Best Retriever Photos of the Year

Best Retriever Photos of the Year

Capturing the beauty of retrievers doing what they do best naturally is an art form. These dogs were born to hunt and in this exclusive photo essay, photographer Matt McCormick captures some of the year's best retriever images while Gun Dog Editor Skip Knowles reminds us why retrievers (and what they do) are something to celebrate.

Maybe it was a smelly old Chessy, or a cute-as-hell white Lab pup that once wrestled your kids and looked like a baby polar bear. Or a semi-spastic golden that somehow got the job done with outrageous vigor. It could have been a poorly performing chocolate that would kill itself trying and was a total sweetheart. Or maybe just your first gun dog, and that's enough. But somewhere, somehow, a retriever at some point sunk its canines deep in your heart.

Maybe it was not a great dog, but just happened to bear witness to a happy era in your own lifetime: Your personal good old days of hunting, a time when year after year you really got into the birds. Sometimes a dog will nail you in the heart when you are in a lonely place. Perhaps its growth is associated with that of your children's, their wonder years.

Or maybe, just maybe, you are one of the lucky few who happened upon a pure thoroughbred, a bird-fetching machine, one of those tremendous canines that are simply a pleasure to be a round and make you glow with pride, make you look like a good trainer when you knew the truth, you just needed to get out of the way.


Whatever the circumstance, only a hunter understands the rue potential a relationship with a canine can hold. They are born to hunt, and so are you. Those who don't live this can't understand it. Any dog can be a man's best friend. But a hunter who has spent years in the field over the course of a good gun dog's lifetime has the deepest relationship with a retriever, with the exception perhaps only of rescue and police dog owners. The hunter and his partner become more like a couple old war buddies who have seen a lot of action together.


It runs much deeper than the vacuous term "pet." Much talk in this magazine centers on " dog owners." But we all know who-owns-who in the end. Here's to our most loyal field companions, and a photo essay that celebrates their existence.

— Skip Knowles

borntohunt_1

Maybe it was a smelly old Chessy, or a cute-as-hell white Lab pup that once wrestled your kids and looked like a baby polar bear.


borntohunt_3Or a semi-spastic golden that somehow got the job done with outrageous vigor. It could have been a poorly-performing chocolate that would kill itself trying and was a total sweetheart.

borntohunt_6

Or maybe just your first gun dog, and that's enough.


borntohunt_10

But somewhere, somehow, a retriever at some point sunk its canines deep in your heart.

borntohunt_8

Maybe it was not a great dog, but just happened to bear witness to a happy era in your own lifetime: Your personal good old days of hunting,  a time when year after year you really got into the birds.

borntohunt_4

Sometimes a dog will nail you in the heart when you are in a lonely place. Perhaps its growth is associated with that of your children's, their wonder years.

borntohunt_5

Or maybe, just maybe, you are one of the lucky few who happened upon a pure thoroughbred, a bird-fetching machine, one of those tremendous canines that are simply a pleasure to be around and make you glow with pride, make you look like a good  trainer when you knew the truth, you just needed to get out of the way.

borntohunt_2

Whatever the circumstance, only a hunter understands the true potential a relationship with a canine can hold.

borntohunt_7

They are born to hunt, and so are you. Those who don't live this can't understand it.

borntohunt_9

Any dog can be a man's best friend. But a hunter who has spent years in the field over the course of a good gun dog's lifetime has the deepest relationship with a retriever, with the exception perhaps only of rescue and police dog owners. The hunter and his partner become more like a couple old war buddies who have seen a lot of action together.

It runs much deeper than the vacuous term "pet." Much talk in this magazine centers on "dog owners." But we all know who-owns-who in the end.

borntohunt_11

Here's to our most loyal field companions.

Images by Matt McCormick

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