Once J.J. puts his boat in the water, Reign knows the drill there, too. Out in the field, she has a myriad of hand signals that she responds to. No words, just hands. She has even more verbal commands, but it’s important to master some nonverbal cues when hunting out in the wild. Hunting with a professional sporting dog is a special experience. When you get it, you get it. Even J.J. found it tough to describe. Things clicked for him when he had the privilege of hunting with Amy, Reign’s mother, years ago. Amy was professionally bred and trained at Southern Oak Kennels, and working with her changed J.J.’s perspective on hunting dogs.
“Sportsmen don’t have dogs just because they’re cute and fun. We have dogs to retrieve game. If you're hunting in a scenario where you cannot retrieve your game, you have no business being there. There is no more gut-wrenching feeling than having taken a life and not being able to recover the bird. Amy helped me understand why you hunt with a dog. With a dog by your side, your success becomes extra sweet because it’s also their success. You play as a team.”
When he heard that Amy was pregnant with her last litter of puppies, J.J. pounced on the opportunity to raise one. He went with a smaller female, knowing that his dog would be kenneled a lot. J.J. is a proud resident of the state of Texas, where over 95% of the land is privately owned — three times as many acres as any other state. There are very few public hunting opportunities in Texas. So, when he hunts, he has to drive. A lot.
“I drive around 50,000 miles every duck season. So when it came time to choose a dog, I went with a smaller puppy who would be as comfortable as possible in a kennel. She comes with me on every single trip, and she always rides in a kennel. It’s the only way to give your dog any semblance of a seatbelt.”
Reign rides safe and secure in the bed of J.J.’s Ford F-250. Optimized for rugged, long-distance travel deep into the wild wetlands of North America, J.J’s truck is outfitted with an extended S&B fuel tank, a subtle, mileage-saving 2.5-inch lift, aftermarket sprayed-in bed liner, a BedSlide, a camper shell with windows that slide or flip up (so Reign can stay cool), and 35-inch BFGoodrich® Tires All-Terrain T/A® KO2 tires. Whether they’re on a hunting excursion or just headed out on a fun weekend with friends, the truck and J.J.’s whole system is ready to go.
“The reason I built my truck the way I did is so that Reign and I can chase our innate, ingrained passions. We love to hunt. But as soon as hunting season is over, you bet that next weekend, we’re out fly fishing, going to the beach, riding dirt bikes, or something interesting. Fun has no off-season. We just go and do. And my truck is the key to it all.
There is never a question in anyone's mind ever. If we're on the road, we’re taking my truck. We're going somewhere cool with amazing people, and we're gonna cook, drink, listen to music, maybe haul a toy behind us, and we’re definitely bringing the dogs along. If my truck's involved, we are gonna have a blast.”