Farewell Wolf–My Hunting Partner Since ‘95
Last fall, while hunting on southern Minnesota’s Lake Geneva, I dropped a wood duck over the decoys. I gently pulled my springer, Wolf, from the canoe and pointed him toward the wood duck. Off he swam without hesitation. He made a perfect retrieve, as Wolf has for over 14 years. It turned out that was his last retrieve.
Appropriately, Wolf’s first retrieve was a mallard in North Dakota. He was seven-months-old then a full of vinegar. That dawn, Wolf leaped into the lake and broke thin ice all the way out to get that duck. On shore, his eyes were wild with predatory lust and he wouldn’t bring the duck to me! Wolf was more wild than domestic, I often said, as did others.
Wolf hunted with me from Washington State to New York; from Kansas to Montana and everywhere else in between. He once sat patiently as I drove over 5,500 miles on one three-week trip for the Pheasants Forever Journal. He likewise sat patiently in his kennel many days and nights waiting for me to come home from work.
Wolf had three great retirement years, kept company by my new wife of four years, who doted over him, and a new springer, Hunter, who kept him challenged.
The retrieves are over now. Wolf is at rest in my backyard. I dug his grave last Tuesday, sat down and just sobbed. His life was over and a chapter in mine was done too. At 55-years-old, I spent my best years hunting with Wolf. I laid his head to rest on a Pheasants Forever t-shirt in tribute to his service.
This summer I could see the writing on the wall and poured some concrete in a shoebox and pushed Wolf’s fat front feat into it. I them scrawled his name in the concrete. The makeshift headstone will mark his grave long after I’m gone. I also put an old duck decoy on his grave; he and I just loved duck hunting. As I was wont to say of my old buddy, the last thing many a pheasant or duck saw in this world was Wolf bearing down on them. He was a singularly relentless retriever.
I put some brown-eyed Susans from our front yard on his grave too. They are fading now, but my memory of him never will.
I thought it appropriate that Wolf went off to the happy hunting grounds in autumn, our favorite time of year. Farewell Wolf. Thanks for everything.
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