Bar W Shooting Preserve


Introducing the newest Wildrose experience, The Bar W Shooting Preserve in Wilson, AR! We have partnered with the city of Wilson to bring guided quail hunts to the Arkansas Delta.

Come enjoy a day afield, then wander the square in Wilson, followed by lunch at the Wilson Cafe, shopping at the Tom Beckbe flagship store, White’s Mercantile, and exploring Hampson Archeological Museum.

tom and josh

We have the following dates open:
January 4-5, 25-26
February 1-2, 8-9, 22-23, 29
March 1
Wildrose clients will enjoy a 10% discount. And, of course, you can bring your Wildrose dog to run behind the pointers!


Book now:

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It’s River Time

By Mike Stewart, Wildrose International


It was the early years of Drake’s career on DU TV as the Ducks Unlimited mascot.  He was taken to the cold plains of Montana and handled by the show’s host on a winter duck hunting excursion along the banks of the warm water streams and rivers that remained open from freezing which was a first for young Drake.  The birds were plentiful, scenery spectacular and the “first experience” show was a success. As always, we trainers like to collect a field performance report on a young dog after their first hunts. Feedback is vital for continuous improvement in any training program.  Everything was said to be great with the exception of Drake’s lack of experience with working on moving rivers, both dealing with birds that splash down in the current which did not remain at the location of the “mark” and the skills necessary to cross swift-moving water to pick long falls well beyond the opposite bank of a fast-moving stream.  To this point in time, Drake’s young experience had been on the still waters of ponds, flooded timber and flooded fields.  When Drake hit the river, the current carried him well off the line to the birds. Negotiating moving water was certainly a new thing. Okay, it was time for new training techniques for all Wildrose gundogs.

In 2003, Wildrose purchased and began the development of the Wildrose river training facility.  The property was finally selected in Northwest Arkansas with two-thirds of a mile of river along the Little Buffalo, complete with both narrow and wide river sections.  These training grounds, Wildrose of the Ozarks, offered a new dimension to our training experiences – River Time.

The Process

Let’s walk through the steps we developed to make any water dog competent in negotiating retrieves across moving water.

Requirement 1:  Delivery

First, our student must be able to pick a bumper or bird with a solid “hold” and deliver to hand despite influences.  After the pick we want the dog to make a direct re-entry into the water with a solid grasp of the bird as fast currents are negotiated as well as rocks, weeds and icy banks followed by no dropping at the exit for a shake, all necessary to prevent a wounded bird’s escape or to avoid the current sweeping the dislodged recovery downstream.

We began preparing for this skill early in the training process during delivery-to-hand conditioning, (page 118, Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training, The Wildrose Way).  As a final step with each object being used in the delivery sequence, we have the dog hold while in shallow water then deliver with recall to the bank.  Next, reverse. Have the dog hold on the bank with the handler now in the shallows.  Call the dog into the water for delivery.  In effect, you are teaching direct water re-entry which should be successfully performed five times in five locations.

Requirement 2:  Handling

Do not attempt across-water retrieves until your dog handles well on land and water. Across-water retrieves will often require solid stops and casting to put the dog back to the correct area of the fall after being pulled off-course by a swift current.  Simply, until the dog perfects swimming hard into the current holding a reasonably accurate line to the fall area, handling will be required.

Some inexperienced dogs lose their handling focus when they feel a bit independent with a significant barrier between them and the handler.  This is a problem to avoid.  The dog must be easily controllable in taking directions BEFORE across-water retrieves are attempted.  As always, get it right on land before going to the water (Wildrose Law #8).


Once the dog is proficient on hand signal exercises like switching on doubles (page 197-199 of Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training The Wildrose Way) and is accomplished at the same on open water, we incorporate land barriers between the dog and the handler (ditches, small shallow creeks, short hedgerows or mowed grass lanes). Here handling is perfected beyond the barrier where assistance and corrections may still be obtainable. Send the dog by memories or marks through the barrier.  Stop and handle for memories or unseens on the far side of the obstacle. Follow up with the more challenging across-water hunting opportunities once handling is proficient on land.

Requirement 3:  Hunting Cover on Command

When our hunting companion is across the water and handling to the correct location of the fall, his hunting cover skills then must take over.  This is handling to a stop and taking direction to hunt cover closely. Here the retriever earns his stripes holding to a tight pattern searching for scent.  Again, this skill is developed well before the dog is subjected to crossing waters to a far bank.

Requirement 4:  Get Over

First attempts to cross a water channel should be made on still water such as narrow backwaters of a lake, pond or shallow drainage creek.  The bumper is placed as a mark or memory on the far bank.  The object should be quite obvious at first… easily seen and close to the bank’s edge to provide a visual target and encourage immediate re-entry. From initial, simple marks, progress to trailing memories placing distance between the handler and the water’s edge at entry.  Slowly extend the distance to the banks both for entry going out and distance away from the far banks water’s edge to make the pick.  Once proficient on the shallow channels, it’s time for moving water exposure.

Again, begin close to the bank of the moving water and place the large, white bumper at water’s edge on the far bank.  Now we are introducing the effects of the current.   We are adding a distraction so keep the first retrieves simple.  The visibility of the bumper assists in keeping the dog moving toward the obvious target while learning to overcome the current.

Initial exercises are set up as marks and memories straight across with gradually increasing distance on both sides of the channel.  We follow with angle entries where the falls are both up and down river from the dog’s position.  When the dog takes the line to the fall, we want to see a direct water entry, not balking or running the bank’s edge.  Again, begin angle entry/exit retrieves at shorter distances close to both sides of the bank.  Learning to manage currents’ influences is accomplished first as a direct line across the moving water followed by angle entries. (pages 182 & 183 of Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training, The Wildrose Way)

barney (ty) 5.JPG

With progressive training, making haste slowly (Wildrose Law #5), the dog develops confidence and a trust of the handler to put him on the bird.  Remember, train don’t test (Wildrose Law #18).  Nothing is learned through failure.

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Press Association Participants Take in Wildrose

By Dr. Ben W. McClelland

“On October 24, 2019, a signature public relations event occurred at Wildrose Kennels—an intersection of Mike Stewart’s media savvy and a seminal group of writers and photographers who produce the media.”

Mike Stewart is a public relations maven.

Of course, he’s a dog whisperer. And, yes, he revolutionized dog training with the Wildrose Way. And, certainly, envisioning a business model of the gentleman’s gundog was an entrepreneurial coup. However, key to all this has been Stewart’s ability to attract people’s interest and encourage them to hold a favorable view of Wildrose dogs—so favorable that they want to own a great hunting or adventure dog that is also a desirable companion in the home.


Mike Stewart demonstrating the adventure dog lift with Deke the DU dog.

Wildrose Kennels’ history is marked by a series of public relations events beginning with a decade of weekly television appearances on the Ducks Unlimited show and continuing through periodical articles in Forbes, Garden & Gun, Covey Rise, and on and on.

