You remember that feeling: of lighting a cherry bomb and letting it fly. Of setting into motion events that could not be undone, and then anticipating the explosion. The exhilaration of the wait was half the fun.
Now transport yourself to Georgia—to Fishing Creek Farms, in the northeastern Piedmont. Moments ago the brace of shorthairs was coursing up the hillside, weaving through a stand of longleaf pines. Now one dog is locked up in the wiregrass, the other backing, and you and your partner have walked in and set up to either side. The guide approaches with an English cocker wiggling at heel. “Ready?” she asks. You say you are, and the cocker is released, lighting a fuse of a different kind. Adrenaline-filled seconds later the explosive flush of a covey of quail leaves you grinning like a kid again.
Ask upland hunters what they enjoy most, and many will say watching dogs work. There’s something about hunting behind well-trained gundogs that elevates the appreciation for the sport beyond mere shooting. Which explains why so many guests return again and again to Fishing Creek Farms—to hunt with some of the country’s most talented bird dogs.
That talent is the product of SunSage Sporting Dogs, a kennel owned and operated by Scott and Tyla Kuhn. The husband-and-wife team breeds and trains a premier string of German shorthairs, pointers and English cockers from championship bloodlines and field-trial stock. Scott and Tyla also manage and guide at Fishing Creek, previously having worked at some of the top sporting lodges in the US and South America. Several years ago they moved their kennel operation from Oregon to Georgia, giving them ready access to their almost 50 dogs and unlimited opportunities to train.
According to Tyla, all the hard work has paid off, as guests appreciate both the quality of the dogs and their training. “We get a lot of compliments on our dogs’ bird-finding abilities—not only the pointing dogs but also the cockers—and how they are not out of control. Everybody loves watching them work as a team.” The cockers, of course, are the real “people dogs” and tend to steal the limelight. “Guests enjoy seeing the cockers in the flushing baskets on the jeeps—intently watching for a point and letting us know when it’s time for another show.”
Come show time, hunters enjoy letting the cockers do the flushing, as many say that staying back gives them a better sight picture and more shooting windows. “We also get a lot of compliments on the quality of the birds and how hard they fly,” Tyla said, “which has a lot to do with not only our habitat management but also those fluffy terrors busting them out of the grass.”
The Kuhns are justifiably proud of their dogs, which are bred primarily for the couple’s guide string but often end up with clients who are so impressed that they have to have one. The shorthairs, for example, are seventh-generation dogs from a line that Scott has been breeding for 20 years, and the cockers are either direct imports from the UK or descendants of dogs that were imported. According to Tyla: “We pride ourselves on always striving to improve our lines, and because we are able to evaluate our dogs in real-world hunting situations, we’re confident in saying that they have proven performance in the field.”
Those who have never witnessed the teamwork of pointing dogs working in conjunction with flushing dogs are missing a treat. And the Fishing Creek grounds—with their rolling hills, longleaf pines and native grasses—are a perfect setting in which to watch it all come together. The tricky thing is to take it all in yet maintain enough composure to sort through whirring wings and pluck a quail from the chaos.
And that heart-pounding anticipation of the flush? It never gets old.
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