Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Deer River Mn Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock Hunt 10/21/2015

Tasha and Tina with a limit of Ruffed Grouse and a bonus Woodcock
I’ve been slacking off on keeping the blog up to date but we had such a good day hunting that I thought today would be the right time to get it all rolling again.
We drove from St. Paul up to the Deer River area this morning.  It was gray and kind of gross looking when we started at 2 pm.  I wasn’t too hopeful. 
I put the 13 yr old setter Tina down first.  We started down the first trail and she was working scent pretty quickly.  She made a nice point on a woodcock but I couldn’t connect.
The trail comes to a T and we usually go to the left but Tina decided to go to the right and locked up within 15 yards.  I walked in and could see the grouse holding tight by a pine tree.  Three steps in and it jumped up and with one shot it came down.  As we doubled back down the trail we worked for a good period of time.  We had a tailwind and Tina was working hard but wasn’t having much luck until we hit an area that is a bit wetter and Tina swung to a stop after she had passed by the area.  I walked in and the bird went straight away and I was able to bring it down.  100 yards later it looked like the situation was about to repeat itself but as I walked in for the flush I only managed to shoot a tree in half…  We made it to the end of the trail and turned around and worked our way back.  Towards the end of the trail Tina went into the woods a little bit farther than usual.  I heard her beeper go off and I started to walk towards where I thought she was on point.  I couldn’t see her but I thought I was getting close.  I was about to activate the beeper again to get a better idea of where she was when I heard a leaf make a crunchy noise and the grouse came up and I was able to snap off a shot and bring it down.  When I picked up the bird I could tell that I had just hit the wing.  Covering the last bit back to the truck I missed on a wild flush.
After loading Tina into the truck and swapping out the 12ga for a 20ga Tasha and I started back into the woods.  The first spot that we hit was an area that had been cut over 4 or 5 years ago.  We haven’t moved many birds out of this area yet but it doesn’t take to long to hit it.  A short walk into it Tasha pointed and then relocated.  When I walked in a woodcock went up and I took an off balance shot and was lucky enough to connect.  Tasha went right over to where it went down so we didn’t lose this one.  She has been getting better about going to where the bird has gone down.  We finished up this area and hit a spot that usually holds a few woodcock.  She had a nice point but it flushed low and straight away from her so I didn’t get a shot off.  We continued to work the area and at the very end of the cover she locked up again and the grouse came up and offered me a straight away shot and I was able to hit it on the 2nd shot.  We doubled back and started to work part of the area that we don’t hit too often.  It is a bit older growth but we have been seen birds in this type of cover in other areas that we have hunted this year.  We hunted this area for quite awhile but didn’t get any action.  We worked our way back towards the area that I had hit with Tina in the hope that more birds had moved in.  Just a few minutes down the trail and I got a nice point and I brought down grouse number 5.  We hunted for a bit more trying to get Tasha some more woodcock points but didn’t move any more.  About 50 yards from the truck Tasha busted a grouse. Oh well, it wouldn’t be a hunt without one busted flush.
I checked my hunting log and the last time that we had filled out on grouse was 4 years and 1 day earlier and it was in the same spot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 South Dakota Public Hunting Atlas Now Available

The South Dakota Public Hunting Atlas is a “must have” for anyone spending time in this state’s outdoors.  It contains maps and information on our Walk-In Areas, Game Production Areas, Waterfowl Production Areas, some School and Public Lands and Bureau of Land Management lands.
There are several ways to get the Atlas.
Click on the above image for the online PDF version.  You can also find any changes that may have occurred since the time of publication.
Hunters can also download either the GFP Android or IOS mobile app and receive atlas updates direct from their smartphone while they are in the field.
To request a hard copy be mailed to you, please email us, complete the online form, or give us a call at (605) 223-7660.
Authorized license dealers will receive the atlas in the coming days.  You can pick one up there too!
We hope you have a great 2015 hunting season.  Dont forget to share your hunting memories with us on social media, using #SDintheField.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pre Season Dove and Pigeon Decoy Testing Video

I’ve been hoping to give dove / pigeon hunting a try so I thought I would test out my robo decoys to make sure that they all worked before heading out to the field.
Right after setting them and and taking this video 2 doves flew into the trees next to the decoys.  I tried my call and they flew off.  Have to work on the skill set.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF) commercial for veteran dogs - Video

