My first dog was a springer spaniel given to me when the dog was 2 years old. Mike was his name but I sometimes called him Mike the Dog, to emphasize to schoolmates I personally had a bird dog of my own. His puppy years were spent in a large city, with little space for a dog of his pedigree to run. I was a country boy living in a perfect place for a dog of this caliber.
He soon showed such a remarkable talent to hunt that I amused myself trying to train him. Often I would play “hide and seek” with him in the big, open woods. With such willingness and energy, how he enjoyed the lessons seeking me out!
I had no dog-training experience, it just happened, and there blossomed out of it a wonderfully close working relationship. We were beginners, both experimenting with the unfamiliar and both so eager to discover bird hunting. With my lack of hunting knowledge, Mike used his biological instincts and worked hard to seek out gamebirds. We hunted the crop fields, fencerows, and brier tangles adjacent to the abandoned spur-line railroad tracks.
One day, walking an untidy shucked cornfield, Mike worked a few yards ahead of me, gleaning every likely holding spot a pheasant could hide. As we arrived at the end of the field, there was an explosion of catapulting pheasants flushing in all directions. I realized then that having a good bird dog contributed a great deal to my hunting enjoyment.
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