German Wirehaired Pointer
I am a lifelong waterfowl and upland bird hunter. Starting in high school and continuing on to college, I hunted without a dog. Slowly walking through the woods, hoping to flush a grouse or woodcock or working fence lines looking for a cock pheasant, I enjoyed my time in the outdoors. The friends I hunted with during this time were without dogs too. We talked about having a good retriever to replace our canoes for duck retrieves, but without the time to train or a place to keep a pup; our talk was just that, talk.
Graduation and a move South
Upon graduation from Ohio University, I moved to Florida and met a new hunting partner that had a Labrador Retriever. Florida duck hunting in the 70s, 80s and 90s was some of the best hunting in the country. The national wildlife refuges and salt water coastlines wintered tens of thousands Widgeon, Pintail, Teal and lots of divers. Having my friend’s Lab to retrieve our ducks inspired me to look for a dog of my own. So starting in 1977, I purchased my first black Lab. Training was new to me and without the internet, I had to read all of the books I could to obtain information and help. It was a great time and by 1996 and on my fourth Lab, I finally had success with my dog, Abby, retrieving ducks and geese from Florida to Saskatchewan with pheasant hunting mixed in at our friend’s farm in North Dakota. She was one of those “once in a lifetime” dogs that did whatever I asked of her.
Introduction to a Versatile Hunting Dog
On one of my hunting trips to North Dakota, I invited a friend from Atlanta that had two Brittany’s. We had a great time, using my Lab and his Brittany’s for upland birds and waterfowl. I was really impressed with his dog’s abilities to locate and hold point until we approached and flushed the pheasants. When I returned to Florida, I went on line to look into the versatile dog breeds and decided my next dog would be a German Wirehaired Pointer since they really like the water and can handle the cold weather where I hunt.
This decision was also based on the articles written by author Don Thomas in the Pointing Dog Journal. Don’s hunting stories were centered on his Labradors for years, and then he acquired Molly, his GWP, who turned out to be a great retriever and upland hunter. The breeder I purchased Jennie from in 2013 is a member of the German Wirehair Alliance and NAVHDA. He suggested I contact the local chapter in Florida to get help with training a versatile dog since this was my first attempt. Boy, was he correct. I contacted the Palmetto Chapter of NAVHDA and joined when Jennie was just a few months old. I also joined the NAVHADA Association and stared reading the “Green Book” for help with training Jennie.
Rewards of Joining the Florida Palmetto Chapter of NAVHDA
It has been four years now since I joined the local Florida Chapter of NAVHDA and this has been, and continues to be, a great decision. The members were willing to help me get Jennie started on birds, water, and tracking work. Everybody works together each month, with the experienced trainers helping the novices, like me, to get the most out of our dogs. If you are working on “whoa”, the table and barrel are available; if you are working on “steady to flush”, there are plenty of quail to tempt your dog; duck search?-ducks and ponds are available; tracking?-one of the members will be ready to do the drag for you.
Hunting has been a part of my life for over 40 years and sharing it with my current GWP makes it fun and rewarding. Switching from a flushing dog to a versatile pointing dog has enabled me to enjoy the sport even more. Watching Jennie run looking for quail on training weekends in Lake Wales, locking up solid when she finds scent, or running the CRP grasslands in North Dakota and retrieving ducks from the cattail sloughs, it is truly amazing to see the ability our canine friends have.
Finally, the friends I have made with the Florida Palmetto Chapter of NAVHDA keep me looking forward to every month throughout the year, not just the fall hunting season.