American Field

Mr. W. C. Kirk Remembered

By Paul Garrett | Sep 14, 2017

Lakewood, Colo. — I lost another one of my few bird dog friends when Mr. W. C. Kirk of Bowie, Tex., passed away on July 15.

I first contacted Mr. Kirk about thirty years ago when I was looking into training full time and trying to find some grounds in Canada. Mr. Kirk told me about his old grounds, how to contact the landowners, and what to expect.

I had been to Canada several times and spent a good bit of time up there. He said his major landowner was a Winchester collector, and the best way to ensure my good relations with him was to find a Winchester model 92 and take it up with me as a gift.

Johnny Crockett was a favorite of mine, and Mr. Kirk told me a lot about him that most folks don’t know.

Although he was really proud of “Boy’s” win of the National Championship, I think he was even prouder of his win at the Central United States All-Age in Oklahoma (1966), where he beat about 55 of the best all-age dogs in the country.

By the way, I always called him Mr. Kirk. He got a big kick out of that and said he liked the way it sounded.

I never did get to establish permanent grounds in Canada, but for the past seven or eight years have been going to Montana, using grounds that Mr. Kirk and Wendy Haugen, his “foster daughter”, helped me find. I didn’t go this year due to the extreme drought in my area, but hope to return next year if I live that long.

I was lucky enough to get to visit with Mr. Kirk and Mary on their ranch in Bowie several times, and Mr. Kirk and my wife Lynn became big buddies. Lynn is a pharmacist, and helped Mr. Kirk with his heart medication and other pharmaceutical concerns. Lynn never met a stranger, and Mr. Kirk was no exception. He got a big kick out of visiting with her.

I especially enjoyed our breakfasts together down at the café in Bowie.

Mr. Kirk was instrumental in helping me contact Warner Stone and getting a Crockett/Sunrise bitch I had bred to the last remaining frozen semen from Crockett’s Deep Freeze. We only got two puppies due to low activity, and I told Warner to keep both of them. I later got the bitch puppy and was able to breed two litters out of her. They are making exceptional bird dogs and will help carry on the line. Like an idiot I sold one of two dog puppies I had held back out of the second litter that is making a great dog. I knew he was going to be a good one — in Montana as a puppy he ran for two hours before I could catch him in my truck. Setters need more of that kind of bottom and determination.

Mr. Kirk was a good friend, a gentleman, and an outstanding example of what a man should be. He served his country, cared for his family, and was a help to his community and his friends. There aren’t enough like him. He will be missed.

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