On October 24, 2019, a signature public relations event occurred at Wildrose Kennels—an intersection of Mike Stewart’s media savvy and a seminal group of writers and photographers who produce the media.

seopa logoThe Southeastern Outdoor Press Association held its 2019 conference in and about Oxford, MS. Over a hundred outdoors writers and photographers—representing twenty states—bussed from town to Wildrose Kennels for a breakout day of sessions presented by Mike Stewart and his Wildrose staff.


Under a sunny sky the kennel grounds took on the appearance of a fall festival—six vendors displayed wares under colorful tents, Lexus presented its Concept Expedition Vehicle, Wildrose Texas held puppy obedience sessions, Scott Wilson invited folks to greet Service Dog Roxy, the Super Learner Center displayed framed posters of numerous magazine articles on Wildrose, the Roamer Room was outfitted with a media center for presentations, and everyone enjoyed a sumptuous catfish lunch, picnic-style, on tables scattered under the trees behind the Wildrose Trading Company. It was Wildrose’s largest gathering, including thirty-three cars and two large buses all parked on the grounds. “A good time was had by all,” as they say.


Here are notes on the conference sessions:

In the opening session “Dog Photography, Applied,” Wildrose Kennels photographer Katie Behnke ( gave her tips for capturing great images of dogs—especially black dogs. In her Powerpoint presentation Katie explained, of course, how to use lighting effectively. But she also offered wonderfully intuitive advice: focus on the dog’s body—tail, head, and eyes, especially—to project action and the dog’s inner drive. Furthermore, she gave keen insights into what media publishers do and do not want to see in outdoor (e.g., hunting) photos. She concluded by responding to a number of questions from the enthusiastic audience.


Katie Behnke

Animal Clinic of Oxford Veterinarian Dr. Lee Payne presented a fact-filled session, “Dog Field Vet Medicine.” Besides giving a primer on how to keep your hunting dog healthy year round, Payne presented a practitioner’s knowledge of the major maladies that affect our dogs, plus a catalog of information on preventative medicines and care practices. The extended Q & A session that followed revealed the audience’s intense interest in the topic.


Dr. Lee Payne

After the picnic lunch, sponsored by TTI-Blakemore and Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, Mike Stewart gave an eye-popping demonstration outdoors. “Wildrose Dogs In Action” featured Stewart’s pack—a passel of the Wildrose sires. Oohs and Aahs resounded throughout the crowd as Stewart ran them through their paces: staying steady at sit all in a long line while Stewart threw bumpers every which way, responding individually by name to retrieve, stopping to the whistle, responding to hand signals, casting back and to the sides.


After performing on the hillside alongside the Roamer Room, the talented canines further showed off their genetic traits and skill sets as Stewart sent them by command—singly and, then, in alternating fashion—from the levee into the pond for one retrieve after another and still another.  With several dogs swimming back to shore while others dove off the levee in close proximity, it was pure poetry in motion. Even as the carefully orchestrated activity demonstrated the dogs’ beautiful athleticism and dependable obedience, Stewart explained that the dogs were trained for such precise performance to maximize their abilities as confident game-finders during the fast-paced action of a waterfowl hunt. At the event’s end the onlookers expressed their appreciation with a long ovation.

On the following morning Mike Stewart and Danielle Drewrey, Trainer and Director of Wildrose’s Adventure Dog Program, traveled to the Convention Center in Oxford, with two dogs in tow, and presented “Adventure Dog Program,” a Powerpoint-aided discussion about Wildrose’s skill-and-merit-based training program that offers the perfect complement to a family’s outdoor lifestyle. As they explained, “Adventure Dogs are thoroughly socialized and trained for a multitude of sporting activities: shooting sports, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, ATV trekking and jogging.” This presentation stirred great interest in the audience members, as many in attendance were unaware of this training program for a canine companion to complement a family’s outdoor lifestyle.

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Here are comments by SEOPA staff and scholarship recipients in their own words:

Kevin Tate

KevinTateKevin was First Vice President/Conference Chairman. Following the conference he was named SEOPA President.

Tate is VP of Media for Mossy Oak, a company he’s worked with nearly 20 years, producing video content for broadcast and for online delivery. He’s also a freelance writer and produces a weekly outdoors page for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Kevin’s Reflections:

Each session of the recent conference was an opportunity to gather, on the spot, content
for future production, as well as contacts for more content down the road. In this, the sessions hosted and produced by Wildrose were exceptional. They offered a wealth of salable material and a trove of happily willing connections from which to gather more.

Mike Stewart and the Wildrose family fit perfectly with SEOPA because of their professionalism, their in-depth knowledge of their subject and their overall enthusiasm for sharing what they know. Katie Behnke’s discussion of the tips, tactics and techniques she applies to get the wonderful photography that so beautifully illustrates the lives of the Wildrose retrievers was spot on. It was the sort of session that makes content for a story in and of itself, and should pay dividends for the listeners in future photography of their own. Dr. Lee Payne’s discussion of home and field veterinary concerns filled a role exactly the same. Each point, shared from a position of such authority, was fodder for stories and photos, and was of benefit to the attendees, dog owners nearly all, in their personal adventures as well.

Stewart’s demonstration of the dogs’ abilities and aptitudes, and those of his staff by extension, was a marvel, both in the field and, next day, in the classroom. Danielle Drewery’s discussion of the Wildrose adventure dog program revealed an innovative idea for involving new people in the outdoors in an exciting way, and it’s one our members have already begun to place before their audiences.

SEOPA’s membership represents a broad swath of professions, each tangentially connected to the outdoors. We share a common professional interest, but arrive at it from an assortment of different backgrounds. Field biologists, music producers, engineers, marketing professionals and more form a network that facilitates interesting and beneficial synergies that multiply exponentially as years go by.

SEOPA conference is an annual event that’s part professional seminar, part travelogue and part family reunion. If your professional interests in any way lie in the outdoors, there are benefits awaiting to be discovered.


Pam Swanner

Pam_SwannerSEOPA Corporate Director Pam Swanner is the Director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, a tourism marketing organization that was launched ten years ago to foster economic development in a 23-county rural area of Alabama by promoting its natural resources, which provide an abundance of outdoor related activities, both consumptive and non-consumptive. She’s been in the tourism industry for more years than she cares to admit.
While the conference agenda each year provides educational sessions designed to help the media members excel in their profession as well as provide onsite story ideas and content, the subject matter is beneficial to Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO), as well.  It’s extremely important to keep abreast of the platforms media members are utilizing to share story content and the trends that are driving that demand. For example, the Wildrose Kennels’ Adventure Dog session was inspiring and spurred creative ideas for exploring new topics available in my region beyond the traditional “hook and bullet” that would be of interest to outdoor communicators.  Soft adventure, or non-consumptive activities, continue to grow among the younger demographic markets targeted by the tourism industry.

