Posts Tagged ‘Sam Cook’

The Best Bird Dogs I’ve Ever Seen

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The author watches

The author watches Sam Cook’s “Lucy” work a western Minnesota Walk-In Access hunting area. Photo courtesy Sam Cook / Duluth News Tribune

I’ve joked with friends that I’ve never met a dog owner who wasn’t an expert. While in jest, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing wrong with having extra confidence in your training and your dog if things are working for you. “The best dog in the world” phrase may be about as ubiquitous as “Best Dad” coffee mugs, but it’s all relative – as a shamelessly biased owner and utterer, I would know.

But what if you put aside partiality and emotion for a second, then what dog(s) stands out as the best you’ve ever seen. What friends or relatives had a pup that impressed you with its all-around ability – field work, obedience and personality? What dog made an indelible impression on you at a field trial or hunt test?

Here are four from my experiences that stand out:

“Lucy,” Yellow Labrador Retriever. Sam Cook is the longtime outdoor scribe at the Duluth News Tribune, and I joined him and his Lucy in 2011, touring some of western Minnesota’s first Walk-in Hunting Areas. Bird numbers were as low in this part of the state as they’d been in years, but if there was a ringneck in the field, Lucy found it. And what we did find were runners, but that’s where her ability to stop on a whistle came in handy, allowing us to catch up before the chase resumed. She retrieved to hand and, like any lab worth their weight in kibble, made you feel like their best friend.

Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Brad Mccardle’s “Teigen.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“Teigen,” English Setter. Brad Mccardle is a bird bum living in Lewistown, Montana whose singular upland passion is hunting Hungarian partridge. Lucky for him, he’s got Teigen, a beast of a big-running setter bound with athleticism, drive, a nose and style. I hunted with Mccardle and a small group of pro-level dog guys – making me the odd man out – but even a relative novice like me could see a dog oozing with greatness. If I lived in open country, I’d want a dog like Teigen.

“Finn,” Black British Labrador Retriever. It’s practically a prerequisite for an outdoor scribe to have a good dog – see previously, Sam Cook – and Chris Niskanen, the former outdoors editor at the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, is no different. Niskanen hunted with my family and other members of Minnesota’s Lac qui Parle County PF chapter for a pheasant hunting season opening story a few years back. Already a decade-long veteran, Finn was the workhorse for a big group. And all the flushing and retrieving came in a compact British size, or about half your typical lab. I saw online this past autumn that even at 13-years-old, Finn was retrieving ducks in North Dakota for Niskanen, who is now the Communications Director at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Bob St.Pierre's "Trammell." Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

Bob St.Pierre’s “Trammell.” Photo by Anthony Hauck / Pheasants Forever

“Trammell,” German Shorthaired Pointer. Regular readers of Pheasants Forever’s blog know of Trammell, who is dog #1 in Pheasants Forever Vice President of Marketing Bob St.Pierre’s family. I’ve seen her in the field enough to witness too many points to count, a few outrageous retrieves, but mostly I’ve seen quality performance after quality performance. There’s consistent and good, then there’s consistently good – that’s Trammell.

If you still end up listing your dog, consider yourself biased beyond repair. And that’s okay. Just know that you don’t have the best dog in the world…because I do.

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.