Last week, we learned that our community's former claim to fame is thanks to the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The New York State Bird Dog Association, founded in 1949, held its first field trial here in 1950, which later became the National Pheasant Shooting Dog Championship. In 1952, Three Rivers hosted three more events including the National Open Pheasant Dog Championship, the American Field Pheasant Dog Futurity and the National Amateur Pheasant Dog Championship.
On Sept. 26, 1957, the Gazette & Farmers' Journal announced that the association named Baldwinsville the "Pheasant Dog Capital of the World." William "Bud" Dyer was secretary-treasurer of the NYS Bird Dog Association from 1984 until 2004, when his daughter Mary Ann Schreck assumed the role. I caught up with Bud at his home in Fulton, where he and his wife, Bea, keep two horses out back. As we sipped coffee, the horses pranced around the pasture.
Bud talked about his early bird dog days. "My father always had a bird dog, an English Setter. When I came of age, I got one, too. I ran into a couple of guys that I knew from school up at Three Rivers. We'd throw our names into a hat and run two dogs at a time, what you call a brace. These were just fun events with a group of guys running their dogs and comparing notes. Then, the association got organized to schedule all of these small trials, so that the dates wouldn't conflict."
I asked Bud what he liked best about his bird dog years. "I'd have to say that the highlight was seeing the improvement in bird dogs over the years in terms of staunchness, style and intelligence. As long as they point, they're allowed to compete. But, pointers and setters dominate the trials. A dog is judged by how he attacks the course. He must have stamina and be able to locate a bird at some distance. You want him to hold that point, not flush the bird before the hunter can get there to shoot. He also must be on-point with the tail held high, not lying down. Like her."