One of the most inspiring stories I’ve told is about Duke, a 16-month-old shorthair that arrived at Eagle Nest Lodge in Hardin, Montana a day or two before we did to make shows. Touring the kennel with manager John Shirley, I first noticed the top dog, a pointer, with a cast on his leg, on the injured reserve list for the rest of the season.
Duke had been called up to fill the void in the line-up, sight-unseen, a recent arrival from Pheasant Bonanza Lodge in Nebraska. Pheasant Bonanza came well-recommended, John said, as a strong breeder as well as hunting operation. His doleful eyes and tentative demeanor were befitting a new arrival, but there was something in there I liked.
I asked John if we could be part of his debut, could we bring him the next day? Sure! The rest, as they say, is history. Here’s Duke’s touching story, shot a couple years ago:
At the urging of a good friend and fan, with some trepidation I finally asked John how Duke was doing. You know the worries: didn’t work out, couldn’t get along with the rest of the string, or worse. Thankfully, my paranoia was assuaged:
Scott, the water has been high, but the fishing has been amazingly good.
We still have Duke and he is doing great. He basically has turned out to be my dog and my dog only. We let our guides use dogs from the kennel and they all say he does not hunt well for them. But when I take him out he is awesome! Most of our dogs will hunt for anyone….but not Duke! I run him (along with the other dogs) everyday and he is just a great dog, Last year he hunted so good, he was my top dog just about everyday.
That’s neat that someone was wondering about Duke.
Hope you are doing well, John.