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Updated: 1 week 6 days ago

You say Tomato..

Sat, 2014-03-15 21:44
The pronunciation of the word “braque” as in Braque Français, Braque du Bourbonnais and "bracco" as in Bracco Italiano etc, is fairly straightforward, or at least so I thought.

Lisa and I speak French at home, and the majority of our research into the various Braque breeds for Pointing Dogs Volume One was done in France, Québec and Italy, mainly in French, but also in Italian. So we had never heard anyone pronounce “braque” or "bracco" to rhyme with anything other than “rack” or "racko' Here is a native French speaker saying "braque" and here is a native Italian speaker saying "bracco".  So it came as a bit of a surprise when I began to interview breeders and owners of braques in the US and heard them call their dogs “brocks” and "brockos" (rhymes with “rock” or "rocko"). 
So in my book, when it came to describing the various braque breeds, I thought it would be easy to clarify. I would just write that “braque” rhymes with “rack” and bracco rhymes with “jacko” since, to my Canadian ear, the words “rack”, “jack” and “braque” all rhyme. However, when I asked an American friend about it, he told me that, to a his ear, the correct pronunciation of “braque” does not quite rhyme with “rack”. To him, it has a slightly longer “a” sound, something like “brahk”. He speculated that the reason it rhymed with “rack” to me was because I speak English with a Canadian accent. 
In any case, we both agreed that “braque” should not really be pronounced “brock”. It rhymes, more or less, with “track” with maybe a slightly longer “a” sound for American ears. But then again, as the song goes:
You say eether and I say eyether,You say neether and I say nyther;Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and I like potahto,You like tomato and I like tomahto;Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!Let's call the whole thing off!
When it comes to the origin and meaning of the word braque, as they say on Facebook: “It’s complicated.” The short version is that it means “pointing dog”. The long version can be found in Les Chiens d’Arrêt, where Jean Castaing devotes six entire pages to tracing the word back almost to the time of the pyramids. I’ll choose the middle ground and offer the following explanation: 
Braque is an old word whose origin cannot be determined beyond the shadow of a doubt. It may come from the Old High German word brakko meaning “dog”, or from the French verb braquer meaning “to bend” or “turn in the direction of”—suggesting aiming or pointing at something. Whatever its origin, the word has been associated with hunting dogs for centuries. The French use braque and the Italians bracco for any breed of short-haired pointing dog. When the Pointer was first brought from England to the continent, it was listed in show catalogues in France as the 'Braque Anglais'. 
In Spanish, the word is braco and is used for pointing dogs as well, but the terms perro de punta (pointing dog) and perro de muestra (literally “a dog that indicates or shows”) are more commonly used. In Germany the word is bracke, but it is not used for pointing dogs. Rather, it is used for scenthounds such as the Deutsche Bracke, Tiroler Bracke and Westfälische Dachsbracke. “Pointing dogs” in German is vorstehhunde.

In my next post I will try to tackle the word "épagneul". Wish me luck!!

BOOK REVIEW: Red Grouse Over Pointing Dogs, A Photographic Exploration

Wed, 2014-03-05 03:55
I love books. A lot.  In fact, calling me a 'bibliophile' probably isn't enough. I think I am a full-blown biblio-maniac! So in addition to writing (and writing about) my own books, I thought I should start writing about the books of others and start posting some reviews. And I'd like to start with a book that I haven't put down since it arrived in the mail last week.

