Through the years I’ve hunted over a few hundred bird dogs. Most were purebreds, and some from bloodlines seemingly as long and legendary as that of England’s royal family.
I’ve also hunted over some mixed breed dogs, too.
There was Duke, a terribly ugly Boston terrier/pekingese/rat terrier mix that was heck on chasing rabbits and treeing squirrels.
There was also Goldie, a friend’s yellow Lab and English pointer cross that had about as much drive as the Cowardly Lion. She probably only pointed one bird for every 20 found by my Brittany, Rose. But it seemed every time Goldie did point it was a rooster pheasant…never a quail, never a hen pheasant…go figure.
And there was also Brillo, which I think was a cross between a German shorthair and a German wirehair. That dog was death of working running pheasants. Slow and steady, it was rare when she took up a trail that didn’t result in a solid point.
And a few weeks ago I got to spend the afternoon with another Duke, a “kennel accident” owned by Tom Devlin. This Duke is a Lab/English pointer cross that basically just looked like another case of an unplanned meeting between a pure Lab and a something else.
Duke Devlin, though, seemed to get the best of both breeds. He pointed as well as the good Britts and shorthairs with which he shared the fields and found more than his share of the wild quail and released pheasants and chukars. He honored the points of the other dogs as well as they honored his.
Where he really excelled, though, was once a bird was shot down. It made no difference if it fell 15 or 150 yards away, Duke was probably the dog that brought it back. I can’t recall not finding any downed birds for which he searched.
I wonder, though, how well Ol’ Duke would do on a duck hunt. I’m guessing he’d probably do just fine.