walttreeRuffed Grouse Society Magazine, Book Reviews, Fall, 2014:
“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.”
Art Wheaton

Upland Almanac Magazine Summer 2014 Tailgate Review:
“This new addition to the history of the English setter is exceptionally well written and immediately impressed us with the passion of the authors for their subject. Each brings important talents to this book making it at once the history of a man uniquely positioned in time to influence the breed, enchanting stories of the results of that influence as seen in the dogs themselves in their natural element, and a scholarly, yet very readable, detailed account of their breeding and performance from the earliest days of focused development.

The book is divided into five chapters, but really there are three parts: An introduction to the complex man that was George Ryman, later expanded by the insights gained from the exhaustive analysis of his breeding program; Walter Lesser’s personal exposure to and history with dogs carrying the genes developed by George Ryman combined with descriptions of the contributions of a group of altruistic and dedicated breeders whose grail is the continuation of the breed as George Ryman molded it; and the exhaustive depiction of the breed’s history taken from the printed record as opposed to anecdote, which has often been the case in the past.

In the case of George Ryman, we ask ourselves how a single man and his vision can come together with the availability of the genes, the facility, the demand, and the birds to accomplish what he did in one lifetime. Lesser’s gentlemanly rendition of better than a half-century’s history with these dogs and his admirable “circle of breeders” is especially enjoyable. The breed owes them all a debt of gratitude. Weisse’s work in wading through the hundreds of pedigrees especially deserves praise since it not only provides a window into how George Ryman managed to always “breed only the best to the best”, but it literally rewrites the history of the breed. Anything the reader needs to begin- or complete- an education of this dog in this time is found between the covers of Lesser and Weisse’s truly engaging and certainly enduring book.”
Walter Cottrell

Warren C. Sheckells, Pinecoble:
“I found this book to be the most thorough and factual writing about the Ryman Setter that I have seen in print.  Anyone currently breeding or thinking about breeding the English Setter, Belton Type Gun Dog should read this book.  Lisa Weisse’s exhaustive research and Walt Lesser’s accounts of early breeders will be beneficial to breeders of these wonderful hunting dogs.  Walt’s descriptions of some of his days in the covers with his setters are great reading for hunters of any gamebird with any breed of dog.”

Ken Szabo, Publisher of the newsletter Grouse Tales:
“Aware of the “The Real Ryman Setter” I couldn’t wait to receive and read my review copy. Immediately afterwards I offered it in Grouse Tales. What a delightful and informative book full of factual information on the complete history of the renowned Ryman English setter – plus the wonderful Appalachian grouse hunting stories by Walt Lesser. I’ve been a grouse hunter for 60 years and will say without batting an eye that “The Real Ryman Setter” is a must book for everyone hunting grouse and woodcock.”

Pete Duncan:
“I am a somewhat retired natural resource professional, having worked in various capacities over a forty year period with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, Pennsylvania Game Commission, New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Conservation Fund. What spare time I could finagle was spent hunting grouse and woodcock. On several occasions as a young boy I accompanied John and Matt Hunter to Shohola Falls for the purpose of purchasing bird dogs from George Ryman. This would have been in the late forties and early fifties. I later hunted over both of those Ryman dogs, one a “once in a lifetime” female and the other much better than average. What struck me about the dogs in the Ryman kennels were the short coupled nature and athleticism of the ones I remembered. I had a pretty good idea about what happened to the breed in ensuing years, but I couldn’t follow the West Virginia maze. Now, I know what really happened owing to your excellent book.

You have made a great contribution to the annals of sporting literature. If one wants to follow the development of setters over time, “The Real Ryman Setter” is a must read. It is about more than one man’s line of gun dogs. It is about a way of breeding gun dogs which produces, in the broadest sense, beautiful results. Well written, well researched books about this subject are rare. Yours fills the bill splendidly.”

Amazon Customer Reviews

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