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SoDak Report - December 6 & 7

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Last weekend I had my best two days of pheasant hunting ever, in what's been my best year of pheasant hunting. When I went out out there in early November I shot 19 birds in 4 days. This past weekend I added 13 more birds in two days. I didn't have any more birds to shoot at than usual, I just finally found my groove behind the barrel after 25 years of streaky shooting.

But more than that, it's been my best year because it's the first year my son has hunted with me and the first year I've had a hunting dog, who has exceeded my expectations of what a 7 month old lab can do in the field.

My brother, son, and dog headed out at 2:30am Saturday morning to meet my Dad at my cousin's farm south of Miller. My son just turned 11 and though he's hunted with me in Minnesota, he can't hunt in SoDak until he's 12 and has taken the firearms safety course. My YLM is just over 7 months old and has proven to be a very enthusiastic bird dog. He still needs some refinement but I see a lot of potential. He's gone through 2 weeks of intro to bird & gun at Cannon River Kennels and will go back in January for their intermediate program.

My brother is finally back into pheasant hunting after 15 years of not shooting his shotgun. My Dad is 77 and pretty much just blocks. He doesn't care if he even shoots his gun, much less get a bird. He's there to watch his sons hunt and that's all he cares about. He says he's shot enough birds in his life that he doesnt' care if he ever shoots another. Every once in a while, though, he'll do some thing like make an extra long shot, or nail a triple, and you know he still has it.

So the first day we got out to my cousin's place at 9am and spent two hours socializing with two families of cousins. In addition to the cousin we're staying with, there's another two cousins who are brothers, one of their wives, and two friends of of the other one. 9 hunters and one walker in all. We also have 5 dogs, all labs. There's my yellow lab, Kody, my one cousin's yellow lab, my other cousins two yellow labs (who are my dog's mother and brother), and a black lab. My dog takes a liking to the black lab and has a hard time deciding if he wants to hunt or hump. He did a little of both but I was knocking him over when i could catch him humping.

We first hunted about 20 rows of corn and the CRP grass next to it. My dog was running all over the place, flushed up a bird and I shot it. A guy on the other side got a double.

THe next field was just 6 rows of sorghum with short grass to one side. We kicked up a lot of birds but only one was knocked down. It was looking like a mighty slow weekend.

Things picked up considerably after that though. Our next stop was to an old farmstead that was overgrown with grass, next to 20 to 30 rows of corn and beyond that the old shelter belt. Five of us spread out wide while the other 4 blocked. The shooting started almost immediately and by the time we had reached the end we had our limit and there were still birds coming out of everywhere. 90 minutes after starting, we were done. I'd guess that we had 300 to 400 birds come out of there, most of them out of range, but enough in range that we were done. I personally shot 6 birds in that field. The gunfire distracted my dog enough that he quit sniffing the black lab's butt and got to work. The dogs were in heaven and were racing with each other to get the retrieves.

The following day it was just the 5 of us and one dog. This day my dog finally was able to focus on the task at hand and did a fantastic job. All the birds we shot this day were knocked down one or two at a time. We walked sorghum, tree lines, switch grass, shelter belts, and some corn. Birds were everywhere but heaviest in the shelter belts and in the grass near food sources, though there was one patch of grass that surprisingly didn't even have tracks, much less a bird. That patch has always held birds before and the shelter belt next to it was packed with birds.

We ended up getting our limit by 3pm. Slower than the day before but still very satisfying to be able to stretch out the hunt and savor every moment. it also allowed my dog to do his thing in a more workmanlike manner. Speaking of the dog, he's turning into a pointing lab it seems. He had 4 hard points on the second day and held them until I got there and sent him in. Last time we were out he'd freeze a couple of times, but this time he took on a more traditional pointing pose. I'll have to get a picture of that next time.

The weather was perfect, about 18F in the morning to 28F during the day. Windy the first day but relatively calm the second day.

Almost all the crops were out and I imagine those that are in have mostly been left standing for hunting. My cousins do that on their farms...leaving some strips standing for hunting in the fall and for providing shelter and food for the pheasant all winter.

My son had a great time in spite of not being able to shoot. I never once heard a complaint or any whining out of him about the cold, the walking, or being bored. He was loving the scene and I was loving having him there and enjoyed teaching him about bird hunting as we walked along.

My dog pulled up lame at the end of the second day. As were were taking pictures I noticed he was limping and favoring his left front paw. I've been keeping an eye on it and it's gotten very red and swollen in his webbing and I'll be taking him to the vet tomorrow. It doesn't seem to hurt him at all any more though. The limping was gone yesterday, as was the whining when I'd inspect it. It sure looks painful though. Tonight he was outside with me as I as shoveling and he was running all over the place playing in the snow.

Finally the good stuff...the pictures:

Our first day's take for 4 of us...well half of it anyway. My cousin had already cut the heads off the other 6 before he found out we wanted pictures:



Me, Kody, and my brother:


my son walking:



Day 2


My Dad (kneeling), brother, son, dog, me:


This was one tired pup:


And the long ride home, my son and dog, using each other as a pillow:



I can hardly wait until next year!

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Great job getting the kid out there. The pics of him and the pooch are awesome. I cant wait to share the field with my boys. Congrats on the good hunting. Adam

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Lenny7: Great report and super pictures. Looks like you've got yourself a good start on the dog. I've hunted north of Miller area (Burdette) for the past 10 years and this year was probably the most fantastic one yet.

One question: other than the obvious is there any other reason your dad is holding the TP? thought maybe he was trying to tell you that you're full of it!!! LOOOL Just couldn't resist. Thanks again for sharing your trip report. Bill

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One question: other than the obvious is there any other reason your dad is holding the TP?

LOL..actually that's not TP, it's a roll of paper towels he was using to clean his windshield. When I saw that picture i did a double take until I remember him cleaning his windows.

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Thanks for the update. Just didn't seen the whole roll there. From the pictures there is no doubt everyone will have lots of memories. Your little guy is probably already composing his excuse to get out of school a couple of days next year. You just need to keep your shooting eye practiced you don't want him to outshoot you. But then again that's probably the best part of taking him along to see the look on his face, priceless, I know. Bill

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Your little guy is probably already composing his excuse to get out of school a couple of days next year.

Oh, he won't need an excuse. I have no hesitation at all about pulling him out of school to go hunting with me. I'm a firm believer that education can take place in any environment and that a variety of experiences will form a a well-rounded individual.

In the long run, hunting with his Dad, uncles, and later his little brother and learning all that hunting has to offer, both on the surface and under, is worth far more than those few days of school he'll miss every year.

You're absolutely is priceless.

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I agree with you 100%. All the knowledge we gain does not come from inside the margins. As soon as my boys were old enough we were gone as well. Now they are doing the same with thier kids, as far as Grandpa, I just sit back and smile. Bill

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Thanks for the fantastic report. I leave tomorrow afternoon. We'll be hunting the Eureka area. I will give a report when I get back.


- Leaving tonight for there as well....

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