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the story of king buck

King Buck. His name prophesized his triumph as a retriever. He was even more remarkable given his extremely poor health as a puppy.

For the name "King" was bestowed, ironically, not when Buck became a champion, but rather when he was near death with distemper. The name was a hopeful wish he would recover.

Once he did, Buck's unusual instinct for retrieving caught the eye of John Olin, developer of the Super-X Shotshell and founder of Nilo Farms and Nilo Kennels. Olin was dedicated to the sport of duck hunting, and was always on the lookout for a good retriever.

And Buck was better than good. He obeyed superbly, responded quickly to commands and made direct perfect retrieves.

He even had an uncanny insight into competition, as his trainer "Cotton" Pershall described:

He seemed to have some power of knowing when the competition was really rough, and he always came through. He wasn't a big Lab, but he had great style. He just went steadily ahead with his job, series after series.

That steady performance won King Buck the title of the nation's finest field trial retriever in 1953 and 1954.

He went on to also become, as John Olin described years later, "one of the finest wild duck retrievers I have ever seen. In spite of his intense field trial training, he loved natural hunting. He used his head in the wild, just as in trials. From his first wild duck shoot, he was beautiful to watch."

During his years with Nilo Kennels, King Buck finished 83 national series out of a possible 85. To this day, no other retriever has ever completed more than 62 successive national series.

His royal name was given its due when, in 1959, it was decided that the Federal duck stamp for that year should commemorate the work of retrievers and their contribution to waterfowl conservation.

And so, for that occasion, the single time that the Migratory Waterfowl Stamp has ever been other than a duck, Maynard Reece painted a portrait of perhaps the greatest duck dog of them all: King Buck. Winchester is proud to be part of this heritage.