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OUR GROUSE HUNTING ENGLISH SETTERS AND ENGLISH POINTERS
It all began the day my dad took me into a gun shop where I first saw the handsome dark wood of the guns, and smelled the seductive smell of gun oil. Both familiar and intoxicating, to this day the odor conjures up pleasant thoughts and memories.
My first exposure to grouse came in the ‘70’s, when I moved some birds out on the eastern part of Long Island, then ranged out to Putnam, Dutchess and Columbia counties, with occasional day trips hunting in northern New York. In 1977 I bought my first bird dog, a Brittany. Two years later, I kicked bird hunting up another notch when I bought my first English Setter, Sumac.
Keeping one foot in reality, I received a B.S. in criminal justice and became a Port Authority police officer in New York City. Once married, I purchased a house in northern New Jersey, which was closer to better bird hunting. The hour-long commute was a chore, but well worth it. While in New Jersey I mostly hunted along the Delaware River, a major flyway for woodcock. It was nothing to shoot in excess of 50 woodcock a year over good English Setters, however the grouse hunting left much to be desired.
Once retired, I purchased our farm here, in Chenango County, where grouse were abundant and hunting “Birds” became my passion. I designed and built a state-of-the-art 32-run kennel facility and began a breeding program for fine grouse hunting English Setters, far easier to develop now that I had access to a healthy grouse population! All this while I never deterred from my idea of what the ideal grouse dog should be. My wife, Kristin, and I are in the business of training clients’ dogs, constantly evaluating the pointing breeds, identifying the characteristics of the few prospects that will actually “make it” in the grouse woods. Early in my career I had made a choice to work with the traditional grouse dog of choice, the English Setter. For example, we know that in order for our English Setters to handle grouse they need a high head, better than average nose and the intelligence to gauge distance from the bird in order to avoid flushing it. They should also be willing to please, ie., easy to train and handle in the field. They should also be well made so they can move easily through the woods and fields. Lastly, they should “have bottom”, be able to hold up to the rigors of everyday hunting.
With this in mind, it is the ideal grouse dog we strive for in our English Setter breeding program at Chenango Valley Kennels, and if the dog can handle grouse well it will be able to hunt any other bird for you. This intelligent hunter will also make an excellent family dog, a “win-win” situation for any bird hunter.
COVERS Magazine, Ruffed Grouse Society & American Woodcock Society
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