Delmar's Declarations

87bb164c-5681-4eaf-a8fe-201eedc68c02 By Rehan Nana
 
Perhaps no one deserves the title of “Legendary Trainer” more than Delmar Smith. There is no way to describe how important he is and how much of an impact he has had on the bird dog world except to say the people who I feel the need to call “Sir” feel the need to call him “Sir.”
 
Once, when walking through the dance floor at a bird dog banquet, Mr. Smith grabbed me by the arm and politely asked, “Son, will you please dance with this fine lady.” You know what I did? I dropped my beer and fox-trotted my dirty boots up and down that dance floor. Because when Delmar Smith asks you to do something, you do it.
 
There’s a gravitational quality about Mr. Smith that is hard to put a finger on when he lays into one of his stories. You just have to know him, but once you know him, you’ll never want to stop knowing him. All I can say about Mr. Smith is he is a gentleman and one of the great dog trainers in the history of bird dogs. And maybe that’s enough.
 
So when Delmar wanted to borrow my truck to show me around Ames plantation, I thought I had found the Golden Ticket. E-mails and work could wait.
 
For the hour we drove around Grand Junction, I was in the presence of greatness. Here is some of the wisdom he bestowed about Ames, Speeding, and Life.
 
On good dogs vs good trainers
“There’s more dogs that’ve made trainers than trainers that’ve made dogs.”
 
On how to view the running at Ames
“You’re a young buck, you need to get you a good horse. Go find Jim, grab him by the arm and say ‘Hey cowboy, I want a good horse. And there’s an old highway buzzard who said to give you a good horse. And he’ll probably get you a mule.”
 
On driving
“Alright, now that we’ve got some speed, I can just throw this in “R”, right? That means ‘Race, right? Alright, here we go!”
His hand grabs the shifter
Me, visibly horrified but too scared to correct Mr. Smith
“Haha…Not many people will drive with me anymore.”
 
On how to work a dog at Ames
“Let that dog make that decision.”
 
On what made Shadow Oak Bo such an incredible setter
“Well, probably his mamma and papa.”
 
Since 1934 (his first year at Ames) what were the best years of dog work at Ames?
“It’s up and down, like everything. Herman Smith had a dog that pointed 27 coveys in three hours one time.”
 
On speeding in Grand Junction
“See that 25 miles an hour there? It doesn’t mean 26.“
 
On how he got his first Dodge truck
“I had a dog named Buddington Prince, and I had a customer named Dan Huddleston….”

At this point Smith stops his story to give some quick advice on driving…

“Now I’ll guarantee you right now, this part of the area means business…It don’t mean 60 mph and a 10th!”

He goes back to his story…

“…And we went to this field trial in Stillwater, and I said ‘Dan, this dog’s good!’ I said, ‘Why don’t you just take Buddy over there.’ And he did. And he won the field trial. Monday mornin’ he called me and he said, ‘I want you to come into town today, I need to see you.’
 I went in there, he handed me a set of keys…hehe…He didn’t say nothing about ‘I want this to be for that dog’ or nothing!...He just said ‘here’s a set of keys, send me Buddy’s papers’…..But I was just starting in the business back then….He was the first Britanny in Oklahoma to make a champion…This goes way back, about 1953.”
 
On how he got started
“With the whole thing. I was just an old country boy.”
 
On the best dog he ever saw at Ames
“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. There’s so many variables.”
 
On what a smart dog will do at Ames (to be read in your best auctioneer voice)
“Alright now a smart dog right would come up in the wind he would swing over here and go down this edge around that edge then swing on over there go over to that edge back over there where most likely birds will be around the edge and timber and things.”
 
On Ames Plantation and the National All-Age Championship
“It’s quite a deal…”
 
 

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2019 Bird Dog Issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and want to read more great stories about quail, quail hunting, and bird dogs, become a member today!