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Nebraska Pheasant Opener

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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue retrieved the lone pheasant of the morning

The morning of Saturday, October 30th was spent by Charles and the dogs on the Brinkman farm in Johnson County, Nebraska.  Mid-morning, Sam pointed this rooster, it flushed and Charles shot it.  The bird came down between the two dogs and began to run.  Fortunately, Sue was there to cut his run very short, about 5 yards.  She made a good retrieve  in thick cover.

All but two of the birds sighted that morning were hens, with nine pheasants seen in total.  I thought that sounded like a good number, but Charles considered it down from previous years.  They also got into a couple of coveys of quail, both pointed but none bagged.  Last winter was a rough one for quail.  Charles and the landowner’s son were both concerned about working the quail over and hope to let the quail population recover adequately before they focus on hunting them.

All in all the hunt was considered a success.  Every bird that was put up was worked by the dogs and flushed in range.  An accomplishment when hunting wild pheasant.

Thank you to our friend, Marvin Brinkman, for hosting the hunt and providing the picture!

North Dakota: Day 2

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Well, folks I’m going to make this one short and sweet, just like my phone conversation with Charles tonight.  The kids were fighting, the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes and I was trying to cook supper.   I’ll give you the pictures for now and wait to take dictation of the stories when Charles returns.

I know that he got a limit of pheasant today and he met a cool German fellow (like actually from the country of Germany, not just Kraut-American like me) and his German Shorthair Pointer.  There is a whole story about meeting this chap, but we’ll have to wait for it until he gets home.  So, enjoy the pictures for now and we’ll get the scoop later.  (I need to complain to the photographer, we need some pics of the dogs)

Pheasant, duck and grouse

The game bag thus far

A German Shorthair Pointer with a real German:)

North Dakota: Day 1

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When I talked to Charles on the phone at 5 PM and he told me about his success in the field, I told him to take the picture before the sun went down.  Somewhere in North Dakota, hanging from a tree in the dark are two gadwall ducks and a sharptail grouse.

A little too late for a good shot...

He called while I was cooking supper and he knew not to call back and interrupt the premiere of “Sherlock” on Masterpiece Mystery, so I don’t have the details of the hunt.  The full text of his e-mail about the birds was as follows:

“Not bad for a short afternoon hunt.  1 sharptail and 2 gadwalls.  A double on the ducks.  Skeet pays off again.”

If you are not familiar with gadwalls, here’s the page on the Ducks Unlimited website describing them: http://www.ducks.org/news/1069/duckofthemonthgadwal.html

We’ll see what they come across tomorrow!

Eastern Nebraska Prairie Chicken 2010

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Southeastern Nebraska’s prairie chicken population has recovered to the point of having a limited season.  Hunters who apply for the tags are limited to three prairie chicken for the whole season, Sept. 18-Jan. 31.  Charles, Sam and Sue ventured down last weekend and were able to scare up a few flocks.

What surprised me was to hear his report of the habitat that they occupy.  I assumed that the prairie chicken would be the same as pheasants, favoring heavy bunches of tallgrass.  They actually are more commonly found in the shorter, more sparse brome grass.  Similar to the chicken and grouse in the Sandhills, they are most commonly found on the sides of hills.

Here are Sam, Charles, and Sue, with a couple of prairie chicken roosters, while Caleb looks on.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Some great Wirehaired Pointing Griffons!

Sandhills Duck Opener 2010

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It was a very rainy Saturday morning in the Sandhills, with plenty of hunter activity due to antelope and duck season being open simultaneously.  We started out heading into a normally productive grouse dunefield, but our efforts were thwarted by a large scattered herd of cattle.  Essentially, we spent our first hour and a half of the day pushing cows around some high dunes.  I have been doing lots of urban hiking these days, working on the 7th floor of a high rise, so I was feeling pretty good about keeping up with the crew.

We stopped at a couple of ponds on our way to a creek that we wanted to jump shoot, but didn’t see anything except truck tracks on the road.  With my new level of fitness, I was relegated to pushing the far sides of the ponds.

