If I want my dog’s full attention and undying devotion, I remember that one bird in the bag is worth two in the air. Because his one-and-only concern is getting a bird into his mouth, and that’s not going to happen if you miss both birds on a covey rise!

Too often when we try for a double, it means two misses. We raise our head off the stock to watch the first bird fall, or don’t swing through, or start looking for a second bird before we’ve shot the first.

Our dogs think linearly, and in shooting so should we. Shoot the first bird first, see it drop, mark it carefully. Only then, and if you have time, should you contemplate a second shot. But make sure the first bird is dead and down where you can find it readily.

Need another reason to hold off? On covey birds, a late riser will often flush long after the smoke – and your mind — have cleared. Save your second barrel for him, and your friends will soon be buying the first round at the end of the day.

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