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A Community Of Ryman-type Setter Enthusiasts

 

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#1461
Daniel Gregory
Participant

    My first Ryman-type setter is a male orange belton from Dick Weaver’s Dark Hollow breeding program. Boone and I have been together for eleven years, and he has as much heart for the hunt as he did at age one. Tess, a female from October Setters, joined us three years ago. Our hunting grounds these days are in Eastern North Carolina, after bobwhite and woodcock. Once a season at least we make a foray into the Blue Ridge Mountains for ruffed grouse. We’ve hunted grouse in West Virginia, in the same area made widely known by George Bird Evans, and spent a few days on what seemed like a forced march in New Hampshire grouse woods.

    My first bird dog was a lemon-spotted female pointer many years ago. I knew she was a very good quail finder but I didn’t know what I had until a few months ago when I was looking through some old papers and noticed the word Elhew in her registration.

    Over the years I’ve had pointers, a yellow lab, a wayward field English setter, and a neurotic Brittany, plus an assortment of other wonderful canine companions.

    When I started looking for another English setter a dozen or so years ago, I stumbled on the name “George Ryman,” probably on the Internet. I immediately bought into the idea that one does not need to and certainly does not have to settle for a dog that looks good but can’t hunt, or vice versa, or one that is not sociable around the house and yard.

    I’ve kept up with the Ryman literature over the years and learned a good deal about the subject from Lisa Weisse, through emails and the book she co-authored with Walt Lesser, The Real Ryman Setter: A History. I had already learned a lot by that point, but was fascinated to read about the particulars of Walt Lesser’s association with George Bird Evans and the early days in West Virginia when Ryman’s breeding program seemed to be up for grabs for a few years, until a handful of dedicated hunter-breeders established the breed standards and practices that have brought the breed to where it is today. After scouting this website, the Ryman-type setter program seems to me to be doing very well. I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for these breeders and their high standards.

    Now that I know better, I would never again consider purchasing a dog without full knowledge of the medical history of its sire and dam. Anything less leaves the door open for heartache on the part of the owner, and pain, misery, and an early death for the dog. (Okay, if a straggly mutt came scratching at the door, I would not take it to the pound. But I still wouldn’t go looking for trouble.)

     

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