After my old hunting dog, Indiana, died last July, I swore off of dogs for a while. I promised myself I wasn’t going to get another dog for a couple years.
However, it’s amazing what a full fall season without a dog can do to a guy.
Normally, I’m a man of my word, but I recently broke that self-pitying promise I made to myself last July when I picked up Gauge, a yellow Lab from Luttrell Kennels in Clark, S.D., on April 9.
As I type this, his puppy snores and whimpers fill the deafening silence that was left by his predecessor, and I couldn’t be happier. The house has been quiet for far too long, and the Gauge Era here at the Johnson household has officially begun.
James Harrison, a renowned poet and author (he is probably most well-known for writing Legends of the Fall) died a few weeks ago, and his loss is indeed a blow to the outdoor world. “Jim” had a way of telling spell-binding stories and interweaving the outdoors into them with fluidity and grace.
People don’t write or speak like Jim Harrison anymore, in my opinion, and it’s a shame. What’s more, Harrison had a soft spot for working dogs, and perhaps he captured the impact dogs have on their owners best.
“I’m very poor at dates and numbers and what happened at what time in our life,” Harrison was quoted as saying. “But if my wife mentions the name of a dog we’ve owned and loved, I can re-create the dog’s life with us, and consequently my own.”
These words ring true for me, as I’m terrible at dates and numbers — I always tell people that’s why I chose to pursue an English degree, as it was readily apparent from a very young age that my future definitely wasn’t in math — but I can recall all the finite details, including dates, of hunts with Indiana. Birds we killed, birds we missed, and all the good stuff in between mark my memory’s time, and while it’s unfair to compare one dog to another, I hope Gauge understands he has a big kennel to fill.
And, starting with the June issue, I decided to start a year-long column based on Gauge’s first year of life. It’ll have interjections from outside sources, such as professional dog trainers and manufacturers of gun-dog products, but for the most part, it will be a personal account of the pup’s progress until he’s 14 months old next April. It’ll be a mix of humor, frustration, success, and, hopefully, a bird or two come fall. Also, it’ll have plenty of puppy pictures — some naughty, some nice.
But that’s not the only new addition being added to Outdoor Forum’s lineup. Starting with this issue, “Pheasanomics” will be a regular column in the magazine’s pages that will solely be dedicated to all things pheasant. Please see the new “Pheasanomics” column on Pg. 30, as we’re kicking things off the right way by detailing how the warmer-than-average temps the Dakotas experienced this winter up through mid-April should mean good things for pheasant hunters this fall.
And we’re not done there. Outdoor Forum is in the process of revamping its website, and the target date for completion is June. The updated website will have a constant flow of Dakota-specific outdoor information and feature gear reviews, blogs and easy-to-navigate links to magazine and sponsor content.
An exciting aspect of the new website platform will be its enhanced ability to feature videos. We’ve just created the Outdoor Forum Magazine YouTube channel to supplement the website’s video content, and we will also be uploading YouTube content soon to our Facebook page at facebook.com/odfmag.
Stay tuned, this all promises to be informative, interactive and, most of all, fun.