Pickles ... your post caught my attention and caused me to register just to reply. I too have a 14 month old Labradoodle. And he too has become a hunting machine! I had my doubts when I began the training process, and even after the first month of season I was reconciled to the fact that "Rusty" would never make the duck dawg that either of my two yellow Labs are. However, six weeks into season and the lights really went on for him. By the time season ended in late January Rusty had far surpassed even my fondest hopes for him.I have a 14 month old Labradoodle named Pickles, who is a weapon in the field. She has been trained to hunt since she was only 4 months old, and is one of the best field dogs I have ever seen. She has done over 80 retrieves this season, all of them to hand, and some of them were sensational (400 yard blind retrieves, etc). She has an amazing nose as well.
In my book, and in the eyes of the men I hunt with, the Labradoodle is a far superior hunting dog than a lab. Calmer, smarter, more easily trained and doesn't shed so she transitions to the home much more easily. She's a great swimmer to boot.