Wildrose Kennels has excelled in their ability to stay ahead of the pack.  It’s obvious Mike Stewart and his exceptional staff are true visionaries intent on providing canine companions that appeal to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts as well as those that live their daily lives with health and physical challenges.  For conference attendees, Wildrose Kennels’ sessions opened the door wide for the professional communicators by providing unlimited story ideas that will reach a much broader audience.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with Mike Stewart on several media events hosted by our organization and they (he and the dogs) never fail to entertain, but more importantly, provide useful and relevant material for the attendees.

As a destination marketing organization (DMO), we strive to leverage the power of earned media, or third party endorsement, which is considered more credible by the consumer than paid advertising.   Participation in the SEOPA conference each year provides that opportunity to meet one-on-one with editors and freelance writers who are seeking story content. Our task is to share our destination’s outdoor assets as well as suggested storylines, therefore, it’s a win-win. As a DMO, another benefit is networking with corporate product members who make great partners as co-hosts for media events.

SEOPA is dedicated to the profession of those whose livelihood is dependent on the outdoor industry, both communicators and supporting allies.  The conference is structured so that attendees gain knowledge both through classroom settings and outdoor edutainment events and provides a friendly “we’re family” atmosphere.  You’ll feel right at home.

Lisa Snuggs

lisa snuggsSEOPA Executive Director Lisa Snuggs is also CEO of the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation of America, which offers scholarships for young people to be able to attend the conference. Lisa manages all day-to-day business of the 365-member organization and works closely with board members to plan and execute the annual conference and communications contests. Snuggs also maintains the SEOPA website but admits her favorite part of the job is managing the scholarship program, which allows her to seek out aspiring young communicators to attend the conference.
I learn something from every conference as it pertains to helping SEOPA members get what they need from the annual gathering, and it never fails to amaze me how important it is that they get outside to truly absorb the areas we visit.

Wildrose Kennels was the perfect setting for our Breakout Day. First of all, how can anyone who enjoys traditional outdoors sports like fishing, hunting, hiking, camping or boating not love Labs or at least have a great appreciation for them? Our members learned just how special UK Labs are in so many situations and lifestyles. Secondly, the land and facilities at Wildrose are outstanding. Extra kudos go to whoever ordered the weather. Late October in North Mississippi is delightful.

Unfortunately, as executive director of SEOPA, I’m often too busy behind the scenes to attend sessions, but I did manage to see our members pick up some photography lighting tips from Katie Behnke. The results spoke for themselves, but I expected no less. Katie is a super-talented photographer and Xander, my favorite Wildrose Lab, was her model. Getting good shots of solid black dogs can be difficult. Katie showed our members some tricks about easily manipulating the light behind a dog and making sure his eyes are the focus of the photograph.

I gauge the value of a conference by the comments and actions of members. When a seasoned writer says the trip paid for itself three days after returning home, I know things went well. When a younger writer gets a gleam in his eye when asked how he liked his first conference, I know he’s inspired. When people come back year after year, I know they are having fun while being productive. Networking is at the core of a conference. Members attain something from face-to-face interaction with their peers––both communicators and/or allied corporate representatives––that cannot be initiated through a phone call or text. SEOPA is full of people who will attest to life-long friendships and invaluable professional contacts being made at conferences.

Anyone who wants to pursue a career in any form of outdoors communications could benefit from learning about SEOPA and attending conferences. I’ve heard SEOPA President Kevin Tate say, “Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.” The same thing often applies to potential SEOPA members. They simply don’t know what they’re missing.

Kristy Fike

brunetteKristy Fike, recipient of the Toyota “Let’s Go Places” Award, is a high school senior from King George, Virginia. She enjoys both big and small game hunting. Her true passion lies with Labradors, which led her to start her own small breeding business, Whispering Woods Retrievers. Kristy’s business and passion opened the door to writing. She currently writes dog articles for the Northern Neck Sentinel (a regional newspaper), and writes gun dog articles for the website Great American Wildlife.

Kristy’s Reflections:

The value of receiving the Toyota “Let’s Go Places” Award goes beyond the possibilities of being able to put it on future resumes. Part of the value for me was being recognized at my age by such a worthy organization. Most of the value came from being surrounded by like-minded, supportive people from all walks of life and various professions within outdoor communications.

My conference experience was full of so many learning experiences that I can apply to better my writing and myself. Specifically the round tables, learning from media experts and editors was very educational. This conference seemed to be tailored perfectly for me, considering one of the breakout days was at Wildrose Kennels.

After arriving at Wildrose Kennels, I looked around and could immediately tell that Wildrose Kennels was the real deal. A lot of thought and time went into the facilities. The Wildrose staff was very welcoming and eager to answer any questions I had. The photography and vet sessions were full of information that is very helpful to my own business and dogs.

The gun dog demonstrations showed the importance of a well-trained dog in the field, and displayed a deep relationship between the handler and dog. These dogs were mannered and well trained. The results of the Gentleman’s Gundog training program were apparent.

The Adventure Dog program seems like a perfect program for all outdoor-loving owners and dogs. You will be able to take your dog anywhere after completing this program. One thing that really impressed me about this program is how your dog will learn such a vast variety of outdoor skills.

I am not one to immediately “buy” into a kennel, but when you are at the facilities and see firsthand the results of the Wildrose’s training programs, it is hard not to realize that they have very high quality dogs and training programs.

The Gentleman’s Gundog program interested me specifically, because my main passion is working, training, and hunting Labradors. Since I have started my own small Labrador retriever breeding business, and I am an amateur trainer, this program perfectly lined up with my own personal and professional interests.  This program is very valuable to me, because there are not many other trainers using the Wildrose methods to “create” a gun dog.

The tight-knit family community atmosphere that SEOPA members create is very welcoming, and honestly before arriving that was something I did not really expect. Everyone I encountered offered to help me in any way I might need. They directed me to others who might also be able to help me—specifically in the writing field I am pursing. For example, Tes Randle Jolly directed me towards a couple young ladies closer to my age that could help out me tremendously. There were many people like Jill Easton who gave me so much motivation to continue in outdoor communication.

I advise anyone taking part in the outdoor communication field to look into SEOPA and their membership. My father has been a member for over twenty years and has never been able to attend SEOPA’s conferences until this year. We both discussed our experience after attending the 2019 conference, and agree that we easily profited back any efforts we made to attend the conference and then some. The conference to me was so invaluable; anyone who decides to become a member and attends won’t regret it.

Serena Juchnowski

blonde girlSerena Juchnowski,recipient of the Lindsay-Sale Tinney Award, is a Third Year Senior at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with a Marketing Major and an English Minor.

