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