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by Loretta Baughan

Photos Provided by the Author

As I write this, field trials are in full swing and the hunting season has begun. It’s difficult to think that the holidays are just around the corner… but, they are. That age-old question pops up; what to give the spaniel devotee on your gift list? That is, aside from the new side-by-side .410 shotgun down at the gun shop… you know, the one with his fingerprints all over it!

Something a little out of the ordinary… unexpected… and fun!

Mad Dogs and Englishmen, a collection of shooting cartoons by Bryn Parry, fits the bill. I love the British, tongue-in-cheek, sometimes "naughty" sense of humor. And this book is a classic example of it. When the topic is gundogs and the interesting cast of characters who traipse across the countryside in pursuit of game - or playing the game - it has to be a winner. Who better to create such a treat for the funny bone than a shotgun-toting, dog man, himself?

The artist and author explains, "I first borrowed a shotgun in 1990, having been happy with a rifle since I was eight. The whole concept of swinging through and lead were a total mystery and the woods were filled with the cackling laughter of pheasants and the dark curses of Bryn. I now understand the principles but can assure any pheasants reading this that I am still way behind successfully putting them into practice. The frustration that I feel when I miss yet again or the expression on Mango (the Labrador’s) face when we are standing at the edge of a wood and it is precipitating down are my inspirations."

Parry’s caricatures are sure to bring a smile and a chuckle to the face of any spaniel sportsperson - irregardless of what corner of the globe is called "home".

It’s duck season. What a complicated sport it is! So much gear to haul along and set up. Rather reminiscent of bringing along a baby on a camping trip! Just the arranging of a spread of decoys is an art in itself. So many species of duck… and the bag limits for each - how is a novice to know what’s legal?

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