Red Grouse Over Pointing Dogs, A Photographic Exploration, is an absolutely magnificent book. It is an exquisite collection of photographs featuring pointing dogs, hunters and red grouse on the moors of Scotland and Northern England. Edited by Santiago Hererro, who also contributes many of the photos, the nearly 200 page book is big, heavy, beautifully bound and skillfully printed.
The book is comprehensive and well organized, leading the viewer from one visual treat to another. Photo captions are kept to a minimum. They provide a few details about each photo and occasionally a bit of background information, but remain tastefully unobtrusive. The first section presents the beautifully haunting look of the moors. And, thankfully, instead of the super-saturated, over-manipulated look currently trendy in landscape photography, Hererro opts for images that present a more subtle, nuanced look. He sometimes juxtaposes two photos taken at different times of the same landscape to reveal the ever-shifting light and mood unique to the heather moorland
The next section features photographs of red grouse in their native environment. Contributing photographer Roy Rimmer's images in particular are absolutely mesmerizing and reveal just how beautiful a bird Lagopus lagopus scotica really is.  Herrero's stylish Brittany Valick, -- who also 'wrote' the book's introduction -- is the star of "The Dogs" and "The Point" sections containing fantastic photos of various breeds hunting on the moors including German Shorthaired and Wirehaired Pointers, a Large Munsterlanders, Weimaraners, a Spinone, Vizslas and even a Labrador. "The Shot" section consists of some rather amazing images capturing the moment of a shot being fired or of a bird being hit, sometimes both. "The Retrieve" features photos of dogs fetching game and the book concludes with some exquisitely moody shots in a sections entitled "The Mist". 
This is a thoughtful book that is worth keeping at hand for those times when one feels a need for an ...unforgettable journey to the heather moorlands of Scotland and Northern England, home to the sublime red grouse, where perhaps the most spectacular bird shooting over pointing dogs in the world takes place. It's a big, heavy volume, worth every penny of its purchase price. It is... A book to turn to every time you are longing for the immensity of the moors and the whistling wind in your  ears.
You can purchase Red Grouse Over Pointing Dogs, A Photographic Exploration, on Amazon, at Coch-y-Bonddu Books or through Abe Books.

Happy Reading!


Update on the Stabyhoun

Sat, 2014-02-22 17:47
In an earlier Breed of the Week post, I wrote the following about a breed called the Stabyhoun: ... it is clear that for all intents and purposes the Stabyhoun is no longer a hunting breed.I am happy to say that I now stand corrected. There are still at least one or two kennels doing their best to produce Staby's for the field. The owner of one of them,  Klass Zonnebeld from Nijverdal in the Netherlands, sent me some very nice photos of Stabyhouns in the field to prove it. 
Here's a Staby showing off its good looks!
And ere's a Staby making a retrieve.
Klass and his wife Esther breed Staby's under the kennel name Fan it Heidehiem. They are among the very few folks in the world breeding Staby's for hunting. Several years and nests (litters) further, we can say that our kennel breeds healthy dogs with passion for hunting. We think beauty is less important than fine characters, although we do not want to lose the typical qualities that belong to our breed. We love the older Stabij type that is not too big and is able to hunt all day. The body needs to be athletic and in good proportions with good movements.  A Fan it Heidehiem dog is first and foremost bred to have great working potential. We are not producing show dogs but a Stabij that has the health, temperament and movement to prove himself a worthy companion in the field. I enjoy seeing a dog is in his element – using his natural hunting instincts and willingness to do a good day’s work. These are the qualities I value highest in a dog. If a judge also likes the look of them then that is a bonus.Klass and Esther offer some fascinating details on the history of the breed and how it was used to capture moles and polecats. The Stabij was the dog for the poor man they called him Bijke and if the owner had a farm it was a farm dog, but if the owner was a hunter, it was a hunting dog. This is also why these poor people were breeding the dogs.  If they needed a stronger dog, they just find a combination with a bigger and stronger breed. But if they needed a special hunting dog,  the combination with a hunter-breed was made. The early 20th century were crisis years and everybody was poor.

In  Friesland they did a lot of mole catching and for this kind of hunting they needed a smaller dog so the Stabij was crossed with a smaller breed. In 1904 the Stabij was often sold for 15,- gulden which is about  €7,= but in 1918 a good mole catcher was worth a fortune - between f.50,- and f.100,- (€ 25,= – 50,= )  In those days, that was the main reason to breed these dogs. There were two ways to catch a mole. 1) The Stabij tracked down a fresh mole-hill and stood still and waited for his boss. Together they waited until the mole started to dig.  The trick now was to wait and just before the mole was on the highest point,  put a shovel under the mole and lift it up.  The dog would then catch the mole and shake it until it died and then gave it to his boss. 2)  The second method was when the Stabij caught the mole itself out of a tunnel by digging it out. But it could only get the young and small ones which are not worth much money. When  a farmer just wants to keep his land ´mole- free´,  the second option was ok. But when it was to catch a mole for the skin,  the first option was better. The mole was cut open and the skin was spread out on some wood and put to dry. When they were dry they could be sold for cloth etc. Today,  unfortunately the Stabij as a hunter is not used so much anymore, and other specialized dogs from outside Holland took this place. Maybe this is because the Stabij is to much of an all-rounder, he can do a little of everything. But still as a mole and a polecat-catcher he is still very valued.
For more information on the breed and more great photos of Stabyhouns, check out Klass and Esther's website: http://www.fanitheidehiem.nl/en/









Happy 14th Birthday Souris-Manon!!

