I did not know of Bob Wehle or his famous line of Elhew Pointers, when I read a piece in a magazine about a dog named Elhew Jungle being crowned National Pheasant Shooting Champion for the third time. A performance said to be so over the top judges did not name a runner-up. At the time I did not own a real bird dog but the fire was lit.
Soon after graduating high school I wrote a letter to Mr. Wehle informing him of my desire to purchase Elhew pup. Apparently too polite to just toss it in the waste can instead wrote me a long letter thanking me for my interest but…Not only are all the current pups promised he gently explained given my age and lack of experience an Elhew is probably more dog than you need, “perhaps beyond your means.” (Actually several hundred dollars beyond…). Anyway he then suggested I start with a working man’s dog, such as a Brittany. Thus enlightened I did (get a Brittany) and soon after plunked down almost as much cash for a copy of Wing & Shot.
While I’ve since incorporated many of Delmar, Rick and Ronnie Smith’s training methods W&S continues to be something of a guiding light ever since.
Today, with the advent of e-collars and dozens of gun dog training books and videos to choose no doubt W&S has lost some of its shine. But doubtless too if one were to follow the advice, stick to the game plan laid out in W&S would result in a hunting partner to be proud of—regardless the breed. For unlike many trainers of his era Wehle understood the value of nurturing a bond between Pup and the Boss. More a working relationship as opposed to so-called breaking which was the preferred modus operandi way back when.
Rather large in format for gun dog training books, its nearly 200 pages are brim full of sound advice and proven training methods. Perhaps best of all Wehle holds little, if anything, back how to select, nurture, train and hunt and/or trial a real brag dog. And unlike many Wehle knows how write…
Snakefoot: The Making of a Champion, Robert G. Wehle, © The Country Press, 1996
By the time Snakefoot found its way into my bird dog book stash I still could not afford Elhew pup but I owned one. And not surprisingly Elhew Miss Maggie did not disappoint. Why hell, first day off the airplane my neighbor, Wayne Harpster, drove up the hill to take a look at this wonder pup I’d been bragging for months, ever since I put money down—notwithstanding I’d never laid eyes until the plane arrived. Anyway as the loud diesel truck approached Mags dropped what she was doing, took a long look, pointed—a prettier, more staunch point you never did see. Wayne being Wayne never batted an eye, spat a long brown stream, declared, “Damn straight, Chuck, she’s gonna be a good one!” And she was…
Back to Snakefoot.
The culmination of many years of line breeding, Snake’s birth was, in the words of the late Bill Tarrant, “thought out and planned and executed to create a National Champion.
“Snakefoot did not forsake his creator. Back-to-back he won the National Shooting Dog Championship and the Masters Championship—the points garnered at the two events adding up to a grand enough total that Snakefoot was named Shooting Dog of the Year.
“This book tells you exactly how it was done. You have no idea how many master trainers and breeders have anxiously awaited years for this book to appear.”
Not much else I can add…Just get it…Trust me, you will not be disappointed…
…By Chuck Robbins