Stay Tuned- there are a lot more setters on deck for the show!
The English Setter is a quick, quiet (sometimes not so quiet) worker with an excellent nose.
They have a coat that keeps them comfortable in both hot and cold weather (we trim their barrels in the summer).
They are a very gentle and calm dog (gentle, yes; calm, not necessarily); friendly and excellent with children (so true). Setters are easy going, loving all the affection they can get (sometimes even more than that).
They are exuberant and vivacious outdoors, but relatively inactive indoors (ha- we wish). With meek owners they will become willful. They need authoritative, calm (oh so calm), but firm, confident and consistent owners.
Field types are bred for hunting and field trial work and are generally smaller and lighter (unless it is the off season and they are house dogs). They have a high energy level and need daily exercise. The dominancy level in English Setters varies even within the same litter.
Our Mega-Rock Star English Setters
Setter Stories- a little background on the bird finding fools.
Ruger’s Beckham Bevelin “Beck” started our journey, along with his sister Bell back in the day. He spent his first year helping on hunts being a member of the “B” team, and quickly moved up the list to the “A” team.
Beck is a BIG running dog, with a strong talent for catching the scent at full speed and narrowing down the field in a classic scent cone until he comes to a sudden stop in front of the birds. Back in the day, Beck would occasionally bust a covey of birds out of inexperience. Not so much now when he is on the clock. Unless, of course, he is on a “fun day” hunt with his sister Fiona racing through the prairie ahead of me and Grandpa John. If that’s the case, he’ll flush a dozen birds with a smile on his face, then look back and ask us why we didn’t shoot them.
When he is working, Beck has covered as many as 40 miles in a brace, but I try to keep him to about half of that as much as possible. He is so passionate about being in the field that he will stick his nose through the kennel door in the horse trailer and bark until his snout is bloodied.
Beck has only encountered a skunk on one occasion, and I doubt he will ever want to experience that again, although his point will indicate if he is on something other than a bird and I can call him off before things get out of hand. He is a pro in the field responding to my subtle requests from horseback as if we were walking right next to each other.
He has a true love for working pheasants in the big fields, probably stemming from the exposure to them in his early career. He has on more than one occasion successfully worked a pheasant until it simply gave up, pinned directly under his nose. At that time, his point is as proud as can be, with his tail and nose both held high and his chest puffed out with pride.
In his down time, Beck will spend half of his house time doing aerobics and the other half laying at my feet grumbling about not being able to go hunting.
Winnie’s Ballach Una “Bell” is the other half of the Beck/Bell pair that launched our adventure. She was our pick of the litter, and we decided that we couldn’t just have one pup to share our time with, so Beck joined us the same day. She also started as a member of the “B” team and spent just a little more time there in the beginning. She was a big runner but would seldom bother to wait for the guns when it came to pushing a bird. After a season of having to “hunt close”, Bell learned that it was much more fun to be out way ahead and wait for the guns instead of busting the birds.
Bell spent two seasons running with her other brother Duke, and they formed a beautifully choreographed dance when they were in the field together. Both Bell and Duke have long, gorgeous tails, and when they came on point together, there was no better picture. It was a true piece of art. So much so that I would be mesmerized and sometimes forget to tell the hunters to get off the horse and go shoot the birds.
Bell has never been a dog to be outdone by the boys, and if they ran 35 miles in a brace, she would run 36. She simply refuses to admit that her legs are a little shorter. She pushes herself a little too hard on occasion and I must be the one to ask her to stop, just so she doesn’t end up with chronic problems once she retires.
This season Bell took the lead and really shined as an “A” teamer. She ran with her little brother Max, and while the pairing of Bell and Duke was missed, being able to watch Bell work on her own accord was absolutely one of the best experiences of the season. That girl was finding single birds in the middle of thousands of acres and pointing them out like she had been doing it for 25 years. I could not believe her amazing skill level and stamina. About a third of the way into the season, she piled through some brush that had some hidden barbed wire in it and sliced up her leg bad. Had I been a little more on the ball, I would have stitched her up in the field, but I didn’t, and it put her out of commission for about three weeks. Once she healed up and worked out the kinks and got back into condition, she was straight online to where she had started the season.
Bell has probably the best manners of all the dogs and will honor a point from a block away- until it gets to a state that the points are being unproductive. At that time, she calls B.S. and takes the lead. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for us next season!
Dakota John Wayne “Duke” is litter mate to Beck and Bell, and without a doubt, holds his head high as one of the best hunters on the team. Thorough to nearly a fault, if there is a bird in the grass, Duke won’t let it go until he has it pinned.
I ran Duke and Bell together for two seasons, and even this last season when I split them up, I was wondering what I would be missing in their beautiful work together. Not to worry, as Duke held his awesome form and skill without hesitation. He opened his pace more and started to run big like his brothers Beck and Bandit. He kept his pension for being thorough and added an awesome cast to the game of birds.
Duke has the longest and prettiest tail feathers of all the dogs, and I’m pretty sure he knows it. When he goes on point, he doesn’t much care what position his body is in, but his tail feathers will always be up blowing in the wind for everyone to see. If he wasn’t a boy, I would call him pretty. Let’s just say gorgeous instead.