Mon, 2014-02-10 05:05
Souris-Manon (Grau Geist's Let R Rip Du Souris) is 14 years young!! 


 So here's to:14 years of growing up

14 years of chillaxing with her buddies

14 years of play

14 years of sunbeams



14 years of wear and tear

14 years of running





14 seasons of pointing sharptailed grouse
and woodcock
and ruffed grouse 
and huns

and snipe
and pheasants



14 years of backing



and of being backed



14 years of victory rolls


14 seasons of fetching waterfowl
and upland birds





And above all,  14 years of putting a smile on our faces



So here's to many more 


Happy Birthday Souris!




Breed of the Week: The Stabyhoun

Wed, 2014-01-29 03:38

Friesland is a northern province of the Netherlands. Several breeds of domestic animals were developed there including the Friesian cow, the Friesian horse and two breeds of gundogs, the Wetterhoun—a type of water dog—and the Frisian Pointing Dog, better known as the Stabyhoun.

HISTORY
The Stabyhoun is another local variant of the widely-distributed longhaired pointing dogs found throughout much of northwestern Europe. It is probably related to other pointing breeds from nearby regions, such as the Drentsche Patrijshond and the Small Munsterlander, but was often crossed with the Wetterhoun, a retrieving breed developed in the same area. When foreign hunting breeds were introduced to Friesland from Germany, France and the UK around the turn of the 20th century, the Stabyhoun was more or less abandoned by hunters. 
But the breed managed to hang on as a mole catcher. Moles were, and still are, considered a pest in the region, so catching them was helpful to farmers. Around the turn of the 20th century, a market was created for the mole’s velvet-like pelts which were used to make coats and other articles of clothing. Due to their small size, Stabyhouns were carried in the baskets of bicycles, and since they had a keen sense of smell and were eager hunters, their owners would take them from farm to
farm to earn extra income catching moles.

In 1942 the Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun were recognized by the Dutch Kennel Club and a breed club, the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Stabijen Wetterhoun (Dutch Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun Association) was formed in 1947. Today the Stabyhoun is still fairly rare in the Netherlands, but its population is said to be increasing. There are also breeders in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the US and Canada. A few owners do participate in retrieving type tests sanctioned by the breed club in the Netherlands, and I have heard reports of a hunter or two in Norway and Sweden who may use their Stabyhouns as pointers. But most agree that the FCI’s Group 7 may not be a perfect fit for the breed. 
Hanneke Dijkman, the secretary of the hunting and working committee of the Stabyhoun and Wetterhoun club in the Netherlands, explained that most Stabyhouns are simply pets.
It’s correct there are only a few people who hunt with a Staby or do hunting tests. I’m one of them. The people who do hunt with them are pleased with the dog’s performance, but they are mainly used for retrieving work. The main reason the Staby is not used for hunting is because a lot of people and breeders see it as a family dog; a nice dog to lay on the couch. People are not willing anymore to spend a lot of time to train a dog. Field trials require a lot of training and time, and everybody is too busy today. MY VIEW
I have only seen about a half dozen Stabyhouns, most of them in the Netherlands. They were all great-looking, lively dogs, much loved by their owners. But they were pets, and none were used for any form of hunting.

We did manage to set up a photo session with a Stabyhoun near the town of Poortugaal and it was a lot of fun. The dog, a handsome young male, greeted us with a wagging tail and an eager look in its eye. Our friends who had arranged the meeting brought a few pigeons to see if we could get the dog to point.
The dog’s owner is not a hunter, but she was eager to see if her dog was interested in the birds. And he was. In fact, he was very interested. But despite our best efforts, he did not point them and seemed just like any other high-energy dog blowing off steam in the field. I got some great shots of the dog and was very happy to see a Staby in the field. But what I saw only reinforced the idea that the FCI’s pointing dog group may not really be the best place for the breed. It might be better off in Group 8 for retrieving, flushing and water dogs.
Even so, it is clear that for all intents and purposes the Stabyhoun is no longer a hunting breed. Its small size, once prized by mole catchers, is a now seen as an asset for families with small children, or people living in smaller houses or apartments. Its lively, friendly temperament makes it a great companion, and its athletic build and eager-to-please attitude makes it a good candidate for activities such as flyball and agility.

