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Worthless Dog? Maybe, Maybe Not

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If you are a long-time bird hunter or field trailer you have started and given up on many prospects you judged deficient or worse. This is the story of three such I gave away and that proved more than useful to its donee.

The first was Duchess, a GSP I bought as a pup as my second hunting dog prospect (the first had been Duke, a setter raised from a pup by my father-in-law and orphaned when he died of a heart attack at 57, and became a confirmed self hunter after running loose a year on a farm before I took him home to be a family house dog and my Saturday bird hunting companion. Duke made me a bird hunter for life but I spent most of my time afield looking for him on point rather than watching him hunt).

Duchess proved to be a yo yo hunter with a range of thirty yards who never left a path, worthless as a wild bird dog except to find and retrieve birds pointed by other dogs at which she was expert, but even at that she was inept because she would not back. I gave her to my secretary’s husband who hunted only released birds on a preserve. For him she proved ideal and he hunted her many years and considered her the best dog in the world. One man’s poison is sometime’s another’s prime meat, to twist a phrase.

My second worthless-to-me dog was Aries, a daughter of the Smith Setter Anchor Man I raised from my setter Meg. Aries proved to be an inveterate deer hunter, disappearing within minutes of release and typically found at twilight lying beside some dirt road with a pack of deer hounds exhausted from the chase. I gave her to an orthopedic surgeon friend of Billy Anderson who had moved from Danville to somewhere in North Carolina and only hunted Wednesday afternoons at a preserve surrounded by chain link fence. Like Duchess she became for the Good Doctor the Dog of a Lifetime.

My third such dog, also named Duchess, was an Elhew Pointer acquired as a derby from Robert Wehle himself. He had advertised her in the Field as a “promising prospect.” Beware the phrase. She could not point a wild quail, not even flash point, I soon discovered. But she was beautiful, I must confess, with classic confirmation and an even marked liver head and spots like a Dalmatian, though liver not black.

I gave her to my client and friend Bill Blalock of Mecklenburg County who released pen-raised quail for her on his large farm. She pointed them for him and found them dead and retrieved them, and he soon declared her first rate. He hunted her that way the rest of her long life.

So, remember, one man’s spoiled meat may turn out to be another’s prime filet mignon.


About the Author

Tom Word
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Tom Word is a lawyer who represents individuals about managing their assets and for amusement writes fiction and non-fiction about bird dogs and humans obsessed with them.


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