>Charles F. Waterman

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Painting by the great Eldridge Hardie: November Covey Bobwhites

One of the greatest outdoor writers of all times was the late Charley Waterman whom passed on to the great-upland-covert-in-the-sky on January 12, 2005. I’m certain that Charley had a pack of bird dogs awaiting his arrival at the Rainbow Bridge!

Charley authored 20 or more books in his career and was a contributor to some of the finest upland bird hunting, gun dog, and fly fishing magazines ever produced. Wing & Shot magazine was my favorite. I waited patiently for each issue and immediately would turn to his column to read first. One of my favorite stories about Charley (in paraphrase) goes something along these lines: a famous editor once got on his case about proper punctuation…not enough to be exact…so, Charley sent the editor an envelope full of punctuations!

Some people have famous sports figures or musicians or actors as their heroes…but Charley was one of mine! His stories were told as if he really lived and breathed the uplands of the West.

I wanted to share a few words from his book Field Days published by Countrysport Press in 1995…this is from chapter twenty-two and is entitled Upland Sprinters.

The world’s most famous pointing dogs do their work on bobwhite quail, woodcock, or ruffed grouse. The basic scene presents a high-tailed pointer or setter, frozen in picturesque style, with the concealed birds two or three steps ahead.

After the handler has carefully adjusted the statue’s tail a degree or two nearer to twelve o’clock, somebody is supposed to step past and watch the birds take off. In some of the higher class quail cover somebody calls out, “Mark!” although this announcement, what with all the excitement, is generally unheard.

After the shooting, the dog stands there with the superior look only a successful pointing dog can achieve and continues to pose until someone suggests he stop pointing and find more birds. Dogs that deal mainly with the “Wild West” game have a different look.

Instead of chiseled dignity, for example, a pointer of blue quail, regardless of breed, tends to have a cheerfully scheming and furtive air about him, and when he points he seems to indicate: “This is just the beginning of the program, buster. If you pay attention we might get you a shot at some birds.” He is then likely to lift a foot gently, crouch a little, and roll his eyes toward various clumps of weeds, bushes, and cactus.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Andy W. says:

    >Shawn, Charley Waterman was for sure a good one! Seems like all the good writers have passed on to that great covert in the sky. . . Burt Spiller, Charley Waterman, George Bird Evans,and Bill Tapply. It's time for the new good ones to step up and fill the void that they left. I think that E. Donnall Thomas, Jr. is one of the finest sporting writers nowadays. I wish Steve Grooms would write some more. I like Tom Davis too. Enjoyed your post. Andy Andy

  2. >Shawn: thanks for this. I feel like not having read a whole book by Charley Waterman is too big a gap in my life. So i just bought it.Andy: I've been going through a bunch of old Field & Stream's and reading Tapply's Tips. Fun stuff — and he, too, is missed.Merry Christmas and Happy New YearAndrew, Meg, Momo + Jozsi

  3. Mike Spies says:

    >Shawn, Charley Waterman was one of my favorite writers. He was a reporter in a city near me after WWII – but I never knew that 'til much later. In any case I was only a year or two old at the time and never 'met' Charley until I was a young man. The letter full of puncytuation that he sent to his editor, according to the story, was accompanied by a note advising the editor that he was free to use them wherever needed. The man had a clarity of mind and a sense of humor that is largely lacking in today's outdoor scribes, who seem to feel compelled to be 'literary' – a task that they mostly fail at.Thanks for the tribute.

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