Hunting Dogs

The Hunt that almost wasn't 2

The Hunt That Almost Wasn’t

By Carol Carver, Field Staff,
North Carolina

We started going to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan several years ago. Grouse in Michigan are on a seven year cycle – seven with the population going up and seven with it going down.

Read more: The Hunt that almost wasn't 2

Discovery on the Duck Flats


Discovery on the Duck Flats

By Christine Cunningham

Seven spiders were dropping down on me as if they were mounting a takeover. If I thought crawling through the mud for a hundred yards through the muck and the mud of tidal flats just to sneak up on some ducks was unpleasant, I had yet to experience the joys of lying on my back in a soggy coffin shaped “layout blind” with only the smell of rotting swamp and an assortment of spiders to keep me company. It wasn’t the little spiders that bothered me so much – they were at least slow and easily diverted from my face. It was the hairy black jumping spiders that my hunting partner insisted were a figment of my imagination that caused me dismay.

            He was in a similar layout blind forty yards away. The grass on the layout blind seemed greener forty yards away, a place where there were no hairy jumping spiders and where he was probably propped up inside his little luxury coffin pouring himself a thermos lid of coffee and having the philosophical thoughts of old duck hunters who enjoy the thing in itself even if it’s a bad idea because it was, at least, his bad idea.

Cheyenne in the layout blind

            Meanwhile, I was mounting a campaign for why I would never do this again. If we weren’t going to get any ducks, we might as well not get any ducks in our regular blind, which featured camp chair seating and a nice view of the decoys on a quaint little pond at sunrise. Instead, I was crammed into a metal framed version of hell with a pair of rusty doors that, if they could spring open as planned and if I could coordinate the pile of joints that had become my once limber frame and if I could operate my break open shotgun then I just might be able to get a shot at some birds. But if none of that happened, I was sure not coming back again.

            That’s why I don’t understand why I was back on the flats in the same layout blind the next morning. What seems like a good idea never stops seeming like a good idea. When it doesn’t work out the way it should have, there are too many variables to say for certain if it was the idea that was wrong or if it was, say, the weather or the time of day. Some people are fond of saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Maybe it didn’t occur to these people that Einstein originated his most famous theories while working in a patent office. He is quoted as saying, “Only strong characters can resist the temptation of superficial analysis.”

            As I rationalized my reasoning for spending another morning among the spiders, a thin black hair appeared on the brim of my hat. I adjusted my focus just as a second thin hair appeared; this one more closely resembled a spider’s leg. I didn’t have a chance to wait for the rest of the legs before I was met with the eight or so eyes of one hairy black jumping spider. The doors of my layout blind sprung open with an ease I never imagined possible. I was standing alone in the middle of the duck-less flats on a bleak September day. And it was in that moment that I realized what a rotating-triple-head single positron emission-computed tomography scanner could not: the solution to life’s greatest mysteries were all solved at once: the fountain of youth, the cure for cancer, life on other planets, and what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

But I didn’t have time to jot down the answer because a flock of mallards erupted from a nearby pond and I had to get back into my spider nest quick. I didn’t get any ducks that day, but I will defiantly go back, if only to figure out why gentlemen prefer blonds.



Setters in the House

by Christine Cunningham, Alaska

It was 3 o-clock a.m. when I awoke to a gnawing and scratching sound. My blood ran cold...

Loose in my house was a wily English setter pup, and the sound was coming directly from my new leather couch.

This is not just any new leather couch, it is a grand piano of leather couches, a couch that, for those who cherish a well-made nest, is sought after. When I found it, the sense of accomplishment brought tears to my eyes. It is not just a beautiful, soft, whiskey-colored leather, high-backed, pin-tucked couch that brings to mind parlors full of sophisticated people and conversation. It is even prettier than that.

