I'm sitting here watching Em curled up in the La-z-boy, resting up from woodcock hunting yesterday. I just finished polishing my 14-year-old Russell boots for turkey hunting after work tomorrow.

It seems like I was just picking her up from you... My being ridiculously early... You trying to pack up for New York... Me feeling bad and trying to hurry up... Julie steadfastly refusing to roll her eyes at all of my "I know, I know, I know" when she was telling me things I should do... :-)

We are not killing piles of game this fall, but I really haven't planned to. This is her on-the-job training season. I'm trying to put her in good situations, keeping her safe, and then worrying about the killing. She is VERY quick to learn and adapt. The latter is probably the most important for me because of the way I hunt. We can go from ducks to grouse to turkeys to woodcock in consecutive days ( and sometimes in the same day ).

It's more than a little funny that when one of my friends missed a duck, he didn't get mad...he just spent 5 minutes apologizing to Emmy that there wasn't a retrieve. If she had been with us goose hunting the next week, she would have bitten us both. I won't take little dog on dry land goose hunts.

I took her and my adult nephew turkey hunting during our first week. As we worked out an isolated ridge, she tore off down the hill and put up a lone gobbler that flew at least a half mile. When she came back from the flush site, she looked sorta sheepish, as if she thought she had done wrong. We praised the hell out of her. When we later hit her first flock, she broke them with enthusiasm. When we hit a small flock of mature gobblers, she made me cry. She was on loose heel as we walked out a gas well road. She took off up the hill for a few yards and then nearly knocked us down when she swapped ends. Even with my warning of "Fire in the hole!", Chris wasn't ready when 3 gobblers blew up in his face like B-52 size quail. Here's the good part. As soon as the last bird flew, she doubled back down the hill, flushed two other birds, and immediately came back to me. That's from the "Advanced" course, and can't really be taught. Even though mature gobblers don't call worth a damn in the fall, we set up for education sake (Emmy and Chris). She curled up against my hip as I called and showed a lot of patience for a pup.

Anyhow, I just wanted to thank you again for hooking me up with my little buddy. We'll keep after 'em. I've found that old age has made it hells easier to be patient. Keep you posted.

Jim Marple