Today’s retriever training literature tends to focus on some rather advanced skills, such as land-water-land retrieves, handling to 200-yard blind falls, and even greater complexities. Certainly these capabilities increase the dog’s capacity as a conservation tool, but does the average hunter truly need or desire to reach that level? In my view, a duck dog can be considered perfectly adequate as long as it’s proficient with the following basic tasks.
Retrieves Seen, Marked Falls
If a retriever sees a bird smack the water’s surface, then he ought to go get it. This is the most basic tenet of retriever proficiency. In time, through training and hunting experience, most dogs worth their salt learn to mark and remember several seen falls at once. Chessies notoriously excel in this memory exercise.
Ideally every retriever should learn to take a line and hand signals from his master toward blind (unseen) falls. It’s the fastest route to recovering birds and resuming the hunt. Yet dogs lacking this skill might still be considered adequate, as long they can be led to the area of the fallen bird and commanded to “hunt dead.” The drawback to this routine is it consumes time and might allow crippled birds to escape. And if you’re in open water, well, fire up the outboard. However, we’re adhering to what constitutes an “adequate” duck dog, not a polished one.
Retrieves to Hand
The adequate dog delivers each duck into the hands of his master — or at the very least, into the blind or boat. Ducks dropped halfway to the blind defeat the purpose of sending the dog in the first place. And dropped, crippled birds pose a special issue. Some argue the solution is to “force-fetch” every retriever as a means to circumvent retrieve refusal. I part ways with some very accomplished trainers in this regard: I believe a duck dog can reach adequacy without being force-fetched. As long as the dog loves birds — which should come instinctively — and has positive early experiences with them, in my experience he isn’t likely to spit them out prematurely. In fact, many dogs would rather hold onto ducks longer than permitted.
This one might seem obvious, but it’s an embarrassing experience for all involved when a duck dog is sent on a retrieve and returns with a decoy. Ensure the dog has retrieved a few bumpers or training birds through a decoy spread prior to hunting season.
Exhibits Moderate Steadiness
What do I mean by “moderate” steadiness? The adequate duck dog has some idea of the concept of steadiness (waiting to retrieve dead ducks until so commanded), but might require reinforcement with a check cord and e-collar. Dogs that frequently break can flare ducks and pose safety issues.
Shows Reasonable Blind Manners
A polished dog shakes off before re-entering the blind, and once commanded “place,” promptly relegates himself to his retriever stand or corner of the boat. The adequate dog needs only to avoid annoying fellow hunters and to sit relatively still. Jumping up on hunters, rifling through blind bags and — most especially — knocking over shotguns is unacceptable. As with steadying, a check cord and e-collar can prove useful to reinforce good manners. I’ve also found that crate-trained dogs take readily to a dog blind. With a modicum of training, they accept the familiar structure as their “place.”
With a snap of the fingers, February is a distant memory. We have been very busy at the Museum with tours. The Gardens are beginning to awaken from their winter slumber and ready themselves for Spring. The daffodils in their various colors of yellow and white are starting to spring up from the dirt and bloom. The yellow bearded iris never stopped blooming over the winter. City Landscape Services will begin the rehab of the gardens in a couple of weeks. I am excited to announce that for the first time (that I know of), the de Witt Cottage will be listed in the Historic Virginia Beach Garden Tour brochure. Over 1,500 copies of this brochure will be printed and distributed. It is my hope that this will introduce new visitors to our Museum and Gardens. If you have a chance, stop by, sit a spell and let the gardens delight you in their color and small inhabitants. Don’t forget to check out our beautiful gift shop too.
We will be sure to keep you updated and informed on upcoming events keeping the State of Emergency, COVID-19/Coronavirus into consideration and awaiting further statements or instructions from local and national governments.
The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum and de Witt Cottage are closed until further notice due the the current State of Emergency for COVID-19/Coronavirus. Our online Gift Shop will remain operational.
I want to thank everyone who attended “Dine out for The de Witt” Tuesday night February 11th at Surfrider Seafood Restaurant, 1375 Oceana Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA. We only had approximately 30 people in for dinner that would not have normally been there on a Tuesday night. We have now had poor showings for our first two “Dine Outs” of 2019. Attendance is down by about 50%. Great job for those of you that have participated so far! We have two more really great restaurants to “Dine Out” in this year. On April 7, 2020, we will “Dine Out” at The Pub Restaurant at 1001 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, VA. 23451 from 5:30pm until 8:30pm. We will then close out our “Dine Out” events with our Annual Lucky Oyster Celebration Dinner on Tuesday, May 5, 2020. *we will keep you updated on cancelations going forward*
This is a really great way for our museum to raise $1000 to $2000 dollars between Christmas and Memorial Day! It takes virtually no effort on your part; other than to get up off the couch and go to dinner! You are going to eat dinner anyway and your spouse would love to get out of the kitchen! Ask your friends who have been to the last two restaurants; it’s been fun! We try to pick locations that are unique and memorable. You enjoy a delicious dinner with good friends and provide a means of much needed support for your museum. It is also a great way to introduce some new people to the museum and discuss membership over dinner. If you haven’t participated yet, what’s holding you back?