I jumped out of bed and ran into the living room. My little setter looked up at me from my couch with an expression of having been disturbed. She had been licking my couch! She had not chewed it yet, but she was planning to. Since I am not a dog, I do not really know what goes on prior to the act of chewing. Usually, by the time I arrive on the scene, some object of my affection has already been destroyed. I never know how long it took or what preparation was involved.

There is not a lot of literature on what dogs do to warn us that they are about to chew. Officers of the law say, “We have to catch them in the act,” but are helpless until it is too late. There I was, at three-o-five in the morning, with no hotline to ask, “Do dogs lick before they chew, or is licking the act itself?” Would she be content to lick the couch or was licking the gateway activity to chewing? Actually, did I even want her to be licking the couch?

“Parker,” I said. “Mom does not want you licking the couch.” She cocked her bronze-speckled head as if to say, “But I like licking the couch.” I did not want to be unreasonable. But, if there was even a two percent chance that licking would lead to chewing, I wanted it to stop right then and there. I considered wrapping the couch in plastic. We compromised. I scooped her up, carried her away from my couch, and gave her an appropriate chew toy. “See?” I said, “Chewing on appropriate chew toys is fun.” The pink rabbit hung from her mouth and her expression clearly said, “This 'appropriate' chew toy is boring.”

I tried another tack: “We don’t lick couches in this family,” I said. It was getting late and obviously I was not at my sharpest. Expecting my dog to understand my made-up-on-the-spot family creed was a little off-base. In addition, setters are known to dislike a condescending tone. The tilt of her head and the way she let the chew toy drop from her mouth from lack of interest made me think that we were getting nowhere.

If I just went back to sleep, she’d probably get right back to what she was doing–whatever that was. In the light of day, it may have occurred to me that the word “No” has more impact than complex sentence structures. And, I may not have given as much thought to whether my command was justified. For the sake of the couch, I should have, “Just said no.” Don’t chew it. Don’t lick it. Don’t even look at it.

I didn’t buy the couch so that it could be employed for any purpose. It was just there to adorn a room in the house that I don’t use. It was, by no means, a giant setter salt lick.         

“We don’t sit on couches in this family,” I thought. We just put the couch where it’s supposed to be because society wants us to have respectable couches. It’s my retirement couch. When I cannot spend all day at work or in the field or in front of a computer screen, I will go and sit on my couch.  

“I’m going back to bed,” I told Parker. She hadn’t eaten the old couch I just pitched in the yard–the couch that I would have gladly given her as a chew toy. So maybe she wouldn’t eat this one. It was five-o-clock in the morning by the time I finally finished this column and a pot of coffee. Parker sat at my feet–the way setters have done for centuries when not in the field pointing upland birds. I looked down at her, prepared to admire her good setter looks. She was licking the floor.

Parker and the pigeons

Parker at range

Parker and the Pigeons

Parker at the Range




Electronic Training System for Hunting Dogs

H2O 1800-Series
Electronic Training System

for Hunting Dogs

by Laura Bell, Field Staff, Ohio

Since 1983, D.T. Systems, Inc. has been supplying dog owners with their affordable line of electronic training systems and gear. New model offers four styles to match your training style.

Read more: Electronic Training System for Hunting Dogs

Hunting Dogs


and their

Hunting Dogs

Enjoy photos on this page, and then read WomenHunters' articles about their hunting dogs!

Laura Bell and her hunting dog Tanner (L); Kathleen Kalina with Daisy (Springer, R).

Alyssa Haukom and her English Setter Jesse
Carol Carver's hunting dog Katie (L); Claudia Eisenmann shows off her Wolfhound (R).
Sue Melus and her dogs
Jana Waller and her dog Sherpa (L) and Sue Melus with her dogs (R).
Martha Metzler's hunting dog Roy (L) and BethAnn Amico with her dog (R).
Christine Cunningham and Winchester (English Setter).
Melanie Rogers and her redbone coonhound
rachel with dog
Rachel Baker and her pointer 
Ladies please submit photos of your hunting dogs.