Dogs from all over the United States and Canada compete in the event.

More information on the Hurricane Lake Hunting Retriever Club is available at www.hurri


Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at lburnett@arkansasonline.com.