May/June 2019

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Editor’s Note by Ralph Stuart
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Good dogs make lasting impressions.

Whether it’s for amazing feats, admirable habits or consistently stellar performances, they find ways to etch themselves on your memory.

Sailor was one such dog.

I first hunted with Sailor when I moved to Maine in the early 1990s. He belonged to Capt. Bill Wasson, at the time a sea duck guide in the Midcoast area. Sailor was a Chesapeake Bay retriever—90 pounds of muscle, with a big block head, deadgrass hair and glowing yellow eyes. He was the kind of dog that commanded respect—on and off the water.

I remember the first time I hunted with Bill. It was a cold, mid-January morning, and as we motored toward the open bay, I peered out from my cinched hood to see Sailor sitting tall in the bow of the boat, ears flapping, squinting into the stiff headwind. Once we set the decoys and anchored, Sailor took his position near Bill, in the stern, and sat stoically staring out to sea. When the guns would go off and birds would hit the water, he would wait for the command, and then launch into the swells.

A number of times the birds, mostly eiders, had only been winged, and Sailor would track them down and wait, paddling in circles, as the ducks dove and resurfaced until finally running out of gas enough for him to grab them. Then he would return to the boat, where he would be dragged aboard, deliver the ducks, shake and resume his position in the stern.

That he didn’t seek attention didn’t mean he was unfriendly. It was just business. And I was honored to watch him work on several hunts over several winters.

Those hunts took place more than 20 years ago, and Sailor now lies buried on an island—cremated with his last hen eider and Bill’s hunting hat. If I close my eyes, I can see him churning through the salt like it was yesterday . . . .

This issue—our annual hunting dogs special—salutes gundogs like Sailor with several dog-related departments and Tom Davis’s feature “Duck Dog” (p. 64), about those wonderful Chessies. We hope you enjoy it.

Also in this issue we’re excited to announce the launch of our Endorsed Lodge Program (p. 26). With Shooting Sportsman having been considered a top authority on wingshooting for more than 30 years and our team constantly being asked for advice about hunting venues, it made perfect sense to share some of our recommendations. The result is that we have partnered with select destinations that we know provide first-class sporting experiences. Our editors, writers, photographers and readers have been visiting these lodges for years, so the venues have been vetted in terms of the quality of hunting, accommodations, food, service and so on that they offer.

For more information about the program or participating lodges, visit the “Endorsed Lodges” page. There you will find destination profiles, photo albums, videos, testimonials and more. Or contact program coordinator Terry Bombeke.

Ralph P. Stuart

Features

Rigby’s Rising

A century on, a new gun meets—and makes—gunmaking history

By Silvio Calabi

Wings Over Argentina

Ducks, doves and perdiz at Estancia San Ambrosio

By Bruce Buck

Duck Dog

Myths & misconceptions about the Chesapeake Bay Retriever

By Tom Davis

Chasing the Blues

Up, up and away for blue grouse

By Reid Bryant


Departments

From the Editor

Introducing our Hunting Dogs Issue & Endorsed Lodge program

Letters

“Closing the Circle,” sage grouse, snowcock and an oversight

The Opener

Enjoying the full weight of a crane

Game & Gun Gazette

Dog of the Year winners, Gordy’s Rizzinis, quail books, a Boswell, etc.

Gun Review

Beretta’s good-looking and -feeling SL3

By Bruce Buck

Field Gear

Cool tools for tuning up your gundog

By The Editors

Going Public

Kansas’ Walk-In Hunting Access program

By Curtis Niedermier

To the Point

Remembering a Prince of a bird dog

By Tom Huggler


Scattershot

Great advice for the sporting life

Gear Guide

Vetting dog vests

By Ralph Stuart

The Gun Rack

SKB’s 200 Field

By Ralph Stuart

Shooting

Going small with sub-gauges

By Chris Batha

From the Bench

An innovative new try-gun

By Delbert Whitman Jr.

Shot Talk

Clearing up misunderstandings

By Tom Roster

Hunting Dogs

To spay, neuter or not

By Tom Davis

Conservation

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

By Ed Carroll


On the cover: Chesapeake Bay retriever CH HRCH Rippling Waters Fire N The Hole MH (aka “Peytah”) photographed by Mark Atwater

Additional photos: Chris Siefkin; Brian Grossenbacher; Chip Laughton


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