This Guide Dogs TV commercial from Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (KNGF Geleidehonden) shows the assistance a veteran dog can offer in helping a military veteran who is coping with severe war related trauma.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Aberdeen SD 2014 Pheasant Hunt - Public Land - November 12th

Tina, Tasha, and a limit of Aberdeen SD Pheasants

When we first planned our return pheasant hunting trip to the Aberdeen SD area I was excited as we had had really good luck there in 2013.  Even 2 weeks before the hunt I was excited but with about a week to go the weather forecasts had started to change for the worse.  A snow storm and dropping temps hit chunks of the midwest the day before we were set to leave.

I left Tuesday morning from the St. Paul area and headed west.  I made an error by heading on 94 towards St. Cloud and then cutting across on hwy 23.  They had gotten more snow in St. Cloud and 23 was a bit sketchy in a few areas.  Hwy 12 had a fair amount of small snow drifts from Wilmar to the SD border.  Once I hit SD it wasn’t so bad.  It ended up taking me an extra 1.5 hrs and I didn’t make it in time to hunt at all.

As I was heading out to dinner I saw a couple come in from hunting and they were remarking on what an “adventure” it had been.  At breakfast the next day one guy was commenting on how they had bagged duck hunting because the weather wasn’t any good.  After breakfast I saw the couple from the night before and he said that he was heading home because he was tired of walking through knee high snow.  I was getting less excited by the hour.  My hunting buddy Tony arrived and we took off at about 11 to start our hunt.

We hit our first spot.  It is actually 2 areas, one that Tony calls the “Honey Hole” and another that we’ve called the Ravine.  I’ve never had much luck at the Honey Hole before but we found an area that we could park without getting stuck in a snow drift and started to hunt.  I started with Tina as it wasn’t as big of an area and I wanted to save Tasha for the Ravine and for a larger area that I’ve had good luck at.  Tony put both of his dogs down.

Tony’s dogs went on point about 10 yards from the truck by a clump of trees.  We weren’t thinking they were really on point... More likely a bathroom break or just waiting for us.  That all changed when 2 roosters and a hen flushed and we didn’t get off a shot.  We worked our way through the cattails for a bit but didn’t move anything.  Tina and I swung to the edge of the cattails while Tony and his dogs cut through the middle.  ( Tina is 12 and likes to hunt slowly to it is a really slow process if we go through the middle of the cattails )  About 5 min later I hear one of the beepers go on point for Tony’s dogs.  I see the rooster get up, heard the shot, watched it come down.  A nice retrieve and they were off.  

As we were heading towards the end of the area birds were flushing out so we swung wide through a cleared field hoping to have a few stay in the cover.  Tina and I made it to the end first and swung back along the other side of the cattails.  Tony was in the middle and the birds were still getting up.  Tina worked up the side and locked up along the edge.  I took a step in and the rooster flushed and I was able to drop it.  About 30 yards later Tony’s dogs were working and area and a rooster got up.  I shot missed, Tony took 2 shots and dropped it.  As the bird hit the ground another rooster got up.  I was waiting for Tony to shoot but he had not reloaded after his first bird so he was empty.

We kept working the same area and about 100 yards later both of Tony’s dogs locked up.  When he walked in the rooster came up and with one shot it was down.  It took them a little while but they found the bird.  He had filled out.  We made it through the thickest part but didn’t move anymore birds. After crossing a fence line Tina started working some thinner cover and I was skeptical that there would be a bird there.  She pointed and relocated twice and then I got the bird to flush.  I was able to bring it down.  As Tina went to retrieve it a hen flushed from right by where the rooster went down.

We were now at five birds and I still hadn’t hunted Tasha.  We decided to take the thinnest easiest cover back.  We have tried this “ let’s leave one bird left so I can hunt my other dog” deal before and it has bitten us in the butt.

At the truck I got Tasha out and we took off through the Ravine area.  We were going right with the wind so I wasn’t sure what to think of our chances.  About 10 minutes into the hunt Tasha went across a narrow area of the creek that runs through the field.  Coming back over she went through the ice and had a little bit of a challenge getting back up so she was fully drenched when she got back onto land.  She is a skinny thing so I was worried about her getting too cold but she seemed fine so we kept going.  She ended up rolling around in the snow and running through the grass and that must have dried her off.  

