|Portrait of Sam painted from a photo following one of his last good hunts.|
Sam Patterson, a white field pointer, died today, April 27, at his home in Barr, Miss. He would have been 13 on his birthday in May. Raised by avid hunter and sportsman Mike Stephens of Coffeeville, Sam was a 2004 pup who came to live with Howard Patterson, who would be his friend, master and handler for nearly 13 years.
Sam first hunted quail on the Dandridge property that now belongs to the Patterson’s. When local quail hunting became scarce in the area, Patterson took Sam on several hunts in Arkansas. The team served as dog handlers at many corporate pen-raised hunts in Arkansas.
The dog excelled in wild-bird hunting and made several trips to Texas to hunt on leased land near Midland, Texas. He became a camp favorite there where sometimes 50 dogs were used daily.
"I even let Sam go to Texas one year without me," says Patterson. "My buddy Mike picked him up, and Mike and Bruce Hawkins of Morrilton, Ark., had a good hunt out there with him.
"I had to tape his feet to protect him from the nasty Texas burrs," said Patterson. He describes his dog as always good-natured and ready to work. "He loved his job."
Sam was quite a clown at home. When he saw someone approaching his kennel he seemed to "talk" much in the dialect of the cartoon character Scooby-Do, to the amusement of the family and grandchildren.
The old white dog was never registered or the held a field trial championship, but he was at the top of his game in his sport.
Sam’s death marks the end of an era for Patterson. He and his brothers grew up quail hunting with their daddy, the late A.M. Patterson. There is no such thing as wild quail hunting in this part of Mississippi anymore. While Sam enjoyed the Texas and Arkansas hunts, it was never quite as good and a Sunday afternoon hunt right here in Tate County.
Patterson's sister, Tupelo artist Robbie Boyd, painted Sam's portrait for her brother for a Christmas gift three years ago. When Patterson saw it, he was touched. "Look at that eye," he says pointing to the painting. "I've seen him look at me like that a hundred times. He would point a bird, and hold, and then cut his eye back at me like,'I got 'em, your turn next.’"
For the first time in our 37-year marriage, our dog kennel is empty. Sam closed that chapter for us.