Well-known Lab Passes Away

Sad news from overnight: Jack the Labrador who retrieved many a mallard, Canada and ringneck — and was even in training to be a Chinook and kokanee hound — passed away yesterday.

That word from Jeff Witkowski, his owner.

From their home in Chelan, Wash., the pair hunted the western side of the Columbia Basin and made a great team, Jeff dropping the drakes and geese into waters large and small or over snow-covered fields, and Jack the chocolate Lab dutifully retrieving the birds.

In warmer days, they could be found on the Brewster Pool and Lake Chelan waylaying big kings and bountiful kokes.

Photos of their exploits peppered the old Fishing & Hunting News and popped up in Northwest Sportsman, happier days.

“He was very famous,” Jeff says. “Everyone knew him because he was always out huntin’ and fishin’, but also because of the many times you printed his photos in your magazines.”

This past January, the hunter noted his hound was getting up there in age and was beginning to slow down.

You’d never have guessed the latter by the number of duck and goose leg bands Jeff had slipped onto Jack’s collar.

Or maybe you would have.

Jeff hoped Jack would make it onto one more cover before the Lab ended his career, and sent me a pile of photos from some great days early last winter.

I posted them, sent Jeff a link, and when he ducked back indoors from another dazzling day afield with Jack, he replied, “Time to go scout for next goose day, maybe jump shoot a little. Same routine, day after day – scout, hunt, sleep, scout, hunt, sleep… Will it ever end?”

It did.

“He went out on the porch to catch an afternoon nap, went to sleep and never woke up,” Jeff emailed just after 3 this morning.

(Goddamn, my eyes are moist and I’m choking up — having two sons has turned me into an emotional wreck, and I never met Jack.)

“I was sure lucky to get to hunt with him for 12 seasons,” Jeff added. “Dang, I miss him already. Jack was one fine Lab.”

He will appear again, but in the meanwhile, our condolences.

JACK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK AND JEFF AFIELD. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK WITH WILD RINGNECK. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

A KOKE FIEND. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

JACK LIVES ON AS THE MASCOT OF JEFF'S GUIDE SERVICE. (JEFF WITKOWSKI)

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One Response to “Well-known Lab Passes Away”

  1. Nick Ihly Says:

    R.I.P. “Jack” He was a great dog,we loved him very much!! He will be missed…

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