The Sporting Story Contest challenged readers to share their greatest hunting stories in 200 words or fewer. We received more than 300 great tales, but these three stood above the rest.


Grand-Prize Winner
My Never-Fail Retriever

I’m partial to springers—to that happy-go-lucky personality, that boundless energy, that never-ending optimism that there is a bird and I will find it. I’ve shared my life with several such spaniels, but only one, from the time she was two years old until she retired, made a retrieve every time I shot.

Her name was Roxy, and she simply loved to retrieve, sometimes at her own peril. She had the scars to show it. During her first couple years, if the shotgun went off, she would search diligently for something to bring back and try again if we passed the spot later. Then a light must have gone on in her head.

The next time I shot and missed (not an uncommon occurrence), she did her usual thorough search but returned to hup in front of me with her nose in the air.

What’s this? I wondered. I bent down, asked her to give, and out came the wad from my shotgun shell.

From that time on, I received either the bird or the wad from each shot I took. And that very first wad still sits alongside Roxy’s picture.


First Runner-Up
The Colonel

The Colonel was a character—always dressed to the nines in classic hunting clothes and smoking a pipe. One morning my brother PJ, who had again convinced me that chest waders made him claustrophobic, was waiting for him at the cabin while I set out the morning decoys.

As I put out the last block, I could hear PJ and
the Colonel readying themselves in the blind. Given the mild October morning, I wondered if we would get much action besides some local mallards and a few teal.

As I reached the blind and took my seat, the Colonel was loading his Browning Auto 5 and PJ was pouring coffee. Then I heard the whistling wings overhead.

“Coming from down-river, Colonel,” PJ whispered.

Two teal soared by and the Colonel swung on the lead bird. The shot flew a bit behind but touched the teal. Disoriented, the bird tumbled directly toward our blind, hit the wild rose bush in front, and fell at the Colonel’s feet.

Puffing on his pipe, the Colonel turned to PJ, smiled, and said,“I love it when they fight back.”


Second Runner-Up
Sandhills Chickens

As my 30-year-old son and I parked my Jeep in front of the log ranch home in the western Nebraska Sandhills, we spotted a black-lettered sign next to the gate announcing, salesmen will be castrated.

When a gray-haired, sturdy-looking woman greeted us at the door, I proclaimed, “We’re not salesmen. Can we hunt prairie chickens on your land?”

“I figured that,” the lady said, grinning. “We have lots of prairie chickens, but don’t shoot any around the ranch here. They’re my pets, and I feed them corn in the winter. But help yourselves to the hills beyond the fence.” She pointed to a barely visible fence some two miles away along steep hills.

Six hours later, as dog-tired as our yellow Lab, we parked the Jeep next to the ranch house and thanked the woman.

“Did you get any birds?” she asked.

“We saw some, but they took off before we could get near enough to shoot.”

“That’s too bad, but come back again. Never mind the sign or asking permission, just keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, wild cattle, and odd-behaving salesmen in the hills.”



For winning, Herb Evert will receive a Sport Shop MicroTherm StormDown Jacket courtesy of Eddie Bauer and a collection of books from the Sporting Classics Store. The runner-up contestants will each receive a year’s subscription to Sporting Classics and gifts courtesy of the magazine. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who entered. We would also like to thank Eddie Bauer for sponsoring the contest and donating the MicroTherm StormDown Jacket.