Well, my great experiment on being the confident leader while I walk Baxter has come up with mixed results. Sometimes it works. He'll walk along jauntily next to me and actually check-in with me to see how things are going. But other times, even though I exit the door first and do my best to maintain an air of alpha-ness, Baxter decides he absolutely has to be ahead of me and pulling like a husky. Things tend to go pretty well as long as we a) take a familiar route and b) he is not presented with anything particularly interesting (cats, chubby ground-nesting birds, etc.).
Once his focus is in hunting mode, pretty much the only way to reach him is to stand in front of him (to block his view of whatever he's fixated on) and holler "leave it!" a half dozen times. He does give in after a while.
Perhaps it is too much to hope that a seven-year-old pointer will ever let go of his innate desire to be running 200 yards ahead of me looking for birds. That seems like a good excuse. But sometimes he does behave like a gentleman, and he most definitely knows the difference.
For example, I think it's quite interesting that when I drop his leash (only on a protected walking trail with no accessibility to cars) he sticks with me. He heels quite well, and if he does slip ahead, he continually looks back to make sure I'm with him. It's as if he understands that I'm depending on him to stick with me.
Could it be that when Baxter is out in front and pulling, the constant tension of the leash is just his way of keeping track of me?