It is no secret that dogs have been an integral part of the outdoor industry throughout all of history. While hunting dogs are quite common, whether you are chasing bobwhite quail across the plains or lions in the mountain regions, bonds between women and their four-legged counterparts are a force to be reckoned with.
The Sisterhood of the Outdoors strives to introduce all women to a place in the outdoors that they can enjoy. Whether that is hiking or hunting; foraging or fishing, all women can find their niche in the outdoor space and develop friendships with like-minded women who share their passions. Here we focus on five women who have developed special bonds with their four-legged hunting partners. These are their stories.
Kaitlin Bowen – New Jersey
Three years ago, after a couple’s duck hunt in Tennessee with the Sisterhood of the Outdoors, my husband and I drove five hours north to Illinois to pick up our very first hunting dog, Ollie. We drove 20 hours back home to New Jersey without any issues. Right away we had him fetching up birds and working on commands. Now he is making us proud with every hunt; last year he retrieved almost 300 ducks and geese and he got his first bands! Without him we would have never found one banded mallard he came running out of the brush with!
“Hunting over a dog is the best part of the entire hunting experience.”
– Kaitlin Bowen, Sisterhood of the Outdoors Pro Staff
Jaimie Robinson – Colorado
This past fall, I got the opportunity to hunt with Browning, he is an English pointer. For a dog, he is ancient, coming in somewhere between 14 and 16. For the 3 years prior to meeting me, he had sat on the couch at home, living out his retirement. Then we went public land, walk-in hunting in Colorado. I was hooked, he found 8 pheasants that first day and we learned that he is tone deaf. Browning was trained as a puppy at Valhalla Hunt Club and Kennels and shortly after his owner did not want him anymore. This is a sad reality for many dogs that are not dominant. Lucky for Browning, he was adopted by someone who took him all the time and was able to showcase his amazing talent for many years, then there was less time for hunting.
Luckily for Browning, I live for the hunt as does he. He hunts my parks and back yard every day, just hoping to find something to chase. After that first hunt, Browning really became my hunting dog.
I started taking him out to a SWA once a week, just us, so that we could learn to communicate and perhaps I could figure out the upland hunting mystery. He knows when he gets in my car that it is hunting time and he is always ready to go. Browning knows his hearing limitations and other than once when he chased a pheasant very far, he turns an looks to me after he is about 100 yards away, he follows hand signals and he taught me how to tell him how to come. The best part of an English pointer is their long tail, even if he disappears in the tall grass, I can still see his big tail wagging. To keep up the skills I learned this season we have joined a pheasant club so that we can both practice and keep our skills sharp. I am always amazed by what this boy can do. I am blessed to be able to make him happy in his last hunting years.
Havely Holt – Wyoming
As an adult onset hunter, I’m getting a late start at 42; but, there’s no better time than the present! I spent hours researching different breeds and believe I landed on the best kept secret in the world of hunting dogs: the Český Fousek. I decided on my little lady, Liberty, because she met every requirement I had for a gun dog. This versatile pup covers waterfowl, upland, small game, blood tracking and shed hunting. If she doesn’t age me during the puppy stage, she will certainly help keep me young with all the fun we will have together!
I am excited to have a friend in the field, but at only 12 weeks old, we are currently working on manners. She has learned the commands of off, woah and leave it. She is a pro at manding and is retrieving a puppy sized dummy in shallow water. Berty is easily distracted, as are most pups her age…but watching her nose to the ground intensity during our adventures, and the way she methodically glances back at me, I know she is going to be so much fun. I can already envision her little white tail flashing through the tall grass on a golden Wyoming afternoon. She stops to survey the terrain ahead and makes a game plan on how she wants to hunt the field. She looks back at me with those eyes that seem to say, “it’s go time!” And with that, she’s off. Yep, little Berty and I are going to make a great team…. just wait and see. (see Havely’s full story here)
My passion for upland bird hunting started 8 years ago with my bird dog Belle. My husband and I had just bought our first house, and as the saying goes “every house needs a dog” (or five). I got lucky one night and hit the jackpot on pull tabs. The very next day I put my deposit down on my very own gun dog. Being newer to bird hunting, and having a English Pointer puppy, you could say we definitely learned from, and trained eachother, along with the help from a great trainer and amazing friends. We quickly became a great team out in the field, and on the couch too! It is safe to say I won more than the jackpot when I brought Belle home. There is no greater bond than a girl and her gun dog.
Lindsey Bodamer – Kansas
I grew up in a family of outdoorsmen who primarily hunted whitetail deer and turkey. When I met my husband, my eyes were opened to the world of hunting with dogs and I’ll never not have one!
Together we own and operate Bradley Retrievers, a competitive retriever and gundog training facility in the Kansas City area. We have five dogs (who all hunt) of our own and have anywhere from 6-14 dogs in for the training season. Life without dogs just doesn’t exist for us!
I have two particularly fond memories hunting with dogs:
The first is from a waterfowl hunt a few years back over New Years. It was a family hunt with my father, brothers and some brother-like friends. This was a no-frills hunt; propped up against trees next to a pond with two dogs who also happened to be full brothers. The hunting wasn’t great, but getting spend a beautiful, crisp, Kansas morning with family, friends and dogs was priceless!
The second memory was from my 30th birthday. We took a long road trip through six states and saw so many amazing locations. For my actual birthday, we spend the morning in a marshy pond in Northwestern Montana. Ducks were few, but the scenery and wildlife more than made up for it. That afternoon, we traded our waders for boots and chaps, and headed out to hunt for Hungarian Partridge. As any wild bird hunter knows, hunts rarely consist of a short walk and limits. This hunt was no different in that aspect, but it was different in that I shot my first hun! It was a beautiful sight as our old shorthair pointed, our young shorthair honored and our lab moseyed in for the flush – PICTURE PERFECT. Bird was down and retrieved, and I was beyond content with our small bounty and some awesome dog work.