Having been exposed to some great upland bird hunting after graduating college, I purchased my first GSP “Max” prior to the fall hunting season of 1984. Max was 2 ½ years old at the time and had been exposed to birds and showed drive, but had never been actually hunted over. Something told me to give this guy a chance. His first day out alone with me, after a few times with other dogs and hunters, was a complete success. He went steady on point over a pheasant and retrieved to hand on his first bird shot over him. We never looked back for the next 11 ½ years. He set the example and showed the way for my next GSP, Bandit and sired 9 puppies at age 9 ½ . His daughter Inga became a success in the field at the early age of 4 months and set the example for my fourth and fifth GSPs, Sage and Sam. Max made several trips to South Dakota with Bandit and excelled with her and set the bar high for all the hunting breeds and dogs on all of our trips. He was an unbelievable companion at home and in the field until he passed just prior to turning 14.
Bandit was Max’s kennel companion, but I did not purchase her initially with Max. She was a full year younger and had just been spayed when I visited the breeder and picked out Max. Being 24 and living alone, I thought two GSP’s was t00 much to break in with. With Max having immediate success in the field, I went back and got Bandit a month later and she was reunited with Max to become a phenomenal pair for years to come in the field and at home. She picked up on Max pointing and retrieving and quickly was honoring his points and eventually locating and pointing birds on her own in her first season. Both her and Max were completely tolerant and loving in the changing home environment around them, as our family grew over the next several years by the addition of my wife, and eventually our four children. She was one of the most lovable dogs I have ever been around and was a great field and home companion until she passed at age 15.
Inga was one of the nine pups Max sired in August of 1991 when I bred him to my parent’s GSP, Kate, who was purchased in South Dakota on one of our Pheasant hunting trips. Immediately my oldest daughter who was 2 ½ at the time knew this was the pup we should keep. “Saddle” as we called her due to her liver patches that harnessed her shoulders and both sides, was just something special. She seemed to be pointing everything immediately and was super loving in a small package. Since we already had two GSPs in the home, her smaller stature was desirable as well. Inga was steady to point and retrieve immediately, learning from her dad Max and our other girl Bandit. When her hunting partners, father Max, and Bandit finally passed, she took over as the leader and basically trained our next two puppies, Sam and Sage in the field and around the home. Inga left us way too soon at age 8, succumbing to kidney failure from Lyme disease. Her drive to excel and please in the field masked any symptoms until it was too late. She left her legacy for many years to come through her young kennel mates who learned from her and went on to excel in the field and home as well.
Sage and Sam were two of four littermates from our breeding in April of 1996, with my parents GSP, Kimmy, and a stud we had chosen that was proven in the field and came from a long line of successful champion GSPs. I decided to keep Sage, my brother chose Sam, and two friends each took a male. These four littermates all hit the ground running and spent the next few years hunting together. It was something to see all four pointing and honoring each other with Inga, who showed them the way. Sam and Sage continued to hunt together for the rest of their lives as Sam joined my family when Inga passed and my brother thought it only fair to have them together as kennel mates and with my growing family. We were fortunate enough to purchase our “Back Forty” farm in 2001 when they were 5 years old and they both lived out two long lives hunting, swimming and running through the woods and fields. They were extremely tolerant of all our new feathered and furred friends that joined them to live on our farm. These two were inseparable and loving companions to all six members of our family. Sage and Sam passed away less than 6 months apart at age 15 years, 7 months and 16 years old respectively. Being without a GSP for the first time in 28 years, our family immediately started our search and purchased Piper a month after Sam’s passing and the Back Forty German Shorthaired Pointers story had it’s beginning.