In a world where new hunting gear advertisements flow through our media streams on a minute by minute basis, and we fall into the trap of buying every new gadget for the hunt, I find myself wanting nothing more than Dad’s old whistle. The plastic yellow whistle, of brand I don’t recall was nothing special in and of itself. It was from a time before ecollars, garmins and diamond plate dog boxes. It wasn’t attached to a stylish and durable lanyard made of woven leather strips, nor was it accompanied by a compass or a flush counter. It was strung up with a stained white sneaker shoelace. Unfashionably tied in a knot at the ends. It was functional and not pretty. It did match his old bird hunting coat though, with its drab shades of brown, rips, tears, blood stains and denim patches that covered nearly every pocket. He hated wearing orange. Dad doesn’t hunt with that whistle anymore and for all I know it was lost long ago. He wears a nicer, orange vest now, with less rips and tears. It has been replaced with a pair of newer Roy Gonia’s that hang on a fancy woven lanyard. Probably one of the cheap Christmas gifts I had given him.
When I think about that whistle, I remember the dogs it commanded. Magic, Cassie, Dusty, Cooper, and Remmy. Tilly and Wylie weren’t whelped yet. If I ever found that old whistle, I doubt I would ever use it. I don’t even know why I want it. I would just hang it on the wall next to an old rooster mount in the living room. I might make a shadow box with a rooster hanging from a fence post, a box of Winchesters with the words Duck & Pheasant printed on the front, and a few purple shells. I always thought I would covet that old 16 gauge wingmaster the most, but nearly every hunt I can remember as a boy started with that whistle coming out of the closet.