Serena is an outdoor writer, competitive shooter, and hunter from Richfield, Ohio. In 2019, she earned her Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge from the Civilian Marksmanship Program, one of the highest civilian honors for marksmanship. She has been working to redevelop Ohio’s junior high power service rifle program as well as to promote the shooting and hunting sports, primarily through writing and photography. Serena also serves as Secretary for Sycamore Hill Rifle Club. Her goals include making the President’s 100 in service rifle and earning my Distinguished Pistol Shot badge. She has had pieces published in Guns & Ammo AR-15, CMP publications and NRA publications, among others. Professionally, she wants to work in the outdoor industry in a position that will allow her to mentor new shooters, share her journey and the journeys of others in the outdoor world and to inspire.

Serena’s website (all links to published works are there) and social media pages are: Facebook: @serenajuchnowski Instagram: @serenajuchnowski

Serena’s Reflections:

The opportunity to attend a SEOPA conference, especially being from the North, was invaluable. I was able to meet so many new people who both inspire me, have provided me opportunities to write and who have offered support in the outdoors and in other areas of my life. Earning this award means so much more than just attending the conference. Meeting with Mr. Stu Tinney, the benefactor of the award, I learned so much about his late wife and the impact she had on the outdoor world. Receiving the award is not just a one-time thing, but integrates its recipients into a tight-woven community dedicated to helping people serious about working in the outdoor world to be successful. I am honored to receive this award, which has motivated me even further.

The greatest value of attending the conference came from networking opportunities. There are people I already knew, like my mentor John Phillips, but I also had the chance to meet many new people including Phillips’s mentor, J. Wayne Fears. This was very special to me. I also had the chance to talk in greater depth with people I had met at previous outdoor events. The conference gave me the opportunity to make new friendships and strengthen professional relationships, allowing other people to get to know me as well.

My area of expertise is in the shooting world. I have some limited upland hunting experience, but have not grown up with hunting dogs, just pets. I had no idea exactly how much money and time is invested in dogs. Honestly, I did not connect as well with the kennel visit because it is not something that I have taken a significant interest in. Also, I know that I could never afford a dog from Wildrose. It was wonderful to see how much Kristy Fike, another scholarship award winner, enjoyed the experience as she is working at her own kennel.

I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Wilson, the Wildrose Service Companions Director, who told me about the canines they have to assist Type I diabetics. I was fascinated. Having been diagnosed with Type I this past May, this was news to me and very interesting. (I hope to contact him for information for a story!)

Honestly, the best moments of the conference were getting the chance to talk with people in SEOPA and getting my first real “Southern” experience. I had the opportunity to interview Linda Powell, someone who I greatly look up to and who I have wanted to meet for some time. I also made new friends and sampled Q8 Hand Sanitizer from Advanced Siloxane Technologies which is a product I am very excited about. The two most touching moments include the opportunities I had to speak, once at the awards banquet and again on the last night of the conference. To my surprise and great honor, I was chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Dave Meredith award and received a standing ovation at the banquet. I know where I belong and who “my people” are. I belong in the outdoor world, surrounded by people who share my passions.

I greatly advise any non-SEOPA professional to join SEOPA and attend a conference. The connections made, experiences had, and amount learned is invaluable. I met people who I can work with throughout my career and also grow friendships with. SEOPA is a family. Everyone looks after one another and each person has various skills to offer that complement the rest of the organization while pursuing the preservation of the outdoor world.

I also encourage other youth to apply for the Lindsay-Sale Tinney award. Little things change one’s life and shape the path of both your personal and professional paths. I will be forever grateful for the support I have received and am proud to be a member of the SEOPA family.

In conclusion, this event—the partnering of Wildrose Kennels and the 2019 SEOPA Conference—ranks among the stellar achievements in Wildrose Kennels’ long star-studded history.

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Bread Pudding

Recipe by Mary K Cardinal, Tell City, IN

tomoms mom head shot

Mary K Cardinal

Mary was the resident cook on the 2018 Wildrose North Dakota Hunt and floored everyone with her culinary skills.  She will be joining the expedition this year as well!

Noted by Mary’s son, Tom Smith of Wildrose Oxford:
“Mary is a natural entertainer and she believes the culinary aspect is very important to a great party. Over the years everyone comes to expect the unexpected from her because she is always trying new recipes or changing tried and true for a different taste, texture, and look.”


Bread Pudding

Bread crumbs bread pudding ingredients
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
5 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients for Topping
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Fill 9X13-inch pan with bread crumbs and 1/2 cup pecans. Melt 1/2 cup butter and pour over bread. Set aside.


Make custard by combining 2 cups sugar and 8 eggs. Mix in 5 1/2 cups milk, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour over bread and sprinkle top with cinnamon sugar (2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon). Place 9X13-inch pan in larger pan of water. Bake in 350 degree oven approximately 60 minutes. Test with knife. Knife should come out clean when pudding is done.


Ingredients for Sauce
1 cup melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons whiskey

Whip together until smooth and serve over pudding.

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Staying Engaged with the Wildrose Pack Via Social Media

By Dr. Ben McClelland and Danielle Drewrey

“The robust Wildrose Kennels social media platform keeps us connected as a pack….  Gathering together on Wildrose social media sites is our community meeting place; it’s the kitchen table around which we, as a family, share our stories.”

From Day One at Wildrose Kennels Mike Stewart aimed to develop a dog-raising, dog-training company that engendered a lifestyle around the “Gentleman’s Gundog,” a keen, reliable game-finder in the field and a relaxed, steady companion in the home or lodge. Achieving that goal required gathering a community of like-minded gentlemen and gentlewomen together. Today “The Pack” is our Wildrose tribe, our Labrador-loving clan, our family of hunters, of outdoor adventurers, of service-dog families, and of just plain folks with kindred dog-loving interests.


The robust Wildrose Kennels social media platform keeps us connected as a pack. It lets us stay connected, show our passion, and acknowledge each other. Using social media, we can share our opinions and express our beliefs and ideas. Our private group site, Training the Wildrose Way, allows us to admit our mistakes and offer each other solutions for our problems. Instagram enables us to showcase our dogs and their achievements through pictures and videos. On Facebook we can see each group of folks picking up puppies, see what’s happening at the kennel this week, and view the latest available products. Our Journal and the blog archive carry personal stories, training tips, notes from the field, and even wild game recipes. Gathering together on Wildrose social media sites is our community meeting place; it’s the kitchen table around which we, as a family, share our stories.

The purpose of this article is to explain various media components in our platform and to encourage further use of our social media to achieve our goals with our dogs and to bond with our fellow pack members.

