« Fall Turkey Myths | Main | A Hunter Is Born »

This page has been moved to http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/strut-zone

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Strut Zone at its new location: www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/strut-zone.

Time To Say Goodbye

P10401672 It's been awhile since I've posted and I apologize for not having done so after promising to provide updates last weekend—the first weekend of New York's turkey season. Problem is that things haven't worked out so well for me.

Jake, my John-Byrne turkey dog, has provided me with many seasons of amazing moments in the fall woods. In fact, when I tried to recall them all during the past couple of days, but lost track. He wasn't the greatest turkey dog in the world, but he was mine and he was really, really good. I hoped like hell to get one more season out of Jake.

His best buddy in the world was my daughter Amy and although she has shot two spring gobblers with me, she's never taken a fall bird with her buddy, Jake. I tried desperately to make that happen last weekend.

We quickly got on some fresh scratchings on Sunday morning, however, Jake wasn't much up to the task. Oh, his spirit was certainly more than willing, but after watching him stumble over a few deadfalls for the sixth time, I honestly could not take any more.

"THIS is breaking my heart," I said to whomever would listen. "I can't handle another second."

Within the next few weeks, Jake will be put down--the pain of getting into my truck and running off after turkeys are just too great. I'm trying to come to grips with it.—Gerry Bethge



JR, the newshound guy has a fitting quote for this, which I can't recall so eloquently so I'll just say I'm sorry. My first dog is still young and it makes me sad to know that one day I'll have to say goodbye to her. There is no friend quite like man's best.

Steve Hickoff

Tough news, ol' buddy. Hang in there.

I guess the only thing that's helped me through this sort of thing in the past, in a lifetime of hunting with all kinds of gun dogs including the ones that love wild turkeys, are the good memories.

We'll be thinkin' of ya.


L. Case


Boy do I know exactly where you are at, my old dog Patch is right there, I know that I have told you about her and you where kind enough to listen to my old dog, super dog stories, (Steve has heard all this too), there is just basically no way to explain to people who don't do the huntin' dog thing what a bond there is between you and your canine bud. (and for some reason turkey dogs seem to be even more so in this area, I think it is from sitting in the blind together so much).
This is one of the downers yet one of the realites of having dogs, they are not going to be with us always, I have no real words of wisdom here other than all you can do is get a good one and enjoy them all you can.


P.S. Gerry, I know that you don't want to hear this right now, but those bundles of trouble we talked about are still around...


Gerry, I too have been in your situation. Though my wife and I chose not to put our old dog down, as she could still get up to do her duties. Thankfully for us she passed away during the night on her pillow. Hopefully, Jake will surprise you and improve enough to go with dignity.

My best regards,

Dave Streb

Sorry to hear about Jake. Based on our conversations, I knew it was coming. I know that you will always have incredible memories of hunts past, they will always be vibrant.
I know that you and I had some awesome hunts with Jake. In reflecting back, if it wasn't for Turkey Dogs, our paths may have never crossed. Thank God for Turkey Dogs.
Always remember the Good Times.

Rabid Outdoorsman

Dogs in Heaven?

Have been sitting in the duck blind the last few weeks enjoying my limited time with my dog Onyx. We always hunt together and I make sure that every moment we spend together is fun filled and enjoyed to the fullest!

You and Jake will be in my thoughts . . .

Gerry Bethge

A heartfelt thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments---and a special 'thanks' Dave for making me weep like a woman. For you Strut Zoners who might not know him, Dave Streb is from Quaker Boy Game Calls and I blame him for all of this. It was back in the late-80s when Dave invited me to hunt fall turkeys with dogs at Turkey Trot Acres in upstate New York. I was so instantly hooked that I begged Mr. John Byrne to put me on his list of puppy-wanters. The rest, I guess, is history. Got to thinking how many turkeys we've shot with Jake over the years and stopped counting at 30. Considering that I basically hunted weekends for the duration of fall turkey season, it's not a bad record.

Headed up to camp in the Catskills tonight in an effort to do battle with birds first thing in the morning, but it certainly won't be the same.

I'm in school right now

i feel awful for do but i do have a question: Why do you need a dog to turkey hunt?


Gerry Bethge

Hey Nate....Great question...Here's my shot at answering it....I love to call in wild turkeys. I love hunting dogs. What could possibly be better than combining the two? Our dogs, range far and wide to bust up flocks of turkeys. We get to the break site and, with dogs by our side, attempt to call the flock back together. So we combine great dog work with great (hopefully) calling to get our birds. It's truly an awesome experience.

Tony Williams


Sorry to hear about Jake. I never met him, but have heard all your stories at camp about hunting with him. Take care buddy and think of all he good times you've had with him.



dude, im so sorry, im not one for dogs much, unless theyre hunting dogs, once again, im so sorry, and, think of all the great time you had with him.......

Scott Burgess

Hey Gerry, My heart goes out to you and your family.What's left of it anyway,(my heart that is)I just lost my Butch last week.I thought I was prepared but...well let's just say I wasn't.I hope this is a proper time to ask this question but I want my next best friend to be a turkey dog.(Butch was a 100lb.100% water dog)Problem is, they are not legal in Washington State even though in the states that surround us they are.Any suggestions on where I should start my quest?Thanks for any tips you might know and sorry about the Jakester,Scotty

Rob Fetterhoff jr.