Lastly I just want to say Thank God for Martha Davenport, our new Volunteer Event Coordinator; you will understand more clearly when you read her message that follows: "From the Events Desk".
Friends of the AWHM,
While many of my messages feature the de Witt cottage and operations as my focus, my communication with you this month revolves around our guild.
Our last guild meeting was hands down my favorite since joining. There was no guest speaker or striking presentation. It was simply a show and tell where members brought whatever they felt inclined to share. I learned an incredible amount of new information, met some wonderful new friends, connected with some beautiful old ones (Jamie Champe), and thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. It was a reminder of just how lucky (Cheesy St. Patrick’s Day plug) we are to have our beloved guild and sparked a desire to get back to our roots, coming together more often as a guild. Many of you have expressed the same feeling to me.
To accommodate this desire, we will be changing our guild meeting format. Beginning in June, we will meet every other month as a guild. More information on date, time, and theme to come.
Furthermore, to enhance participation and attendance at guild meetings, we will introduce an incentive program for attendance. Various prizes and other giveaways will be offered throughout the year. For each guild meeting attended, your chances to win increase.
With all that has changed in the last year and more necessary changes ahead, one thing will always remain the same; our guild. It’s time to #rebuildtheguild.
I hope to see you all on Tuesday, April 7th for our next installment of Dine-out for De Witt at the Beach Pub on Laskin Road. Bring your friends and your enemies. It’s a great money making opportunity for our organization.
As always, I welcome your feedback, comments and questions, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph “Joe” Dempsey Perry, March 9, 1893- January 25, 1981
Son of William Thomas Perry of Kitty Hawk, NC. His family members were fishermen and boat builders and also hunting guides or market hunters.
Joe Perry was the foremost waterman in the family. Joe had three brothers, Colon, Marvin & Richard, who hunted together. Only Joe made the decoys and repaired them. In the 1920’s and 30’s, the Perry’s hunting camp and cabin was located in Kitty Hawk, NC at the end of Poor Ridge Landing. This camp is where they kept their hunting boats and decoys.
Joe’s brother, Colon, worked for Edward Knight, the owner of The Whalehead Club in Corolla, NC. Joe’s decoys were chopped out with a hatchet and finished with a spoke shave and draw knife.
A resident of Norfolk, Virginia, Pete DiPietro was born in Brooklyn, New York. Following high school he joined the United States Navy where he would retire at E7/Chief Petty Officer serving as a hull technician. Pete was a member of the Freemasons, a devout member of Christ Lutheran Church for 40 years and a member of the Back Bay Wildfowl Guild. He volunteered his carving skills at The Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum on Tuesdays and taught carving classes to seniors at the Norfolk Senior Center. He also enjoyed woodworking in his free time.
Pete was always proud to say he was a “self-taught” wood carver. He had a great personality and loved to perform his woodcarving skills for the visitors to the museum. He always had a humorous story for every situation no matter what it was. He would always start his story with “I had a friend of mine.” I always suspected that many of the stories were things that Pete had probably done himself.
Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 59 years, Betty DiPietro; his daughter, Tammy Nardo; his son, Luke DiPietro; his grandchildren, David Nardo, Tamara Nardo, Michael Nardo, and Christine DiPietro; his great grandchildren, Beau Nardo and Ava Nardo; his sister, Connie Labadessa; and an extended family and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents, Jennie and Carmine DiPietro; and his granddaughter, Julie M. Nardo.
Friends of the AWHM,
I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to 2020. It’s hard to believe that we are already through January. We are excited for what the year ahead holds for the museum but are also aware and cautious of several challenges that are impacting us.
Membership: It should come as no surprise that our membership is shrinking. Growth and revitalization of our membership is a MUST and key to our survival. To combat this, we are changing focus to a more robust programming model. Long gone are the days of hosting a couple events each year to raise friends and funds. Programs like movie nights for children, paint and wine nights for adults, participation in community events, and other high impact practices will expose us to a new type of member. One that expects enhanced benefits with their membership. I am happy to share that our continuous use permit was approved by the city which allows us to host as many programs annually as we’d like as part of our standard operation. My thanks go to Lynn Hightower for his quarterbacking this undertaking.