UPDATE: I recently came across an article about a Stabyhoun participating in a trial for pointing dogs in Sweden. So it looks like there are at least one or two people out there that are using their dogs for hunting-related activities. You can read the article here.

Hunting Pheasants in the Snow, With a Camera

Sun, 2014-01-19 18:15

I have some great hunting buddies, but none better than my lovely wife Lisa. She 'hunts' with a camera and she's a pretty good shot! Here is a sample of her most recent work, a slideshow of images captured in South Dakota during our last pheasant hunt of the 2013 season.



Please note: some of the images capture the moment of impact as a pheasant was shot. Viewer discretion is advised. All game we harvest is prepared, with respect, for the table and enjoyed by friends and family.

This one's for the ladies

Thu, 2014-01-09 14:46

Finding a shotgun that fits just right can be difficult. And it is especially difficult if you are, as Basil Fawlty would say "an opposite person of the contradictory gender". Rollin Oswald, the author of Stock Fitter's Bible, explains why the vast majority of guns do not fit most women:

Fact: Men and women are shaped differently.Fact: Women are often smaller than men.Fact: Women have proportionally slightly longer necks than men.Fact: The average woman does not have the strength of the average man.Fact: Most guns have stocks designed for men who are 5’ 10” tall and weigh 165 pounds.Fact: Women/girls are often visually cross dominant. Their dominant eye is often opposite their handedness. This means that if they are right-handed, their dominant eye is their left eye. (This causes a big problem when they shoot a shotgun with both eyes open.) The cross dominance problem just adds to the difficulty many women experience when shooting a shotgun.

He then goes on to explain some of the common problems women face when trying to shoot a shotgun that doesn't fit properly.
- The stocks on shotguns are too long for many women. This makes the guns feel too heavy due to so much of the weight being so far forward and makes them very awkward to swing to targets.
- The “comb” (top surface of a stock on which the cheekbone is snugly placed) is often too far below the level of the gun's rib. When the gun is mounted to the shoulder, the receiver or action the shooter often cannot look along the rib. If the cheek is raised to allow looking along and aligned with the rib (required to shoot well) the eye will not be able to remain aligned with the rib during swings. Something much anchor the face and eye to the stock. That something is the cheekbone on the comb of the stock. The barrel-rise that occurs naturally when the gun is fired, can drive the comb, which also rises, into the cheekbone (ouch). 
- The pitch (angle formed by the recoil pad and the rib) is often wrong for women. The bottom of the recoil pad stocks out too far jabs them in the upper breast. Not only is this painful but it also increases the recoil-driven barrel rise so much that the cheek is injured by the comb, even when the cheek is making snug contact.
- The size of the grips on stocks is often too large for the smaller hands of women. They must slide their hand up and forward on the grip, which then requires them to pull up rather than straight back on the trigger. This is not good because it is harder to pull the trigger and fire the gun that way and as a result, it upsets shot timing - knowing exactly when the gun will fire. Here is a possible solution: http://www.aodagrip.com.
- Guns are quite often too heavy for women to mount and swing easily and accurately. It may not feel heavy at first but will seem to gain weight during an afternoon of shooting. A gun that is too heavy can also cause smaller shooters to shoot with too much weight on the back foot. This will significantly increase the recoil felt by the shooter (man or woman). 
- Many women complain that the forward wood on a gun, the forearm, is too large to grip easily with their smaller hands. This feeling is partially due to a misunderstanding of the purpose of the forearm, which is to support the weight of the gun in the hand and to move it vertically. 
Most women can shoot most shotguns, regardless of their weight, barrel length and gauge. But when a gun does not fit, she (or he, for that matter) will suffer excessive felt recoil, is likely to tire quickly, and will have difficulty hitting targets of any type. Shooting will not be nearly as enjoyable as it could be if the gun fitted the shooter.
Generally speaking, to shoot well, shooters need to use a good gun mount, stance (placement of the feet) as well as good body, head and neck posture. This is known as the shooting form. A good form promotes shooting success. A good form also helps reduce felt recoil (kick) and delays fatigue. In order to use a good form however, a gun’s stock dimensions and its weight must match the size, the shape and the strength of the shooter.
Good Shooting Form Shooting form consists of the gun mount, the stance, the weight distribution and the head, neck and body posture used when shooting.
The shooter should stand with the body rotated no more than 45 degrees from the anticipated direction of the target. (Shooters attempting to shoot a gun that has a stock that is too long, often shoot their shotgun like a rifle with the shoulders nearly aligned with the direction of the shot. This is not good. One reason is because it hampers swings in the direction opposite the side of the gun mount.
To see clearly along the gun's rib and to help keep the eye aligned with the rib vertically and horizontally during swings, it is best when both the head and neck are in a natural, erect, posture. 
The gun should be brought back to the shoulder (mounted and the cheek placed on the comb without the need to lean the neck forward and lower the cheek to he comb or, or to lean the head sideways toward the stock.
(When shooting trap targets, it is best to raise the trigger-hand elbow so the upper arm is parallel with the ground. This helps avoid moving the stock away from the cheek during swings to the side of the gun mount, often because the gun is being arm-swung rather than moved laterally with upper body rotation, powered by the legs. (The angle formed by the gun and the shoulders should not change when swinging to targets. either to the left or to the right.)

