Just updating a couple weeks later...
Finally got out there and introduced my little guy to birds.... and enjoyed a very illuminating hour of training and talking fieldwork (specifics about tests, asking questions, etc) with the guy I'm training with.
The guy we are training with is awesome - part of that I could see with his handling of Bertie. He does not believe in rough handling and his primary big deal is getting the dogs revved up and happy while working. He does use FF and ecollars and will teach people how to use those tools, however those are tools that are not pulled out right away for every single dog.
The big hump we had to get over + still need to smooth is getting Bertie to understand that it's OK to do what he wants with a live bird. And that's undoing 5 years of leave it training - stuff that I had to really drill and work on so I could have a dog who could hike offleash around ponds without chasing after every duck, goose, or crane in sight... he was excited and very interested in the crippled bird he was tested on, but balked about actually picking it up. He kept coming back to check with me and going back out and chasing his bird.
Dead birds - we did some FF (not ear pinching or using pain) last night and this morning and he now is retrieving happily. Am resisting the urge to ask the field guy if I can go out there and train every week with a live or dying bird. We are technically training on our own 3 weeks between privates with him.
So updating my basic beginner training supplies as of this moment while we are getting going:
Hard bumper for using in water retrieves. Or my dokken.
Cloth bumper + bird wing taped on for scent training (and land retrieves). Had it drilled into me to not throw into water because the whole point of using the cloth bumper is because it holds scents and next best thing to always using a bird when training. He also wanted me to keep the bumper and wing bagged together in the fridge in between training sessions.
Ton of different bird wings kept in the freezer - to be used with the cloth bumper. I'm to switch it up when the wing with the bumper gets too gross.
Dead bird kept bagged in my freezer. To be trained with 1-2 times a week (though I'm doing daily training sessions to start with).
**** And I now understand why everyone has their special fridge/freezer just for supplies. That's next on my list...