Tuesday, February 10, 2009
An Improbable Partnership
To have my nephew Jim-Bob become my regular hunting partner was something I could not have imagined just a few short years ago. A hunter for sure, but of deer and turkey, he was never a "dogman". His one attempt at dog ownership involved a beagle of questionable parentage that was brought home one evening and because of his incessant barking only lasted into the early morning hours at which time he was promptly dumped off at my parents farm to live out his life as a barn dog. Some years later his then 11 year old son Caleb wanted a dog "like Ricks" Ryman-type setters. I suppose there was some heavy conversations between Jim-Bob and his wife Tracy, who had been bitten by a dog as a young girl and was at the least "uncomfortable" around dogs. I believe my Hattie, with her calm loving disposition had a big part in persuading them into getting young Caleb a setter pup. A call to Andy Sorg, a long-time Ryman breeder, confirmed that he did indeed have a litter on the way and one warm May day we headed north to pick up a cute orange belton male was was christened Zeke. Soon Zeke had won the hearts of all of the family and was taken everywhere they went. His bond with Tracy is still talked about with awe by her friends who knew her as a "dog shy" person and to this day Zeke worships the ground she walks on.
As the first fall rolled around Jim-Bob and Zeke started to make excursions into the woods along with my setters,first for woodcock and then grouse. As with any young dog Zeke had alot to learn about wild birds and patience was never one of Jim-Bob's strong points. He would fuss and fume whenever Zeke bumped a bird or hunted out too far but whenever Zeke was able to "put it all together" I would see the pride in Jim-Bob's eyes. Now as Zeke approaches his 3rd birthday he has indeed matured into a handsome setter and his abilities as a birddog are steadily improving to the point that on our last two hunts of the season Zeke was the dog who found and pointed the only grouse we found. It has been a real pleasure watching Jim-Bob and Zeke mature into a birdhunting team.