Rooster Road Trip Episode 3:
Two Sides to the Story
Low temps, persistent rain, and steady winds greeted the Rooster Road Trip as we crossed into South Dakota. This is great if you’re a duck – not if you’re a pheasant hunter, but we were not to be deterred.
Donning our raingear and the warmest layers we packed, we decided to start off at an Aberdeen Pheasant Coalition walk-in property. Moving a handful of hens there, we pivoted further north to a CREP property (PDF) with cattails, grass, and cut corn surrounding it. The ingredients to produce birds were all present, but no roosters were found as the pelting rain continued to zap our patience and our bird dogs’ core temperatures with every falling drop, so we tucked our tails and decided to call it a day with no birds in the bag.
As if cashing in all the karma we earned the previous day, the next morning saw a break in the weather as we found ourselves hunting through a landscape that appeared to be taken straight out of a Terry Redlin painting. This day would be spent focusing solely on Game Production Areas.
Overall, South Dakota has nearly 5 million acres of public land available to hunters. Of this, the roughly 730 GPAs found throughout the state represent more than 280,000 acres. So, why key in on these? Because they’re managed for healthy wildlife, which means oftentimes you’ll encounter prime habitat and even the occasional food plot mixed in.
Although it took us putting a few miles on our Thorogoods, we eventually bagged our first bird in South Dakota. Not long after that, we added a few more to the fold and before we knew it the sun was setting and freshly prepared birds were hitting the pan on the back of our tailgate. This was the quintessential South Dakota moment we had been dreaming of, and the only thing that made this scene even sweeter was knowing we had one more day to see if we could do it all over again.
The Rooster Road Trip is made possible by: Ruff Land Kennels, Browning firearms and apparel, Garmin training collars and tech, Thorogood boots, SoundGear hearing protection and enhancement, Federal Ammunition, Apple Autos, and South Dakota Tourism.