Off-Season Gun Dog Projects

The joys and rewards of owning a gun dog are legion. And, in my case, they keep growing. Here's an example:

Back during duck season I got an e-mail from my friend and F&S fishing editor, John Merwin. He knew I was taking Pritchard wood duck hunting and requested some of the barred feathers from a drake's flank. As some of you may remember, the wood duck hunt was a success, and Pritch made her first waterfowl retrieve. Of course, I pulled some feathers off of a drake and sent them to Merwin back in January.

So earlier this week when a small box arrived in the mail with a Vermont postmark I wasn't sure what to expect. Once I got a peek inside I knew instantly that Merwin had been hard at work on his fly-tying bench. The box held a number of beautifully tied, traditional Catskill flies (see above photo) that utilized the barred feathers from Pritch's first wood duck. The lineup included a Hendrickson dry, Red Quill dry, Light Cahill wet, and a number of others. It was a pretty grand gesture from a good friend. Merwin asked that I be sure to use them, and I promised I would (though I might save one or two). I'm thinking of making a trip up the Smokies or possibly some small streams in North Carolina.

No matter where I am, you can bet every time I use one of those flies I'll think about my friend Merwin and my dog. Call me corny, but that's the type of experience that makes the outdoors--and the bonds we establish there--such a special place.