Here’s an example of how Wildrose folks become informed and bond with the aid of social media: Last week I ran into Gary Donnelly at the Wildrose store as he came to pick up two-year-old WR Blue (Deke x Sprint) from training. It was our first handshake, even though we recognized each other from various postings on Facebook. I told Gary that I was working on an article about the kennel’s social media and I asked him about his experience. Gary said that several years ago he had purchased, watched, and used Mike’s training video on a lab that he owned. Then, in December of 2016—when he was trying

gary and blue

Gary and WR Blue

to decide if a Wildrose dog would be right for him—he had come to Wildrose where he met with Mike and Tom and he felt fortunate to be on a waiting list. After taking Blue home, Gary said that he needed more training assistance and viewed some of the training videos, including those in the Wildrose Journal. Gary especially enjoys Mike’s Purina videos and Tom Smith’s “Mondays with Mattis” videos that give brief specific training tips. “They’re good refresher courses,” he said. Gary also came back for a handler’s workshop and attended some upland bird pickups. In these activities not only did he gain good field experience, but he also met other Wildrose dog handlers, with whom he maintains friendships today, communicating through Facebook chat. “You know, I realized that we’re not just dog owners, but we’re more of a family.”

My chance encounter with Gary showed me a good example of the intersection of social media, training activities, and community bonding at work for us Wildrose pack members.

How can you get more engaged? The full array of Wildrose resources is listed at the end of this article. Let me suggest a few (of many) ways to navigate the media to find information, activities, and people of interest to you.

You can find innumerable training videos—of varying length and detail—that offer training instruction. Go to the kennel’s main website ( and click on the drop tab “Training Videos” to select from dozens.

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Training Videos on

You may also find lots of training videos on YouTube ( Popular to many is the Training your Puppy the Wildrose Way sponsored by Purina Pro Plan ( An easy way to locate training videos by topic is by accessing our Facebook page—where we have 13,300 followers. Simply, click on “Videos” and search through the playlists: Wildrose Journal – Live, Mondays with Mattis, Waterfowl Wednesdays, Puppy Training the Wildrose Way (Purina), and Tips From Texas.

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Playlists on Facebook

Also, you can quickly access conversations about training issues—as well as miscellaneous topics—by joining the “Training the Wildrose Way Group (Facebook).” This is a lively collection of pack members, which now numbers 1.4 k members. On this site pack members share in conversations about their dogs and their activities. One of my favorite stories is Glenn Pabody’s ongoing series of (charmingly boastful) posts about his wife, Maryetta (aka Deadeye), joining with him and WR Abe afield. (And, by the way, Maryetta puts meat on the story’s bones in her informative narrative on another one of our communication media, our blog: ( Click the URL to learn about her life with her husband and dogs, read about her adventures afield, and see her fine new shotgun.).

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On “Training the Wildrose Way Group (Facebook)” members also post questions about training and several fellow pack members and Wildrose trainers respond, suggesting solutions. A search bar and topic tabs give easy access to topics, some of the most popular of which are training your gundog, puppy training, hunting the Wildrose Way, and adventure dogs. Scroll through the daily posts and join in the conversation, just as dozens of folks do, such as Sammye Pisani, Hunter Leonidas, Chris Hines, Erin Davis, Chris Willke, Maria Perez, John Urbik, Lisa Mayer, Kent Matthews, Jimmy Mitchell, and so many more.

Instagram, a photo- and video-sharing service sponsored by Facebook, boasts 16.9 k followers and is a popular site for exhibiting our dogs and viewing others’. You can easily navigate Instagram’s content by using the Highlight Tabs, such as puppies, training, events, shop, hunting, and Adventure. When you post pictures, help others locate them by labeling them with our community’s hashtags: #wildroseway, #gentlemansgundog, or #wildrosekennels.
Follow along with us:
@wildrosekennels @wildrosetexas @wildrosecarolinas
@wildrosedeepsouth @wildrosekennels_mountainstate @wildrosenewengland @wildrosegreatlakes @wildrosetetonvalley @wildroseroaming @wildrose_mattis

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@WildroseKennels Instagram

And for the serious student of training Mike Stewart developed two excellent training videos: The Wildrose Way: Retriever Training for the Gentleman’s Gundogand Training the Upland Gundog: The Wildrose Way. Comprehensive and detailed, both are superior productions. What’s more, both are available for digital download at

The Wildrose Journal—which you are currently reading—is our bi-monthly online publication. Anyone can access the journal by signing up on or the Wildrose app (available from Apple or Google Play by searching “Wildrose Kennel”).  The resources in the journal articles are manifold, offering training tips, stories of pack members and their dogs, a calendar of events, and even recipes. Receiving The Wildrose Journal via e-mail is the best way for you to be up-to-date on all things Wildrose.

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You could read, for example, the story of beginning handler Hattie Billups and her pup, Gus, on their three-year journey to their championship performance winning Wildrose’s Double Gun Classic. ( As with many of the Journal’s feature stories, you’ll experience the ups and downs of daily training with an exceptional dog and a passionate handler.

Furthermore, the interested reader can access the blog archive, which carries bi-monthly articles from 2011 to today. Want to read some interesting history? Take a look at the pictures and story from our first Wildrose Adventure Dog Workshop, Buena Vista, CO, in August, 2011. (

Any look at Wildrose’s social media must include cruising the Wildrose Kennels Main Website ( along with Wildrose Texas ( and Wildrose Carolinas ( which give a comprehensive introduction to all things Wildrose.

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Moreover, Wildrose Trading Company ( offers the best products to use for you dog. Antonio Battista, Wildrose’s retail manager and communications director, recently re-designed and enhanced both the Wildrose Kennels website and the Wildrose Trading Company website. A 2018 graduate University of Mississippi, Antonio employed his expertise in integrated marketing communications and business administration, to develop websites that are better organized and easier for us to navigate. Antonio is also raising and training his own Wildrose pup, bringing him to work daily.

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Just to give an idea of the brisk traffic on the trading company website, 3,100 people visited it in August. Antonio, who put his personal phone number on the website, fields several calls from customers, seeking advice on what products to use and how to use them correctly. For example, a client called recently, saying that his dog would not heel with the regular collar and leash that he was using: “What can you suggest that I do?” Antonio recommended using our specially designed combination lead with a snug tab and slip collar. He further explained how to use the collar effectively. In another phone inquiry a client said that her dog wouldn’t stay on place in the dog bed. In this case Antonio recommended using the elevated kuranda bed, because it defines the place area more effectively for the dog. Because of Antonio’s personal experience with raising and training a dog, he’s able to converse knowledgeably with clients about the products that are best suited for their needs. 

Finally, let me conclude by saying that there’s more good media content headed your way. Krista Oliver, a senior at the University of Mississippi is working as a media specialist intern at the kennel this semester. Krista, who majors in broadcast journalism and minors in political science, is carrying out a number of photo and video projects, involving especially training and special events, such as the Double Gun. We look forward to seeing the fruits of her labor, as she teams up with Antonio Battista to further enhance clients’ social media resources. Stay online folks!

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The Pack – staying connected


Please visit the following websites, purchase the recommended books and DVD’s, and select some of the suggested training supplies to ensure your puppy gets everything needed to grow, thrive, and become a successful, happy and healthy hunting dog, adventure dog or companion to you.

