Evart coach Eichelberger also an avid hunter

EVART — Andy Eichelberger seems to have an enormous interest in runners. That’s maybe not surprising considering he’s the cross country coach at Evart.

But when it comes to hunting, Eichelberger also has an active interest in watching his dogs run.

In fact, Eichelberger has set up his own facility for training dogs.

“In the summer, I like to shoot skeet, clay pigeons, to get fine tuned,” he said. “In the fall, I like to bird hunt, hunt partridge and woodcock, predominately in Osceola County. I do some in other counties. We have a decent number of birds right here. I figure, “why waste the gas money?”

It’s plenty of fun, as far as Eichelberger is concerned.

“You have to follow the food source,” he said. “Partridge likes berries and stuff so you have to find different types of berries that are ready. Usually, you’re going to find partridge if you can find the berries. There’s a variety of things that have berries.”

Eichelberger at one time was a foot hunter who didn’t use dogs.

“I finally broke down and got myself a Brittany,” he said. “I love that dog. I’ve had it for two years. I’ve always had beagles. I still have mostly beagles. I haven’t hunted with a bird dog in a lot of years.

“A Brittany wants to please whereas a beagle hunts to hunt. With a Brittany, I feel a bond when I’m out there, I really do. We work as a team. The beagles are on my love. I have 10 beagles and one Brittany.”

The rural Hersey resident has a 30-acre fenced-in training area.

“I raise pups, I train pups,” Eichelberger. “I train adults. It’s just a hobby, something I enjoy.”

He has other dog owners drop their animals off at his training area. He’s trained beagles since 1992.

“I’ve been training other peoples’ dogs since 2000,” Eichelberger said.

He’s a Grand Ledge native and has been hunting birds since he was 12.

“My dad was big in getting my brother and I out for small-game hunting,” Eichelberger recalled. “I hunt deer with a rifle. I think the bird hunting is really good, the rabbit hunting is decent and the deer hunting is decent. Rabbit is my favorite but I like working with the dogs.”

He does a small-amount of area fishing.

“It’s hard to juggle all my interests,” Eichelberger said. “Fishing takes a backburner.”