We put Tex on birds the other day.
We went to northern Missouri to hunt Eastern Turkeys last weekend. The weather was near perfect but the turkeys were not as plentiful as in years past and those that we did find were not very cooperative. Though not as successful as we would have liked, it was a very good time. The folks in Missouri are about as nice as you will find.
We took the boys on a preserve Chukar hunt yesterday. Colder and windier than we expected but the light was terrific and everyone had a great time.
Here are some random pictures from this year’s hunts in the Dakotas.
This a genuine North Dakota farm truck.
This year we enjoyed 2 great hunts in the Dakotas. This 2nd hunt is our standing hunt with Cannonball Company out of Regent, North Dakota. We always have a terrific time with these fine folks.
Tex and I took advantage of an invite to the opening weekend in South Dakota. We had the pleasure of joining a terrific group of guys from Michigan on their annual pheasant hunt. Some of these fellows have been hunting together for 30 plus years and a number of these guys have grown up making the annual pilgrimage to Pierre for the big hunt. We enjoyed a classic wild bird hunt of the best sort.
A great old truck with great old hunters!
This year we had the great fortune to hunt the opening day of the Texas dove season.
Here are the rest of the pictures from our hunt at The Bluffs. Be sure to check out “Part 1” as well.
The small Shorthair is a 6 month old bitch named Roux (pronounced [roo]). This is one of the puppies from the earlier post “Cajun-German Shorthaired Pointer Pups Available” where you can see her as a newborn pup. This was her first time hunting and she was astoundingly good!
About an hour east of Denver, The Bluffs is one of the Colorado’s premier hunting preserves. Birds are not ordered and planted for hunts but instead the club manages and augments sustainable populations of game birds such as Pheasants, Quail, Chukar and Hungarian Partridge. The limited membership hunt on 4,000 acres for birds that seem for the most part pretty wild. I think this is as close as you can get to a wild bird hunt without going on a wild bird hunt. We recently spent a full day hunting The Bluffs and here are the pictures. To keep this from being too big I have split this into two posts so be sure to check out “Part 2“.
Here are some more pictures from our hunt in North Dakota.
Hunting North Dakota in the middle of November can be a weather crap shoot. The week before we arrived the highs were in the teens with half a foot of snow on the ground but we lucked out with absolutely perfect weather. We had the blue skies behind this handsome rooster, highs in the upper 40’s and calm wind with an occasional light breeze for our four day hunt. There were plenty of birds but, as you would expect, the hunting is more challenging on these later hunts than what you find in October. This hunt was a perfect introduction for Tex to wild birds. Each day he improved exponentially and by the last day he was working the wind and reliably sticking birds with solid points. At nine months old we are delighted with his performance.
Here in Colorado the drought is in full bloom and heat records seem to be set daily. It has been a tough summer for the birds. Dove hunting in Colorado is rarely spectacular but this year our one day dove hunt was notably slow. My guess is that there were about half the birds as compared to the year before. No one took a limit but of course the hunters the day before were limited out and done by 9:30am, we were told. Maybe so as that was opening day.
Even though the hunting was poor, we had a great time. The birds arrived in ones and twos all morning, the weather was perfect and this was Tex’s first hunt. Tex had two Labs and another GSP to hunt and play with. There is no doubt that he had a terrific time and was exhausted at the end of the morning.
The two day Colorado Sage Grouse season is almost upon us. Last year we were skunked but with the 2012 drought in full swing and the dwindling bird numbers, I am sure we will all limit by brunch. We are OK with the poor odds, it is great to get the dogs out and hunt after a long hot summer. Not to mention that we have a new puppy to break in! Here are some of the better pictures from past seasons.
Sage, and lots of it. We love the desolate, lonely places of the bird hunt.
There was no Texas quail hunt this year for us. A 100 year drought, a new job and the bird dog up and dying kept us home. Here are a few pictures of the good old days.
