Our kindred relationship with hunting dogs and kennels began at least by the 1870's. My grandfather, M.W. Kervin, a veteran of the civil war and his Cherokee wife Dolly farmed a large tract of land on the Mississippi Delta. It was hard work farming during those days plowing with mules and horses along with cutting timber to make ends meet. The crops produced on the delta farm had to raise a family of ten children. The days were hard and the hours long with little time for play and social activities except for church on Sunday. On that sprawling farm with huge trees and fertile soil a kennel was located behind the main house. It contained a pack of selectively bred English Foxhounds and stylish English Pointers. A stable of well-bred horses and working mules was located adjacent to the kennels. During the early morning hours the wonderful smell of thoroughbred horses and leather could be detected as it mixed with a slight southerly breeze. Those Foxhounds and riding horses were the pride and joy of M.W. and he spent every available hour making sure they were fed and trained properly for the hunt. It was often said that his greatest joy was to cast the start dogs into the forest and when they struck the trail of that wily OLE FOX the sound of those hounds would fill the bottom land and echo through the forest for miles. As the race heated up those hounds held in reserve were sent and the pack chased that Ole Red Fox over the hills and dales long into the night. As M.W. walked toward the stable his big black riding horse would snort, flare his nostrils and stamp his hoof in anticipation of joining the chase. As the sun peaked over the horizon and the morning began to warm that slick Ole Fox had used one of his many tricks and slipped away from the hounds. M.W. raised the hunting horn and blew notes that could be heard throughout the land signaling his hounds the hunt was over. It was time for those weary hounds and sweating horse to return home. Of course the hunt is really never over!! There are many exciting stories to tell when men gather around the table for the evening meal. Some of those wonderful stories would last for generations.
During those beautiful autumn days on the delta when the foliage began to turn orange and the frost would glisten in the morning sunlight the unique whistle of Gentleman 'Bob White' could be heard as the coveys were formed from last spring's mating. On those days M.W. and sons would take the double barrel shotguns (with hammers) down from where they rested over the fireplace along with a collection of hunting horns and walk to the kennel. Hunters usually rode in a wagon pulled by a team of mules or on a horse specially
trained to follow Bob, Belle and Shanghai, a team of wide ranging English Pointers. It was a sight to see them in a dead run, slam on the brakes and look like they were not real at all but made of stone. It was the scent of quail detected by a sensitive nose that turned these dogs into statues. On one particular hunt as the story goes, A.S. Kervin was riding a new horse provided by Lloyd Kervin. When the dogs went on point the shotgun discharged on the rising covey and the horse discharged A.S. above the tree tops. After dusting the debris from his clothes and finding his mud covered shotgun he asked, 'Where in the Hell did you get that horse'!!!!!! Unfortunately, no one could answer him.... due to the tears streaming down their faces from uncontrollable laughter. It even looked like the big running pointers were smiling as they raced off to find another covey. When the hunt was over it was time to kennel the dogs and return the horses to the stable. The animals would be fed and taken care of before the hunters ever thought about settling down themselves. When everything had been properly put away the men would sit down at the dining table for the evening meal. In a moment of silence they would quietly give thanks to our Creator for all the blessings He had bestowed upon them this day. With the meal over, they would move to the porch for a hand-rolled smoke or light up a pipe and maybe take a shot of Kentucky Bourbon. The Medicine Horse was restless and seemed to be troubled. His unique ability to see into the future has disturbed him. For he has seen the destiny of the Kervin family.
Whether it was at the dining table or around a smoking camp fire the conversations always centered on hunting and the dogs with an occasional sidebar that ventured into the world of politics. The dogs were constantly being discussed and evaluated concerning nose, desire, endurance, conformation and which dogs would be selected for breeding. M.W.'s sons were born in that old farm house and into a life of hard work and honesty. They seldom signed contracts in those days to bind agreements, a handshake and your word was all that was needed to seal any deal. It was important to be a true sportsman and have a deep respect for nature and all the wildlife living there. Apparently the hunting tradition was passed on as each son developed his own kennel after leaving the farm. Kennels sprang up in the rice fields of Arkansas, bayous of Louisiana, and dozens of other states. The sons of these men continued to hunt and fish as their fathers before them. It was a Family Tradition.
