Wednesday, November 23, 2016

South Dakota! Roosters Sharps and Chickens!

November is the time of year for pheasants!  The colorful "ditch chickens" are fun to hunt, fun to shoot and can be a challenge when you get one that's a little knowledgeable. 

bird dogs and bird hunting

 South Dakota lets out of state hunters hunt for two 5 day periods. The cost is approx $121.  If you want to hunt longer than 10 days, you get to buy another license.  While the price is climbing, the hunting is worth it.  Lots of public land is available, the land is fairly benign and easy for the first-timer or novice.  As I write this, November is coming to a close.  The heated rush of the opening day crowd is slacking off, the weather is cooler (maybe colder than a well-diggers back pocket, at times!) and I will wager that nary a dent has been made in the bird population. In fact, December is a great month to chase pheasant!
bird dogs and bird hunting
Rick and Gigi and Pheasant

 We hunted out of Pierre, the state Capitol.  (It's pronounced "Peer".  That information, alone, is worth the price of admission.  If you talk to the locals and mention the town like the name of a Frenchman, they'll get a good laugh at your expense.)  When we called to reserve rooms at a local motel, we found the pickings slim and expensive.  We were pretty close to opening week, and the demand was still pretty high.  I called a friend of mine at a hunting lodge north of Pierre and he hooked us up with some pretty good rooms for about the same price as in town and we were close to some of the best food in the area. (
bird dogs and bird hunting
Two Bedroom at Spring Creek

I had my 4 Brits and my hunting partner had sweet black Lab.  Both dog breeds worked equally well! While I'm partial to vast, grassy areas with my big running Brits, Rick takes his lab into the cattails and along fence lines.  We seem to have about the same amount of success.  It's all about what tickles your fancy.  

bird dogs and bird hunting
Ruby and a cagey, old Rooster.

I do have one bit of advice for the novice pheasant hunter.  Unless you are a world-class wingshooter and can consistently kill a rooster with your .410 side-by-side, be sure to use the correct shells.  I shoot a 20 ga. and I'm a huge fan of the Prairie Storm ammunition.  I shoot 3" 5's and find the vast majority of my downed birds don't feel at all like running when the hit the ground.  They kill pheasant- dead.  Long ago, I was knocking them down with 7 1/2's and chasing them and losing them. I went to larger loads and ended up with the Prairie Storm.  Of course, that means I'm not using my 104 year old A.H. Fox for shooting pheasant, but that's the price I'll need to pay to cleanly harvest the big birds.  I switch to my Ruger Red Label 20 ga. for Roosters. 

bird dogs and bird hunting
Morning over Lake Oahe
If you are contemplating a December hunting trip, maybe your first traveling trip, some good choices are always Kansas and South Dakota.  I have a warm spot in my heart for South Dakota.  I do love the wide open wheat and corn fields and the cackle of the Roosters at sunrise and sunset.  "I'm coming, boys! You are about to meet one of my Brits soon!"