Duke is one of the most affectionate of the crew, and his down time finds him fighting for a spot on my lap. Once there, he won’t move, and I won’t need a blanket. He is also one of our biggest setters but doesn’t seem to think that should affect his turn on my lap.
When I first started running with Duke, I would use him on pheasants because of his skill at pinpointing the tricky little runners. There was no doubt he would have made a “foot” hunter a good pheasant dog, but that is not what is on his star card, so I pulled him from the shelterbelts and turned him loose in the big prairie grass again.
Now he has no trouble casting out and finding those crazy grouse three hundred yards away. Even better, he will patiently wait on point for us slow moving hunters to arrive at the scene. As the third member of the “A” team, Duke impresses me more and more each season, and makes me proud every time he wears the gps collar.
Oak’s Beauregard Bandit “Bandit” came to South Dakota on a big jet plane, all the way from Highlands, North Carolina. He was just a wee puppy when he flew into Rapid City Regional Airport. His Grandpa John and Grandma Marti were there to pick him up, and he was instantly spoiled. He was born on November 11th, and the following September he was racing through the mixed grass prairie finding birds for us. His skill in the field was tough to beat, and his nose outdid just about everyone he hunted with. Perhaps it’s from his bloodlines, perhaps it is just because he is a rock-star. His biological grandpa was Shadow Oak Bo, the two-time national field trial champion.
I spend as much time pre-season getting the crew into shape and fine-tuning their manners, and the first year for Bandit had me excited to say the least. After he figured out that he wasn’t going outrun me while I was on horseback, he stretched out his stride and starting casting like a big dog. His finds were picturesque, and his manners where impeccable. He was steady on his whoa, and he was steady to flush and shot.
Bandit’s nose worked him hard after the first season and he had to learn to differentiate between the birds we wanted him to point and the birds that were just tweetys. He spent his time in the field running with Beck, and that’s how he learned to really stretch out his cast. Once he had that figured out, we were all set, and now, he is a proud member of the “A” team, running with his girlfriend and baby mommy Emma. Last January, they gave us some of the finest looking setter pups around. (Of course I’m biased, wouldn’t you be?)
I’m excited to watch how Bandit comes into maturity for the hunt, and even more excited to work with his pups in the field. It’s going to be a great season!
Winnie’s Emelia Pako “Emma” is one of the two pups that stayed with us when we took over the kennels. Like all our setters, she is a big hunter in the fields, and a sweetheart in the house. She loves the cuddles when sitting on my lap, but don’t think twice about it when it is time to hunt. Emma ran with Bandit this last season and showed that she can run with the best.
Prior to this last season, Emma didn’t get a lot of time in the field, just because of her position in the lineup. Let’s say that her and her brother Max were the JV squad at the Varsity game. This year was different, and Emma brought her skills. Her running mate and literal mate Bandit puts on the miles when he covers a brace, and this girl did them same. She showed me some incredible endurance, and while she is still honing the finesse on the birds, she is quickly realizing what her job in the field is.
For some reason, our girls tend to hunt closer to the horses than the boys, which is why I put Emma with Bandit- so he could show her that it was OK to run big. Run big she did, and between her and Bandit, they racked up the most miles out of the lineup last season.
Last January Emma and Bandit became the proud parents of some fine setters. I’ve mentioned before how excited I am to start working with those pups, and it still holds true.
Emma is a small framed girl, the classic field setter size. She is similar to her great, great, great, whatever it is grandpa Johnny Crockett in stature. This lends well to her performance in the field and the miles she can cover without wearing down.
Emma is wired for sound when she has a little room to run but responds tremendously to my requests in the field. Times when I stop by the kennel I find her jumping and spinning because she is such a happy, happy girl. Emma is an incredible mother, an amazing hunter, and holds a special place in my heart.
Ruger’s Freezin’ Maximus “Max” is the other pup that stayed with us when we took over Tinker Kennels some odd years ago. Max is just bursting with the potential of a grouse dog. He, like his sister Emma, has had his share of time on the bench, and this last year started a great opportunity for him to shine.
Indeed, he did shine, and he showed me what he had as a grouse dog. His presentation is so like Beck that I stopped running them together for lack of being able to tell them apart. Max has the perfect build for the mixed grass prairie, and this year we were able to get his conditioning on track for him to become one of the big runners.
When Max and Beck were spending their braces together, I felt that maybe it was more of a running competition for Max than it was a bird finding job. This year, I put Max with Bell, and once he realized that he didn’t have anything to prove by outrunning another dog, his game did a 360. He started paying attention to his nose, his brace mate, Bell, and to me. He was still able to get the running big taken care of, and on numerous occasions he had the light click on telling him exactly why he was out in the middle of thousands of acres running like a mad man.
For an unexplained reason, Max and I have always had a “connection”. Unexplained in the sense that we haven’t done any more or any less together than the other dogs. Yet, when we do spend time together, or when I’m in the kennels with everyone, Max is one of the most affectionate of the crew. That, and he always looks at me. Just sits and stares and wags his tail. I’ll ask him what’s up and his whole body starts to wag. I guess something just clicked between us early on. I’ll take it. He’s an awesome dog.
This year we are going to fine tune Max, Emma, Harper, Sadie, Jack, and Joe for the hunt. Let’s call it ground manners. It will be nice to have so many options when it is time to hit the fields.