Funding: As you are also aware, our operating grant provided through the city of Virginia Beach was cut by 12% last year. At a time where we must do more with less, this cut causes a greater emphasis on how much we rely on each dollar earned through memberships, fundraisers, and donations. We must look to create new opportunities for funds, enhance fundraising initiatives we have, and potentially abandon others that have run their course. Several examples would be our aggressive entrance into the wedding venue market, enhancing our annual Fall oyster roast, and a close look at our annual Christmas party, which lost money this past year. As you have heard me say before, we MUST do things differently.
Competition: While there are no other places like our beloved cottage, the Hampton Roads area is saturated with non-profits who are facing the same challenges and relying on the same funding we are. Again, we must do things different and provide an experience that a local or visitor can have nowhere else but at the de Witt. I would like to recognize Martha Davenport for a robust calendar of events for the upcoming spring, summer, and fall. These events will be a key factor in setting us apart.
Each of us plays a role in the success of our organization. Each dollar given or spent; each hour volunteered; each event attended; each guest you bring; each new member you help recruit; each act generously executed by you has a direct benefit to the museum and ensures its survival. My heart aches to think of a day where the de Witt can only be seen in pictures like the ones we showcase within or exhibits.
Like always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions. If you’d like to volunteer your time in the museum or make a tax deductible donation, please contact Lynn.
I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our Guild meeting on Tuesday evening. The format for this meeting will be a “Show and Tell”. Please bring any piece that moves you and that you’d like to share with the group. Social starts at 6pm with the meeting beginning at 7pm. I enjoy our time together at these meetings.
Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati Enquirer
A snowy owl has been spotted in northern Ohio this winter.
Does that mean Cincinnati could see them locally? The chances are pretty good.
Cleveland MetroParks said a snowy owl was sighted Monday in Mecca Township, north of Youngstown and East of Cleveland.
"This snowy owl, found yesterday at Mosquito Lake in Mecca, is the first 'snowy' to be found this winter in Ohio. We're on high alert for Cleveland's first snowy owl of Winter 2019/2020," the parks department said. Dan Marsh, director of education at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, previously told The Enquirer that the possibility of seeing snowy owls in Greater Cincinnati depends on how things are going up north.
"They could push down here easily. It's not that uncommon, really," he said. We've had run-ins with the raptors before. Early in 2018, a snowy owl delighted bird enthusiasts in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky when it visited Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. In late 2017, a snowy owl visiting Cincinnati’s Queensgate train yard was critically injured. The owl's appearance this far south tends to be cyclical and food driven, Marsh said. The primary diet of snowy owls is lemmings. When food is less abundant, snowy owls, mostly juveniles, travel south to feed. "They are just trying to stay alive," he said. "They are not looking to make a territory here," Marsh said. "As soon as they can, they will go back."
The unique look of the Snowy Owl means that this species is never confused with any other. It is the only one featuring an all white coloring. They also have speckles on the body that are dark gray or black in color. The size of the speckles as well as the pattern of them can be very different for each of them. The females seem to have more of the markings and in a different coloring.
The fact that the Snowy Owl is the only species with this white coloring gives the impression that it is due to the evolution process. At some point in time this species of owl ended up in the very cold regions. In order to survive it had to develop thicker feathers than other species. It also needed a coloring that wouldn’t stand out in the surroundings. Other species of owls are brown and grey but that would be to evident against the snowy background.
There are fossils out there dating millions of years ago that indicate owl species have been around since that time. However, it isn’t fully understood how they are linked to the Snowy Owl. The remains that have been found don’t show that this species was around back then. Yet they may have been and we just haven’t found those remains yet.
As a result there is an ongoing debate among experts about how the life for the Snowy Owls began. Were they the result of another species that moved into that colder region for some reason? Instead of dying out though some of them were able to evolve, survive, and to reproduce?
Born on Bells Island, NC
Son of a market hunter, Constantine “Stant” White. Clarence was the youngest of fifteen children.
In 1959 Clarence built a house on Knotts Island at the end of Brumley Road near his hunting area.
In 1943 Clarence made a stand of geese decoys that perfected a unique construction technique. Using a two-piece head that was joined by mortise & tenon. This joint strengthened the head and bill and is widely recognized today. Clarence White canvas geese are very collectible.