I grew up with an English Springer with my family however she was not used as a hunting dog and was gun-shy. She recently passed away and now I am finally ready to start searching for my first dog. The dog will mainly be used as a friend/companion but also as a hunting dog for ducks and grouse in Northern Wisconsin. Initially I had wanted a Chesapeake Bay Retriever for the cold Fall hunting weather where some smaller ponds and lakes can freeze over while still in duck season but after doing some research, I feel that that might not be the best breed for someone who has not trained a dog before and might not be the best "kid friendly'' breed either. I do not have kids now but would like to in the next few years so it is something I should take into consideration. I am now leaning towards a Chocolate Lab and I am wondering if anyone can recommend a great breeder in the upper Midwest for Chocolate Labs that have good hunting backgrounds? I have also read that the first 9 months of the pups life are most crucial for training purposes so my question is, would it be silly to buy a puppy late this Fall or Winter and not have the ability to train in the woods/water? I appreciate any help out there fore this is all very new to me but I am excited to start looking for a pup.