Book Review by Art Wheaton
This new book by Walt Lesser and Lisa M. Weisse is a wonderful addition to your sporting library, whether or not you like the Ryman- type of English setter. There is exhaustive research utilizing kennel literature and a collection of pedigrees documenting George Ryman’s breeding program. The authors have unraveled the mystique and misconception of the controversial George Ryman and his setters.
They have pieced together the evolution of Ryman’s breeding program as well as its rise and fall after his passing in 1961. It depicts his wife Ellen running the kennel operation on her own before marrying Carl Calkins in 1963. Ellen and Carl then continued breeding the Ryman- type setter until 1975, when they sold to Robert Sumner and David Francis who moved the operation to Hillsboro, WV.
This is an intriguing story and sets the record straight, showing how breeders other than George Ryman changed the type of setter from what Ryman originally developed. It also explains how a small circle of breeders, who knew exactly the kind of dog Ryman achieved, continued this line in the Appalachian Mountain region.
The Real Ryman Setter also serves up a delightful mix of hunting stories in the Appalachian Mountains, with a description of the different types of ruffed grouse habitat in these mountains, including favored foods of this bird. The gunning tales provide valuable insights into handling, training, and hunting grouse and woodcocks. There is an interesting association with George Bird Evans and the Old Hemlock setters; the Worden’s Hotel in Davis, West Virginia, and the Canaan Valley woodcock cover which Evans called “The Gates.” Some who have read Evans will draw an engaging connection with a pleasing amount of detail.
The Real Ryman Setter is available from Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310, (610-593-1777) for $34.99 or you can order an inscribed copy from either of the authors by going to their website www.therealrymansetter.com. It is also available from other online booksellers.
Ruffed Grouse Society Magazine, Book Reviews, Fall, 2014