Internet Websites

Wildrose Kennels Main Website                      
Wildrose Trading Company               
Wildrose Texas                                                
Wildrose Carolinas                                    

Wildrose App 

Available on Apple and Google Play – Search “Wildrose Kennel”

Wildrose Online Magazine

The Wildrose Journal—sign up on or the Wildrose Kennels App

Reference Books

Sporting Dog and Retriever Training, The Wildrose Way
Mike Stewart


The Wildrose Way: Retriever Training for the Gentleman’s Gundog,
Mike Stewart

Training the Upland Gundog The Wildrose Way,Mike Stewart
*Both DVD’s are available for digital download on

Training Articles

Wildrose Blog        
Wildrose App                      under the “Articles” icon

Training Videos

“Wildrose Kennels” on You Tube
There are several ways to get access to our You Tube videos:
-Head to:
-Click on the You Tube icon on the home page of
-Click on the You Tube icon on the Wildrose Kennels App

Wildrose Kennels Facebook Page under the “videos” tab

Starting Your Puppy-The Wildrose Way, Purina ProPlan video series under the “Training Videos”on

Social Media

@wildrosekennels @wildrosetexas @wildrosecarolinas
@wildrosedeepsouth @wildrosekennels_mountainstate @wildrosenewengland @wildrosegreatlakes @wildrosetetonvalley @wildroseroaming @wildrose_mattis

@wildrosekennels @wildrosetexas @wildrosecarolinas
@wrnorthcentral @wildrosekennelsgreatlakes @wrnewengland @wildrosemountainstate  @wildrosekennelsdeepsouth @wildrosekennelsrockymountains @wildroseoftheozarks  @wildrosetetonvalley

“Training the Wildrose Way” Group on Facebook

Wildrose Kennels

Wildrose Trading Company

260 CR 425
Oxford, MS 38655




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Lost and Found – The Wildrose Way

By Patty Wood, Canine Search Specialist

patty wood

Ever since I lost my seven-year-old daughter on a beach in Texas, I have had a passion for finding the lost and missing. Tricia was found safe and sound; however, that was the worst ten minutes of my life. While I was frantically searching for her, I kept thinking what a good hound nose could do to find her. That thought and that 10 minutes changed my life. For instance……

Many years later an elderly man, Mr. X, had left his home early in the morning to scout out the perfect squirrel hunting areas in Shelby Forest, located in west Tennessee. He had told his wife he would be home by 9:00 am. With no sign of him that morning, Mrs. X called the park rangers. By 10:00 pm the rangers called Shelby County Sheriff’s Emergency Services for assistance: Joy dog and I are a part of this well-organized and trained first response team with over 100 volunteer members.

Wildrose Wood’s Searching Joy and I answered the call. Once on the scene, I assembled my team of emergency services volunteers. Each team member had a special skill: medical, navigation, and communication. I also requested an armed park ranger (in case of alligator trouble) to accompany us.


Sweat was dripping down my back as we trudged through knee high water to get to the completely dark and quiet woods. The thick green canopy wouldn’t allow cell phone coverage out or moonlight into the woods. Finally standing on dry ground, I cast Joy with her search-for-human command: “Find.” She swirled around and knew exactly why she was there, what to do, and which direction to go.

I worked Joy off lead. She used the air/wind, just like any other hunting dog, to find her target.

Joy’s glowing lightstick, attached to her official search vest with her small bell ringing, showed the way. I had complete confidence in my dog. Suddenly, she took off at a run.

She located her target and started her recall to tell me she had found Mr. X. He had heard her bell, seen her, and started calling for help. Joy knew her job and came all the way back to me to bark and lead me to him. Our medical team member evaluated the victim, gave him water, and a power bar. Communications radioed the base command to advise incident command of the find and the condition of the victim. He was weak, but stable. The navigation team member found a dry exit out of the woods. In forty minutes from the time I had cast Joy to “find,” we had this lost and grateful man in the waiting ambulance. The fastest way to find someone is to use a good certified search dog.

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All successful searches are credited to the many people who make them happen. It includes everyone who has hidden in the woods to help me train all the way up the Sheriff himself believing in us.

It takes a year or two to train a search dog. I have to have a variety of people willing to tease my dog with a toy, run away, and let the dog find that person with the toy. The mock victim becomes the trainer and rewards the dog. I continue the chain, training by adding a bark on command, and eventually a recall to the handler with a spontaneous bark at the handler. At this point in training, the handler carries the reward and hands it to the mock victim to reward the dog.

In short, the victim/reward is why the dog searches.

Joy had certifications from National Association of Search and Rescue NASAR in Area Search (live finds), Human Remains Detection on land, buildings, autos, and water. She also accompanied me to schools, camps, and scout meetings to present Hug a Tree, a program that teaches children what to do if they become lost in the woods and how to make themselves found.

Joy and I had fun learning to compete in AKC Rally Obedience. But what Joy liked the best was dancing. Latino music was her favor. We even entered a competition. Being from Memphis, we danced to Elvis’s “Don’t Step On My Blue Suede Shoes.” Having the “place” command really worked for us. Every time I turned away from the GIANT blue shoes decked out with rhinestones, Joy would stand on the shoes. It was a laugh and we both enjoyed it.

Doing something fun with your dog is a big part of training for something serious. A dog can burn out with the pressure of lives at stake.

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Every Adventure Dog is equipped with a set of skills that gives them the ability to take on many situations. A few of the learned skills for Joy to be a successful search and rescue dog included:

Having a dog that will remain calm and patient while you tend to other matters, such as assembling your team, studying maps, or tending to the victim’s needs is important to make your mission a success.

Ignoring wild game and other dogs is also necessary. The dog must have focus. This comes with super rewards from the mock victims while training.

Whistle training is of most importance to me. I only use the whistle for the come. Since much of the live searching is done in the dark; and since I want my dog to range away from me, it is a comfort to know I can always call him/her back to me.

Cancer took Joy away from me, and all of Shelby County, last year. She was my second Wildrose dog. I am now training Wildrose Searching Lucy to follow in her paw prints, but she can’t dance. ☺


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Diabetic Alert Dog Donated to Oxford Boy

Originally posted by The Oxford Eagle

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Brandon King is in the fight of his life, but he will not continue it alone.

The 10-year-old, who has Type 1 diabetes, faces a daily struggle with his fluctuating insulin levels. Thanks to donations from community organizations, King recently was gifted a diabetic alert dog to help monitor his insulin levels.

Bilko, a yellow British Labrador bred at Wildrose Kennels of Oxford, was trained at Wildrose and Hub City Service Dogs in Hattiesburg in preparation to help King.

“We are honored to have one of the Wildrose Diabetic Alert Dogs placed with Brandon,” said Tom Smith, president of Wildrose Kennels. “We know it will be life-changing. Thanks to the hard work of the Northwest Student Nursing Association and generosity of the community, we were able to give Brandon a best friend and life-saving companion.”