As we made our way through the field I could see hundreds of pheasants flying back and forth from a section of corn field that was sheltered from the wind and a bunch of trees.  It was fun to watch but they seemed really spooky and couldn’t tell if seeing so many would be good or bad.  When we got closer to the area where they had been feeding one rooster flew a loop around me.  He wasn’t close but he was close enough to clearly see him so I took a couple of shots and he laughed as he kept on flying.  As we hit the end of the area we swung back lower and into the wind.  We approached an area with the creek on one side and the steep side of the hill on the other.  Tasha was working the area hard and it was only about 10 yards wide where she went on point.  I only took one step towards her and a hen and then a rooster got up and I was able to bring it down.  It landed on a frozen part of the creek and Tasha made a nice retrieve. 

The hundreds of birds ended up being a none factor for two reasons. One, we had filled out and the second is that the area that most of them landed is basically an island in the middle of the creek which meanders around is too wide and still open water to cross but I would like to try it when it freezes over...

For a day that started out with a bit of a negative vibe it ended up working out really well.

20 degrees, 20 mph wind, and snow.  It was a good day to be pheasant hunting.

Tony, Beau Jack, and SD Pheasants

Friday, October 24, 2014

Lake Winnibigoshish, Deer River, and Pennington MN Ruffed Grouse Hunt October 21st and 22nd

Lake Winnibigoshish Ruffed Grouse

Tuesday October 21st 2014

After taking a recovery day off the dogs and I decided to try a different area than where we have been hunting lately.  We took off to the Lake Winnibigoshish area.  There were a couple of trails that we had hunted last year that I wanted to take a look at.

About 15 minutes into the hunt Tasha went on point at the intersection of two trails.  One step towards her and the grouse flushed straight up in the air and I was able to connect on the first shot.  Two hours later when we were about 10 minutes from returning to the truck she went on point along the side of the trail.  As I walked up the trail the grouse got up and flew straight down the trail and it still took both shots of the O/U to connect.

Just over 2 hours of walking and both birds were flushed within 15 minutes of where we parked.  Lots of good dog work but no birds to show for all of the time in the middle.  On the plus side when I reviewed the GPS tracking afterwards I did find that I had come within about 5 minutes of a different forest road that would have cut down on the time it took to walk back.

We drove down the Forest Road a few minutes to a trail that we had never hunted.  Tina got the call.  It ended up being 30 minute out and back walk.  She did get one nice point on a woodcock though.

I decided to head closer to the cabin for the late day hunt.  As we drove by the spot the dang pickup with a dog trailer was in our spot again...  I went to a nearby area and there was another truck there.  On the way to yet another area I saw that the pickup was at now at that spot so we went over to the spot that we had wanted to hunt.  Like most people I prefer to hunt an area that hasn’t just been hunted by another party but sometimes you take what you can get.

Tina got the call again as she had gotten short changed earlier.  I had switched over to my new Berreta a400 28ga semi-auto.  I had gotten a woodcock with it earlier and was hoping to take a grouse with it.  It didn’t work out that way.  Tina had 6 nice woodcock points of which I shot at 3 and missed all 3.

Wed  October 22nd Pennington Mn

Tasha got the call first and within 10 minutes she went on point at the edge of a small clearing.  I stepped in to the cover just to her right and the bird flushed just to her left.  I quick shot ( are there many slow ones when grouse hunting? ) and the bird was down.  It was another smaller bird.  I am seeing way more small ones than usual.  Another 10 minutes, another grouse but a miss this time.  10 more minutes and repeat the process with yet another miss.  We walked for another hour without moving another bird.

Tina got to hunt the next area.  This trail was cut in half by a forest road.  Tina went on point just 5 minutes in.  She was on point near a small rise as I moved in the bird flushed on the other side of the hill and I wasn’t able to get off a shot.  This pattern of not getting off a good shot repeated itself 4 more times before I pulled the plug on the hunt.

I’ve been changing guns almost every time I switch out the dogs because I am trying to make sure that each gun gets used.  I think I am going use one gun for the whole day to try to get a little more consistency.

We took Thursday to give myself and the dogs a rest.

Tasha and her Pennington, MN Ruffed Grouse