Bird Dogs & Training  |  04/10/2019

Making a Cover: Drathaar and Broken-Feathered Rooster

By Tom Carpenter

Proud and burly dog. Wild and colorful rooster brought to hand. Warm afternoon light. That single, knowing eye. 

Those elements by themselves almost made Steve Ooehlenschlager’s image of a Deutsch Drathaar with a retrieved ringneck the perfect image for the cover for your Bird Dog Issue, the summer presentation of Pheasants Forever Journal of Upland Conservation.


So what brought it home and did make the picture perfect? 

But let’s not start there. Let’s go back to the beginning. 

It’s not like there aren’t a lot of great bird dog pictures out there. And we had others in the running. A technically perfect portrait of an Epagneul Breton (French Brittany); you’ll see that as the lead shot when you turn the cover into the publication. A magnificent yellow Lab delivering a bird to hand; that one needed to make the “book” too, and does so on page 5. A couple great pictures of hunters and their dogs in the field made the field of finalists too.

The process of creating a cover is fun but not easy. Every shot, every option, is great. It’s not so much a “process of elimination” to get to a winner. It’s more of a “process of addition” -- scoring up which picture has the most to offer.

For the Drat picture, it was that broken feather. 

How real is that? What’s the tale behind it? Did a coyote almost catch the bird long before hunter and dog finally did? Was it simply an errant BB out of the hunter’s shotgun? Was there a chase-down, and the determined Drat tackled the running rooster, busting the trophy feather in the process?

Hunting isn’t always pretty, or perfect. We shoot birds. Birds get beat up a little. Dogs do their work. You’ve been there, or will be.

The best art tells a story that’s your own. What’s your and your dog’s broken-tailed rooster tale? 

Tom Carpenter is editor at Pheasants Forever.

Enjoy the summer Bird Dogs issue of Pheasants Forever Journal. It's a celebration of our most beloved upland companions and the habitat they need to fulfill their destiny. The magazine is hitting the printer this week, and should be in your mailbox around the end of the month. If you’re not a Pheasants Forever member, join now and get in on this issue, future issues, and the habitat mission.