For individuals like King who live with Type 1 diabetes, the biggest threat is rapidly changing and irregular blood sugar levels. Even with the modern technology of the 21st Century, such as glucose monitors, there is still not a method that’s able to sense changing blood levels as quickly as diabetic alert dogs.

Dogs trained to assist diabetic individuals learn to monitor smells in the air for a specific scent on the human breath that is related to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels. The dogs are then trained to alert the person with diabetes, usually by touching them in a specific way, such as pawing or nudging them.

The dogs are even trained to alert family members when necessary. Bilko will be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing King’s family to worry a little less each day.

The Wildrose Diabetic Alert Dog is sponsored by the Northwest Mississippi Community College Student Nursing Association, with contributions from Wildrose Oxford, Hub City Service Dogs, the CREATE Foundation and the King family.

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Donations will cover the cost of the dog all the way through lengthy stages of training. The total cost for Diabetic Alert Dog training can be more than $30,000.

Danielle Drewrey of Wildrose Kennels trained and worked with King and his family on how to handle Bilko in the home, at school and restaurants. The early training was designed to help King gain confidence and build trust with Bilko.  Drewrey also taught King’s family how to send Bilko on retrieves as a reward.  “As soon as they met, you could tell they were going to be best friends,” Drewrey said. “Brandon did great throughout the training process.”

The Student Nursing Association at NWCC presented the final donation for Bilko at Wildrose Kennels Oxford last Wednesday.

To learn more about Wildrose Diabetic Alert Dogs, visit or contact Scott Wilson at

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Preseason Hunting Prep

Written by Wildrose Carolinas

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With hunting season already here in some locations and fast approaching for others, we offer a few helpful tips and reminders for taking your young dog through its first hunting season. It is important to build on all of the time and effort that you have put into training up until this moment. While most of this is for younger dogs, many of these concepts apply to seasoned dogs as well.

Transitional training: A key step on the journey to developing a true Gentleman’s Gundog is the transitional training before the dog goes to the field for the first time. Try to closely simulate the environment your dog will encounter so that the first time your dog experiences something is not the day of the hunt. Training the way you intend to hunt is a crucial part of how your dog will perform. Build transitional training drills that utilize the tools you plan on using during hunts, such as dog hides and stands, duck blinds, guns, decoys, other dogs, etc. Also, consider how you get to your blind. Do you walk carrying all sorts of gear? Do you ride an ATV? Boat? Have you ever asked the dog to sit quietly while you load and unload and set up to hunt? As we all know, the excitement of real birds, more people, and gunfire are stimulating to say the least. Dogs get excited just as we do; the rush of stimulation can lead to bad behaviors, which usually leads to a bad interaction between you and your dog and nobody wants that. Working your dog with the purpose of transitioning to the real thing, “practicing” prior to the season, allows your dog to be more comfortable with the new environment, sounds, smells, and gear associated with a hunt. Since we know dogs are place oriented, this step in training will serve to make things go smoothly despite all of the action. Ideally, if you can expose your dog to the actual place you will be hunting before season begins, you should. This gives your dog a chance to learn the lay of the land and the particular location.

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Game time: Go to the field with the objective of continuing to train your dog instead of shooting. Early on, let others shoot and focus on your dog. Depending on how things go, you may begin to shoot yourself. If your dog is steady, attentive, quiet, and focused, reward with a retrieve. If not, take note so that you can work on it later. While it is tempting to give the dog a lot of retrieves, it can be overwhelming and cause some undesirable behaviors later in the dog’s life. Finding and/or recovering game is natural to sporting dogs, but the behaviors we all aspire to shape, not so much! Focus here; use the first few hunts, and season for that matter, to continue and extend training rather than shooting and it will pay dividends in the long run. When you’re packing your hunting gear, include a couple bumpers to take with you. If you find yourself in the field on a slow day or have an unsuccessful retrieve, take the opportunity to give your dog a retrieve that will set it up for success. Never let a young dog fail; it is always important to “end on a win.” The “win” could be a simple trailing memory retrieve in front of the blind. Or, if you notice that your young partner is struggling to find a downed bird, place a bumper in the area of the fall so the dog finds something. This will build its confidence in itself as well as you. Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint; begin with the end in mind and set yourself up for a great future.

Be realistic in your expectations. Your dog should never have its first hunt be with 10 shooters in close quarters with dozens of retrieves. That’s too much stimulus. The ideal first outing would include one to two shooters with selective retrieves. For example, if you were to shoot 20 birds during the hunt, your dog makes 3-5 retrieves. You want your dog to see you pick up birds as well. We refer to these as denials. Over the course of the first season, ideally, your dog will only pick up 25% of the birds shot. The combination of other dogs, yourself and your hunting partners should get the rest.

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A few final thoughts: Before your dog ever goes on a hunt, he/she should be steady and have a firm grasp on all the basic gundog skills. The dog should be steady to gunfire and comfortable with multiple shots, quiet, stop to the whistle and take casts—back, right, and left. All of these are important. With these skills, you should be confident to work your dog to recover birds you or your partners shoot.

Be sure to pay attention to the weather forecast before you leave for your hunt. High winds, rain and snow, and temperature changes can affect the performance of your dog. Prepare for success and carry drinking water and a vest to help your dog perform to the best of its ability. Hunting a young and inexperienced dog in harsh elements such as ice and snow can also confuse, hinder, or possibly injure a dog if severe enough.

Taking your young dog on its first hunt is exciting and rewarding. This is particularly true if you view the hunt as an extension of training. Realistic expectations are paramount. Take your time and make haste slowly! Focus on your dog and look for areas to improve and enjoy the journey to developing a hunting companion that is a joy to work with for years to come.

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The Flip Side

Mike Stewart, Wildrose International

Many may recall, years past for sure, 45 record singles.  One side of the disk offered the artist’s single hit with another selection existing on the flip side.  These singles had a large hole in the center to allow multiple records to be stacked, played in order, then flipped to the other side for continued play.  Thus, the flip side. This term has become relevant when naming a useful Wildrose training solution.

Our training feature this issue is The Flip Side, a great tool for developing a gundog’s lining and handling abilities while encouraging the dog to think not just react as well as respond to handling influences. Ultimately, this is the desirable outcome of our gundog training efforts:  Develop gamefinding abilities and promote an interdependent relationship between dog and handler… teamwork.


The Flip Side

I have had excellent results with the flip side exercise for seasoned dogs to improve memory, avoid the suction of old falls and enhance handling as well as lining abilities.  It is a useful tool to influence a dog that occasionally becomes opinionated in the field thinking that he knows in this situation what is best at the expense of ignoring the handler’s directions. The Flip Side may help convince the “bold one” that they may not be the smartest guy in the room.