Gun weight The gun should be able to be mounted comfortably and be easily supported with the forward hand during a full day of shooting. 
Keep in mind however, that heavier guns kick less than lighter ones. The easiest way to reduce recoil is to shoot shells with a reduced weight of shot. 3/4 or 1 ounce for 12 gauge shells, moving at velocities of 1100 or 1150 feet per second (fps) are quite commonly available.
When you are new to shooting or weigh less than 160 pounds, shoot the lightest and slowest shells you can find, regardless of the gauge and weight of gun that you are shooting. There are even subsonic velocity shells available but they are less common than 1 1/8 ounce shells with a velocity of 1200 fps, which until quite recently, was the most common 12 gauge clay target load.
Smaller gauge gun for a new shooter: A 20 gauge rather than a 12 gauge is sometimes considered. However, generally, 20-gauge guns weigh less than 12 gauge guns. For that reason, shells with an equal weight of shot moving at an equal velocity will kick considerably more in a 20 gauge gun than they will in a 12 gauge gun. 
The goal should be to choose a gun that can be comfortably handled and repeatedly mounted all day but one that is no lighter than required (unless it will be used only for hunting, when carry-weight becomes more important than smoother swings and reduced felt recoil). 
The best advice for the majority of women is to get the gun to fit, since most guns have stocks that are designed for men who are 5' 9" or 10" tall and weigh 160 pounds. 
The easiest way to get a gun to fit you is to visit a good stock fitter. He can change the stock's dimensions so you can shoot it using a good shooting form. The good stock fitters will also teach you a good shooting form and then change the stock's dimensions so you can use that form when you get home.
How Well Does it Fit? The following will give you an idea of how well a gun fits: 
The stock's "pitch" Pitch is the angle formed by the recoil pad or butt plate, and the rib (close to 90 degrees).
As the gun is being mounted and brought back to your shoulder with the barrel raised to normal shooting height (Get someone to help hold the barrel up if that is difficult to do.), the whole recoil pad, top to bottom, should make simultaneous contact with your shoulder.
If the bottom “toe” of the recoil pad (or butt plate) makes contact very much before the top of the pad, the "pitch" on the stock is wrong for you and needs to be corrected. In other words, the angle formed by the recoil pad and the gun's rib needs to be changed to fit you (makes simultaneous contact with your shoulder). If it's wrong for you, it can be changed by a stock fitter or most gunsmiths.
Stock length - length of pull (LOP) Not that you care, but the stock's length of pull is the distance from the front of the trigger to the end of the recoil pad.
With the gun mounted (ideally, with the head and neck in a normal, erect posture) and the finger on the trigger, the nose and the trigger-hand thumb should be separated by 1.25 to 1.5 inches. If there is much more separation than that, the stock is too long and needs to be shortened. (Grip radius (size of the grip) affects the position of the hand and also the nose/thumb separation.) 
A stock that is too long will make the gun feel too heavy and will be awkward to swing. It may also cause you to shoot with too much weight on your back foot and result in increased felt recoil.
The "Drop at the comb" dimension The comb is the top surface of the stock upon which the cheek is placed when shooting. This drop dimension describes the distance of the comb below the level of the gun's rib.
With the gun mounted with snug cheek pressure on the comb, you should be able to look along the surface of the rib or to look very slightly down-onto the surface of the rib when the gun will be used for trap shooting with its rising targets).
Often, combs need raised for women and girls. This can done by having an adjustable comb installed (+ or - $250) or by adding moleskin to the top of the comb or by applying one of a number of comb pads that are available commercially. 
Recoil pads
Regardless of the type of shooting for which the gun will be used, there should be a recoil pad on it. Most women are not as "tough" as male shooters, most of whom use the best recoil pad they can find when shooting clay targets. Good recoil pads reduce punishment and felt recoil and make shooting much more comfortable.
Barrel length
