Editor’s Note by Ralph Stuart
Each year when we begin work on our annual “Hunting Dogs Issue,” I can’t help but reminisce about great dogs I’ve had the pleasure of hunting over. I have witnessed some truly amazing dogwork—from incredible points to mind-boggling flushes to epic retrieves.
But one of the most impressive performances I have ever seen—admitted bias here—was by my late griffon, Auger. It was during his Intermediate Hunting Dog Test, which I had committed to as a member of the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America (now the Bohemian Wirehaired Pointing Griffon Club of America).
Auger had performed flawlessly all day—searching, pointing, tracking a live pheasant and retrieving a dragged one. Now he was facing the test’s toughest challenge: tracking a duck in water. The proving ground was a swamp filled with deadfalls and grassy hummocks, and once the duck had been released, Auger and I were called to the shore and shown the feathers that marked the track’s start.
Auger wasted no time charging forth, following what I hoped was the duck’s trail. Occasionally we would see him climbing over logs and crossing open water until he eventually disappeared. After five minutes he came swimming back, empty-mouthed, and sat dripping by my side. I was crestfallen.
Thirty seconds passed as the judges and gallery watched in silence. Then, without me saying a word, Auger plunged back into the water. This time he was gone 10 minutes, and when he scaled a berm 75 yards away, the judges began mumbling to one another.
“Has he gone back to the trucks?”
“I didn’t see the duck cross there.”
The next words were music to my ears: “There he is . . . . He has the duck!” As Auger came back over the berm, it was all the gallery could do to keep from cheering.
When Auger delivered that duck to hand, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. That he earned a perfect 4H (for “honorary award”) was simply icing on the cake.
Life with gundogs can be like that: an emotional rollercoaster. And many hunters wouldn’t have it any other way. In this issue we focus on our four-legged companions with articles like Tom Davis’s feature on English setters, Jessie Richards’ piece on canine conditioning and Tom Huggler’s story on the nightmare of losing a dog. We hope you enjoy the ride.
Making Sense of Setters
A few solid points about (English) setters
By Tom Davis
Sharptails Through the Season
Early & late hunting for Montana’s prairie grouse
By E. Donnall Thomas Jr.
Boxall & Edmiston
Bespoke guns blending technology & handwork
By Douglas Tate
High & low ’fowling in western South America
By Gary Kramer
Seasons of Snipe
In pursuit of a favorite gamebird
By Worth Mathewson
From the Editor
Remembering great days with gundogs
Cover considerations and accidental discharges
Catching Air: an athletic attempt to fetch a pheasant
Game & Gun Gazette
Kids & Clays, a close call, the growth of youth shooting, etc.
A Giulio Bernardelli 28-gauge hammergun
By Bruce Buck
Thinking ahead for hunting dogs
By The Editors
To Wisconsin’s county forests for grouse & woodcock
By Tom Davis
Chasing quail at Georgia’s Fishing Creek Farms
By Roger Catchpole
To the Point
The nightmare of losing your dog
By Tom Huggler
Great advice for the sporting life
Portable kennels to protect your pup
By Ralph Stuart
The Gun Rack
An over/under made for ’fowling
By Ralph Stuart
The right way to clean your smoothbore
By Chris Batha
From the Bench
The ACGG’s 2017 project gun
By Dennis Earl Smith
An overview of 1-oz, 28-gauge loads
By Tom Roster
Tips for conditioning your canine
By Jessie Richards
Exploring the American Prairie Reserve
By Joe Healy
On the cover: “Chap,” a handsome tri-color setter. By Dale C. Spartas
Additional photos: Courtesy of Giulio Bernardelli; Brodie Calef