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Posts Tagged ‘Duke’

Noted dog photographer Nancy Anisfield was also there, chronicling our work for Upland Almanac and Versatile Hunting Dog magazines. This is one of her shots.

If you watched Cast & Blast and What the Dogs Taught Me on that other network back in the day, you might remember Duke. He is the shorthair that arrived one night, hunted with us the next day, and impressed me with his stoicism and the way he blossomed in that one single Montana day.

Since then, I’ve been curious about his home, line, and the breeders at Pheasant Bonanza who did such a great job with him.

Starting this Monday, watch his relatives work the fields Duke was trained in, and enjoy the hunt! Details on where to watch, here.

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Duke's old home, source of many strong shorthairs

Years ago I told you the story of Duke, a young shorthair that arrived at Eagle Nest Lodge just a day or two before we did. His stoic, patient demeanor in the kennel intrigued me. I asked manager John Shirley if we could take him the next morning on a Hungarian partridge hunt.

The show we made was one of my favorites: inspiring, moving, and encouraging. If only every young dog could watch it when he arrives at his “forever home!” Duke started tentatively, whether it was new surroundings, the crowd associated with making a TV show, or simply trying to figure out who the boss was, I don’t know. But by the end of the day, he was pointing, retrieving, and showing signs of the confident dog he ultimately became. John assures me he’s a one man dog, working well, but only for him.

Impressed and touched by Duke’s growth in that one day, I promised myself I’d visit Pheasant Bonanza, the Nebraska kennel and hunting operation where Duke had been bred and trained. And this fall, I finally got there.

My first stop at a new place is usually the kennel. It was populated by a half-dozen Duke lookalikes … an elegant, elongated, solid-colored head being the giveaway they were cousins of my former Montana hunting partner. Like their distant relative, they rested calmly in their runs, exhibiting a worldly demeanor.

Tad sets up a shot at Pheasant Bonanza. Note the lush cover.

The next day, we brought two along. They did not disappoint. Thick cover was no obstacle to these smallish, graceful dogs. Rather than bull their way through head-high grass, they glided between the clumps, pointing and backing each other like pro’s. They danced among the small trees, footfalls delicate. If only their guest was a better shooter, they could have demonstrated more often their skillful retrieving abilities.

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You are now officially a citizen. Wear blaze orange, proudly, fellow citizen. See you in the field.

Have you ever raised and trained a young dog? Then, run him with an experienced dog? Anything can happen, right? How would you handle it when a young dog’s training is trumped by instinct?

Duke arrived at Eagle Nest Lodge days earlier, had never hunted with anyone from the lodge. But his genetics were superb. Fortunately, Ty the Irish Red Setter had a full complement of tolerance genes. Watch what happens and maybe you’ll win a limited-edition Wingshooting USA long-sleeve tour t-shirt by answering the trivia question at the end of the video clip! [I’ll pick one winner from all correct answers.]

In your answer email, tell me what you would have done in the same situation … I can use all the help I can get with Manny! Thanks.

[Vote fast! This trivia quiz closes Dec. 24 at midnight.]

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