You Know You’re From...Aniwa: Bird dog trainer Mike Vaughn

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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ANIWA, Wis. (WSAW) - As cliche as it may be, this dog really is man’s best friend.

“She drove me to wanting to be better for her.”

Winnie has been by Mike Vaughn’s side 11 years now. Through the good times...

”6-time national champion, 4-time world champion.”

...and the bad.

“She kind of was with me through my divorce, she was with personal relationships of business,” Vaughn said.

Business is good training bird dogs.

“I believe in your god given passions. But never really realized that a dog training business could be a living, really.”

BLAST Wingshooting Kennel was born in 2010. This dream job happened after Mike walked away from his first dream job.

“3rd degree black belt in, what’s most popular, tae kwon do,” he said.

He owned and operated ‘The BLAST Muay Thai Kickboxing Club’ in Madison for 10 years. Mike got into mixed martial arts with his dad when he was 6.

“We’re certified in Bruce Lee’s jeet kune do. So, we’re actually 3rd generation Bruce Lee students.”

That MMA background helped him become a world class bird dog trainer

“Building a martial arts student and building a dog were kind of the same idea for me, of like, progressions of where you’re taking them. It just kind of came natural to me,” he explained.

Once Mike’s trained the dog, he can teach his human to understand the dogs abilities and personality.

”He’s intense,” said Scott Towne, an assistant. “He’s an intense person. He wants the best for the dogs and best for the people.”

“My reward is that, I like to see people have a bond with their dogs like I have,” said Mike. “A dog can be kind of a saving grace at times.”

Mike would know. Winnie has always been there for him.

”Times where you’re, where you’re kind of like, unsure of yourself. Or uncertain of the future where you get that wall in front of you and are just kind of like, hey-- I don’t know where I’m going. And then you look down and you’ve got her looking at you.”

Winnie helped kickstart a breeding program, too. Almost three-quarters of his kennel are his own genetics and they return for training.

”I can tell you pretty much how this puppy is going to train before its even born because I’ve trained four generations of the genetics.”

His intensity is usually turned up. To his benefit and his trainees.

“He’s got different scenarios where he does from a puppy, to the medium dogs, to his master dogs,” added Towne, who owns one of Mike’s dogs.

A man and his dog. Living the dream. Again.

”My mom actually gave me a piece of paper at 8 years old. I said I was going to be a duck dog trainer and a martial arts seminar giver. And I’ve done both,” he said with a big laugh.

Mike is in the process of writing a book about his adventures with Winnie. He’s also working on a podcast called, The Truth, discrediting misinformation out there on how to train a dog. He runs a hunt club on his land from October-April, and still teaches martial arts on occasion.

Sleep is optional.

For more information on BLAST Wingshooting Kennels, click here.

You Know You're From...Aniwa

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