Anthony Ferro is a bird dog trainer living on a ranch outside Denver, Colorado where he runs his renowned kennel, Fetching Feathers. Anthony is also a talented photographer who documents his outdoors life on social media. We sat down with Anthony to discuss his training philosophy, his approach to life and the outdoors, and why he always has a Vogt cuff on his right wrist.
Pictured: The Classic Bolo
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born and raised in Eastern Kansas in a Sicilian family. While I didn’t grow up country or hunting my heart always longed for the woods, lakes, rivers, and anywhere else that wasn’t the 'burbs. I graduated from Kansas State University. That's where my passion for bird hunting and gun dogs was cultivated. I was a bit of a vagabond in my early twenties living day-by-day and traveling around the Midwest and the South. I eventually landed in Denver, Colorado and now own a ranch east of the city where I've lived for nine years.
I am a bird dog and obedience trainer by trade and have never been happier. I live for the sunrise and a kennel full of dogs barking and excited to see me and get to work. There is no place I feel more free than the uplands, shooting wild covey rises over steady dogs. This is the life for me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pictured: The Gunsmith Cuff
How did you get passionate about training gun dogs?
From a very young age I have had this understanding of dogs. My mother used to tell me if she couldn’t find me, all she had to do was find the dogs and she would find me, too.
My true life defining moment, when I knew I wanted to have memories filled with dogs, was my freshman year of college. My first pheasant hunt in Western Kansas was by far the biggest eye-opening moment of what bird dogs could do and what they were capable of. Watching a German Shorthaired Pointer and a Vizsla named Rebel and Scar lock up on the scent cone of a rooster, WOW!
Do you have a training philosophy?
I can define my philosophy in one word: PERSISTENCE!
A favorite quote from Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Pictured: The Classic Bolo
How do you define a good gun dog?
The great thing about gun dogs and heck even house dogs in general is there is no one definition. A “good” gun dog especially truly comes down to personal preferences. These preferences will change with each individual based on things like location, climate, the type of species they are chasing, etc. That is the joy of gun dogs. They bring together so many folks with so many differences and preferences and one common denominator: the love of the dog.
For me and my preferences, I need a dog that has loads of drive. I most often hunt Western and North Western country and primarily target multiple grouse, partridge and quail species. For those reasons I need a bigger running dog range, ones that hunt 200-500 yards away from me. We hunt in millions of acres of prairies, rolling hills, foothills, and wide-open desert terrain. I need my dogs to go find me the birds, not stay close and find them with me. On average my dogs run 25-30 miles per day, and this season we went on a stretch where we hunted 24 days in a row.
Last and probably most important is trainability; the desire to learn, to focus, and to please. You can imagine if my dogs run at 400 yards and go on point, it’s going to take me some time to get to them to flush the birds and make a clean shot.
My definition of a good gun dog is a STEADY gun dog. I train them to stand steady to wing and shot. Which means they go on point and do not move no matter what until I get in front of them, flush the birds, and take the shot. They will then release on their marked down bird for the retrieve.
What’s a common misconception about dog training you see with your clients?
There are so many misconceptions and missteps that I see with clients and dog owners as a whole. First, and what I see most, is folks using 14 words for the same command. “Here, come, come on, lets go, here, (insert dogs name), come, here….” We need to understand how a dog's brain works. ONE word commands, that’s it. So for your recall command, choose either here or come and that’s all you say. Secondly, never ask a dog to do something more than twice. It’s important we streamline the commands so we can streamline the progress.
Pictured: The Gunsmith Cuff
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I wake up and see the sunrise seven days a week. When you watch the world come alive every morning, it’s impossible not to thank God for every day. To me that’s the ultimate reward, to see God's hand in your life and to acknowledge your blessings.
I make a living playing with dogs, shooting shotguns, and harvesting birds, what a DREAM! And I have a hand in a family’s memories for life. Dog trainers spend countless hours training these dogs that are inevitably leaving and going to live and hunt for their family. The joy on my clients' faces when they come pick their dog up after three or four months of training warms my heart every time.
Pictured: The Classic Bolo
You use social media to give a window into a life of hunting and dog training that may be very foreign to some of your followers. What do you want to communicate through your social media presence? What’s your biggest message and goal for impact?
In 2018 I experienced a house fire that not only took away everything I owned but also took away what I loved most, my bird dogs. It was this very tragedy and loss that lead me to quit my sales career and become a full-time dog trainer. I attribute my triumphant bounce back and success in my kennel since that fire to my faith. My biggest message with my social media account is my faith and relationship with God. Sure, I’ve worked my tail off relentlessly to build my brand, sacrificed a lot to get this ranch and kennel, but none of it would be possible without Him. I know life is hard, I know tragedy can strike. I’m all too familiar with feelings of anxiety, depression, doubt, and insecurity. My account, Fetching Feathers, is a safe place, a place of solace; a place where you can learn about bird dogs and upland hunting as well as place you can find answers. I’m not like other dog trainers, businesses, or people for that matter. I don’t care about the money, I don’t care about the sponsors and I don’t care about the followers or likes. I truly care about people and sharing how these dogs have saved me and I know damn sure many others. You see, hunting for me isn’t for sport. It isn’t for food and it isn’t to feel like man. I hunt because it cleanses my soul, helps me feel alive and reminds me of my blessings and what I’m thankful for.
FAITH IN A GUN DOGWe kneel to you Father in thanks for another day,
As it’s by your will I’m here for more birds need lay.
May the breeze be steady and our companion's nose be true,
May the scent cones be large and the coveys full brood.
Father I pray my shot be straight upon the opportunity of harvest,
As we hunt public land for this quarry we’ve traveled the farthest.
May my body hold up to the task at hand,
And my intuition be that of a simple man.
For these dogs are servants gifted upon your grace,
The grin we share in your glory not waste.
We pray that you humble us with your works of art,
As nature is by far the beat to our heart.
Tried and true our pointers obey,
In God's glory we pray for a limit today. Amen.
We love that you wear the Wild Game Collection from Vogt so well. As someone who clearly values excellence and quality in your own line of work, what do you like about Vogt as a brand and as a product? Which Vogt piece is your favorite?
I think for me there is something special about tradition. In a cookiecutter society and a time where everyone likes to jump on the next social media fad, I respect tradition. A company that has been around a long time, doing it their way, with their process and their employees, count me in on that all day! There are two types of folks in this world, the sheep and the sheepherder. From one herder to another, I see you Vogt.
My absolute favorite item hands down is my Gunsmith Cuff. I wear it on my dominant arm and it’s what they see when they shake my hand. It's strong, classic and commands attention; all characteristics a man should aspire to possess.
Shop Anthony's Favorites
Persistence!! Loved the article Anthony, Gus is doing great, and we hope to meet you in person some day…
I absolutely loved this article and appreciate the honestly with which it was written. I must say, the true character of the man comes shining through this message when in humbleness he gives God the credit!