Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Sonnets to Six Grouse Dogs"

This came in the mail today, an early birthday present.  Opinions range all over the board concerning George Bird Evans, from elitist and jerk to artist and gentleman.  I never met Evans and only know him through his writing.  He wrote prolifically about grouse and woodcock hunting, nearly 20 books, and he did it true and well for the most part.  I'd like to own all of his hunting books, but many cost as much as a shotgun and nearly all as much as a case of shells. And words and pages don't kill grouse. 

As a setter lover, I'm obviously biased toward Evans, who wouldn't have hunted without an English setter at his side.  An Affair With Grouse is my favorite Evans book since contains sonnets to six of his beloved Old Hemlock setters: Blue, Ruff, Dixie, Bliss, Briar and Belton.  In it he writes, "The perfection of a life with a gun dog, like the perfection of autumn, is disturbing because you know, even as it begins, that it must end.  Time bestows the gift and steals it in the process."

My upcoming birthday, like those of my dogs, will add another year to my tally.  Evans will help me treasure the years I and our setters have left.

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