It was into this rich tradition that I was born, a world of outdoorsmen, wildlife, hunting dogs, little puppies, guns, campfires, and the 'Medicine Horse' the one with fire in his eyes. Some of my fondest memories were those times as a child when I sat wide-eyed listening to the tales of the hunt. Each man had a story to tell as we sat around the campfire, and even the dogs seemed to listen carefully when their name was mentioned. Even though those men are now gone from this world, the aroma and memories coming from the old camps are still with me. Especially on those clear nights when 'da moi ki' as the Kiowa's call the Great Spirit.... displays His Majesty in a heaven with no end. Today, I still find myself searching the evening sky for the 'Dog Star'. Our lives were filled then and now with stories told by the Native American elders, about why everything has a living spirit and who grants the spirit of life. Our grandchildren ask as we did; are the stories true? Of course they are.
From those early days, I have never strayed too far from the outdoors and the world of hunting dogs. I have trained, judged, and bred many working dog breeds to include Schutzhunds and police dogs. This is where I first became involved with German training and breeding philosophies. I screened many dogs that were candidates for police work only to find the majority had hip problems, conformation problems and emotional issues. Less than 35% were making the grade. In my opinion, I was seeing many of the
same shortfalls in our hunting dogs. They were showing obvious physical problems, emotional issues and questionable performance. However, there were some outstanding dogs, but where were they coming from? In the majority of cases, the really good ones were coming from recognized breeders with long standing reputations and established breeding programs with proper kennel facilities. They were students of genetics, nutrition, dog behavior and training. They also possessed a wealth of knowledge about pedigrees and were dedicated breeders. It wasn't the guy who thought he would breed Amber to Fido so he could have a pup from Amber before she got too old and advertise them as hunting dogs. In my search for a selectively bred versatile hunting dog that I would use from September through April, I turned to my German friends. I knew the AKC German Wired Haired Pointer and the Authentic German Drahthaar was not the same dog. I vividly remember sitting down with my friends in Germany discussing the Drahthaar and the breeder would unroll a 10 foot piece of paper containing decades of detailed information on generations of dogs. Thus vom Kervinshof kennel was born over 20 years ago, and some of the greatest dogs I have ever had the pleasure to know have resided in our kennel. I remember them quite vividly: Caddo, Ice, Nord, Anka, Eike, Oschi, and many others who now lie in a special marked plot of ground. Sometimes I mistakenly call my dogs of today by those names and they look at me in a quizzical sort of way.
vom Kervinshof has been a family affair following the old tradition of hunters and loving the outdoors. My daughter Michele became one of the first ladies (at 21) in America to take a dog through all the German tests and become a certified judge while still in college. My son Bubba was in the duck blind at two years old with his little puppy because he did not want to be left behind. Our grandson's and granddaughter 'Tifi' are now in the mix carrying on an 'Old Family Tradition'. I think M.W. must chuckle to himself as he peers down from heaven and observes me playing dolls in the deer blind with 'Tifi'. My wife Madeline still complains about puppy tracks on the floor and bird feathers in my pockets. She has maintained the stern look when she warns me 'you better be home on time for dinner…… we are having guests'!! But she knows from experience I seem to lose my way when the wind calls my name and there are birds to hunt and puppies to play with. She has been more than tolerant over the years with my excuses for being late, new guns, old friends and the continuing saga of another new dog from Germany.
One night I had the pleasure of driving a car containing a group of women to and from a church meeting. A full moon began to climb into the night sky and I excitedly commented 'What a Beautiful Moon', the women ooohed and ahhhhed about my 'Gorgeous Moon' comment and how sensitive and romantic I must be. Their husbands were never that observant or romantic. My wife said, 'Ladies don't get too excited. He really means it is a 'beautiful moon for night time pig hunting'. It's a Family Tradition.