This past fall when we decided to launch the Shooting Sportsman Dog of the Year contest, we were determined to flush out the best dogs, take a shot at describing their strengths and retrieve the best information. (OK, we’ll stop; you get the point.) We assembled a panel of experts and winnowed down more than 150 entries from a dozen states to eight finalists. We then asked the dogs’ owners a series of questions, such as what birds and areas the dogs had hunted, what the dogs did when they weren’t hunting, and what were some of the dogs’ most amazing feats from the field, forest or blind. (We confess to being a bit dazzled by some of the dogs’ good looks too. Take a look at Major!) Every entry deserves recognition, but in the end this was a contest. Following are brief bios of the three winners and the great prizes they received from our generous sponsors: SportDOG, Ugly Dog Hunting and Mud River. To view the complete gallery of entrants, visit shootingsportsman.com/doygallery.
The Winner: Mogul
Hailing from Two Harbors, Minnesota, Mogul is a Small Munsterlander belonging to Bailey Peterson. Only four years old, Mogul has incredible hunting experience, already having pointed and retrieved ruffed, spruce and sharp-tailed grouse; prairie chickens; woodcock; Hungarian partridge; pheasants and a range of waterfowl. Mogul is also a certified woodcock-banding dog in Minnesota. Next season Mogul will be sporting a new ProHunter 2525 e-collar courtesy of SportDOG.
First Runner-Up: Major
The Land of 10,000 Lakes was well represented in our contest. The first runner-up was Major, a muscular, four-year-old German shorthaired pointer belonging to Mark Donahoe of Medina, Minnesota. Major has hunted pheasants, quail, prairie chickens, ruffed grouse, chukars, Huns and ducks. Major and Mark should have fun spending a $300 gift certificate from Ugly Dog Hunting.
Second Runner-Up: Abe
At the remarkably young age of 11 months, Abe is already an accomplished hunter. Take the second Saturday of her first duck season: While working from a treestand, this precocious British Lab ably retrieved 14 mallards and gadwalls. Abe also has hunted doves, geese and sandhill cranes and has been training as a therapy dog for nursing and assisted-living homes. A shout out to Abe’s owners, Glenn and Maryetta Pabody of Quinlan, Texas, who took home a Mud River Dog Handler Bag.