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A ROUGH-SHOOTING DOG by Charles Fergus

A ROUGH-SHOOTING DOG

Reflections from Thick and Uncivil Sorts of Places

By Charles Fergus

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-55821-128-4
Publisher: Lyons Press

 The nurturing, training, and blooding of a springer spaniel, the first hunting dog Fergus (Shadow Catcher, reviewed above) has owned. Fergus has been hunting since he was a boy, when he used a cheap bolt-action shotgun, ``a Cro-Magnon club that misfired on every third or fourth round.'' At age 39, he decides to get a bird dog, instead of the raucous beagles (rabbit-chasers) of his youth, and chooses a springer spaniel pup--Jenny. An ancient breed, spaniels are mentioned in a 15th-century English treatise on hunting. Even so, they are out of favor with the sniffy pointing- dog set because they flush their game: pheasant, woodcock, grouse, partridge, and quail. After discussing Jenny's raising at home and lessons in fundamentals, Fergus devotes the second half of his book to hunts afield and Jenny's increasing proficiency. Here, he strikes a trail as a naturalist, with interesting discussions on the eyesight of ducks, grouse drumming on logs (some special logs are used for years by succeeding generations), and animal scents: Hunting is best when the temperature is 35 to 45 degrees--because the thermal variation between a bird's body and the cooler air causes scent to rise like a vapor from the bird. Pleasant reading for the generalist; meaty enough to engage those with special interests in dogs, hunting, or nature.