Long Hollow Road
The 1st Long Hollow Bird Dog was a Yellow Lab owned and handled by a diehard Pheasant hunter in the 1980's that called himself my Dad. For decades, annually he and his friends met up at hunting camp like a religion. They combed the draws between wheat fields with their untrained flushing dogs. No regard to their day jobs or the child support that was waiting for them on the other side of the mountains.
- Ryan Fortier
Long Hollow Road will lead you to a quiet cabin built by the most hospitable, hard working, family man I ever knew. Craig Culbertson was a wheat farmer, husband, father, coach, friend and all around good man. I cannot say the same about my own father, but I can say that my Dad's obsession with hunting lead me to my very first Pheasant hunting trip on the wheat farm at the end of Long Hollow Road when I was 12 years old.
Rewind a few years. As the story is told, my dad and his buddies were exploring the Palouse for Pheasants. Somehow they ended up lost and sleeping under their truck at the end of the road, in a rain storm, out in front of the Culbertson cabin. At some point they were noticed by the land owner who felt bad for them. Craig proceeded to offer up his barn to this diehard group of young bird hunters and that is how the tradition of Pheasant hunting down Long Hollow Road began. For many years to follow my Dad and his friends went back to the Culbertson Wheat Farm annually for some of the best Pheasant hunting and Deer hunting that Washington State had to offer.
Although I have a few vague memories of the Brittany Spaniels and Vizslas owned by my dad. It was the Labrador Retrievers that he chased upland birds with mostly, as they are what I remember most. What I also remember is that the Pheasant numbers were so good back then, that a poorly trained, average gun dog, could make a bird hunter with a monster ego, look like a hero. Without going into any detail about my toxic childhood. When I was 12 years old my Grandpa on my Dad's side, felt compelled to pick me up one day and drive me from Redmond to Colfax for my very first hunting trip and for one of very few visits I had ever had with my father at that time.
A more vivid memory is that of a Black Lab named Sheen that was owned my my Uncle Mark who was my Mom's brother. Uncle Mark had fallen asleep at the wheel in his early 20's and was a paraplegic, but that did not slow him down from his passion for Duck Hunting and Fly fishing. Mark was on the cover of Field & Stream magazine and I have good memories of blowing duck calls, throwing the ball for his Black Lab, riding around in his wheel chair and trips to the lake.
After my first trip to the Palouse at just 12 years old. It was the hospitality of the Culbertson family, the wheat farm itself, the extraordinary game birds, the adventure, the shotguns, and the bird dogs that left a life long impression on me. In addition to all the positive memories, there were plenty of opportunities for my young open mind to see and experience things that in my heart, for some reason, I just knew were not right. Early memories of hunting with my dad and his friends were often a lesson in my life about who I did not want to be, and what I did not want to do... Learning is always a combination of dos and don'ts. There are always people in our life that we can emulate in order to learn what to do. On the contrary, there are those people in our life that are an obvious example of what not to do. My father was this person, and I have felt for many years that all the bad dogs I was fortunate to hunt with as a kid, led me to my ongoing desire to learn to be better. To have better dogs, to be a better person and so on...
As I grew into my teenagers years, with my mother moving further and further away from reality, I found myself with no other option then to go finally live with my Dad in Idaho. This move did not create less turmoil in my life but at 14 years old I began to find sanctuary in being in the field with dogs, bird hunting, hanging out with my friends, riding dirt bikes and playing sports. I remember my first real experience in training dogs was actually well before I had my own. A couple summers I spent working on a dairy farm. During which time I found interest in acquiring dogs that people were getting rid of in the paper. I would then train those dogs and sell them to make a little money. At the time I had been saving to buy my very first Shotgun.
My first two dogs were Labrador Retrievers. Their names were Kenai and Dakota. Labs are what I knew, I was comfortable and familiar with them and I was an upland bird hunter but I also had interest in waterfowl hunting.
These our some special dogs. Owned, Trained and Handled by the greats that came before us. We are the grateful beneficiaries of all their hard work and dedication. We can only hope to have an opportunity to pay it forward and continue raising the bar. These dogs are a representation of the generations of greatness that have lead us to the current bloodlines of Long Hollow Bird Dogs today.