What I’m about to write may come across as being a bit blasphemous, perhaps even somewhat deranged but hear me out, because in the long run I think I made the right choice.
Today I consciously decided to have my yellow lab, Beau, take the day off as we hunted the pheasant rich region of Pierre, South Dakota. That’s right, she sat crated as I chased birds.
After doing some pre-road trip scouting (read: hunting) Saturday and Sunday in North Dakota followed by a hard day’s hunt on Monday, I figured a day off in SoDak would pay dividends as we weave our way through the rest of the trip. After all, the bird dog cavalry was in town.
Linking up with us outside of Pierre was a motley crew of five hunters, five yellow labs, and four German shorthaired pointers. Wasting no time, the proverbial line was quickly drawn on the icy dirt road: Team GSP would go east while Team Lab would head west. I chose east.
Being a lab guy, I saw this as a good opportunity to experience a different style of bird hunting. You know, the kind where every shot is a well-orchestrated layup and thick cover would be avoided in favor of flowing fields of grass. I was wrong, at least about the thick cover part.
Forming a line with PF Regional Representative, Mike Stephenson, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist, Jim Ristau, and Habitat Specialist, Justin Derga, we set out behind the four GSPs and cut straight toward a large section of cattails.
With fresh snow revealing recently laid pheasant tracks, we slowly navigated the thick thermal cover. With the exception of a few wild flushes, the dogs repeatedly locked-up on birds that were more than comfortable sitting tight until a well placed (or lucky) boot forced a move.
All-in-all we saw more than a hundred birds in that one section. Of the birds we kicked up within shooting range, most of them were hens but we were able to scratch out five roosters before heading back to the truck. Granted, a couple birds slipped through our patterns and one was smart enough to wait until we were reloading to show himself, but that’s why it’s called hunting, not shooting, even if you’re walking behind a pointing dog. And that’s tough for me to admit.
Who knows? Maybe today’s hunt was just what I needed to push me over the edge and put my name down on that wirehair I’ve been mulling over. But even if that’s so, it won’t be for a couple more years. Right now I’m still loving every second of following Beau because as the saying goes, “flushers have more fun.” Right?
All kidding aside, today was encompassed by great people, stellar dog-work, textbook public habitat and flushing pheasants. Whether you’re team pointer or team flusher, that’s something you can appreciate.
The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Marketing Specialist.