Now let me start by saying that I’m a dedicated pointing-dog man. All of the hunters I have ever hoped to emulate were pointing dog men, too, and I blame them with for teaching me, in a grandfatherly way, that flushers were for folks who didn’t want to train their dogs. I generally adopted this notion as I adopt most ideas that I’m too lazy to prove wrong, and my prejudice preyed upon the fact that I spent most of my hunting career without ever seeing a really good flusher in the field. That all changed for good just yesterday, when Scott McEnaney and I journeyed south to the Hudson Valley to train with Jerry Caccio and Dan Lusson.
Jerry and Dan are veritable household names among Springer folks. Jerry is a field-trial hall-of-famer, a noted speaker, and a tireless champion for flushing dogs. Now retired, Jerry serves as a wonderful ambassador for Orvis, and as a point of contact for many of our endorsed breeders and trainers. Dan has trained on-and-off with Jerry for years, and has built a strong reputation on the field trial circuit, as well as in the world of personal gun-dog trainers. The two are clearly cut of similar cloth where training philosophies are concerned; I was amazed at their light-hearted approach, their quiet manner, their clear joy at simply working dogs in the field. And the dogs… . . .oh, the dogs… . . .they responded in kind.
I now know that a good flusher works close, checks in, maintains contact with the handler at all times. I also no know that a really good flusher leaves nothing unchecked, and vacuums up a bird field in quartering casts that are uniform, tight, and graceful. I’ve always loved the look of a big-running pointer, but Dan’s champion Springer, JB, at work was efficiency, drive, and thoroughness incarnate. Where a pointer ranges, JB became mathematical, and turned the field into a gridwork pattern. He touched every point, found every bird, slammed into every retrieve. It was inspired, and inspiring, and it changed my view of flushing dogs.
So now the quandary begins. With a wife who’s just commenced to make noises about a puppy, I’m finding my ‘BrittaniesBrittanys-Only’ platform growing pretty shaky. An English Cocker, perhaps, or a close-working Springer? What will my mentors say. . . . But I have a funny feeling that a flusher is in my future, and maybe some more days in the company of Jerry and Dan, to boot!