“Brains, Beauty, and Bird Sense”

The heaviest of the four setters is also Scotland’s only native gun dog, the Gordon Setter. Gordons were once regarded as the best ruffed grouse and woodcock dogs around, and indeed, the first ever field trial in 1874 was won by a Gordon Setter named “Knight.”  For some, the Gordon Setter is the go-to breed for upland game bird hunting competition, while many hunters find appealing the breed’s “brains, beauty, and bird sense.”

The poet, William Somerville (1675–1742)  crafted a lyrical description of the Setter at work in the field:

When autumn smiles, all beauteous in decay,
And paints each chequered grove with various hues,
My setter ranges in the new shorn fields,
His nose in air erect; from ridge to ridge,
Panting, he bounds, his quartered ground divides
In equal intervals, nor careless leaves
One inch untried. At length the tainted gale
His nostrils wide inhale, quick joy elates
His beating heart, which, awed by discipline
Severe, he dares not own, but cautious creeps
Low-cowering, step by step; at last attains
His proper distance, there he stops at once,
And points with his instructive nose upon
The trembling prey. On wings of wind and upborne
The floating net unfolded flies; then drops,
And the poor fluttering captives rise in vain.

Image by 19th British Victorian artist, Thomas Blinks 

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