When it comes to hunting partners, I’ve long held the belief that dogs were hard to beat. We’ve all heard the cliché about getting along better with dogs than with people. That might be a little bit true in my case. For more years than I care to admit, a good hunt meant a good gun, good boots, and a good dog. I’ll always consider it a measure of fortune to have seen and gunned over at least my share of fine canine companions. And for some years, it seems, canines were the only companions I cared to share the grouse covers with. Occasionally, however, I would find myself in the company of a like-minded cohort whose amity I welcomed. Over the years I have found myself sharing cover and camp with a number of folks that have enriched the entire experience.
Good dogs are hard to come by, I know, but a good hunting partner is equally rare. Now, I’ve taken folks hunting and I’ve guided folks hunting and had great times doing it, but you don’t take a partner hunting; you just go hunting. After a while you get to know where each other will be without having to look. You get to know how a partner will approach a dog on point, what to look for when they yell “Your way!” and what they mean when they say, “I never expected you to miss that one!” We’ve come to know each other’s dogs, shotguns, shooting and casting skills, tastes in backwoods diners, favorite game recipes, and whiskey. When I go in the thick stuff to flush a bird I know where my partner is, and he knows where I am. We kid each other about missed shots and lost fish when we're on the water, and appreciate and congratulate each other when it all works perfectly.