The rain continued to come down, so that by midday, most of our gear was pretty well soaked through.  We walked this creek for a mile or so, when the dogs went on point.  When we walked in to flush a bird, nothing came up.  It was a skunk and I spotted it first.  I raised my gun and asked Charles if I should shoot it, but he took the liberty.  Of course, we shoot the skunk and 40 yards over, a group of four ducks gets up and flies away.  So we continue our march down the creek and see nothing for a couple of miles but a green heron.  The next single duck to get up was way out of range.

The creek petered out, so we turned back around to head for the truck for a break.  We got a few good points from the dogs on some porcupines.  We’re checking in with our Native American friends to see if there is a viable market for porcupine quills, but the porcupines are safe for now.  The dogs have had some valuable past lessons in the pain of porcupines, so they only pointed them and didn’t mess with them this time.

Luckily, I had brought a change of pants, because I learned from our last rainy adventure in the Sandhills, wet brush-buster pants weigh a ton.  Right as we get back to the truck, I spotted a pair of birds flying over my head and I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I should have just taken the shots, but I had to turn and ask Charles first, “Is that a snipe and a dove?!?”  Sure enough, it was a snipe and a dove, flying together right over my head.  I shot at them and missed.  It felt like a beginning of a joke, “There was a snipe and a dove flying together one day…”

I changed my pants, fed the dogs a funky old fried chicken thigh from the truck and we started back on what was starting to feel like a death march to me.  We trudged a couple of more miles down the creek and saw nothing.  Now, I have some pretty hardcore hunting boots, the kangaroo skin Cabela’s kind, but even they were no match for rain, swamp and a few unwieldy creek crossings (also known as just walking through the creek).

Since we knew the creek was empty, we headed up into the dunes to try to find some grouse.  We had one get up for us, way out of range.  I was starting to feel pretty dizzy at this point and had fallen behind Charles and the dogs considerably.  The winding creek in the valley, the wind in the grass, rosehips on the stem…it was all just becoming a pseudo-psychedelic blur of nature being high on my own endorphines.   I was on my own (Charles knew that I was aware of the location of the truck) and began hearing voices.

I caught up to Charles and the dogs talking to two men on an ATV.  The ATV guys reported that three other guys on individual ATV’s had been through the valley earlier trying to hunt for antelope.  Hence the lack of game.

Back to the truck we marched.  Finally the rain had stopped, after six hours of hard hunting in the rain.  After a few miles of driving along the trail, we split off to try a pond that we knew existed over in some trees a quarter mile or so away.  What we didn’t know was that in between the road and the known pond was another, smaller pond that we drove up on and blew a flock of about 7 ducks out.  There were some curse words flying on that one.

I made one last attempt to jump shoot the pond, but by that time, my feet were raw, I was soaked, my muscles were sore and my hands were going numb when I was holding the gun.  I was done.  I went back to the truck and let Sam and Charles try for that pond.  Still nothing.

Down went the gun and I grabbed my camera.  These shots were taken while I was standing on the road barefoot about 50-75 yards away.

 

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles and Sam sneak in for a jump

 

 

Ducks

Too many eyes...the flock of ducks gets up out of range

 

 

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sam and Charles heading back in

 

 

ATV hunters

Charles has a second visit with the ATV chaps

 

I really want to insert a diatribe here about how guys on ATV’s ruin the good time of the foothunter, but I will save that for another day when it isn’t hunting season.  There are more hunting tales to tell.

Saturday we were skunked.  Literally.  All we shot was that damn skunk.  What really impressed me was that the spirit of the dogs never wore down.  The picture of Sam and Charles returning up above was after 8 hours of rainy hiking with the dogs quartering.  Sam still wears a doggy smile on his face and is full of spirit.  These hunting Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are truly amazing athletes.

We didn’t drive six hours to go home with nothing, so Sunday morning I sent Charles and Sam out on their own.  Sam and Charles stalked a creek through very thick cover, with Sam working the oxbows while Charles walked the straightaways.  The stream was backed up with beaver dams in spots.  The first group of six wood ducks got up and Charles shot a young drake.  Sam didn’t see the duck drop, so Charles gave him the “fetch” command so that he knew to search.  He retreived the duck from the far side of the creek and swam back to Charles to deliver to hand.

