This spring we held our latest photo contest. Utilizing social media, the Shooting Sportsman Favorite Gundog contest was designed to document hunters’ love for their dogs. What emerged during the six weeks from March 15 to May 1 was a crowdsourced catalog of beloved pointers, setters, Labs, spaniels and everything in between. The photos were as natural and authentic as the emotions that bind us to our four-legged best friends. Ultimately, we had to choose 10 finalists and three prizewinners.[inpost_leaderboard_middle_2]
Third prize went to Mackenzie Smith, a veterinarian in training at the University of Georgia. We were drawn to the simple joy and connection between Mackenzie and her one-year-old shorthair, Izzy, that showed through on a duck hunt in South Carolina. In the photo you can sense the teamwork between hunter and canine in the shared pursuit. Mackenzie and Izzy were awarded a Filson Dog Chest Protector and Webbing Dog Collar.
Second prize went north of the border to Canada. There Marco Cunha, a staffer at Ducks Unlimited Canada, and his three-year-old Lab, Oakley, prowl the marshes and fields of southwestern Ontario. In the photo Marco submitted, the determination in Oakley’s eyes and the sense of commitment were heartfelt. And who can’t appreciate the picture-perfect contrast between the jet-black Lab and Canada goose? For their efforts, Marco and Oakley earned an Orvis ComfortFill-Eco Softshell Dog Bed.
And our first prize was awarded to Swayze Waters, of Jackson, Mississippi. At the time this photo was taken, Swayze’s shorthair, Fancy, was three months old and already a handsome dog. We felt that the image evoked a sense of calm and steadiness and captured the promise of the future—all things of great importance during this time of uncertainty. Swayze and Fancy earned themselves a Primos KennelUP Dog Kennel.
Frankly, we were overwhelmed by the hundreds of entries received. The obvious affection that sportsmen and women have for their faithful companions is heartening. Winnowing the field to 10 finalists and ultimately three winners was a struggle, and we wish we could have given prizes to everyone. Then again, the unconditional love between owners and dogs is reward enough.