“It’s a combination of intelligence and personality,’’ he said. “They are good companions in the house, and are terrific hunting partners. They have stamina, brains and good noses.’’
Basgen hunts mostly ducks and pheasants, and just returned from duck hunting in North Dakota.
“I haven’t had that much fun duck hunting since I was a kid,’’ he said. “Poppy made a blind water retrieve that was thrilling to watch.
“Having a good dog makes it so much fun.’’
English cocker spaniel: a pocket rocket
Anthony Hauck, 31, of Roseville, had German shorthairs growing up. When he was ready for his own hunting dog, he researched the various breeds.
“I wanted a close-working dog,’’ he said. He and his girlfriend encountered English cocker spaniels, and immediately fell in love with them.
“I knew right away that’s what I wanted,’’ Hauck said. His cocker, Sprig, weighs in at just 20 pounds. But don’t let the size fool you, Hauk says.
“Their nickname is ‘pocket rockets,’ and that’s a pretty apt description. When they get on a bird, they hit the rocket-booster button. I love seeing the speed. That does it for me.’’
“Naysayers said she wouldn’t have the stamina and wouldn’t bust through tough cover, but she works just as good as a Lab. She burrows underneath.
“It’s a cliché, but size doesn’t matter. It’s about heart and drive.’’
English setter: elegance afield
Decades ago, when Rick Peifer, 64, of Wyoming, Minn., saw a friend working his English setters on ruffed grouse, Peifer was awestruck.
“The guy didn’t whistle or yell at his dogs all the time,” he said. “When I saw how effective the dogs were, the level of confidence he had and how well the dogs handled the birds, I was smitten.’’
That was more than 30 years ago, and he has hunted with them ever since.
“I just love them,’’ Peifer said.
“They cover a lot of ground, so their chances of finding birds are greater, particularly when pheasant and grouse numbers are low.
“They don’t like water; they aren’t duck dogs. But all my dogs have been great retrievers,’’ he said.