Regent, North Dakota is a favorite pheasant hunting destination. We hunt with Cannonball Company who always does a terrific job. Pheasant numbers were down this year, as they are everywhere, but there were plenty of birds to go around.
Here is an amazing pheasant sculpture just outside of town. These are huge, the cock’s legs are probably 12 feet tall.
The country where these birds live is magnificent and ruggedly beautiful. Well above the tree line, the vistas and views are breathtaking. Had we not seen any birds, the hike alone would have been worth the effort.
This is a different kind of hunt. Most upland game birds stay well concealed in the bush and when you get close (and sometimes when you aren’t close at all) they flush providing an opportunity to exercise your finely tuned wing shooting skills. Not these guys. They sit out in the open and watch you approach with only casual interest. You can look at the covey and count them, pick out the one you want, take a picture and then push into them to get them to fly. Some will take off, which is fun, but others will just run a bit and then sit and watch.
Ptarmigan are beautiful and delicate creatures. They are much smaller than I expected. Their bodies are about the size of a large dove but their thick coat of down and feathers make them look larger. In hand they are incredibly soft and feel almost mushy. I don’t think they put out much scent or at least scent that dogs associate with game birds. Bird dog Rio never really lock up on them and the points we did get were sight points, I think. We had 10 or so right in front of us and she paid them little mind, she was off looking for something else. Possibly the altitude has something to do with that or maybe I had a defective dog.
We had a good time hiking at the top of the world but the hunting was not as challenging as hoped. Possibly if we hadn’t found birds in the first 30 minutes and had hiked all day I would have a different story. The biggest challenge on this hunt was to not scar an expensive shotgun as we negotiated some very rough terrain while operating on 25% less oxygen. We lucked out with perfect weather (a week later all this was under a foot of snow) and it was certainly great to be out there. Ptarmigan have been added to the annual hunt calendar.
These birds are perfectly camouflaged for their world. If they didn’t move it would be easy to miss them.
This year it was a perfectly comfortable morning for the opening of dove season in northern Colorado. The day heated up fast but remained pleasant and bug-free if you stayed in the shade. We topped out in the mid-90s, which is hot for us but pretty nice compared to our sweaty friends in states south of us who hunted in 100+ degrees. Hope they kept their dogs watered.
In Colorado there is a reliable and unfortunate pattern to the dove migration around opening day. We see dove everywhere all summer long – perched on wires, cooing on roof tops, swooping from tree to tree and pooping on my truck – but sometime a week or so before 9/1 they disappear. This is usually attributed to a late August cold snap but this year it was hot up to the 1st and yet their pattern of disappearance still held true. I had not seen a dove for a week when we headed out on Thursday morning. We hunted with the nice folks at Longmeadow. They have about 4,000 acres and have built a really nice event center about an hour and a half northeast of Denver.
Though the number of birds were greatly diminished from a week or two ago, there were still plenty around for us to get our limit, which we did before lunch. It was not what you would call solid white hot action but there were times when we had more birds coming in than we could handle. It was a great start to the bird hunting season.
My hunting buddy enjoying a morning of truancy.
Since turkeys are birds, hunting them must qualify as “bird hunting” but if you ask me its much more like hunting big game. Head-to-toe in camo you sneak into the woods, sit perfectly still and then when you get a tom in range you shoot him in the face with a shotgun. No flushing coveys, no dogs, no talking. Just like deer hunting except the spring weather is beautiful and later you get to de-tick your balls.
Joking aside, hunting turkeys is a blast. Being in the woods at day break holds its own magic – song birds erupt, a distant maniacal yelping of a coyote pack, the ungraceful crashing of a turkey flock coming off the roost and then the stirring, booming gobble of a courting tom. Exciting stuff.
Here is a Texas Rio Grande Tom, bizarre but beautifully iridescent. Talk to Mike Wyatt at First Shot Outfitters for a terrific Texas turkey hunt.