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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Q and A: DU Magazine Field Editor and "Closing Time" columnist E. Donnall Thomas Jr. 

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Explain to me the role of dogs in waterfowl hunting.

I absolutely hate losing game; I got that from my father. He grew up poor in rural Texas during the Depression and hunted because they needed the meat. Even when I was a kid my father would look for an hour for a downed bird if he had to. I grew up with the notion that it is very, very important to eat what you shoot.

So there is an important practical role the dog plays. Above and beyond that, I just love hunting with dogs. Now that the kids are grown and gone, the dogs are kind of our family. My dogs laugh at my jokes and don't look at me funny when I miss. Labs are just such personable, companionable dogs. I do a lot of hunting on my own with only my dogs, and Labs just make great company. They never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm and willingness to hunt. The best trait in any hunting companion is enthusiasm, and you just can't beat a Lab in a duck blind.

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