They continued to work down the creek, avoiding the herd of deer.  A drake and a hen got up out of range at the end of a narrow clearing.  The stalk continued, working the bank and creek bottom close together.  Another group of five wood ducks flushed from the creek and Charles picked the mature drake out of the flock to harvest.  Once again, the duck landed on the far side of the creek where Sam had to search hard to retrieve.  Sam did require some direction on the retrieve, but he worked hard to find the bird and once again delivered it to the hand.

Due to the dense vegetation and the lay of the land, they yet again came upon another flock of wood ducks by surprise.  Charles shot a hen and again it landed on the far side of the creek, in heavy brush.  The “fetch” command was repeated and Sam really got it at this point.  He didn’t require any location direction, retrieved the duck, and crossed a beaver dam to the hand.

I was very happy to see them return to the house with a full game bag after the comedy of errors we had on Saturday!

 

Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

Sam, Charles and three wood ducks

 

This weekend I will be recovering from yet another hard hunting trip of getting skunked, while Charles and Sam head out for Eastern Nebraska prairie chicken.

Snipe 2010 and More Youth Hunt Pics

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Charles took Sam out last Sunday for a snipe hunt in Saunders County, Nebraska.  Yes, snipe do exist, and a “snipe hunt” isn’t a joke!  They are a swamp bird that sort of looks like a small woodcock.  I’ve never shot one myself, but I have seen them flush out of the marshes.  They fly in a strange zig-zag pattern.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sam, Charles and Caleb with three snipe

I received some additional photos from the Heartland Chapter #491 Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt that took place a few weeks ago.  Thanks to chapter member Ron Funk for getting these shots.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue on point

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue retrieving a pheasant

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Charles, the unidentified youth (again) and Sue filling the game bag

The dogs are getting this weekend off due to doe only deer season.  Charles didn’t have any luck yesterday morning and decided to take our 6 year old son, Conrad, with him today.

Deer hunt

Conrad’s first deer hunt

We’ll see if they have any luck with the afternoon deer hunt.  The dogs will be back in action next weekend hunting ducks in the Sandhills.

Thank God for “The Good Life”!

Pheasants Forever Youth Hunt: Heartland #491 2010 and Pheasant Pot Pie

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Charles and Sue had a grand time guiding at Pheasants Forever Heartland Chapter’s Youth Hunt on Saturday, September 25th at Pheasant Bonanza in Tekamah, Nebraska http://www.pheasantbonanza.com/.  I wasn’t there to witness, but Charles said that Sue did a great job pointing and retrieving the birds.  She’s got the point part down on the bird box.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Sue pointing the box of pheasants

The best tale I heard was where a pheasant went down on the far side of a barbed wire fence and Sue had no problem going through the fence to retrieve and back through with the bird in her mouth without dropping it.  There will be more pictures of the youth hunt forthcoming from other members.

Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

Unidentified youth, Sue and Charles at the 2010 Pheasants Forever Heartland Chapter Youth Hunt

Since I knew that Charles would be bringing home EVEN MORE pheasants to put in the freezer, he pulled a couple out before he left that morning for me to do something with.  So I made my most easy, “half-homemade” pheasant pot pie.

  • Place two whole plucked and gutted pheasants in a large stock pot.  Fill with water and boil for a couple of hours or so.  Defrost two frozen roll-out pie crusts
  • Shred/debone pheasant meat, preheat oven to 375
  • Sautee about 5 sliced mushrooms, mix with pheasant meat in a bowl
  • Add about 3 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • Add 1 can of cream of chicken soup, mix
  • Warm the whole mixture up in a sauce pan on the stove, but don’t cook it too much
  • Grease a round casserole dish and place one of the frozen pie crusts in the bottom
  • Dump the grub in and put the other pie crust on top, cutting slits
  • Place foil on the crimped edges of the pie and bake for an hour and a half or so

Pheasant Pot Pie

 

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