Out of disagreements, a second club was formed and two Large Munsterlander clubs existed side-by-side until 1969. This two-track organization was a disadvantage for the breed. For example, an exceptional performer "Kapp vom Langenshof" took second place in a demanding national test for all breeds where only 13 of 19 dogs passed. Kapp's brother "Keck" was also much praised. However, because of strife among club members these two dogs were only rarely used for breeding.
Looking back on all the years I have spent traveling to hunt with and photograph various breeds of gundog, a handful of events really stand out in my memory. Two of them occurred on the same day on the vast prairies of Saskatchewan where I had travelled to hunt with Joe Schmutz and his small herd of Large Munsterlanders.
The first memorable event starts out like the opening line of a joke: A Canadian, a German and a Frenchman walk into a bar... The bar—more of a restaurant, really—was on the main street of Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan. I was there with my friend, Yannick Molès, who had just arrived the day before from France. We had agreed to meet up with Joe Schmutz, then president of the Large Munsterlander Club of North America, so we could all go chasing huns and sharptails.
Since Yannick and I had arrived a bit early for our meeting, we decided to see some of the sights of the small prairie town. As we wandered along Main Street, we discussed the upcoming hunt—in French. Entering a small shop, the owner greeted us by saying: Bonjour Messieurs, puis-je vous aider? (“Hello gentlemen, may I help you?”). We were stunned. There we were, in the middle of Saskatchewan, thousands of miles west of Québec and an ocean away from France, yet somehow the shopkeeper spoke...French? It felt like we were in an episode of The Twilight Zone, especially when we realized that everyone else in the shop was also speaking French.
But there was a logical explanation. You see, the folks in Gravelbourg have been speaking en français ever since 1906, when French priests founded the town. And I am sure that Yannick and I were not the first visitors to stand slack-jawed upon hearing la belle langue way out there on the bald prairies.
Once we had regained our composure, we met Joe for lunch, then headed out of town with a unique assortment of dogs: two Weimaraners, two Pont-Audemer Spaniels and four Large Munsterlanders. The action in the field was exceptional. We found huns, sharptails, pheasants and ducks. The dog-work was outstanding. I was particularly impressed by Joe’s LMs. They showed a thorough, steady search, charging into even the nastiest thorn bushes and thickest grass. They were strong pointers and natural backers. And it was the natural backing of Joe’s dogs that eventually led to the second memorable event.
It required two 'shots' to get this photo. Joe
shot the rooster with his shotgun and I shot
it with my camera as Joe's fine LM made the
Suddenly, Joe shouted, “Hey, guys!” Turning, we were greeted with a sight that has remained with me to this day. As the ripe orange prairie sun set over a stubble field stretching to the horizon, four Large Munsterlanders—one pointing, three backing— stood like statues as their proud owner moved in to flush. And where were my cameras? Packed away with all the rest of the gear, of course!
I had managed to get some great shots of the dogs earlier on (one of them actually made the cover of Gundog Magazine) but when the perfect one-in-a-million shot basically lined itself up right in front of me, my trusty Canon and Leica were at the bottom of a camera bag.
So, instead of taking photos of the event, Yannick and I just soaked it all in. We watched Joe move in for the flush. A single grey partridge burst from the cover. Joe fired. The bird flew on. Joe fired again. The bird flew on. Joe fired a third time. And the bird flew on, not a feather out of place.
Throughout it all, the dogs remained rock-steady. And from what I could tell, the fact that Joe missed all three shots didn’t really bother them. I could only conclude that, in addition to being excellent all-around hunting dogs, Large Munsterlanders are also quite forgiving.
Read more about the breed, and all the other pointing breeds from Continental Europe, in my book Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals