Steady to Wing and Shot: A Round Table Discussion on Bird Dogs

Strong and steady, with a keen sense of smell, bird dogs have worked side-by-side with sportsmen and -women for centuries. In fact, when walking through our Museum galleries, you will rarely see a wingshooting artwork that does not include one of these faithful canine companions flushing, retrieving, or pointing in the pursuit of various game birds. Join the NSLM for a round table discussion with experienced sportsmen with a passion for bird dogs. Panelists include Smoot Carter, Walter Matia, Brian Davis, and Turner Reuter. Each with their own unique experiences with bird dogs on the East Coast of the US, our panelists will discuss a variety of topics including the various breeds and how they are used afield.

Whether you are an experienced sportsman or -woman yourself or would just like to learn more about these companions, enjoy a fascinating discussion that celebrates the literature, art, and culture of working with bird dogs.

Please contact the Clarice & Robert H. Smith Education Coordinator Emily Reeb for any questions at

Tickets are $10 for non-members and free for members. 

This program is made possible by the generosity of Viviane M. Warren.


Round Table Participants:

Turner Reuter 

Turner Reuter was elected to the Board of the NSLM in 1991. He is a published author, connoisseur, collector, and dealer of sporting art for more than fifty years. An avid practitioner of many field sports, he has spent a lifetime exploring the relationship between art and country life. 

His book, Animal and Sporting Artists in America was published by the National Sporting Library in 2008 and is now in its second edition. Reuter served as Guest Curator of Afield in America: 400 Years of Animal and Sporting Art, the inaugural exhibit at the NSLM’s new museum. For over forty-five years he has been at the helm of the historic Red Fox Inn & Tavern in Middleburg where he also has his gallery Red Fox Fine Art. A gun dog enthusiast and breeder and a top-level Wing and Clay shooting coach, he operates Westerly, a private game preserve and shooting grounds at his farm nearby in Aldie.  


Walter Matia 

Artist and sportsman Walter Matia was educated at Williams College in Massachusetts, where he earned degrees in Biology and Art Design. Much of his training was attained during a long apprenticeship in the Exhibits Department of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

After leaving the Cleveland Museum, Walter worked for eleven years with the Nature Conservancy, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of endangered species and unique habitats. He served as the organization’s vice president in charge of land management. 

He began casting bronze sculptures in 1980. Initially, he concentrated on bird life, over the years he has worked on other mammals such as bird dogs. His works have been exhibited in one-man shows at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art. He has received multiple awards including the National Sculpture Society Gold Medal Award and the Society of Animal Artists Leo J. Meiselman Award. His sculptures have toured with various shows to dozens of museums both in the United States and abroad and has received commissions  


W Smoot Carter, Jr. 

W Smoot Carter, Jr.’s father was an avid outdoorsman and bird dog handler. Birds were plentiful and there were always 3-5 dogs at home that were hunted 2-3 times per week in season and exercised/worked on wild birds in the off season. He was given his first dog at 9 years. His father taught him the basics of obedience and fieldwork. Fast forward 50 years or more, and he got interested in NH and ME with good grouse brood numbers over the last 3 years, and have been going up north to hunt and train on ruffed grouse in the fall. He’s also been entering dogs in some cover dog trials to get a feel for a top performer in the woods. This has been rewarding.     

Carter has enjoyed bird dog training as a pursuit which fosters patience, a closer relationship between dog and owner/handler, and year-round involvement with improving one’s dogs. For him, upland sport has always been about the dogs. These days he’s blessed to be working with some outstanding English Setter blood and look forward to adventures with them. 


Brian Davis 

Brian Davis has hunted with dogs as far back as he can remember hunting.  He learned how a pack works, and how to differentiate individuals within it, while hunting the Mississippi bottomlands for deer with Walkers.  He’s hunted behind pointers from the Carolinas for quail, to the canyons of Idaho for chukar, and in between for sharptails and pheasants.  Brian’s latest project is a versatile Weimaraner who is coming along nicely for both upland and waterfowl work. He is a member of the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association and the Chesapeake Chapter of the same. 

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