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.