If anyone could understand why I missed his memorial yesterday, it would be Dutch Salmon. He led me into many places, most of them good, but he also was a pioneer in dealing as gracefully as anyone can with Parkinson’s disease and its sometimes impossible symptoms and restrictions.
I first encountered Dutch Salmon in an unpublished manuscript called “Home With the Hounds” in Gray’s Sporting Journal. It opened up a whole new world for me, one of passionate hunters following ancient breeds over wild landscapes, chasing hares and other quarry. “Falconry on the ground!” We were never out of touch, even after that. I followed his trail from New York to New Mexico, where I too came to live. I eventually followed the hounds themselves all the way to Asia. Six of my eleven books would not exist without him, and the range of them would probably be very different. When I got the shocking news of his death last week, from complications of melanoma, I realized with a shock that this quiet man has possibly been the single biggest influence on my life: He brought me to my querencia and showed me how to live well in it. Dutch was always a writer, a varied and skillful one at that. He wrote books on hounds, and novels, and a book about the Gila and one on catfish that I included in my Sportsman’s Library, a slightly arbitrary collection of the best sporting books in the world. But I think his heart was always with the dogs. He was not just a houndsman but THE Houndsman, an almost archtypical character who knew and defended this most ancient way of hunting, one that had existed since we became human, and is now endangered by our modern way of life. I don’t know how many hounds owe their very existence to Dutch , but I’ll bet their number is in the hundreds.
Good-bye, Dutch. Here’s a strong drink to you, a shot of tequila “hot” , “down ‘ze rathole” as in the Mexican dog stories you used to tell so well. I know you are grieved for by your lovely wife Cherie and your fine son Bud, and the houndsmen of New Mexico and the West; all the others that love you will miss you more than you’ll ever know.