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Flush with success, even at one for 15

ELK RAPIDS - We were moving along the edge of the alder swamp, eyeing the hopefully not-too-old aspens a couple of hundred yards away, when a bird rocketed out from under the low-sweeping limbs of a large nearby conifer. I wheeled and slapped the trigger on my 20 gauge as the bird disappeared behind a tree.

"You got him," said Dr. George Upton, one of my partners for opening day of bird season.

Phoebe, my spoiled little Brittany, dashed ahead and picked up our prize. I looked at my watch: 4 p.m. and we were finally in the plus column.

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