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Pheasant Opener

Tue, November 06, 2012

Good friends, relatively good weather, nice long walks with the pooch doing amazingly well for age 13.  Now, if there only had been a few more pheasants.  So went my opening weekend.

Opening morning, light steady rain, near freezing but not.  Started in a short ditch that had been surprising productive in the past.  Walked almost 90% of the ditch without seeing anything.  As we neared the end, pheasants started popping out of the densest cover.  Crazy corkscrew flight patterns made for some missed shot opportunities.  Getting too close, coming right at me, have to turn around to try a shot going away, feet are tangled in the briars, losing balance, bird gone.

We did manage to scratch one down and the dogs made a good retrieve.  Went to next cover.  Surprise, another ditch.  Had enough hunters and dogs to cover both sides at once.  Rooster flushed wild in front of me and crossed over.  Not horribly alarmed, just wanted a change of scenery.  Dogs on other side worked well and flushed the rooster near the end of the ditch and The Admiral did him in with one crossing shot.

Loaded vehicles and took a long drive to a large block of CRP that sits a quarter mile from the nearest road.  This particular field has a property line dividing it almost in the middle.  The side we had permission to hunt had been mowed, probably back in August. The other side had been untouched and we could see pheasants popping up and setting down along the central ditch.  The only difference between the two properties is mowing vs. no mowing.  Lots of pheasants vs. no pheasants.

On Sunday, we hunted a very long ditch near El Paso.  This had been productive in the past so we started trudging.  Filter strips enlarged from almost none to almost 50 yards of nice, unmowed brome.  Not the best grass but better than some.  Good cover for my springer Lil. We found a few roosts and sent a man ahead to block as we got about 200 yards away from the end.  As our blocker moved closer to the ditch, one pheasant popped up, then another, then four more came up. 

At the same time, Lil headed into the ditch next to me and a rooster flushed on the far side.  Managed to snap off two shots with no effect and that was it for the day.  We probably walked 5 miles and all the action took place in a 10 second span.

The Admiral had drawn a permit for a PHA near Clinton on Sunday and they saw over 60 pheasants in an 80-acre patch of cover.  They limited out.  At least that’s a good sign that the drought didn’t hammer this year’s crop of young pheasants in places with good habitat.