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Recent entries



South Dakota Slam

Mon, November 08, 2010

Old friend Max Albritton went to Winner, South Dakota last week to Mansheim Farms.  This was his 15th trip there.  It is usually an orgy of wild pheasants and this trip was no exception.  I hope there were some other people involved in this hunt.

Max is second from the right and Mark Vancel (far left) is his caretaker on these ventures.

mansheim pheasants


Hope springs eternal for Illinois roosters

Sun, November 07, 2010

My dog Lil is now 11.  We have tried to keep each other in a vague sort of shape by doing a lot of walking (for me) and running (for her) this summer.  We have walked the same 5 acre hay field 5-6 times per week, weather permitting.  All conventional training rules are forgotten.  The goal is for her to blast off and run her butt off for 10 minutes and not leave the hay field.

It’s worked out pretty well, her weight is 34 pounds which is about perfect for her little Springer Spaniel body.  I wish mine was as optimum.  The thing I marvel at is her total, unbounded enthusiasm for every single run.  She has to sit until released but she always takes off like a rocket.  If she happens to find a sparrow or meadow lark, she chases it for a 100 yards with her eyes bulging like she actually thinks she can catch it.  Every day is full of possibilities for her and she is always ready to go.

As actual hunting season approached, I was in a pretty pessimistic mode.  Winters have been hard, nesting conditions nasty, bird numbers declining every year, hunt invitations dwindling.  Why bother with pretending to hunt wild pheasants in Illinois?  I only had two shots last season in 6 hunts with decent dogs and good cover.  What a waste of time.

Well, on Saturday I went with two old friends, Randy Birky of Carlock and Roger Thomas of Normal, to a place we have hunted together on opening day for several years. I was ready for a walk in the cornfields with nothing to show but some exercise for all concerned.

With the great fall weather, every inch of farm ground has been disked, chisel plowed, you name it to the farmer’s content.  Fields looked like golf courses.  Not good.  We walked about 2 miles along a major drainage ditch that has been productive in the past—nothing.  No roost sign, zilch.

Turned north where the filter strip widened out 30 yards from the ditch (instead of 10 feet) plus there was a cornfield on the side that still had plenty of residue on top. Then all hell broke loose.  Two roosters got up at Roger’s feet, one went behind his back and one dove down the ditch.  He made great shots on both and the skunk was out of the box.  Then Randy got his 870 in gear and nailed two roosters.  Then I got in the act and put some weight in the game bag. Three of us limited out in about 30 minutes. Three roosters got away and we saw about 5 hens.  Lil did great - found birds, made retrieves.

My hunch is that this will be a mirror opposite of last year when there was too much cover and corn.  Now, you need to look for cover or rough corn ground because there so much less of it around.

I had been looking at Lil and saying to myself, “You crazy old dog, don’t you know that the good times are over.”  After Saturday, I’m thinking, “You crazy old dog, let’s go for another walk and see what happens.”

Randy Birky (left) and Roger Thomas overcame a slow start to opening day with a flurry of birds that put smiles on everyone’s face.


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