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  • April 12, 2013

    Give Your Dog a Haircut Before the Shedding Begins

    By Chad Love

    About this time every year, when the redbuds start blooming, the toms start strutting and the white bass start running upriver, I must deal with coat issues. My chessie has one of the densest coats I’ve ever seen, far thicker than any of my other chessies, my old lab or virtually any other dog south of the Arctic circle. I've always joked that she’s the musk oxen of the canine world. I don't complain during duck season, because neither icy water nor thorn-tipped thickets can penetrate her coat. But eventually, the bill for that dense coat comes due, in the form of a period of time in the spring when her winter coat starts blowing out. It starts with a dull sheen to her coat, perhaps a little tuft here and there, floating on the breeze, caught on the fence. But like the first few gentle flakes that precede a raging blizzard, those innocent-looking fuzzballs are the advance guard, the shock troops for an annual deluge known around my house simply as “the shed.”

  • April 8, 2013

    A Must-Read for Dog Lovers: 'Goodbye to a River' by John Graves

    By Chad Love

    Last year while on the road, I stumbled across an old, old book in thrift shop. And yes, I am a thrift shop junkie. In college I even worked for a couple years in a local Goodwill store. But I still have no idea what "popping tags" means...

    Anyway, the book was a copy of John Tainter Foote's "Pocono Shot," which was about a bird dog. The book had an incredibly touching and poignant inscription from a grandfather to his grandson on the front endpaper. You can read about it here.

  • April 2, 2013

    Gun Dogs: Study Suggests Diet Can Improve Sense of Smell

    By Chad Love

    The endurance benefits of feeding a high-protein, high-fat diet to working or sporting dogs are undeniable. I like to feed a super-premium 30/20 performance blend food. Some guys feed a performance food during hunting season, others give their dogs a high-protein performance food year-round — whatever you choose, these diets help to keep our dogs running. Now research suggests that certain diets can also improve a dog's ability to smell. (Hat tip to the excellent Living With Bird Dogs blog for the find.)

  • March 18, 2013

    Keep Dogs from Roaming with an Underground Electric Fence

    By Chad Love

    Ideally, we'd all like to have acres and acres of land for our dogs to roam and play in without fear of them wandering off and getting lost, hit by a car or stolen. Unfortunately for most of us, it rarely works out that way, and owning a dog generally means conforming to the often inconvenient or difficult realities of our lives.

    Such is the case with me. Although I live on a couple acres in a semi-rural environment, I cannot, for aesthetic, topographical and financial reasons, build a fence around my entire property. It's not a problem most of the time. The dogs are always with me when I'm outside. They know not to chase the neighborhood deer and they generally stick close to the house. But when I'm inside for any length of time, whichever dogs aren't on house rotation must be kenneled. I know many people do it, but I'm just not comfortable letting my dogs roam free when I'm not out with them.

  • March 14, 2013

    Video: Hunting Dog Fetches Bottle of Vodka

    By Chad Love

    One of the great things about the Internet is the window it provides for learning about sporting traditions in the rest of the world. Since I am not much of a big-game hunter these days, I tend to restrict my cross-cultural hunting-related web surfing to pursuits involving birds, shotguns and dogs. You can spend hours on YouTube watching all sorts of things, from classic European driven grouse shoots to British retriever field trials to coursing hounds to videos detailing how Ukrainian gundog owners teach the basic blind retrieve. And how, exactly, does the Ukrainian gundog owner in this video teach blinds? With a bottle of vodka, of course...

  • March 13, 2013

    Study: Domesticated Dogs Impact Wildlife Populations

    By Chad Love

    There's been a lot of discussion lately about the negative impact that free-roaming cats have on wildlife populations. So just to be fair, here's some food for thought: according to a recent study, free-roaming dogs aren't exactly saints, either.

    From this story on
    "...a new study from researchers at the University of Oxford reminds that domestic dogs are also killers and disease-spreaders that can pose conservation problems when they're allowed to roam.

  • March 8, 2013

    Caption Contest: Write Best, Win a Knife and Paracord Bracelets

    By Chad Love

    When I saw this photograph featured in the (Uk) Daily Mail I knew I had to see what you all could come up with.

  • March 4, 2013

    T. Boone Pickens' Bird Dogs at Mesa Vista

    By Chad Love

    The building behind this bronze pointer is not a palatial home. It is, in fact, a palatial dog kennel—home to some 40 English pointers, labs, and even a few Boykin spaniels that belong to T. Boone Pickens, a legendary businessman and utterly obsessed quail hunter.

    Last week I got the rare opportunity to spend some time with Pickens at his incredible 68,000-acre (Yes, that's over 100 square miles...) Texas panhandle ranch, Mesa Vista. If you're a quail hunter, you've probably heard of Mesa Vista. Starting with an initial purchase of 2,900 acres of overgrazed, worn-out Roberts County, Texas rangeland, Pickens has since tirelessly built Mesa Vista into perhaps the finest wild bobwhite quail hunting spot on earth. It is a truly remarkable place, and as a lover of all things quail, it was a high honor just to visit the place, much less talk quail hunting and dogs with the man himself.

  • February 27, 2013

    National Field Trail Championship: Setter Takes Top Spot for First Time in 43 Years

    By Chad Love

    The last time a setter won the National Field Trail Championship was in 1970, by a dog named Johnny Crockett. Since then pointers have dominated the annual event. Until now. This year's event was just won by a setter named Shadow Oak Bo.

    From this story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
    A moment that many people thought would never happen again finally took place Friday afternoon when a setter was named winner of the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs at Ames Plantation for the first time in 43 years.

  • February 19, 2013

    What's the Strangest Thing You Ever Found in the Field?

    By Chad Love

    There are weird, spooky and unusual things out in the field. And it makes sense that hunters, especially upland hunters who tend to cover large amounts of ground while following their dogs, would find these unexplained things.

    The dogs and I once stumbled across what appeared to be the contents of a lady’s purse in the middle of a huge swath of prairie, miles from the nearest town, road or footpath. How did it get here, in this utterly lonely and isolated spot that was rarely, if ever visited by anyone other than the occasional quail or deer hunter? Who knows?

    But as I looked down at the weathered, dirt-covered items, I recalled an infamous local case about a young boy who simply vanished one day, never to be seen again. The boy’s mother was the prime suspect, and was later convicted of his murder, but a body was never found. I was a newspaper reporter back in those days, and covered the case from the time the boy went missing all the way through his mother's trial and conviction.

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