The barrel length of most hunting guns is usually no more than 28”. The barrel length of many guns designed for clay target shooting is greater: 30” for pumps and semi-autos, 30” or 32” for over & under guns and 34” for single shot, break open, trap guns.
Longer barrels offer a longer sighting plane, which is beneficial. The additional weight forward of a longer barrel promotes smooth swings, which is also beneficial. Many women however, are better off with guns having a barrel lengths of 26" or 28” on semi-auto and pump guns, with 26” on over & under guns being preferred by smaller women since, although the action or receiver is shorter, there are two barrels to add forward weight.
Shotgun types
Of the different types of shotguns, semi-autos are considerably softer shooting (have less felt recoil) than other designs. Of the semi-autos, gas operated semi-autos are softer shooting than inertia operated semi-autos.
Choosing a gun
If at all possible, shoot a gun before you buy it. When this is not possible, most stock dimensions can be altered to fit women (with the possible exception of the grip). Knowledgeable stock fitters can fit women of course, but so can most gunsmiths if you or a good coach tell them what dimensions you want changed and by how much. (Plug for my book)
There are also guns that come with an adjustable comb, and a few that have stocks that are specifically designed for women and younger shooters. These slightly rare guns usually come closer to fitting women and youths than do guns that are designed for "average" men, the ones who weigh 160 pounds and are 5' 10" tall.
Considering everything before buying a gun, will reap big rewards, not the least of which is money saved by trading guns less frequently, trying to find one that you can shoot comfortably and one that offers more rapid improvement with shooting experience. 
Take your time and consider everything type of action (semi-auto, over & under, pump). Shoot, or at lease handle a gun before you buy it. 
To get an idea of how well a gun fits you, stand with your body rotated less then 45 degrees from an imaginary target and, with your head and neck in a natural posture, slowly mount the gun with your eyes closed. Then open them and judge how your eye aligns with the rib.
Repeat the exercise but this time, mount it so that the top of the recoil pad is extending slightly above your collarbone. Be sure that it makes contact with your shoulder inside of your shoulder joint. 
Dismount it and mount it again (with your eyes closed). With the gun mounted, open them. Is your eye aligned vertically and horizontally with the rib? If not, the gun probably doesn't fit you very well. You may be able to learn to shoot it but you will pay a heavy price in felt recoil and shooting success.
If you are a new shooter, this exercise has only limited value. This is because your gun mount has not been practiced and as a result, is not yet consistent. (There are a number of ways to mount a gun, some much better than others. With the barrel raised to normal shooting height and the gun brought back to your shoulder is only one way and not the easiest way.)
Questions to ask yourself:
"How did the recoil pad make contact with my shoulder?" Did the bottom toe of the recoil pad make contact well before the top of the pad?
With my cheek on the comb, was I able to look along or slightly down-onto the surface of the rib?
Did I have to lean my neck forward and lower my cheek down to the comb? If I did, could I raise my gun mount on my shoulder just a little to reduce the neck lean and the cheek lowering? (Allow no more than about 3/4" of the recoil pad to extend above the collar bone.)
Have someone check the distance between the tip of your nose and the second knuckle of your trigger-hand thumb. Is it 1.5" or less? (The closer to 5' in height your are, the less is the separation needed, down to about an inch.) 
If the separation is more than 1.5", the stock will need to be shortened. (This is also the ideal time to correct the pitch.)
How heavy does the gun feel? Does it seem balanced between your two hands? (If not, can you move your forward hand farther forward or back to help balance the gun?) Could you mount it 25 or 50 times during a morning or afternoon's clay target shooting without becoming too tired to handle the gun without straining?
Take your time deciding
Don't be rushed by a salesman (or your significant other). This will be your gun and you want to feel good, physically and emotionally when shooting it. Your attention to detail when choosing a gun will improve your chance of getting the best gun, one that you will enjoy shooting for many years. So, do your best to make it happen the first time.

