Retriever bloodlines are an important consideration when selecting a pup, and Vandemore had done his homework. He had also spent the necessary time training Ruff for the many challenges of waterfowl hunting.
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“Dog work is what’s important to me when I hunt. Ruff came out of good lines and has an excellent pedigree. That’s no guarantee you’re going to get a good retriever, but the probability is better,” Vandemore says.
“I’ve been around a lot of dogs that were not well mannered, and when that takes away from someone else’s hunt, that’s not good. I didn’t want that kind of dog,” he continues. “Everything in the hunting world is expensive, and having a dog as part of your family, well, it didn’t make any sense to me skimping on that portion of it.”
Unlike the other individuals featured here, Vandemore is not a professional guide by trade. He conducts some guided hunts each season, however, and often hosts Avery clients, media members, and others interested in seeing firsthand how the company’s products perform. He was in the field 160 days last year, beginning with early Canada goose and teal hunts, continuing through the regular duck and goose seasons, and finishing up with spring snows. Ruff was by his side nearly every day. Their travels included stops in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Mississippi, Kansas, and Vandemore’s native Illinois.
“He goes pretty much every day,” Vandemore says of Ruff. “There were a few days I left him home because there was too much ice. Hunting is still fun, but it’s not the same without him.
“Ruff has hunted almost every situation known to waterfowling—big and small rivers, shallow marshes, flooded timber, flooded crops—just about every environment you can think of, we hunt sometime during the year.”
Vandemore sent Ruff to a pro for basic training and then assumed that supervisory role when the dog returned home. Being 30, single, and having spent two years in the San Diego Padres minor league system, Vandemore has the energy, time, and an outfielder’s arm when tossing bumpers.