Field and Stream

“Seasons Over Ike”

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Whoever thought up the English setter had only a vague idea of where hunting actually takes place. Setters are covered with long feathery hair everywhere, including in between their toes. Our seasons began with an annual haircut, but even buzz-cut, Ike looked good. With my stylish gun dog and my dad’s high-grade Beretta o/u, I liked to think I was the picture of elegance afield. If I ever was, that picture always shattered the moment the gun went off. Ike could find hard-hit birds that didn’t go far, but the only runners Ike caught were the ones that came down in plain sight. I learned to toss elegance aside and run to any pheasant I shot. I shot a lot of birds over Ike. Whether he was a good hunting dog or not ultimately doesn’t matter. He was my dog. And to a bird hunter, hunting without your own dog doesn’t feel like hunting. —Phil Bourjaily, April 2011

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