Thanks to Rollin Oswald, the author of Stock Fitter's Bible, for allowing me to reprint this article. If you'd like to contact Rollin, you can email him here: rollin@stockfitting.com


2013 Year in Review

Wed, 2014-01-01 19:00
With over 200,000 page views in 2013, it was the best year yet for the Pointing Dog Blog! Here's a look at some of the highlights:






Most popular post (by traffic): The Weimaraner Part One (parts two and three were also quite popular).




Most commented post: The Tumbling Pheasant, a photo essay about an unusual photo session in the wilds of North Dakota.
Most controversial post: The Whitemaraner and the follow-up pieces here and here. My exploration of white coats and piebalding in Weimaraners struck a nerve with more than a few folks.




Most popular video: Everybody Knows Where Broomhill's At is the first video I've posted related to  Volume Two of my pointing dog books






Most popular photo essay: 12 Things I learned at Broomhill was one of the first posts I made in 2013 and turned out to be very popular, especially among the Pointer, Setter and field trial folks.

Biggest trend: VIDEOS! In 2013, I vowed to upgrade my video gear and video skills. The first part was relatively easy. I saved my pennies and purchased a decent camcorder and Go Pro rig. But the jury is still out on the second part. My video skills still lay far, far behind my photo skills. But I have fun making more videos this year than I've ever made. Here's the complete list of videos posted in 2013. 



Thanks to everyone who visited the blog in 2014. I am especially grateful for the support of Gregg Elliot at the Dogs and Doubles Blog, Andrew Campbell at the The Regal Vizsla the fine folks at the Upland JournalVersatile Dogs and the Gundog Forum in the US, the WorkingHPR forum in the UK, Field Chasse Passion in France and the Il Bracco Italiano forum in Italy.

Uma in the Snow

Sun, 2013-12-29 19:40

Another short video clip, this one featuring Uma the Pont-Audemer Spaniel hunting pheasants in the snow..and a rare (thank goodness) misfire due to a defective shotgun shell!



An Encore for Souris-Manon

Fri, 2013-12-27 17:01
 In September I wrote a post explaining that the retirement of our dog Souris-Manon from the hunting field only lasted about a week. And now that the season is over, I can happily report that she actually had one of the best seasons ever! So I've put together a photo and video retrospective of Souris-Manon's encore hunting season. Enjoy!

This summer, our nearly 14-year-old Weimaraner was laid low by pancreatitis. And when the veterinarian discovered a heart murmur, it looked as if Souris-Manon's hunting days were over.


But the smell of autumn and the promise of birds in the woods was too hard to resist. We decided to just let her hunt --come what may.  And on her very first hunt after coming out of retirement, Souris outsmarted a sharptail grouse. Click below to see the video replay.



And so, from that day to the last day of the season, Souris ran across pastures.


and in stubble fields.

Over the prairies,

and in the woods.

She found birds to point in the tall grass,

in the cattails, 
and even in the snow.
 
She backed her hunting buddies,


and on the rare occasion when my aim was true,


she retrieved pheasants (click to play),

snipe
woodcock, grouse, ducks and geese.


But above all, Souris did what she's done every day for nearly 14 years. She put smiles on our faces and warmed our hearts.


Bravo Souris. It was a fantastic encore!!


An Encore for Souris-Manon

Sat, 2013-12-21 23:29
In September I wrote a post explaining that the retirement of our dog Souris-Manon from the hunting field only lasted about a week. And now that the season is over, I can happily report that she actually had one of the best seasons ever! So I've put together a photo and video retrospective of Souris-Manon's encore hunting season. Enjoy!

This summer, our nearly 14-year-old Weimaraner was laid low by pancreatitis. And when the veterinarian discovered a heart murmur, it looked as if Souris-Manon's hunting days were over.


But the smell of autumn and the promise of birds in the woods was too hard to resist. We decided to just let her hunt --come what may.  And on her very first hunt after coming out of retirement, Souris outsmarted a sharptail grouse. Click below to see the video replay.



And so, from that day to the last day of the season, Souris ran across pastures.


and in stubble fields.

Over the prairies,

and in the woods.

She found birds to point in the tall grass,

in the cattails, 
and even in the snow.
 
She backed her hunting buddies,


and on the rare occasion when my aim was true,


she retrieved pheasants (click to play),

snipe
woodcock, grouse, ducks and geese.


But above all, Souris did what she's done every day for nearly 14 years. She put smiles on our faces and warmed our hearts.


Bravo Souris. It was a fantastic encore!!