All photos © Grayson Schaffer.
“There’s a gang of guys from Alaska that get together each fall at the same hunting camp in North Dakota. Most of them have dogs from the same kennel—Wildrose—in Oxford, Mississippi,” says photographer Grayson Schaffer, a senior editor at Outside magazine. With more than a dozen dogs in the field, they’ve got to be well trained, otherwise you’ll end up with a scrum fighting over each pheasant that goes down. Ideally, when a pheasant flushes, a dog should sit and wait for the handler to send him out for the retrieve. That way you’ve only got one or two dogs searching for each bird. For everyone in camp, hunting is more about watching the dogs work than it is about shooting birds—though that’s definitely part of it. According to the North Dakota tourism department, more than 900,000 wild pheasants are taken each year in the state.