The Set Up

We begin with a double. Select two points of cover in a field, woodlands or shallows at water’s edge.  Place a single bumper, scented preferably, at each point as a memory. The placement should be an inversion. Bumpers are placed as “seens” on the opposite side from the direction the dog will approach (back side of the point). Once placed, establish a circle memory by walking around the area until the pre-placed bumpers are at a 45-degree angle or a V configuration.  The dog will be lined from the opposite side of the bumper’s placement, thus an inversion. Line for each bumper, oldest placement to the newest.  Distance, obstacles, and types of cover are completely up to the handler and the dog’s abilities.

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With both “birds” recovered, it’s time for The Flip Side.  Place the bumpers behind your position as a ladder.  The dog once again observes.  Now, circle the entire pattern area stopping center and beyond the first two bumpers placed.  Your position is now behind the inversion previously set and centered between the “old falls.”  Think of kicking a field goal.  The target is the distant ladders.

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With The Flip Side set, line for the first memory through the two old falls and cover.  As the dog departs for the recovery, back up a few yards.  Be prepared to handle if your dog succumbs to the temptation of the old falls (suction).  If successful on the first, we have extended the line for the second and perhaps have added another obstacle, obstruction or cover feature.  There is nothing to say that you could have placed three or four bumpers in your ladder.  With each, as you back away, you effectively narrow the slot between the previously placed bumpers in round one increasing the challenge with each repetition.

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The Flip Side can be modified in other ways such as distances, types of cover, adding triples for the first retrieves or even distractions. The exercise is an excellent training solution for both waterfowl and upland retrievers alike.

Be sure to review our complementary new upland gundog training series at

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Wildrose Women in the Field: Maryetta Pabody

By Dr. Ben McClelland
As told through the women’s words

During the past fifteen years female participants in shotgun sports has increased 61.1 percent, according to Chris Batha, “Shotgunning Women’s Movement,” Shooting Sportsman. Field clothing for women has been designed to meet the new demand, as well.
Of course, for several years there have been some women wingshooters in the Wildrose pack, including Associate Trainer Sarah Barnes Reffert, whose was pictured afield in Covey Rise some time ago and Associate Trainer Erin Shay Davis. However, in the last few seasons the number has grown significantly. In this article we feature the stories of some in their own words. You may expect others’ stories to follow. 

Marietta Pabody and WR M1A1 Abrams, call name Abe.

During our 20-year marriage, Glenn had trained and hunted over three Labs and one mixed breed. I loved each of our gundogs, which were also family dogs; however, I didn’t hunt and was very averse to training with e-collars, which Glenn used at that time.

maryetta and abeWhen it came time to pick a breeder for the heir of our most recent retiring gundog, we both appreciated the positive training methods in The Wildrose Way. Following these training methods, I knew I wanted to, and could, partner with Glenn to train Abe, with whom I started working on March 9, 2018, puppy picking day at WR Oxford.

Our goals were first and foremost to train Abe as a gundog.

Being a new trainer/handler, I had to quickly learn to be patient. Results didn’t happen overnight. It was/is challenging partnering with Glenn to train Abe, because Glenn has been training dogs since dinosaurs roamed the earth and was now training Abe and me. We have to collaborate on training plans and share results.

Abe has two handlers who have subtle differences in how they handle. Now I was training a gundog, but I hadn’t gone to the dark side . . . upland hunting. A second goal was to campaign Abe in UKC Hunt Tests. At this point I knew that I needed to learn how to shoot a shotgun, which is required by handlers in all but the Started tests. I began taking skeet lessons in February, 2019. Since then, I have been taking weekly skeet lessons from a National Skeet Shooting Association Certified Level 3 Instructor. In June I started taking a second lesson weekly. It was so much fun that one night before lights out, I turned to Glenn and said, “I have a confession. I want to kill a bird.” My desire to hunt was born. On September 1st, 2019, I will go on my inaugural hunt with Abe when we open the Northern zone dove season in Lubbock, TX.

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Choosing a gun has been a thoughtful process. From February, 2019, to May, 2019, I shot Glenn’s Beretta 686 Onyx 28 gauge while I researched which shotgun I thought would be best for me. My top considerations when choosing the right shotgun for me were: Fit, Length of pull (females require a shorter length of pull), Height of comb (females require a higher comb), Cant of buttplate (females typically find a canted buttplate more comfortable against the shoulder), and Gauge. I really liked the weight of Glenn’s 28 gauge and the recoil was acceptable. Most people I talked with recommended a 12 gauge, but I knew it would be heavier and thought the recoil would kill my shoulder.

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I was also concerned about Look: I wanted a wood stock and didn’t want an engraved game scene. In May, 2019, I bought my first shotgun, a Beretta 691 Vittoria Sporting, over under 12 gauge with 30-inch barrels; the 691 was specifically designed to fit the smaller frame of lady shooters. None of the shotguns I shouldered had an exact fit, even the Beretta 691, so I had after-market modifications made to improve the fit:

Added adjustable comb (allows comb to be adjusted up & down, right & left; although the 691 was built for a woman’s frame, the comb wasn’t high enough for me) and Added Graco Gracoil Adjustable Buttplate (allows buttplate to be canted and reduces recoil). The last modification to be made: Change to right cast from neutral cast (comb is adjusted as far right as possible and I’m still shooting slightly left of target). I’m considering purchasing a 3-gauge fitted tube set so I may also shoot 20 gauge, 28 gauge, & .410 bore with my 12 gauge 691.

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I have found limited sources and selection of hunting attire. Some women’s attire appears to have the same cut and proportions as men’s attire; shirts and pants are boxy as if no consideration was taken for the women’s shape. If another salesman tells me they don’t have women’s hunting attire and then asks me if I’d like to try on the men’s equivalent, I think I’ll just shut down and go to my place! What I like today: SHE Outdoor: Base layer tops & pants, camouflage tops & pants; Orvis: Field pants, shooting shirts, upland shell, upland hunting vest, upland waxed cotton mesh strap vest, guide pants & river guide shirts (for training in hot Texas summers); Filson: 3-layer field jacket, twill belt pouch (for skeet)


We have several field activities planned with Abe.

  • September 20 Uvalde, TX, dove hunt
  • Local dove hunts remainder of season
  • Regular group training at WR Texas
  • Basic & Advanced Handlers Workshop at WR Oxford
  • Cajun Experience at Covey Rise Lodge
  • UKC Hunt Tests
  • Working Guy Billups’ IV momma dogs
  • Retrieving for European pheasant hunts at Greystone Castle, Mingus, TX

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My advice for women who want to become dog handler/shooters is don’t wait; start today! Mack, our once-in-a-lifetime dog, passed April 1, 2018, at 16 years. Because I wasn’t training gundogs or hunting, I only knew the incredible family dog he was; I missed the opportunity to know the whole Mack. Thanks to now being a handler and shooter, I will know the whole Abe.

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