Outdoor Life Online Editor

My daughter Caroline and I parked the station wagon, put our two Model 21 Winchesters together and let out my dog Mike. This Brittany is my most cherished possession-the darnedest bird finder I have ever seen, a tough and wiry little dog with a choke-bored nose and the ability to read birds’ minds.

I say he is my most cherished possession, but whether I own him or he owns me I cannot say. For 91/2 months a year I serve him faithfully. I clean his runway, feed him, take him for walks, give him dry runs on birds out of season. For 21/2 months a year he presumably works for me and together we scour the beautiful uplands for birds. Without Mike I’d be a poor bird hunter indeed, and without me and my shotgun Mike would get few birds himself. For the long closed season I call the turns, but when the birds are legal, Mike is the boss. When his nose tells him nothing is around, he humors me by answering my hand signals. But when he is on scent he takes over, regards me with a gentle and pitying eye, tells me in his dog language that I don’t know what I am talking about but that if I’ll only pay attention we’ll have some fun.