Gear and Gun Dogs: What's Perfection?


Frustrated by hunting gear that always seems to have most of the features we want but never all the features we want, my friends and I like to play “If I were to design a —-.”

Training collars always generate great debate. If I were to design an e-collar, it would have a decent range of stimulation adjusted on a rheostat, different beeper sounds and volumes, vibrate, locator, small ergonomic size, a tiny receiver, buttons with numbers or collar color letters big enough to read without my glasses, some blaze orange on the transmitter so I can find it when I drop it in the woods, a fixed antenna that’s not too long, a simple on-off button that doesn’t get squishy with age, and a reliable but small loop to attach it to a lanyard or carabineer without interfering with the transmitter knobs.

Ask the next dog handler, and he or she will come up with a different set of priorities for sure.

How about the perfect rain hat? Mine would be 100 percent waterproof, 100 percent breathable, blaze orange, never shrink or wrinkle, allow no water to drip down my neck, and would look terrific on. (That last part is the kicker.) We analyze game vests, hunting pants and guns. Boots are very personal, so we’ve given up trying to design the perfect pair. I wonder, though, what we’d come up with if we were to design the perfect bird dog.

I’d start with a dense coat to protect him from thorns and brambles. It’d have to be heavy enough for cold weather, but not too heavy for early season. He’d have to be so biddable, you’d think he’d read the training manual himself. A sensational nose goes without saying, love for swimming, and the ability to know exactly how far out I’d like him to range in the fields and woods. He’d come pre-wired steady to wing, shot and drop, and would retrieve with the style and grace of the head waiter in a gourmet Manhattan restaurant serving me filet mignon in a burgundy mushroom sauce.

He must have a sense of humor for those slow days in the field when I need diversion, and he must be forgiving, knowing that when I miss it’s because the sun was in my eyes, the trees were in the way, or my jacket pulled the gunstock away from my shoulder. As far as personality goes, he’d adore me and understand we’re a team – that if he finds the bird, I can shoot the bird; and if he retrieves the bird, I’ll cook it up for dinner, for us both.

Did I forget anything?

Nancy Anisfield, an outdoor photographer/writer, sporting dog enthusiast and bird hunter, serves on Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s National Board of Directors. She resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.